"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Seven OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To be impressed with basic principles governing marriage and the single life 2) To see the importance of studying scripture in its proper context SUMMARY At this point in Paul's letter, he begins to address those things about which the Corinthians had written to him (7:1). In this chapter he discusses matters relating to marriage and the single life. The first half deals with issues involving those married (1-24), and the last half covers those who are single (25-40). It is important to notice that some of what Paul says is in light of the "present distress" being experienced by the Corinthians; one should also notice that much of what he says is clearly identified as his personal judgment, not necessarily the commandments of the Lord. In such cases, it is not a matter of right versus wrong, but good versus better. OUTLINE I. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THOSE MARRIED (1-24) A. IN GENERAL (1-9) 1. It is good to marry to avoid sexual immorality (1-2) 2. Proper attitudes to govern the marriage relationship (3-4) 3. Abstinence appropriate for short times devoted to fasting and prayer (5-6) 4. Paul recommends remaining single, but the unmarried and widows should marry if they cannot exercise self-control (7-9) B. IN REGARDS TO DIVORCE (10-16) 1. As commanded by the Lord (10-11) a. A wife is not to depart from her husband; if she does, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled (10-11a) b. A husband is not to divorce his wife (11b) 2. As instructed by Paul (12-16) a. Christians are not to divorce their unbelieving spouses (12-13) b. Because of the "sanctifying influence" the believer can have on the family (14) c. If the unbeliever departs, the believer is not under bondage; let the unbeliever depart (15) d. These instructions given in view of the possibility of the believer being able to save the unbelieving spouse (16) C. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING PAUL'S INSTRUCTIONS (17-24) 1. As the Lord has called each one, so let him walk (17) 2. The example of circumcision versus uncircumcision, where keeping the commandments of God is what is important (18-20) 3. The example of being a slave versus being free, where one might improve their condition if it is possible and profitable (19-24) II. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THOSE SINGLE (25-40) A. FOR THOSE WHO ARE VIRGINS (25-38) 1. Paul gives his personal judgment in light of the "present distress": remain as you are (25-26) 2. Of course if you are married, remain so; but those who are single would be spared much trouble in the flesh in light of what is to come (27-31) 3. Remaining unmarried enables them to serve the Lord without distraction, and be totally devoted to Him (32-35) 4. If it is necessary, the single may marry (36) 5. The choice is not between good and bad, but between good and better (37-38) B. FOR THOSE WHO ARE WIDOWS (39-40) 1. They are free to marry, but only "in the Lord" (39) 2. Though Paul's personal judgment is that such a one will be happier to remain single, which is also the advice (though not demanded) of the Spirit of God (40)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER Move your mouse pointer underneath each question to see the answer.
1) List the main points of this chapter. 2) What are Paul's instructions to married Christians? (3-5,10-11) 3) What does he advise those who are unmarried and widows? (8-9,25-40) 4) What does he tell Christians married to unbelievers? (12-16) 5) What underlying principle is governing Paul's instructions in this chapter? (17-24) 6) What advantage do the single have over the married? (32-35) 7) What restriction does Paul place on widows who desire to remarry? (39)