Acts + Letters Lesson 22 Day 5

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1 Corinthians 7

My answers to BSF study questions on Acts and Letters of the Apostles Lesson 22 Day 5

How can a young man stay pure?
Only by living in the word of God and walking in its truth. (Psalm 119:9 TPT)

The Corinthians sent a letter to Paul asking questions about various problems. In this part of his letter, he answers questions about marriage.

12. Mutually binding obligations in marriage

The husband and the wife share mutual responsibility to show affection and marital relations. Neither should withhold affection or sexual relations from the other.

Depriving one another shows a lack of self-control, leaving one easily tempted by Satan

It is an awesome obligation: out of the billions of people on the earth, God has chosen one, and one alone, to meet our sexual needs. There is to be no one else. (

Regardless of how important sex may be, it is a temporal arrangement and not a part of our eternal existence. Marriage itself is an earthly institution. Matthew 22:30″ (Footnote v. 1 SFLB)

Short-term and long-term celibacy or abstinence

Abstinence in marriage—

God permits a married couple to abstain from marital relations for a short time for the sake of fasting and prayer.

A married person should not read about Paul’s preference to remain single and his suggestion that others do the same, then decide to become celibate within their marriage.

Celibacy for the unmarried

Paul recommends that virgins (young unmarried women), widows, and other single people remain single, and he lists his reasons for this advice—(v. 25) (His considered opinion on the topic)

—The time is short — I assume he refers to Jesus’ return.

—Because of the distress that is on us — Some scholars suggest this refers to specific persecution or other local event. Others suggest it refers to “the whole of this age, and does not refer to some special persecution in the first century. This entire age is stressful (vv. 26-28), temporal (vv. 29, 30), and distracting (vv. 32-35) (footnote SFLB © 1991, emphasis added).

—She or he does better, is happier, attend to the Lord without distraction

Because of the nature of this age and the reality of the Coming of Jesus Christ, believers are to adopt the attitude of finding the source of their life in Christ, rather than in earthly institution, whether marriage, the social sphere, or the economic world. A Christian is to live intently and responsibly and yet see these realities as ultimately temporal. (SFLB)

Both Jesus and Paul talked about celibacy.

In both cases, though, their teachings about marriage and singleness were rooted in a prior and more fundamental way of seeing and thus loving the world. Much like those who were eunuchs “for the sake of the kingdom” (Matt. 19:12), both Jesus and Paul literally embodied in their own life and being something of a reality that was still to come.

It is at least in part for this reason that Paul was able to speak credibly to members of the newly forming Christian communities with such a challenging word: “I wish that everyone was as I am [celibate and single]. But each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that” (1 Cor. 7:7). Much like Jesus’ teaching on celibacy as something that is “given” to people, Paul is suggesting here that God gives to some the gift of celibate singleness and to others the gift of marriage. They are both inherently good gifts and should be received as such, but neither represents an “ideal” state to which all Christians ought to conform. (Callaway emphasis added)

13. God’s plan for those who are in Christ Jesus

Marriage is a divine mystery.

For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. Then the two will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. Nevertheless, each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

For the married

Avoid the greener-grass myth. Married people sometimes long to be single, and those who are single long to be married.

God makes it clear that there is nothing wrong, and everything right, about sex in marriage. Satan’s great strategy, when it comes to sex, is to do everything he can to encourage sex outside of marriage and to discourage sex within marriage. It is an equal victory for Satan if he accomplishes either plan. (Guzik)

The desire to get married doesn’t mean a person is immature or unspiritual. Paul recognizes marriage as a legitimate refuge from the pressures of sexual immorality. (v. 9 Guzik)

When a man and woman give themselves to each other in marriage, that includes their bodies. (This does not mean abuse.)

Concerning separation, divorce, and remarriage

A wife shouldn’t leave her husband, but if she does, she should “remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband, and that the husband not leave his wife.” (v. 11)

If one spouse becomes a believer, they should stay together if the unbelieving spouse is willing. (v. 14) If the unbelieving spouse leaves, “let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace.” (v. 14-15)

A woman is free to remarry if her husband dies, but she should only marry a believer. I assume that goes for a man whose wife dies.

The Principle: you can live for God where you are right now. (Guzik)

“. . . each man should live his life with the gifts that God has given him and in the condition in which God has called him.” (v. 17 Phillips)

  • Married or unmarried
  • Circumcised (Jewish) or not (If not, don’t get circumcised.) (v. 19) Both are irrelevant in the New Covenant.
  • Slave or free (but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it.) (v. 20)
  • Don’t become slaves of men.

“Do not follow even good men slavishly. Do not say, ‘I am of Paul; I am of Apollos; I am of Calvin; I am of Wesley.’ Did Calvin redeem you? Did Wesley die for you? Who is Calvin and who is Wesley but ministers by whom ye believed as the Lord gave unto you? Do not so surrender yourself to any leadership that you rather follow the man than his Master. I will follow anybody if he goes Christ’s way, but I will follow nobody, by the grace of God, if he does not go in that direction.” (Spurgeon)

14. Personal application

  • Take captive every tempting thought.
  • Refuse to let my eyes and ears linger.
  • Close my eyes if I can’t get myself to move.
  • Flee from every temptation. Immediately.
  • Don’t gossip about the sins of others and open the door to temptation.

Years ago, I heard a message by Jack Hayford recorded at a minister’s conference telling a story about how innocently a tempting situation can begin. A nice woman came to work in the church office. She was very helpful to him, and as the days went by, he noticed he wasn’t just appreciative. He looked forward to seeing her.

Because his heart was pure, he felt convicted and realized the path it could lead to. I don’t recall all the details, but I do remember he confessed it to his wife right away. By doing so, he completely diffused the potential temptation.

If we feel like our spouse isn’t mature enough to handle this confession, we could tell a trusted friend.

This is a tough topic for me because I am divorced, and I remarried.

I’m prone to wallowing in guilt even though my ex was abusive and eventually left after 23 years. I stayed because I thought I was supposed to be submissive no matter what, and I was too proud and afraid to tell anyone.

Paul extends grace throughout this Q & A on a complex topic. The pastor who married my current godly husband and me says he believes in forgiveness and grace. I’m standing on that.

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Unless noted, all Scripture from public domain WEB translation.