- Wisdom with Regard to Marriage (vv.1-5)
- Wisdom with Regard to Singleness (vv.6-9)
- Wisdom with Regard to Separation of Married Couples (vv.10-16)
- The Wisdom of Not Changing Our Station (vv.17-24)
- Wisdom for the Unmarried (vv.25-38)
- Four Reasons the Unmarried are Better Off Remaining Single (vv.26-35)
- When is Marriage the Right Path? (vv.36-38)
- Wisdom for Widows: Same Category as Virgins (vv.39-40)
Lawful and Unlawful Relations between Men and Women (vv.1-2)
- Today a person’s gender is a topic for debate, and even changeable through surgery and hormonal treatments. God says “No, every person is either male or female”.
- Today homosexual marriage is not only accepted but celebrated. God says “No, marriage is between a man and a woman.”
- Today sexual relations with multiple partners is widely accepted. God says “No, sexual relations are to be between married couples only (monogamy)”.
Responsibilities of the Christian Marriage (vv.3-5)
- By consent (vv.6-9), not by command, a Godly desire that the single should remain single.
- By command (vv.10-13), positive moral instructions for those who are married.
- The Lord’s commands (vv.10-11), fall within the scope of the Lord’s ministry (Matt. 19)
- Paul’s commands (vv.12-16), fall outside the scope of the Lord’s ministry
- By advice (vv.25-40), not by command, Paul speaking from experience that the single should remain single.
Separation in Christian Marriages (vv.10-11)
Separation in Mixed Marriages (vv.12-16)
17 However, as the Lord has divided to each, as God has called each, so let him walk; and thus I ordain in all the assemblies. v.17 The Corinthians had written to Paul about the issue of the married ones who had gotten saved, but their spouse remained in unbelief. His advice was to remain in that marriage! He now expands that principle to other areas of life. The principle is this: don’t be occupied with changing your station. Focus on serving the Lord where you are in life. However, if an opportunity comes up that increases your freedom to serve the Lord, take it. Three areas are covered in this chapter:
- Our Relationship Status: The Single and the Married (vv.6-16, vv.26-27)… don’t change it, but singleness is preferred.
- Our Nationality: The Circumcised and the Uncircumcised (vv.18-20)… don’t change it, and neither is preferred!
- Our Occupation: The Bond and the Free (vv.21-24)… don’t change it (unless you cannot “abide in it with God”), but freedom is preferred.
Our Nationality: The Circumcised and the Uncircumcised (vv.18-20)
Our Occupation: The Bond and the Free (vv.21-24)
Four Reasons the Unmarried are Better Off Remaining Single (vv.26-35)
- Reason #1: God would not have us Settle Down Here (v.26)
- Reason #2: Avoiding Marriage will Spare you Much Trouble (vv.27-28)
- Reason #3: Natural Things have a Passing Character (vv.29-31)
- Reason #4: There is a Benefit to Having No Distractions (vv.32-35)
Reason #1: God would not have us Settle Down Here (v.26)
Reason #2: Avoiding Marriage will Spare you Much Trouble (vv.27-28)
Reason #3: Natural Things have a Passing Character (vv.29-31)
- Marriage. “They who have wives, be as not having any.” Of course, this is not suggesting that a husband abandon his wife at home to go off into the mission field. But the point is, don’t hold onto marriage so tightly that you miss out on opportunities to serve the Lord.
- Sorrow. “They that weep, as not weeping.” Life is peppered with sadness on a natural level, but the believer is not to be consumed with these things. As the hymn writer said, “We cannot linger o’er the tomb”. A far brighter day is coming, so dry your eyes, there is much work to be done! (Certainly, there is such thing as a grieving process).
- Natural Joy. “They that rejoice, as not rejoicing.” We can be so taken up with the natural joys of this life that our thoughts remain at an earthly level. Jonathan gives us a good example of one who took a little honey (natural sweetness) at the end of his rod (1 Sam. 14:27). Samson on the other hand is seen stuffing his face with both hands (Judges 14:9).
- Possessions. “They that buy, as not possessing.” We can hold onto our possessions as if our life depended on them, and in the end never “lay hold of what is really life” (1Tim. 6:19). We must remember that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). See 2 Kings 5:26.
- Investments. “They that use the world, as not disposing of it as their own.” The believer is free to use the world (i.e. get an education, a job, a house, financial assets), but not abuse it. We must hold our earthly investments loosely as pertaining to our own interests. There are many ways to use this world without abusing it, and we are to be good stewards of whatever the Lord has entrusted to us (Matt. 25:14-30).
Paul concludes by saying that “the fashion of this world passes” away. If we are consumed by holding onto natural things, we are only going to be disappointed. It is all passing away, and “only what’s done for Christ will last”.