Now concerning the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to
have sexual relations with a woman.”
However, because of sexual
immorality, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and
each woman with her own husband.
The husband should meet his wife’s
sexual needs, and the wife her husband’s.
A wife does not have authority
over her own body, but her husband does; and in the same way a husband
does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
Do not deprive
each other, unless it is by consent for a time, so that you may devote
yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan does not tempt
you because of your lack of self-control.
This I am saying by way of
concession, not command.
I wish that everyone was unmarried like me,
but each person has his or her own gift from God; one has this gift, one has
another. 8 But this I say to the unmarried and to the widowed: it is good for them if
they remain as I am. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them get
married, because it is better to marry than burn with passion.
10 But to the married I command — not I, but the lord
— that the wife
is not to leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she should not marry
someone else, but rather be reconciled to her husband; and the husband
should not divorce his wife.
12 But to the rest of you I — not the lord — say: if a believing man has an
unbelieving wife and she is content to contiue living with him, he is not to divorce her. 13 And if a woman has an unbelieving husband, and he is content to continue living with
her, she should not divorce him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy
because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her
husband. Otherwise your children would be unholy, but as it is they are holy.
15 Yet if the unbeliever leaves, allow it to happen. The brother or sister is not
in such cases, but God has called you to live in peace.
16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? And husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
17 As the lord has assigned to each one, and as God has called each, let them
live. This is what I command in all the churches.
18 Was anyone called already
circumcised? He is not to try to reverse it. Was anyone called while
uncircumcised? He is not to get circumcised.
19 Circumcision means nothing
and uncircumcision means nothing,
but what matters is keeping the
commandments of God.
 20 Let everyone remain in the condition in which
they were called. 21 Were you called when you were a slave? Do not let that trouble you, but
if you get an opportunity to become free, take it. 22 For the person who is called
in the lord while a slave is the lord’s free man. In the same way the person who
is called while free is Messiah’s slave.
23 You were bought with a price; do not
become slaves of anyone. 24 Brothers and sisters, in whatever condition you were
when you were called, remain in that condition with God. 25 Now concerning virgins, I have no command from the lord, but I do give
my opinion as one who by the mercy of the lord is trustworthy.
26 I think that
because of the distressing time we are currently living in, it is good to remain just as
you are. 27 Are you married? Do not seek to be freed. Are you
unmarried? Do not seek to be married. 28 But if you marry, you have not
sinned. And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But you will have difficulty in
this life, and I want to spare you this. 29 I say this, brothers and sisters: the
time is short, and from now on those who are married should be as though
they were unmarried, 30 and those who weep as though they did not weep, and
those who rejoice as if they did not rejoice, and those who buy as though they
did not own possessions, 31 and those who use the world as though they did
not use it to the full, because the form of this present world is passing
away. 32 I want you to be free from worries. He who is unmarried is concerned
with the things of the lord, and how he may please the lord. 33 But a man
who is married is concerned about the things of the world, and how he may
please his wife. 34 As a result his devotion is divided. A widow or a virgin is concerned with the things of the lord, in order to be holy both in
body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned with the things of the
world, and how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit, not to limit you, but to promote what is appropriate, ensuring
devotion to the lord without distraction. 36 If a man thinks he is behaving inappropriately in regard to his virgin
daughter, if she is past her youth and if it seems necessary, he is not sinning
by letting her marry.
 37 But the one who stands firm in his purpose, having
no urgency but power over his own will, and is determined in his own heart
to keep his daughter unmarried, he does well.
38 So the man who gives his
daughter in marriage does well, and the one who does not give her in
marriage does better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he is living. But if her husband
falls asleep in death, she is free to marry whomever she wishes, but only if he is in the lord.
 40 But in
my opinion she would be happier if she stays as she is, and I think that I too
have the spirit of God.
Paul certainly never advocated celibacy for all! His statement is hyperbole for the sake of
effect as in 14:5: “I wish you all spoke in tongues (languages).” But he had already made it clear that
not everyone has that gift (12:30).
Paul quotes an explicit ruling of the lord Jesus, reflecting Jesus’ own words in Mark 10:2-12
and parallels. There is no possibility of divorce for believers. (Jesus had made a single exception, that of unrepented, continuing adultery, Mt. 19:9.) If for some unfortunate reason one of the marriage
partners separates, he or she is to remain single, that is, unmarried to anyone else, with a view to
becoming reconciled to his or her husband or wife. It is clear that separation definitely does not imply a
divorce. It is entirely impossible that Paul had in mind some Roman law which allowed divorce by
separation! His whole point here (i.e. that of Jesus who speaks in him) is that a separated believer is not
to marry someone else. He or she is to remain unmarried, or be reconciled (see any standard
commentary on this point).
Implying the dissolution of such a marriage and thus a right to remarry.
This shows a striking and significant difference between the Old and New Covenants. In Gen.
17 every male — Israelite and Gentile — had to be circumcised physically, to be fully part of God’s
people. This is radically changed under the New Covenant.
A resounding statement of the basic NT teaching about the “obedience of faith” (Jn. 3:36;
12:44ff; Heb. 5:9, etc).
Rev. 12:9 states that Satan is now deceiving the whole world-system.
Alternatively this may be about a “betrothed” whom a man wants to marry. In that case the
sense is: “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are
strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin” (ESV).
That is, marriage should be strictly to those of the same biblical, Christian faith.