7:1 Now 1 concerning the things a whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] b good for a man not to touch a woman.
(1) He teaches concerning marriage that although
a single life has its advantages, which he will declare afterwards, yet that
marriage is necessary for the avoiding of fornication. But so that neither one
man may have many wives, nor any wife many husbands.
(a) Concerning those matters about which you
wrote to me.
(b) Commodious, and (as we say) expedient. For
marriage brings many griefs with it, and that by reason of the corruption of
our first estate.
Let the husband render unto the wife c
due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
(2) Secondly, he shows that the parties married
must with singular affection entirely love one another.
(c) The word "due" contains all types
of benevolence, though he speaks more of one sort than of the other, in that
The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the
husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
(3) Thirdly, he warns them, that they are in each
other's power, with regard to the body, so that they may not defraud one
7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, 4
except [it be] with consent for a time, that ye may d
give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt
you not for your incontinency.
(4) He adds an exception: unless the one abstain
from the other by mutual consent, that they may the better give themselves to
prayer, in which nonetheless he warns them to consider what is expedient, lest
by this long breaking off as it were from marriage, they are stirred up to
(d) Do nothing else.
But I speak this by permission, [and] not of commandment.
(5) Fifthly he teaches that marriage is not
necessary for all men, but for those who do not have the gift of continency,
and this gift is by a special grace of God.
7:7 For I e
would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of
God, one after this manner, and another after that.
(e) I wish.
7:8 6 I
say therefore to the f unmarried and
widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
(6) Sixthly, he gives the very same admonition
touching the second marriage, that is, that a single life is to be allowed,
but for those who have the gift of continency. Otherwise they ought to marry
again, so that their conscience may be at peace.
(f) This whole passage is completely against
those who condemn second marriages.
7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry:
for it is better to marry than to g
(g) So to burn with lust, that either the will
yields to the temptation, or else we cannot call upon God with a peaceful
And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife
depart from [her] husband:
(7) Seventhly, he forbids contentions and the
granting of divorces (for he speaks not here of the fault of whoredom, which
was then death even by the law of the Romans also) by which he affirms that
the band of marriage is not dissolved, and that from Christ's mouth.
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth
not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
(8) Eighthly, he affirms that those marriages
which are already contracted between a faithful and an unfaithful or infidel,
are firm: so that the faithful may not forsake the unfaithful.
For the unbelieving husband is h
sanctified by the i wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified by the k
husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they l
(9) He answers an objection: but the faithful is
defiled by the company of the unfaithful. The apostle denies that, and proves
that the faithful man with good conscience may use the vessel of his
unfaithful wife, by this, that their children which are born of them are
considered holy or legitimate (that is, contained within the promise): for it
is said to all the faithful, "I will be your God, and the God of your
(h) The godliness of the wife is of more force to
cause their marriage to be considered holy, than the infidelity of the husband
is to profane the marriage.
(i) The infidel is not sanctified or made holy in
his own person, but in respect of his wife, he is sanctified to her.
(k) To the faithful husband.
(l) The children are holy in the same sense that
their parents are; that is they are sanctified, or lawfully espoused together,
so the children born of them were in a civil and legal sense holy, that is,
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not
under bondage in m such [cases]: 11
but God hath called us to peace.
(10) He answers a question: what if the
unfaithful forsake the faithful? Then the faithful is free, he says, because
he is forsaken by the unfaithful.
(m) When any such thing happens.
(11) Lest any man upon pretence of this liberty
should give an occasion to the unfaithful to depart, he shows that marriage
contracted with an infidel ought to be kept peaceably, that if it is possible
the infidel may be won to the faith.
But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath n
called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
(12) Taking occasion by that which he said of the
bondage and liberty of matrimony, he digresses to a general doctrine
concerning the outward state and condition of man's life, as circumcision
and uncircumcision, servitude and liberty. And he warns every man generally to
live with a contented mind in the Lord, whatever state or condition he is in,
because those outward things, as to be circumcised or uncircumcised, to be
bond or free, are not of the substance (as they call it) of the kingdom of
(n) Has bound him to a certain type of life.
Is any man called being circumcised? let him not o
become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be
(13) Nonetheless he shows us that in these
examples all are not of the same type: because circumcision is not simply of
itself to be desired, but such as are bound may desire to be free. Therefore
herein only they are equal that the kingdom of God consists not in them, and
therefore these are no hindrance to obey God.
(o) He is said to become uncircumcised, who by
the help of a surgeon, recovers an upper skin. And this is done by drawing the
skin with an instrument, to make it to cover the head. Celsus in book 7,
Art thou called [being] a servant? p
care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use [it] rather.
(p) As though this calling were too unworthy a
calling for Christ.
7:22 For he that is called in the q
Lord, [being] a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is
called, [being] free, is Christ's servant.
(q) He that is in the state of a servant, and is
called to be a Christian.
Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
(14) He shows the reason of the unlikeness,
because he that desired to be circumcised makes himself subject to man's
tradition and not to God. And this may be much more understood of
superstitions, which some do foolishly consider to as things indifferent.
Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with r
(15) A repetition of the general doctrine.
(r) So purely and from the heart, that your
doings may be approved before God.
Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my s
judgment, as t one that hath obtained
mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
(16) He commands virginity to no man, yet he
persuades and praised it for another reason, that is, both for the necessity
of the present time, because the faithful could scarce abide in any place, and
use the commodities of this present life because of persecution. And therefore
those who were not troubled with families, might be the readier, and also for
the cares of this life, which marriage necessarily draws with it, so that they
cannot but have their minds distracted: and this has place in women
(s) The circumstances considered, this I counsel
(t) It is I that speak this which I am minded to
speak: and the truth is I am a man, but yet of worthy credit, for I have
obtained from the Lord to be such a one.
7:26 I suppose therefore that u
this is good for the x present distress,
[I say], that [it is] good for a man so to be.
(u) To remain a virgin.
(x) For the necessity which the saints are daily
subject to, who are continually tossed up and down, so that their estate may
seem most unfit for marriage, were it not that the weakness of the flesh
forced them to it.
7:28 But and if thou
marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.
Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the y
flesh: but I z spare you.
(y) By the "flesh" he understands
whatever things belong to this present life, for marriage brings with it many
problems. So that he leans more to a single life, not because it is a service
more agreeable to God than marriage is, but for those problems which (if it
were possible) he would wish all men to be avoid, so that they might give
themselves to God alone.
(z) I would your weakness were provided for.
7:29 But this I say, brethren, the time [is] a
short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
(a) For we are now in the latter end of the
7:30 And they that b
weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced
not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
(b) By "weeping" the Hebrews understand
all adversity, and by "joy", all prosperity.
7:31 And they that use this c
world, as not abusing [it]: for the d
fashion of this world passeth away.
(c) Those things which God gives us here.
(d) The guise, and shape, and fashion: by which
he shows us that there is nothing in this world that continues.
7:33 But he that is
married e careth for the things that are
of the world, how he may please [his] wife.
(e) Those that are married have their minds drawn
here and there, and therefore if any man has the gift of continency, it is
more advantageous for him to live alone. But those who are married may care
for the things of the Lord also. Clement, Strom. 3.
7:34 There is difference [also] between a wife
and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she
may be holy both in body and in f
spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may
please [her] husband.
7:35 And this I speak for your own g
profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and
that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
(g) He means that he will force no man either to
marry or not to marry, but to show them plainly what type of life is most
But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she
pass the flower of [her] age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he h
sinneth not: let them marry.
(17) Now he turns himself to the parents, in
whose power and authority their children are, warning them that according to
the former doctrine they consider what is proper and convenient for their
children. That they neither deprive them of the necessary remedy against
incontinency, nor force them to marry, if neither their will does lead them,
nor any necessity urges them. And again he praises virginity, but of itself,
and not in all.
(h) He does well: for so he expounds it in (1 Corinthians
7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his i
heart, having no k necessity, but hath
power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his
virgin, doeth well.
(i) Resolved himself.
(k) That the weakness of his daughter does not
force him, or any other matter, that that he may safely still keep her a
7:38 So then he that giveth [her] in marriage
doeth well; but he that giveth [her] not in marriage doeth l
(l) Provides better for his children, and that
not in just any way, but by reason of such conditions as are mentioned before.
The wife is bound by the m law as long
as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be
married to whom she will; only in the n
(18) That which he spoke of a widower, he speaks
now of a widow, that is, that she may marry again, but that she does it in the
fear of God. And yet he does not hide the fact that if she still remains a
widow, she will be free of many cares.
(m) By the law of marriage.
(n) Religiously, and in the fear of God.