17 July 2015
by Philip Layton

Bokeh

Paul differentiates between his advice and the Lord’s

Click here to read 1 Corinthians 7

Discussion Question

  • How would you summarise this chapter?

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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'

Gnosticism, which was prevalent in Greek culture in the first century, taught that human beings were divine souls trapped in a material world by an imperfect God. No doubt this philosophy influenced the Corinthian believers.

When some people have chronic illness and long to be free from the body, they want to believe the ancient idea that the body is unimportant or evil. For others, discounting the body and what they do in the flesh is a way of rationalising immoral behaviour. Looking down on the body can be taken to another extreme with promotes asceticism.

In all cases we need to be reminded that God created us as triune persons with body, mind and spirit and that all parts matter to him and should to us. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, Paul addresses some issues that the Corinthians had raised in a letter to him. We need to remember that they lived in an extremely morally polluted culture. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that Paul thought the second coming of Christ was imminent. In that context, his advice would be strict and temporary. 

They asked if they should avoid marriage. Paul says, considering their society, marriage was preferable. They asked if they should abstain from sex in marriage. Paul says marriage is a partnership. Any period of abstinence should be a mutual decision, brief and with a spiritual purpose.

Paul does not have a low view of marriage. He uses it in Ephesians as an illustration of Christ and the Church. Here he recommends the widowed or unmarried (he was probably one of these) to stay that way and the married to stay that way. Any remarriage should be to a believer.

William Barclay sums up this chapter:

No man should be ashamed of the body God gave him, the heart God put into him, the instincts that, by God’s creation dwell within him. Christianity will teach him, not how to eliminate them, but how to use them in such a way that passion is pure and human love the most ennobling thing in all God’s world.

Evelyn Merriam

Tags: 1 Corinthians