Lesson 24

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:6 But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. 7:7 Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind. 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am. 7:9 But if they don't have self-control, let them marry. For it's better to marry than to burn. 7:10 But to the married I command--not I, but the Lord--that the wife not leave her husband 7:11 (but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave his wife.

Today's Lesson 

Paul is dealing with the sexual immorality that existed in Corinth. As a Greek city, these people so recently still had Greek ideas about sexual mores. In their culture it was not immoral to take a prostitute, it was considered a religious act. Paul wrote to tell them that their bodies were the temple of the Holy Spirit and that to continue in these things was an abomination to God. So he tells them that to avoid sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each wife her own husband. This is the general principle.


In this section Paul adds to that general principle. It appears from this passage that Paul was unmarried and celibate. He considered this state to be preferable because without family ties he was free to devote his full energies to God's service. However, Paul realized that not all Christians had the gift of self-control that would allow them to remain celibate and not burn with lust. God gives different gifts to different Christians depending on their need. The ability to remain celibate outside of marriage is a gift that only God can give.


So Paul advises the unmarried and the widows to remain as they are and celibate if they have been given this gift from God. But, if they do not have self-control and they burn with lust, they should marry. "For it's better to marry than to burn." If the goal of our lives is to serve God faithfully, then we will remain as God has placed us. If we are unmarried and God has given us the gift of chastity so that we might faithfully serve him in this condition, then it is better that we serve him in this manner. However, we cannot serve God if our thoughts are always pulled toward the flesh. If this is the case, it is better that we marry.


To the married, Paul writes a corollary. He even emphasizes that in this he is following the commandment of the Lord. The apostles passed down and faithfully transmitted the sayings of Jesus to their followings. Here we have an example of Paul doing just that.


To the married Paul writes that they should stay married. A husband should not leave his wife and a wife should not leave her husband. Marriage is a union that is made by God and should not be put aside. It is a commitment that two people make before God to become one. As such, it has God's richest blessings and greatest protections.


But God is also merciful. Sometimes those that choose to marry, for whatever reasons, cannot sustain their marriage. To these unfortunate people, Paul gives instructions that they are to remain unmarried or else be reconciled. Even when we fall short of God's ideal, He is merciful.


To the unmarried, Paul advises that they remain unmarried. To the married, Paul repeats the commandment of the Lord that they should remain married. For all, the goal is faithful service to God. We are to live chaste lives so that unbelievers will see God in who we are and in what we do. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to treat them with respect and reverence for God lives in us.


In what condition were you called to be a Christian? Are you serving God faithfully, keeping yourself pure for the life of holiness to which He has called us?


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