Monday, December 11, 2006

Exegesis of 1 Cor 7

Paul's 1 Corinthians 7 was his answers regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage to questions posed by mostly gentile Christians in that Greco-Roman city. It is important to keep in mind that it was written possibly before the appearance of the first Gospel (probably Mark). See yesterday's post. Paul therefore had on hand a proto-Gospel or at least an extensive knowledge of Jesus' teachings.

Two web postings stand out in terms of their analysis of 1 Corinthians 7, they are David Robinson's and David Instone-Brewer's (link 1 and link 2) exegesis. Robinson's approach is one purely taken in how a modern Christian would read that chapter and Instone-Brewer's is one that considers the original Greek, historical documents, and the predominate Greco-Roman culture of the time.

Briefly the chapter can be broken up into the following:

Verses 1-9 are general instructions on how Christians should view marriage. Note verse 4 with its strong allegory to slavery (NASB).

1 Co 7:4: The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

This is important to keep in mind.

Verses 10-11 are instructions to Christians whose marriage appears to be in trouble.

1 Co 7:10: But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11: (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

There is a clear instruction for the Christian wife not to remarry and the husband should not divorce. (see how this dovetails into Luke 16:18, the Gospel for the Christians, 12/12/06)

Verses 12-16 are aimed at mixed marriages, i.e. Christian-unbeliever.

12: But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.

13: And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

14: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

15: Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

16: For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Verses 12-16 are in Paul's word (Holy Spirit) rather than Jesus'.

Verses 17-24 are to remind Corinthians to that they are maintain their place in society when they are called to God. Verses 25-38 are to virgins and 39-40 are for widows.

More to come tomorrow.

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