1 Corinthians 7 is an interesting part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians because it contains some doctrine with opinions regarding marriage. Some have read this part of Paul’s letter and have inaccurately thought that everything Paul has said in this letter is doctrine and needs to be followed. I’m going to go over some of the verses from 1 Corinthians 7 in an attempt to bring some clarity to those who might otherwise be confused.

I believe an essential verse to understanding a lot of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 hinges on this verse:

Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

1 Corinthians 7:26 (NIV)

We could read this verse and think that Paul might be thinking about the Second Coming. However, Paul is not speaking about an eternal event, but rather an event currently taking place that will pass. Hence, “present crisis.” One such event that was likely taking place at the time of this first letter to the Corinthians was the great famine predicted in Acts.

One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)

Acts 11:28 (NIV)

Claudius was in power when Paul wrote this first letter to the church at Corinth. In Matthew 24, Jesus is answering the disciples’ question regarding signs of the end of the age.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Matthew 24:7-8 (NIV)

The persecution of the early church had already begun by the time of this first letter to Corinth as well so it makes sense that Paul was talking about such things as being part of the “present crisis” and not necessarily a focus on the Second Coming.

Another verse that one could point to as being suggestive of the imminent Second Coming is this one:

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not;

1 Corinthians 7:29 (NIV)

This verse is yet another verse that must be taken in context and not merely the context of those verses surrounding it or the state of the time, but the character of God and of the man of God who wrote it. Surely Paul isn’t telling married men that they should treat their wives any less because the Lord is soon to come! Paul just got through stating that a husband and wife should submit their bodies to each other (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3-4). Indeed, Paul also tells them they shouldn’t abstain from sexual relations for a long time, so they aren’t tempted because of a lack of self-control (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5). It’s also here, in 1 Corinthians 7:6, that we are told that we are getting Paul’s opinion on the matter.

I say this as a concession, not as a command.

1 Corinthians 7:6 (NIV)

Paul makes it clear in verse 12, as well, that some of what he is saying comes from him and not the Lord.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.

1 Corinthians 7:12 (NIV)

Let’s look at those verses around 1 Corinthinans 7:29 for a clearer understanding of what Paul is saying here.

28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:28-31 (NIV)

Paul presents other states of being here in verse 30; grief and happiness. Both of these are temporary states, as we know, regarding our lives here on earth. In terms of eternal life, marriage is also a temporary state of being. If that isn’t clear, Paul mentions buying things and thinking of them as if they are something for us to keep. Therefore, we mustn’t allow anything; marriage, grief, happiness, etc. to consume us and turn our attention away from God. This is what Paul is telling us here, for, as he says, “this world in its present form is passing away.” If the earth remains for another trillion years, it is still passing away in its present form compared to eternity.

Paul’s teaching here for the church at Corinth applies to us today. Before we were saved, we allowed ourselves to be distracted by the things of the world. Marriage, sickness, grief, happiness, to name a few. However, now that we know of the eternal life we have in Christ, we need not be fixated on anything of this world.

Some of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 is not doctrinal. However, this doesn’t mean we ought to disregard what Paul is teaching us here, for as he says, “[he too has] the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:40 NIV).

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.