(1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-17)

 Often Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are called the holy family of religious people, and they were. Mary and Joseph were set apart for God, but Jesus Christ was not only set apart positionally, but actually, He was holy in the sense of having never sinned. In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul is referring to being set apart for God positionally, and he is also exhorting the people to die more and more to sin and live more and more to God in actual practice. There is such a thing as a holy family “for the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean; but now they are holy.”



 “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote to me…” (1 Cor. 7:1). Paul wrote six chapters before he came to the question the Corinthians had sent to him. Marriage always has its problems, but there were other problems in the church that Paul dealt with first.

  1. Voluntary celibacy is an ideal that cannot be practiced by the majority of people: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (7:1). The Church of Rome is an example of failure on this subject. Paul is an example of success in remaining unmarried for the sake of the Gospel.
  2. Sex makes it possible for a Christian to have a family (7:2-5). The Bible teaches that sex is to be practiced within the framework of marriage and although procreation is not the only object of marriage, it is an essential part of a normal marriage. There is no better sex manual than the Bible! God commanded Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).
  3. Marriage brings many cares (7:7-9; 7:28). Many people marry with only the thought of selfish desires. They are not prepared to sacrifice for the sake of their mate and children. Marriage will bring out one’s character more than any other relationship. The present divorce rate brings out the selfishness of many people. Yet, on the other hand, marriage brings out the patience, love, and sacrifice of many people. Think of what many mothers and fathers are willing to sacrifice for the physical and spiritual good of their children.

 Paul will explain in detail what he means by the unmarried state. To him it means more time and effort to serve the Lord (7:32-35). This was true in Paul’s case, but it certainly is not true in the lives of many unmarried people. They not only do not sacrifice for a family, but they do nothing about serving the Lord. There is a great difference between the ideal and the actual!



 The above words are part of the vow made at most marriages, but how many make that vow “reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God?” But there are exceptions to all earthly vows because people do not live up to the vow they have taken.

 The rule is, “Let not the wife depart from her husband”; the exception, “But if she depart let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:11). The cause of the departure is on other grounds than unfaithfulness. There are some personalities that always clash.

 According to the Lord Jesus Christ, divorce is permitted because of adultery (Mt. 5:32; 19:3-9); no divorce “save for the cause of fornication.” Many have forgiven their mates for this sin, but the question still stands: “Does a person have to remain married to a person who persists in adultery?” The act of adultery is breaking the marriage vow, “…and forsaking all others, keep thee only unto him [or her] so long as ye both shall live.” Under the Law a man could put away his wife for any cause, but not under grace or the new covenant (Mt. 19:3-9). It is obvious that today most divorce cases are begun by the wife, not the husband.



 “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord” (7:12). This text is used by many to teach that some of the Bible is not God’s Word. Paul does not contradict himself. In the first part of this very book, he asserts that he was inspired as to the very words that he employed: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13). Paul means that when Christ was on the earth, He did not speak about some of the problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth, but now Christ was speaking from Heaven through the Apostle Paul to give a Divine revelation as to His mind on these problems.

 The believer is not to separate from the unbelieving mate who is pleased to remain married: “If a brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let her not leave him” (7:12-13). This means that the unbeliever is not against his wife (or her husband) being a Christian and is willing to allow the believer to read the Bible, pray, attend the church services, etc. There are degrees of being pleased to dwell with a believer, but this text means that the unbeliever at least allows the Christian to practice his faith. The unbeliever consents to such an arrangement.



 It is very obvious that the unbeliever cannot be sanctified if the believer is not a confessing Christian. Neither can the children be holy (set apart) if the believer does not practice his faith by Bible reading in the home, prayer in the home, confession of Christ in the home, and by recognition of the importance of the local church. Paul would never give the advice that some preachers give to the believer in her relationship to an unsaved husband. These preachers advise that if the husband does not want the wife to read the Bible, then she should not read it. The same advice is given because of a false interpretation of the command to submit (Eph. 5:22). All submission to superiors must be based on the principle of the prior claim of God. Christ told His Apostles to obey those who sat in Moses’ seat (Mt. 23:1-2). But when those who sat in Moses’ seat commanded something contrary to the Word of God, Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Spiritual and Bible-taught Christians rejoiced in the Bicentennial Anniversary of our country because the founding fathers acted on this principle. Because Great Britain made demands contrary to God’s Word, they revolted and established this great country.



 A child does not become a Christian by natural birth. Everyone must personally believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, the facts of the Gospel must be presented in the home. What a blessing to have a mother who prays for her children. Better still, when both father and mother read the Bible and pray for their children. Paul says that the greatest advantage of being a Jew in his day was having the oracles of God (Rom. 3:1-2). Most people who are saved can look back to a Christian home with great joy and thanksgiving to God who gave them this great advantage.



 According to the Apostle Paul, “If the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such a case; but God hath called us to peace” (7:15). The believer is not to compromise with the unbeliever concerning the prior claims of Christ. Our Lord spoke very startling words in Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” In this text the word hate means to love less, because Christ teaches elsewhere to honor our father and mother (Mt. 19:29; et al.). On the other hand, the believer is not to refuse to live in a normal marriage relationship with the unbeliever, causing him to leave.



 “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife” (7:16)? Many times the whole family is saved as in the case of the jailor in Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” It is an undeniable fact that salvation is found in families. But there are exceptions to the rule. Eli’s sons were wicked, and the Lord destroyed them (1 Sam. 2:12). Our Lord predicted that families would be divided because of Him: “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Mt. 10:35).

 There is a great need for holy families. Edward Gibbon in the famous work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote that the first reason for the decline of the empire was the breakdown of the family. America today, more than ever, is following in the steps of ancient Rome. May God intervene and cause this nation to have more holy families.