1Corinthians 7:17-40 – Daily Bible (21 Jan 2014)

1CORINTHIANS 7:17-40 (NIV – UK)

Concerning change of status

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Concerning the unmarried

25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 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.

32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honourably towards the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin – this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is – and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

TIME IS SHORT

Paul continues instructing us on matters of relationships here – but with what at first glance might seem bizarre factors! Paul says:

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.

JesusWhat does Paul mean by this? Am I suddenly supposed to start ignoring my spouse!? Walk past him/her as if she weren’t there? Thankfully, this is not what Paul means! No, what Paul is referring to is the temporary nature of what we have now – ‘time is short’ (v. 29) and ‘the present world is passing away’ (v. 31). In Paul’s mind he is looking forward to the return of Jesus when all things will be made new and we will live with him forever (see Revelation 21).

Paul’s warning, therefore, is not to set our hearts so much on the things of this world (both good or bad things) – human relationships, mourning, happiness, material possessions etc. – but instead set our hearts on the joyful certainty of Jesus and his glorious return to us! It can be excruciatingly difficult for us to think in this way sometimes. We have so much invested in this world – we love our families, we miss those who aren’t with us, we want to be happy, we want to enjoy the things of this world – and to think that it might all be taken away? Surely that won’t happen! But as Paul points out to us, it will happen – yet what will replace those things for us is much more glorious than we can even imagine – Jesus himself! And the more we seek Jesus and know his beautiful and delightful ways, the more we will longingly desire his return.

Question: Do you find joy in knowing Jesus will return some day to make all things new?

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