1 Corinthians 7:27-28 – A Limited Case for Divorce and Remarriage

The issue of divorce and remarriage continues to be hotly debated among evangelical Christians, and this has led to a great deal of confusion.1 Scripture supplies two allowances for believers to divorce their spouse which are: being abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (1Cor. 7:15), and unrepentant sexual immorality by the spouse (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:4-9). It should be mentioned that although sexual immorality by one’s spouse allows for divorce, it does not demand it (Matt. 18:21-22; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Eph. 4:26-27, 29-32; 5:22-23). The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that there is a limited allowance for divorce and remarriage found in 1 Corinthians 7:27-28. Specifically, it allows for those who have been divorced prior to conversion to remarry and by extension those believers who have been divorced because an unbelieving spouse abandoned them. Stated another way, in Corinth the situation was unique and does not provide a blanket approval for all divorce and remarriage.

It is clear that Scripture permits divorce and remarriage, but it is questionable that 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 supplies permission to do so. Scholars differ on their interpretation of this passage. For instance, Craig Keener believes the verses which mention those “released from a wife” refer to divorced men.2 Thus, the argument goes that divorced men may take advantage of Paul’s permissive statement in verse 28 “if you marry, you have not sinned.” John MacArthur also interprets the verses to refer to permission for men to remarry who were divorced prior to conversion.3 Yet, one must examine the surrounding contextual argument which Paul is setting forth. He begins chapter seven by proposing marriage as a deterrent for sexual immorality and issues proper guidelines for sexual relations in a marriage relationship (vv. 1-7). The apostle makes the statement that he desires all believers to be unmarried, but he makes clear that this is not a command (vv.6-7). It must be acknowledged that Paul realizes that being single is not for everyone (v. 7b). This sets forth a Pauline principle of blessing being found in singleness.

Next, Paul deals with the unmarried and the widows (vv.8-9). The word translated (unmarried) is from the root word agamo~, which generally referred to men and women who were single.4 He encourages those who are single and the widows to remain single (v. 8). Again, the apostles suggests singleness as a more desirable choice. Yet, he repeats that singleness is not for everyone and encourages those who have strong sexual desires to marry (v. 9).

In the next section, Paul instructs married believers to remain married to their unbelieving spouse unless the unbelieving spouse deserts the marriage, in which case they are free to divorce and remarry (vv. 10-16). This provides a second allowance for divorce and remarriage- abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. In such cases believers are not bound to the marriage relationship.

Following his instruction to believers who are married to unbelievers, the apostle addresses a variety of issues which include circumcision and slavery (vv. 17-24). In Corinth there were some who were circumcised, uncircumcised, slaves, and free men. Upon accepting Christ they were uncertain what to do about these preexisting life-situations. Paul declares that even though so many things have changed because of their relationship with Christ they should not force a change in their status because ultimately such things were irrelevant (vv. 19-20, 24).

After addressing these life-situation issues, Paul speaks of what virgins are to do (vv. 25-38). The question had arisen in Corinth about whether believers should seek to marry or not. Since this was not a situation faced by Christ during His earthly ministry, the apostle acknowledges that Christ did not speak directly about the issue but Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) gives his view about what is proper (v.25).5 He issues four reasons why virgins should remain unmarried: the present crisis (v.26); Christ’s return (vv.29-31); undistracted devotion to Christ (vv. 32-35); and increased happiness (vv. 39-40). Therefore, he says “because of the present distress: it is fine for a man to stay as he is” (v. 26 HCSB). The context clarifies what is meant by introducing the categories of married and unmarried (v. 27). The real issue is that Paul tells those who are “bound” (dedesai – 2nd person singular perfect passive indicative)6 not to seek to be “loosed” (lusivn – noun, feminine singular accusative)7 and then tells those who are “loosed” (lelusai -2nd person singular perfect passive indicative)8 from a wife not to seek a wife. It is clear that a man who is bound to wife refers to a married man9, which also means that for a man who is married to seek to be loosed means he would seek to divorce his wife. Yet the pertinent question is, does Paul refer to divorcées in his second question, “Are you loosed from a wife?”

The words translated “loosed” in the verse are both from the same root word. One is a noun form and the other is a verb form. So, if one is consistent is consistent in translation within the verse, one would conclude that Paul is instructing married men not to divorce and divorced men not to remarry. Where this becomes problematic for some is that verse 28 declares that those who have been “loosed from a wife” may marry and not sin by doing so. The question is, does this refer to divorcées? Keener and MacArthur believe so because they understand the two forms of the word translated “loosed” as referring to divorce.1011 Admittedly, MacArthur is more restrictive in his interpretation as noted earlier.

Conversely, D.A. Carson and William Heth12 believe that the verbal form translated “loosed” refers to a betrothed man who had not yet married his betrothed.13 Therefore, Paul is teaching betrothed males not to proceed to the stage of marriage because of the four reasons mentioned earlier: the present crisis (v.26); Christ’s return (vv.29-31); undistracted devotion to Christ (vv. 32-35); and increased happiness (vv. 39-40). They believe that Paul is referring to virgins and betrothed males because of the immediate context (vv. 25-38).14

Does one give more weight to the larger context (vv. 1-40) and to consistency of translation within the verse (v. 27) or the immediate context (vv. 25-38)? Carson and Heth prefer giving more weight to the immediate context of the passage and therefore interpret the “loosed” to refer to the betrothed. But, Keener and MacArthur ascribe more weight to the larger context (vv. 1-40) and to a consistency of translation within the verse (v. 27) thus viewing the “loosed” as divorcées. So, which is the most likely interpretation?

Paul has set forth the principle of remaining in the state each believer was found when he believed in Christ. Further, he proposes it would be more beneficial to remain unmarried.15 Yet, these general principles do not solve the interpretive problem of whether the “loosed” refer to divorcées or virgins and betrothed men.16 So, one must investigate further to arrive at a conclusion. In examining the passage Paul begins in verse 25 by addressing what virgins are to do and deals almost exclusively with this issue through verse 38. He also specifically addresses widows in this section, but it is by far a lesser focus (vv. 39-40). The first paragraph in this section outlines how virgins and the unmarried are to approach marriage in view of their present circumstances (vv. 25-31).17 After the apostle provides suggestions for these two groups he instructs them that being unmarried will provide them with a greater opportunity to serve Christ without distraction (vv. 32-35). He continues this consistency of thinking when he advises betrothed men not to seek the next step of marriage if they are able to remain sexually pure in a single state (vv. 36-38). Again, Paul is setting forth the principle of the blessings of singleness. He is most concerned with instructing the single Corinthians to maintain undistracted devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. One must recognize that the apostle clearly mentions that if the betrothed man chooses to marry his virgin he has not sinned.18

The larger context of chapter seven must be considered in this discussion (vv. 1-40). Paul is instructing new believers how to conduct themselves as Christians. These new believers were found in various life-situations when they believed the gospel. Some were ready to abandon their life-situations because they were now followers of Christ. Paul writes to caution them about abandoning all areas of their former lives. He teaches that married couples are not to deprive one another sexually (vv. 1-7). The apostle then advises the unmarried and the widows to remain single, but if necessary they may marry to remain sexually pure (vv. 8-9). Next, he addresses married male and female believers by instructing them not to divorce (vv. 10-11; Matt. 5:32; 19:3-9). Paul begins to address a situation which had arisen in Corinth when one spouse converted to Christ and the other did not (vv. 12-16). The believing spouse was not to divorce the unbelieving spouse, unless the unbeliever abandoned the believer. In such a case, the believer was free from the marriage (“not under bondage in such cases”). The Corinthian church knew that a believer was not to marry a non-believer (2 Cor. 6:14-18) and were prepared to divorce their unbelieving spouses. They are commanded not to do so.

Following this, Paul addresses the issues of slavery and circumcision (vv. 17-24). The new believer is not to undo/do things in his life which are unnecessary. Instead, he is to obey God’s Word in the life-situation in which he was saved (vv. 19-20, 24). Then Paul speaks to the issue of virgins, the unmarried, and widows (vv. 25-40). He informs them that they will be better off remaining single. But, if they do choose to marry they have not sinned. In the larger context of the chapter, the “unmarried” appears to refer to those who were divorced prior to conversion and were currently unmarried. It would also apply by extension to those believers who had been abandoned or would be abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. Those who were currently “bound to a wife” had entered into marriage at a time in the past and were still married at the time of Paul’s writing as indicated grammatically (dedesai – 2nd person singular perfect passive indicative, “bound”). Those who were currently “loosed from a wife” had been released from marriage at a time in the past and were still currently unmarried at the time of Paul’s writing (lelusai – 2nd person singular perfect passive indicative, “loosed”). Paul began to address what virgins and the betrothed were to do now that they had converted to Christ (v. 25) and what he appears to do is to present a general principle, which encompasses individuals outside of the categories of virgin and betrothed (vv. 26-31). As a result of the current circumstances in Corinth he tells the married to remain married (“do not seek to be released”) and the divorced (“released from a wife”) not to get married (v. 27). He has already prefaced this statement with the principle of remaining in the life-situation in which one is found (vv. 8, 17, 20, 24, 26). As one considers the principle of remaining in the life-situation in which he was found upon conversion, in relation to those individuals who have been “loosed from a wife” one must recognize that such men have been divorced prior to conversion. The principle would also apply to those who had been abandoned or would be abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (vv. 12-16). Paul encourages those men who were divorced prior to conversion to remain unmarried, so they would be able to serve Christ without distraction (vv. 26-27, 32-35). Yet, if such men do marry they have not committed sin (vv. 27-28). Paul distinguishes between virgins and the divorcees in his allowance for marriage (vv. 27-28).

The larger context of chapter seven speaks of not abandoning the life-situation in which one was found when conversion occurred (vv. 1-40). In reference to marriage, Paul highlights the benefits of singleness but recognizes all may not be so equipped. Therefore, he instructs the virgins, the widows, and the unmarried. The larger context identifies those who have been “released from a wife” as being individuals who had been divorced prior to conversion and by application those who have been abandoned by an unbelieving spouse (vv. 15, 27). Paul says that such individuals may remarry (v. 28). The purpose of this paper has been to demonstrate that there is a limited allowance for divorce and remarriage found in 1 Corinthians 7:27-28. Specifically, it allows for those who have been divorced prior to conversion to remarry and by extension those believers who have been divorced because an unbelieving spouse abandoned them. Stated another way, in Corinth the situation was unique and does not provide a blanket approval for all divorce and remarriage.

WORKS CITED

Bauer, Walter, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 3rd ed., rev. and aug. Frederick W. Danker (Chicago, Ill: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000).

Büchsel, Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976).

Carson, D. A., New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).

Hawthorne, G.F., “Marriage and Divorce, Adultery and Incest,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid ( Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993).

Heth, William, “Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Remarriage After Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views, ed. Paul Engle, and Mark L. Strauss (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006).

“Another Look at the Erasmian View of Divorce and Remarriage” JETS 25/3 (September 1982).

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, On Spine: Critical and Explanatory Commentary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Keener, Craig S. and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993).

Liddell, H.G., A Lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989).

MacArthur, John, “Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 6” http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/2341_Jesus-Teaching-on-Divorce-Part-6 COPYRIGHT (C) 2009 Grace to You.

Polhill, John B., “1 Corinthians: A Church Divided,” ch. 12 of Paul & His Letters (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999).

Quinn, Lance, “Common Questions Regarding Divorce and Remarriage,” article found at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A377_Common-Questions-Regarding- Divorce-and-Remarriage q=divorce+and+remarriage COPYRIGHT (C) 2009 Grace to You.

Swanson, James, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985).

1William A. Heth, “Another Look at the Erasmian View of Divorce and Remarriage” JETS 25/3 (September 1982), 263-272. Heth has since changed his interpretation to a selectively restrictive view.

2Craig S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Co 7:27.

3John MacArthur, “Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 6” http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/2341_Jesus-Teaching-on-Divorce-Part-6 COPYRIGHT (C) 2009 Grace to You.

4Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, trans. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, 3rd ed., rev. and aug. Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000), 5.

5John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 2:519.

6James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), DBLG 1313, #7.

7Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:456.

8Friedrich Büchsel Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 4:335-336.

9H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon : Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 181.

10Craig S. Keener and InterVarsity Press, The IVP Bible Background Commentary : New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 1 Co 7:27.

11John MacArthur, “Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 6” http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/2341_Jesus-Teaching-on-Divorce-Part-6 COPYRIGHT (C) 2009 Grace to You.

12William Heth, “Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Remarriage After Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views, ed. Paul Engle, and Mark L. Strauss (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 129.

13D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1 Co 7:25.

14G.F. Hawthorne, “Marriage and Divorce, Adultery and Incest,” in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid ( Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), 594-601.

15Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, On Spine: Critical and Explanatory Commentary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 1 Co 7:27.

16Lance Quinn, “Common Questions Regarding Divorce and Remarriage,” article found at http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A377_Common-Questions-Regarding- Divorce-and-Remarriage q=divorce+and+remarriage COPYRIGHT (C) 2009 Grace to You. Quinn states that the “unmarried” were divorced prior to conversion and only they are permitted to remarry. He is one of MacArthur’s associates.

17John B. Polhill, “1 Corinthians: A Church Divided,” ch. 12 of Paul & His Letters (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999), 240-41.

18D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, Rev. Ed. of: The New Bible Commentary. 3rd Ed. / Edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1 Co 7:36.

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13 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 7:27-28 – A Limited Case for Divorce and Remarriage

  1. I HV BEEN SO BLESSED BY UR COMMENTARIES ON THESE VERSES. IT IS VERY INCISIVE AND PRECISE. IT ANSWERED ALL MY QUESTIONS ON THESE VERSES, NOW I CAN ALSO EXPLAIN IT TO OTHERS WHENEVER THE TOPIC ARISES. THANK U AND GOD BLESS U!

  2. I believe the Bible does NOT allow remarriage– unless your spouse has died.

    “Everyone who puts away his wife and takes another, is a false husband and he who is married to a woman whose husband has put her away, is no true husband to her.” Bible in Basic English (1949/1964 BBE)
    — Luke 16:18

    After he takes another wife he becomes a FALSE husband to the second wife and the man who takes the woman who was put away by her husband is NOT her true husband.

    “For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together OTHERWISE than God’s Word doth allow are NOT joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.”
    -–Book of Common Prayer

    “I Require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that if any persons are joined together OTHER than as God’s Word doth allow, their marriage is NOT lawful.”
    -–Book of Common Prayer

    “Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce. Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted into good society; and women do likewise. There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in American living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.”
    — R. A. Torrey

    R.A. Torrey
    Pastor and graduate of Yale University
    Superintendent of Moody Bible Institute for 19 years

    http://www.cadz.net/mdr.html

  3. I struggle a lot with this whole issue, and though I held to the idea that divorce and remarriage were allowed in the case of adultery and desertion, I have come to a place where my understanding leans more toward the idea that it cannot be undone, and subsequent marriages are considered adultery. I would encourage anyone to check out a blog I have started about this issue:

    http://knowinghisways.blogspot.com/

    I will say that this passage in 1st Corinthians still is one that doesn’t seem to blend well with the idea that it cannot be undone, and I will have to read this post again.

    But the other thought that I find troubling (and I’ve blogged about it) is this idea that Craig Keener has about all of Jesus’ hearers understanding his statements about remarriage being adultery as hyperbole. I have seen the writings of the early church fathers, who seem to be unanimous about the idea that what Jesus said, he meant literally. If Keener is right that his original hearers understood it to be rhetoric, and not to be taken literally, how is it that this was lost so quickly, and for centuries in the church.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful discussion on the issue. I invite others to read my blog, and to post comments or questions, pro or con, as I am interested in trying to develop healthy and productive conversation on this issue.

    Thanks.

  4. The Greeks did not have a word for “widower” like they did for “widow” (there was, apparently, a word, but it was extremely uncommon to use it – kind of like using words like “erudite” (where we would say well-educated) or “lunule” (where we would say the end of your finger nail). It was standard in Greek to use the same word for “unmarried” and for “widower” when referring to a man – context only dictates which (and/or) is meant; perhaps, looking at this business about “now to the unmarried and to widows, I say…” refers to widows and widowers, not to widows or those who are divorced. This would harmonize better with the other parts of 1st Corinthians 7. Just a thought.

  5. Those who are “loosed” refers to those who had been divorced prior to accepting Christ. My argument does not rise and fall on “the unmarried and widows.” Regardless, in response to your proposal that “unmarried” refers to widowers, what do you do with the fact that Paul ends up speaking about “virgins” and those who had been “loosed from a wife” in verses 25-38? The passage is speaking to believers remaining in the state in which they were found when they accepted Christ (7:17-24). This would deal with people who were – unmarried, widows, and loosed from a wife (it is pretty difficult to say that this does not refer to people who had been divorced prior to salvation). Verses 25-28 speak pretty clearly on this issue.

  6. In the verse I was referring to, “to the unmarried and to the widows” the point I was making was that, since there was no word for “widower,” it would make more sense, perhaps, to see this verse as Paul speaking to “men and women who’s spouses had died,” rather than seeing it as referring to “men who were single either by divorce or not ever been married and to widows.” The context of that verse seems to support this idea, don’t you think?

  7. I think that contextually he is merely referring to those who were unmarried and widows. I think that those who had become single through divorce (which occurred prior to salvation – because of the context) are brought into the discussion later in the chapter (vv. 25-28). The verse to which you are referring (v. 8) may not directly refer to those who had become single through divorce but they are certainly brought into the discussion later in the chapter.

  8. Perhaps. I was only making the point about verse 8 when I first posted. I think, though, “have you been loosed from a wife?” could also be argued to be saying “by death.” I do think there are some good arguments for why he might not have been referring to divorce but only to “loosed by death” (for instance, as would be consistent with his illustration in Romans 7, though this is probably not a strong argument – Romans 7 is used as an illustration, and any analogy can break down when pushed beyond it’s intended purpose). But so much of this seems to need to be understood not merely by immediate context but in light of the whole concept as a whole in scripture… and so round and round we go….

  9. It is important how we study the Bible. A proper understanding and application of 1 Corinthians 7 will result as we rely, not on the wisdom of men, but on the wisdom of God revealed to us in His Word. Allowing the Bible to interpret itself is a time-honored and entirely scriptural approach to understanding truth. We should be determined to not deviate from this course. “What saith the Scripture” should be our appeal (Rom. 4: 3; Gal. 4: 30).

    Regarding the correct interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28, we must understand the following fundamental principle of interpretation of Scriptures:

    1) The meaning given the passage will not contradict other passages of scripture (John. 17:17). Scriptures do not contradict Scriptures. Scriptures can never contradict Scriptures. Therefore, any interpretation of a specific verse of the Bible must be done with the understanding that a specific verse cannot contradict what the rest of the scripture teaches regarding a particular subject. This is what it means to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2;15). So, if you ever come across a verse in the Bible that seems to contradict other Scriptures, it means your understanding of that particular verse is wrong. You will need to recheck your understanding in such a case. When interpreting a verse of the Bible that appears difficult to understand, it is always helpful to begin from what is clearly understood about the subject in question and then proceed to what is not so clear.
    2) All God says on the subject must be consulted (Psa. 119:160).
    3) The context (both immediate and general) must be observed and harmonized.
    4) The proper definition of terms is vital in coming to a correct understanding of the text. (We cannot assume definitions – we must verify their legitimate meaning and usage in scripture. This may mean consulting the original Greek or Hebrew term).
    5) The grammar used by the Holy Spirit must be considered and respected

    Now, when we correctly apply these principles of interpretation to 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28, it will not be men’s scholarship on the passage or men’s division over the passage which determines our understanding and our application of it. It will be because we have “rightly divided” the word of truth and come to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 3:3-4; 5:17).

    With the above principles in mind, any proper interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28 must not contradict what the rest of the Bible teaches about divorce and remarriage. Such an interpretation must fall in line with what Jesus Himself clearly teaches about divorce and remarriage. So, before we continue, it will be helpful to quickly review what Jesus Christ Himself taught about divorce and remarriage as well as what other parts of the Bible teach about divorce and remarriage.

    •Regarding divorce and remarriage, Jesus Christ Himself was very clear. In Matthew 5: 32 and Matthew 19:9, Jesus clearly said: ” But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except “fornication” (Porneia in Greek), causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” This same teaching of Jesus can be found in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11.

    When you review Jesus’ statements in the above Scriptures with an open mind, it is obvious that Jesus is saying a man is not permitted to divorce his wife for any reason (except on grounds of porneia) and if a man decides to divorce and then gets remarried, he commits adultery. This clearly implies that God does NOT recognize such a divorce. Because the divorce was not recognized by God, any subsequent remarriage is an adulterous relationship. Period. The fact that Jesus describes remarriage after a divorce as “adultery” implies that the divorce is not recognized by God (even though it may be recognized by the courts and by the government). Because the divorce is not recognized by God, any subsequent remarriage is adultery in the eyes of God. By the same token, the woman who has been divorced by her husband continues to remain the wife of her original husband, and this is the reason why Jesus said that any man who marries the divorced lady would be committing adultery as well. Why? Because in the eyes of God, the original marriage remains in force despite the divorce. The divorced woman remains the wife of her original husband in God’s eyes and the divorced man remains the husband of his original wife in God’s eyes. This is the reason why either the man or the woman would be committing adultery if they were to remarry. What is so difficult for us to understand here? it is so clear, yet people will not accept this teaching because they don’t like it.

    The above teaching of Jesus Christ on divorce and remarriage is corroborated by numerous other Scriptures in keeping with the fact that Scriptures cannot contradict Scriptures. For example:

    •Romans 7: 2: “For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” In this Scripture, Paul clearly teaches that a marriage covenant can ONLY be terminated upon the death of a spouse. It cannot be terminated by a divorce. As far as God is concerned, only death can terminate a marriage. So, even if a person divorces his/her spouse, both of them are still considered to be married in God’s eyes. This teaching of Paul in Romans 7:2 is in perfect harmony with what Jesus Christ earlier taught in Matthew 5: 32, Matthew 19:9, Luke 16;18, and Mark 10:11.

    •1 Corinthians 7: 10 – 11: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Again in this scripture in 1 Cor. 7: 10 – 11, Paul teaches that divorce is not permitted. He goes further in verse 11 to prohibit remarriage. He gives a divorced couple only two options – they either reconcile (and come together again) or they remain unmarried. Remarriage is not an option here. Again, Paul’s teaching here is consistent with the teachings in the rest of the Bible. The fact that Paul addresses married Christians in this Scripture does not limit the teachings of Jesus Christ on marriage (Matthew 5, Matthew 19, Luke 16, and Mark 10) to only Christians. God’s marriage laws are universal laws, which apply to all humans (both Christians and non-Christians). Remember that marriage was instituted in the very beginning in Genesis when there were only two people in earth (Adam and Eve). All human beings (believers and unbelievers alike) originated from Adam and Eve. Therefore, God’s laws on marriage and divorce apply to all humans. This is evident from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:8 in response to a questions from the Pharisees. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” In this verse, Jesus says divorce was not allowed from the beginning”. The beginning refers to the very first marriage between Adam and Eve, which implies that God’s law on divorce applies to all mankind since all humans descended from Adam and Eve. Furthermore, in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Luke 16:18 and mark 10:11, notice that He uses the expression, “Whoever divorces his wife…”. The term “whoever” applies to everybody and anybody, including Christians and non-Christians alike. The same term is used in John 3: 16 which says “whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life”. The invitation to receive salvation in John 3:16 is made to all humans by using the phrase “whoever believes”. Clearly, the term “whoever” applies to all humans. So, when Jesus said “whoever divorces his wife”, he was clearly referring to all humans, not just believers only.

    CONCERNING VIRGINS: 1 Corinthians 7:25-28: Paul now applies what he has already said about marriage and remaining single (7:7-8) to those who have never been married. The “present distress” bears directly upon the advice he gives to remain single (v. 26, 28, 32, 35).

    “Bound” in 1 Cor. 7 verse 27 is translated from deo (to be under obligation to) and conveys a “bound by law” concept (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2, where the idea of divine law is noted). It is not synonymous with douloo (1 Cor. 7:15; 9:19).

    Paul does not advise divorce to those who are obligated by God’s law to a mate. Nor does he counsel the Christian who is not under obligation to a mate (not bound) to seek a mate. In fact, he says “do not seek a mate” (7:27). If, however, the one who is not bound (loosed, not obligated by divine law to a mate) does in fact marry, he has not sinned in doing so.

    In 1 Corinthians 7:28, the term “loosed” means “not under obligation to a mate” or “not bound by divine law to a mate”. The only groups of people who are not bound by divine law to a mate are those who are virgins (never been married before) and those whose spouses have died (widowers/widows). It does not include divorcees because, as we have established from the rest of the Bible, divorce does not break the marriage covenant in God’s eyes; a divorced person is still considered to be married to his/her original spouse in the eyes of God. If Paul meant to include divorced persons in 1 Cor. 7:28, he would be contradicting the rest of Scriptures. He would not only be contradicting his own teachings in other parts of the Bible, but he would also be directly contradicting the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Although some brethren try to define “loosed” as “divorced,” its clear contrast is to “bound.” Hence, the contrast being made by the apostle is between one who is not obligated by God’s law to another and one who is obligated by God’s law to another. When understood in this sense, there should be no confusion at all.

    A person who is “bound” to a mate is obligated by God’s law of marriage to that mate. That law clearly says that the marriage bond can only be broken by the death of one spouse, not be divorce.

    In contrast, a person who is “loosed” from a mate is not obligated by God’s law to a mate. In other words, he is neither married nor divorced. He can only be someone who has never been married before or someone who is a widow/widower.

    Stay blessed.

  10. EDITED VERSION OF MY PREVIOUS POST:

    It is important how we study the Bible. A proper understanding and application of 1 Corinthians 7 will result as we rely, not on the wisdom of men, but on the wisdom of God revealed to us in His Word. Allowing the Bible to interpret itself is a time-honored and entirely scriptural approach to understanding truth. We should be determined to not deviate from this course. “What saith the Scripture” should be our appeal (Rom. 4: 3; Gal. 4: 30).

    Regarding the correct interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28, we must understand the following fundamental principle of interpretation of Scriptures:

    1) The meaning given in the passage will not contradict other passages of scripture (John. 17:17). Scriptures do not contradict Scriptures. Scriptures can never contradict Scriptures. Therefore, any interpretation of a specific verse of the Bible must be done with the understanding that a specific verse cannot contradict what the rest of the scripture teaches regarding a particular subject. This is what it means to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2;15). So, if you ever come across a verse in the Bible that seems to contradict other Scriptures, it means your understanding of that particular verse is wrong. You will need to recheck your understanding in such a case. When interpreting a verse of the Bible that appears difficult to understand, it is always helpful to begin from what is clearly understood about the subject in question and then proceed to what is not so clear.
    2) All God says on the subject must be consulted (Psa. 119:160).
    3) The context (both immediate and general) must be observed and harmonized.
    4) The proper definition of terms is vital in coming to a correct understanding of the text. (We cannot assume definitions – we must verify their legitimate meaning and usage in scripture. This may mean consulting the original Greek or Hebrew term).
    5) The grammar used by the Holy Spirit must be considered and respected.

    Now, when we correctly apply these principles of interpretation to 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28, it will not be men’s scholarship on the passage or men’s division over the passage which determines our understanding and our application of it. It will be because we have “rightly divided” the word of truth and come to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 3:3-4; 5:17).

    With the above principles in mind, any proper interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7: 27 – 28 must not contradict what the rest of the Bible teaches about divorce and remarriage. Such an interpretation must fall in line with what Jesus Himself clearly teaches about divorce and remarriage. So, before we continue, it will be helpful to quickly review what Jesus Christ Himself taught about divorce and remarriage as well as what other parts of the Bible teach about divorce and remarriage.

    •Regarding divorce and remarriage, Jesus Christ Himself was very clear. In Matthew 5: 32 and Matthew 19:9, Jesus clearly said: ” But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except “fornication” (Porneia in Greek), causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” This same teaching of Jesus can be found in Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:11.

    When you review Jesus’ statements in the above Scriptures with an open mind, it is obvious that Jesus is saying a man is not permitted to divorce his wife for any reason (except on grounds of porneia) and if a man decides to divorce and then gets remarried, he commits adultery. This clearly implies that God does NOT recognize such a divorce. Because the divorce was not recognized by God, any subsequent remarriage is an adulterous relationship. Period. The fact that Jesus describes remarriage after a divorce as “adultery” implies that the divorce is not recognized by God (even though it may be recognized by the courts and by the government). Because the divorce is not recognized by God, any subsequent remarriage is adultery in the eyes of God. By the same token, the woman who has been divorced by her husband continues to remain the wife of her original husband, and this is the reason why Jesus said that any man who marries the divorced lady would be committing adultery as well. Why? Because in the eyes of God, the original marriage remains in force despite the divorce. The divorced woman remains the wife of her original husband in God’s eyes and the divorced man remains the husband of his original wife in God’s eyes. This is the reason why either the man or the woman would be committing adultery if they were to remarry. What is so difficult for us to understand here? it is so clear, yet people will not accept this teaching because they don’t like it.

    The above teaching of Jesus Christ on divorce and remarriage is corroborated by numerous other Scriptures in keeping with the fact that Scriptures cannot contradict Scriptures. For example:

    –•Romans 7: 2: “For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” In this Scripture, Paul clearly teaches that a marriage covenant can ONLY be terminated upon the death of a spouse. It cannot be terminated by a divorce. As far as God is concerned, only death can terminate a marriage. So, even if a person divorces his/her spouse, both of them are still considered to be married in God’s eyes. This teaching of Paul in Romans 7:2 is in perfect harmony with what Jesus Christ earlier taught in Matthew 5: 32, Matthew 19:9, Luke 16;18, and Mark 10:11.

    –•1 Corinthians 7: 10 – 11: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Again in this scripture in 1 Cor. 7: 10 – 11, Paul teaches that divorce is not permitted. He goes further in verse 11 to prohibit remarriage. He gives a divorced couple only two options – they either reconcile (and come together again) or they remain unmarried. Remarriage is not an option here. Again, Paul’s teaching here is consistent with the teachings in the rest of the Bible.

    The fact that Paul addresses married Christians in the above scripture (1 Corinthians 7: 10 – 11) does not limit the teachings of Jesus Christ on marriage (Matthew 5, Matthew 19, Luke 16, and Mark 10) to only Christians. God’s marriage laws are universal laws, which apply to all humans (both Christians and non-Christians). Remember that marriage was instituted in the very beginning in Genesis when there were only two people on earth (Adam and Eve). All human beings (believers and unbelievers alike) originated from Adam and Eve. Therefore, God’s laws on marriage and divorce apply to all humans. This is evident from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:8 in response to a questions from the Pharisees. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” In this verse, Jesus says divorce was not allowed from the beginning”. The beginning refers to the very first marriage between Adam and Eve, which implies that God’s law on divorce applies to all mankind since all humans descended from Adam and Eve. Furthermore, in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Luke 16:18 and mark 10:11, notice that He uses the expression, “Whoever divorces his wife…”. The term “whoever” applies to everybody and anybody, including Christians and non-Christians alike. The same term is used in John 3: 16 which says “whoever believes in Jesus Christ shall have eternal life”. The invitation to receive salvation in John 3:16 is made to all humans by using the phrase “whoever believes”. Clearly, the term “whoever” applies to all humans. So, when Jesus said “whoever divorces his wife”, he was clearly referring to all humans, not just believers only.

    CONCERNING VIRGINS: 1 Corinthians 7:25-28. Whereas Paul focuses on married people in verses 10 – 16, his focus now shifts to the unmarried beginning in verses 25. Paul now applies what he has already said about marriage and remaining single (7:7-8) to those who have never been married. The “present distress” bears directly upon the advice he gives to remain single (v. 26, 28, 32, 35).

    “Bound” in 1 Cor. 7 verse 27 is translated from deo (to be under obligation to) and conveys a “bound by law” concept (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:2, where the idea of divine law is noted). It is not synonymous with douloo (1 Cor. 7:15; 9:19).

    Paul does not advise divorce to those who are obligated by God’s law to a mate. Nor does he counsel the Christian who is not under obligation to a mate (not bound) to seek a mate. In fact, he says “do not seek a mate” (7:27). If, however, the one who is not bound (loosed, not obligated by divine law to a mate) does in fact marry, he has not sinned in doing so.

    In 1 Corinthians 7:28, the term “loosed” means “not under obligation to a mate” or “not bound by divine law to a mate”. The only groups of people who are not bound by divine law to a mate are those who are virgins (never been married before) and those whose spouses have died (widowers/widows). It does not include divorcees because, as we have established from the rest of the Bible, divorce does not break the marriage covenant in God’s eyes; a divorced person is still considered to be married to his/her original spouse in the eyes of God regardless of whether or not the divorce occurred when the individual was not yet a Christian. As we have seen, God’s laws on marriage and divorce are universal laws that apply to believers and non-believers alike. If Paul meant to include divorced persons in 1 Cor. 7:28, he would not only be contradicting his own teachings in other parts of the Bible, but he would also be directly contradicting the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    A person who is “bound” to a mate is obligated by God’s law of marriage to that mate. That law clearly says that the marriage bond can only be broken by the death of one spouse, not by divorce. And that law applies equally to believers and non-believers alike. As we have seen from Scriptures, divorce does not terminate the marriage covenant as long as the spouse of the divorced person is still alive. Therefore, a divorced person is still obligated by God’s law of marriage to his/her former spouse. Simply put, a divorced person is still “bound” to his/her original mate. This is the reason why Jesus said that a man who divorces his wife and remarries is committing adultery, and anyone who marries the divorced wife is also committing adultery.

    In contrast, a person who is “loosed” from a mate is not obligated by God’s law to a mate. To be “loosed from a wife” means to be free from a wife. It refers only to those who are single. A person who is loosed from a wife is someone who is not obligated by God’s laws to any wife. In other words, he is neither married nor divorced. He can only be someone who has never been married before or someone who is a widow/widower. The only thing that can loose a man from his marriage is the death of his spouse. Divorce does not free a man from his marriage bond. So, divorcees are not included under those who are “loosed” from a wife. The meaning of this verse should become much clearer when you read it in the original Greek language. Paul’s question “Are you loosed from a wife” should have been rendered “Are you free from a wife” or “are you single”? There is no necessity of supposing that Paul refers to person who had divorced their wives.

    Although some brethren try to define “loosed” to include “divorced”, its clear contrast is to “bound.” Hence, the contrast being made by the apostle is between one who is not obligated by God’s law to another and one who is obligated by God’s law to another. When understood in this sense, there should be no confusion at all. Furthermore, some try to argue that this verse includes those who got divorced before they became believers in Christ, but this argument is baseless because God’s laws on marriage and divorce are universal laws which are equally applicable to both believers and non-believers. A sin is a sin, regardless of whether it is committed by a believer or a non-believer. God does not permit unbelievers to break his marriage laws simply because they are unbelievers. The same standard applies to all humans. The suggestion that, somehow, God uses one standard to deal with non-believers regarding marriage and divorce while using a different standard to deal with believers is absurd and lacks any scriptural basis.

    Stay blessed.

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