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1Corinthians 7

Thursday Evening Bible Study

August 21, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words / 3200 words

In Two Weeks:  God’s Not Dead

In Paul's day, Corinth was the capitol of the province of Achaia (southern Greece), and was the most important city in Greece.

Corinth was quite the cosmopolitan city.  All merchant traffic flowing north and south, as well as east and west, flowed through Corinth.

Corinth was also the center of the world’s greatest immorality.

The Temple of Aphrodite stood on the hill overlooking the city, and every night 1,000 male and female prostitutes would come down into the city and encourage the citizens to “worship” the goddess of love.

Paul had established the church in Corinth in AD 51 on his second missionary journey.  0

He had spent 18 months teaching and building the church before moving on.

It is now AD 56, and Paul is across the Aegean Sea in the city of Ephesus.  He’s received a letter telling about the problems and questions in Corinth, and now he’s writing back.

The first issue raised was about the divisions in the church.

(1 Corinthians 1:11 NKJV) For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

The second issue had to do with immorality

(1 Co 5:1 NKJV) —1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

The third issue was about lawsuits

(1 Co 6:1 NKJV) —1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

Now Paul talks about marriage.

7:1-9 Marriage Lessons

:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

:1 concerning the things of which you wrote

As we’ve talked about, much of what Paul is writing to the Corinthians is a response to things that they’ve written and asked him about.  He’s now going to address some of their questions about marriage.

Video:  The Princess Bride – “Mawage” clip (starts at 1:18)

:1 good for a man not to touch a woman

touchhaptomai – to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to

I’ve heard this word defined as “touching so as to arouse passion”.

I don’t think it’s wrong for men in the church to shake hands with the women in the church, or even to have a cautious hug (like the “side hug”)
But we need to be very cautious about how much “touching” we do.
I get calls from time to time when some of the gals feel like a certain fellow in the church is getting a bit too “friendly” with them, and it usually has to with touch.

:2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

:2 sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse

We could simplify it as any kind of sex outside the boundary of marriage.

Sexual immorality is everywhere and is a very real temptation for all of us.  Paul has one solution to consider…

:2 let each man have his own wife


Marriage and immorality

God invented sex.  He made us to be sexual beings.
Sex is a good thing as long as it stays within marriage.

(Hebrews 13:4 NKJV) Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

There is nothing “unclean” or “defiling” about sex between a man and wife.

The problem we face, and even more so in our modern internet/wired age, is that of sexual immorality.
The ancient world was no different than ours today – there was immorality everywhere, and especially in Corinth.

The artwork that has been uncovered in Pompeii is pure pornography.

Paul’s readers in Corinth were living in the world’s capital of immorality.

Immorality is everywhere in our society – I think we’ve gone way beyond Corinth.

Today, Immorality is in many of the movies or TV shows we watch, the commercials during a baseball game, or even worse – the things we can so easily access on the internet – now even through our phones.

What Paul is giving the Corinthians is one of many solutions to immorality.
It’s not the only solution, but it’s one of the solutions.
I am not going to be able to give you every answer to immorality, but I want to suggest some things that I’ve learned are important.
We need to manage the kinds of things we put into our brains.
Job wrote,

(Job 31:1 NKJV) “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?

Immoral behavior easily gets out of control when we allow ourselves to be exposed to things that stir it up.
I have found over many years of experience, that the less you expose yourself to bad images or ideas, the easier it is to say “no” when an unexpected temptation comes your way.
Every time you expose yourself to inappropriate things, it’s like putting a little more air into a balloon.

If you keep pumping air into a balloon, sooner or later it’s going to explode.

So let the air out and throw away the pump.

Some of our inappropriate behavior can be rooted in things inside of us that are simply broken.
It could be anger – someone does something that caused you to get angry, and as a way of expressing your anger you do inappropriate things.
It could be shame – someone has heaped shame and embarrassment on you, and as a way of coping with your shame, you “medicate” your pain with inappropriate behavior.
It could be loneliness – you feel rejected and there doesn’t seem anyone to talk to.  The naked girl on your screen can’t really talk to you, but somehow she makes you feel better.
Whether it’s someone who has permission to look over your shoulder, examine your computer, or simply ask you straight up questions, it’s much easier to “say no” to the temptations that come into your head when you have a friend or two who knows about your struggle.
I know people who can help.  If you realize that you are out of control when it comes to immorality, I can point you in the right direction.
Love your spouse
If you’re not married, this might not be the point to learn, but God still wants you to be pure.  Look at those three previous things and get to work.
This is the answer that Paul is going to focus on for the Corinthians.

Paul’s lesson here is that your sexual relationship with your spouse is one of God’s ways of keeping you from immorality.

Keep in mind, this is just part of the answer, and by itself it may not be enough.

If you don’t deal with the other issues, your wife or husband is not going to save you from immorality.

This is a reason why you want to be continually working on your marriage.

There is an emotional component to sex that is strengthened through good communication, where you mutually encourage and build each other up.

Sometimes we’re just speaking two different languages and we need help understanding each other.

Video:  Manslater

In his book, “The Five Love Languages”, Dr. Gary Chapman talks about how we all have our own “love language”, the thing that makes us feel loved.

Physical touch

Acts of service


Words of encouragement

Quality time

You may feel loved when your wife is rubbing your shoulders, but your wife may feel loved when you do acts of service (like taking out the trash, doing the laundry, or cooking dinner).

Figure out how to love your spouse and work hard at it every day.

:3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

:5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

:3  render … the affection due

dueopheilo – to owe; that which is due, the debt

affectioneunoia (“good” + “mind”) – good will, kindness

Paul is talking about sexual intimacy.

He’s saying that a husband and wife “owe” it to each other to be physically intimate.
(1 Corinthians 7:3 NLT) The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.

:4 does not have authority over … own body

have authorityexousiadzo – to have power or authority, use power; to be master of any one, exercise authority over one

When you are married, it really isn’t your choice over your body as to when you are physically intimate.  Claiming to have a “headache” when you don’t isn’t the right answer.

Your body is like a car, and your spouse is the one with the keys and the permission to drive.

NOTE:  The emphasis here is not on what YOU get out of sex, but what you do for your spouse.  It’s learning to think of your spouse more than you think of yourself.

:5 Do not deprive one another

depriveapostereo– to defraud, rob, despoil

When you say “no” to your spouse, you are “robbing” them.

Paul said abstaining from sex should never happen unless its something that you have both agreed to, and you make a choice to go through that time of celibacy with prayer and fasting.

Otherwise you face the possibility that Satan will take advantage of how you’ve “robbed” each other, and bring in temptation.
A word of caution – if your spouse has been unfaithful, it doesn’t mean that it was necessarily your fault.
Your spouse is still accountable to God to be faithful to you.
And if your spouse has been saying “no” a lot, that doesn’t mean you have a green light to commit adultery.

Yet there is a principle to keep aware of – don’t open the door of temptation.


The intimacy weapon

Withholding intimacy should not be used as a weapon to “get back” at the other person or get what you want.
When you do this, you are going down a bad path that can lead to more trouble.
The only time you should agree to abstaining from sex is through mutual agreement, and accompanied with fasting and prayer.
Don’t say “no” because you’re just mad.

:6 But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment.

Paul is giving this as wise advice, not necessarily because this was a word from God.

You’re going to see Paul say things like this several times through this passage.

Some things Paul says are straight from God.  Others are things that come from a guy whose much wiser than most of us…

:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

:7 each one has his own gift

Paul was not married.  He had a “gift of singleness”.

He wished there were more people who would remain unmarried.

Yet Paul was wise enough to know that not all people have the “gift” to say unmarried.

Jesus said,

(Matthew 19:12 NLT) Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
Some people have the “gift” to be single.  Being single isn’t a curse for them, it’s a joy.

:8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am;

:9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

:9 let them marry

(1 Corinthians 7:9 NLT) But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.

If you are in a dating relationship, and you can’t keep your hands off each other, you should think about either breaking it off, or getting married.

Should I stay unmarried?

There can sometimes be great pressure on single people to get married, especially in church.
Paul was unmarried.

If you are single and are comfortable in your own skin then stay single.

If you have this sense that you want to be married, and you’re not, and there’s no hope in sight, I have a couple of suggestions.
Put your eyes on Jesus

If you’re going to be desperate, be desperate for Jesus, not a spouse.

Your neediness is going to drive others away.

Serve God like only a single person can do, at least for the moment.

Don’t look for the perfect spouse, be the perfect spouse.

You may have to change the way you live.

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Too many times I’ve seen folks focused on what kind of person they’re looking for, and finding fault in every person they date, when they’d do much better by looking in the mirror and working on the character of the person staring back at them.

7:10-16 Marriage Commitment

:10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.

:10 yet not I but the Lord

This now isn’t just Uncle Paul’s words of wisdom.  This is now a commandment from the Lord.

:10 A wife is not to depart from her husband

Don’t leave your man!

:11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

:11 even if she does depart

If you feel you must separate from your spouse, and it’s not for reasons that allow for divorce, then you don’t divorce, and don’t remarry.  Maybe work at being reconciled.

:12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her.

:12 I, not the Lord, say

This next little bit is something from Paul’s advice, and not necessarily something that God has commanded.

You could make the point that Paul is counselling against something in God’s Word.
There was in an instance in the book of Ezra where the people who returned from Babylon started marrying gals who were not Jews, unbelievers.
God’s answer for them was to divorce these women.
Yet here Paul tells the people that if you’ve become a Christian and your spouse hasn’t, and if they want to stay married to you, then you stay married.

I kind of wonder if we don’t see a pattern of some flexibility in some of the marriage laws here on Paul’s part.

:13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.

:13 let her not divorce him

God doesn’t want us to be unequally yoked, for a believer to get married to an unbeliever.

But if you are already married to an unbeliever, then you need to stay married.

:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

:14 the unbelieving husband is sanctified

This doesn’t mean that the unbelievers are saved by being married to believers, but that there is a cleansing effect on the lives of your family members when a believer is involved and they get to see you living for Jesus up close.

:15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

:15 if the unbeliever departs, let him depart


Reasons for divorce

There are many viewpoints as to when divorce is allowable.  These are what I see as the allowable reasons for divorce. 

When the other person has committed adultery, God allows you to divorce.

God doesn’t command you to divorce, but He allows it.  I think that God’s desire is that the other person repent, you forgive, and then bring healing to the marriage.  That is the way God deals with us.  But sometimes a person is simply too hurt to be able to do this.  God allows for divorce.

(Matthew 19:9 NKJV) And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”


That is the case here in Corinthians. 

If you want to get legalistic about it, it must be the unbeliever who leaves the marriage. 

I think you could make the case that when one believer leaves another believer, then the one that left is acting like an unbeliever, and the other may divorce.

I think that when physical violence is involved in a marriage, the violent one has also “left” the marriage.

The abandoned person is not “under bondage”.  I believe this means that the bond of marriage has been broken.

Some argue that this still doesn’t mean that a person can remarry, but what’s the point of not being “under bondage” if you can’t remarry?  Remarry if you like.

When I’m asked about divorce, this is what I’ll tell people, but ultimately you will be accountable to God for what you do.  Just because something is allowable doesn’t mean that God wants you to do it.

:16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

:16 whether you will save your husband?

Careful here – there are two possible meanings, and both stand up in the Greek.

This may mean:

1.  Don’t leave the unbeliever because you don’t know that God might not be working through you and get them saved.
2.  Let the unbeliever leave because who says that God has to use you to get them saved.

I think the lesson here is that you need to be careful how you proceed.

You need to be learning to let God guide you.  You can’t assume to know what the outcome will be.

7:17-24 As you were called

:17 But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches.

:18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.

:18 called while circumcised?

Circumcision was the foundation of being Jewish.  If God called you to believe in Jesus and follow Jesus, you don’t have to become “uncircumcised” (though I’m not sure how that’s done!).

We already saw through the book of Acts (esp. Acts 15) that the church had come to the conclusion that Gentiles (uncircumcised people) did not have to become circumcised to be saved.

:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

:20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.

:20 remain in the same calling

The Bible says,

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
You need to be careful where you take this verse. 

Some things in life need to change when we follow Jesus.

If we’ve been involved in sin, we need to turn around.

Some things don’t need to change, at least not right away.

Sometimes we need to just learn to be content in the place God has put us.

Paul now gives more examples of this.

:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.

:22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.

:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

:24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

:24 remain … in that state in which he was called

Paul uses slavery as an example.

Some people like to use say that the Bible condones slavery, but here Paul does say that if you were a slave and could become free, do it.  He also says not to become slaves of men.

We might apply this in terms of our jobs.

I have a good friend who was a bartender when he came back to the Lord.
His pastor told him wisely not to quit right away.  He ended up leading quite a few people to Christ before God got him a different job.

7:25-40 Unmarried and widows

:25 Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.

:25 I have no commandment …

Paul is going to give us some more of his sanctified, good common sense when it comes to the subject of getting married.

:26 I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is:

:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

:28 But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.

:28 you have not sinned

Some folks are just afraid of getting married. 

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Some people have watched others in a miserable marriage.  Others have had one disappointment after another in relationships.

Paul is telling the single people that they aren’t sinning if they get married, but he does want them to be careful and warn them that they may be heading into trouble.

:29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none,

:30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess,

:31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.

:31 the form of this world is passing away

Paul saw trouble ahead for the world.

He was living in a day where persecution against Christians was on the rise and going to hit an all-time high.
This is going to be the basis for some of his comments.

:32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord.

:33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife.

:34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.

:35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

:32 how he may please the Lord

Remember that it’s not a sin to be married.

If you are married, your spouse ought to be a high priority in your life.  That’s a good thing.

Yet if you are single, you have one less responsibility to worry about, and you can live more for the Lord.

There was a period of my life during my early college days when I had a taste of this.  We had a group of guys who were tired of having our hearts ripped out by the girls and formed the BTTR Club (Bachelors Till The Rapture).  There were four of us who decided that we were going to swear off girls and just serve the Lord.  We did a lot of great exploits for the Lord.  When you don’t have a girlfriend, you can stay out until all hours of the morning counseling with people, praying with people, serving the Lord.

:36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.

:37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

:38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

:36 behaving improperly toward his virgin

Paul is addressing the fathers who have daughters.

In Paul’s day, parents arranged marriages for their kids.

Some of the Christian dads were wondering if they ought to allow their daughters to get married.
Paul thinks it’s good to remain single, but it’s okay if their daughter twists their arm to let them get married.

:39 A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

:40 But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment—and I think I also have the Spirit of God.

You kind of get the idea that Paul was supportive of people staying single, for the purpose of being more free to serve the Lord.