I Corinthians 7:12-16

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Text: I Corinthians 7:12-16

QUESTIONS REGARDING MARRIAGE

INTRODUCTION:

In any New Testament church, especially in a relatively young church, problems arise which need to be settled. Remember, the Corinthians did not have the benefit of having a whole host of mature believers. The church was undoubtedly less than five years old, and was composed mostly of Gentiles who had no background in the Scriptures. Questions arose which needed answers. Some of these questions pertained to marriage. In I Corinthians 7:12-40 we see Paul's answers to the Corinthians' questions about marriage.

I. SHOULD A BELIEVER DIVORCE AN UNBELIEVING SPOUSE? - 7:12-16

I Corinthians 7:12-16 - 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 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 are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

7:12-14. The situation of a Christian married to an unbeliever who is willing to live with the believer

I Corinthians 7:12 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

To the rest means he is not speaking to the unmarried and widows.

I speak not the Lord = The Lord didn't deliver any definitive statement regarding this while on earth. He did not comment on what Paul is writing.

It is not indicating that Paul is not writing this portion under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the result that these words would be uninspired. Paul means that he is writing things about which the Lord never commented during His public ministry. It does not mean that Paul is writing something which would contradict or in any way supercede something Christ had said. He is not expressing an opinion contrary to the Lord's opinion. It means that Christ had not said anything about this subject during His earthly ministry. Had Christ spoken on this subject, He and Paul would not be in disagreement.

She be pleased to dwell with him - She (i.e. the unbelieving wife) wishes to continue the marriage and not to end it

Let him not put her away = He may not divorce her or he may not be divorcing her.

Although a man's Christianity may result in his wife abandoning and divorcing him, it is not the intention of Christianity to bring about divorces between saved and lost partners.

I Corinthians 7:13 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Let her not leave him = she may not leave him (i.e. her unbelieving husband)

I Corinthians 7:14 14 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 are they holy.

The unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the saved spouse - Is sanctified means is set apart, has been sanctified, or has been set apart. Its tense indicates action which has occurred in the past whose result has continued on. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. As a result of its happening in the past, it is an existing situation.

This sanctification of the unbelieving husband occurred either at the time of their marriage or at the time of his wife's salvation, whichever occurred later.

This does not mean that he is saved because the text clearly indicates that he is an unbelieving husband.

What it does mean is that an unbeliever being married to a believer has set the unbeliever apart in a position in which he as an unbeliever will experience certain privileges and blessings as a result of the believer's salvation - which an unbeliever with an unbelieving spouse will never enjoy until or unless he or his wife gets saved.

Else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

Else = otherwise

Unclean = impure. The benefits of having a saved parent are passed on to the children. There is someone to pray for them, witness to them, encourage them to be saved, take them to the local church services on a regular basis, be a godly example before them, etc.

Now are they (i.e. your children) holy, they are set apart, not in the sense that they are saved, but in the sense of being in close contact with one in God's family. This may ultimately lead to their salvation. They are blessed by having one saved parent who can tell them about Jesus, encourage them to be saved, pray for them, and live a godly life before them.

There is one saved parent in the home rather than none, and this saved parent can have a godly influence on the children. It is in contrast to the situation found in unsaved homes where there is no one to teach the children to pray, to read their Bibles, to go to church, to live for the Lord, etc., either in principle or by example.

7:15-16. The situation of a Christian married to an unbeliever who is not willing to live with the believer

I Corinthians 7:15 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Depart = is departing, is separating himself, implying is divorcing

Although the believing spouse should always do all that is in his or her power to continue the marriage to the unbelieving spouse, there may come a time when it is beyond his (or her) ability to dissuade the unbeliever from divorcing him (or her).

Is not under bondage in such cases - is has not been enslaved, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. They were never put in bondage in the past; and as a result, they are still not under bondage.

How far does this go? It permits the believer to let the unbeliever depart.

Does it permit the believer to divorce the unbeliever? No. The text is silent regarding this. To argue that it does permit the believer to divorce the unbeliever is arguing from silence, and this is ordinarily bad logic.

If the unbelieving spouse divorces the believing spouse, does it permit the believing spouse to remarry? No. The text is silent regarding this. To argue that it does permit the believer to remarry is arguing from silence, and is always logically dangerous. Mark 10:11-12 states,

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Although legally divorced, they are still married in God's sight; or there would be no adultery. Divorce did not really end the marriage.

In such cases is in cases such as these or in situations such as these, i.e. where unbelieving spouses choose to divorce believing spouses because of their salvation and subsequent Christian lives. Their marriages have changed because of the salvation of their spouses, and they may not like the changes.

God hath called us to peace - To peace is in peace and indicates how God has called believers.

Does it mean that God has not called them to the turmoil-filled situations where the unbelieving spouses are pursuing divorce from their believing spouses because of Christianity

Or, does it mean that the believing spouse should do everything possible to maintain peace within the family while attempting to hold the marriage together?

The context favors doing everything possible to hold the marriage together. Paul is not in any way seeking to encourage divorce. The Corinthian believers did not need this.

I Corinthians 7:16 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

In the context it is best understood as promoting continuance of the marriage. As long as they are together, there is hope that the unbelieving spouse will be genuinely saved.