Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Paul's instructions to the Unmarried (Agamos) in 1 Corinthians 7

Starting with verses 7 and 8 Paul wishes that the the unmarried (agamos) and widows (chera) could remain as he is, i.e. single (NASB):

1 Co 7:7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

In verse 9, he says the unmarried and widows should marry should they desire to:

7:9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Now in verses 10-11 he prohibits remarriage for the agamos (unmarried) in the following situation:

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.

The unmarried person here is the departing (or divorcing) wife. We can tell that she is divorcing her husband because Paul calls her state unmarried in verse 11. This is the state in which she is required to stay so that she can reconcile with her husband. Her husband in turn should not divorce her. See how this dovetails into Luke's 16:18 in a previous post.

The woman is apparently using a Greco-Roman style divorce-by-separation. This is a form of unilateral divorce, a very modern sounding concept.
  • So Paul allows the unmarried (agamos) to marry in verse 9 but turns around and takes away the right in verse 11 to the divorced/unmarried woman in verse 11.
In verse 12 it is apparent as to why this is so.

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.

Verse 12 begins Paul's instructions through the Holy Spirit with the Christian-unbeliever couple. So verses 10-11 are aimed at the Christian couple in which Luke's 16:18 passage would apply. This is what Paul means by "I say, not the Lord."

Two Conclusions:

1) Paul allows for the agamos (unmarried) to remarry in verses 8-9.

2) Paul prohibits remarriage to the Christian divorced (agamos) woman who leaves her Christian husband in the Greco-Roman style divorce-by-separation.

  • Who are the agamos (unmarried) who are allowed to remarry? That is a future post.

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