Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Meaning of Unmarried in 1 Corinthians 7

Paul uses the word 'unmarried' (Greek agamos) 4 times in Corinthians. In verses 8, 11, 32, and 34.

Who are the 'unmarried'? Paul uses the Greek words 'chera', 'agamos', and 'parthenos' for widow, unmarried, and virgin respectively.

Also notable is that 'agamos' only appears in 1 Corinthians 7 in the NT. The meaning of agamos has been debated, here's a forum on biblical Greek and a thread that starts with the debate. Please read the entire thread and not just the first message. Agamos is literally unmarried. Greek 'gamos' means married. The a- is a proto-Indo-European negating prefix directly equal to the English un-.

Now to keep to eloquent language Paul could have used agamos to mean widow (chera), or virgin (parthenos) in 1 Co 7 in some verses but this is not the case. Note their usage in 1 Co 7:8 and 34.

8: But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

34: and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Paul means to say the 'agamos' is not the widow, and not the virgin.

  • Agamos is the unmarried, i.e. the previously married or divorced persons. In the next post I'll examine Paul's instructions to the unmarried (agamos) in 1 Co 7.

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