3-Week Series: Double Blessing

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Summary: The apostle builds on the principle stated in verse 7, that is, “Every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”

December 13, 2012

Commentary on First Corinthians

By: Tom Lowe

Topic #6: Questions Concerning Marriage, 1 Corinthians 7.1-7.40

Lesson 6.3: Marriage and Calling

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7.17-24

1 Cor 7.17-24 (KJV)

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Introduction

In this section, the apostle advises the Corinthian believers to remain in the state and condition they were in when they were saved. The person who becomes a Christian is born again into the kingdom of God, but that does not nullify what they were before they trusted Christ. Jews are still Jews, slaves are still slaves, and married people are still married. There is no special reason why a believer should change his occupation or position in life after they are saved. When applied to marriage, this simply means that there is no reason why a believer should leave his unbelieving spouse. Paul illustrates his point with the rite of circumcision. There is no need for a Gentile convert to be circumcised. On the other hand, there is nothing that could require a Jewish convert to be uncircumcised. In the New Testament, this rite did not benefit or in any way affect the life of faith: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Gal 5:6; KJV). When applied to the question of marriage, there is no reason why the believer cannot remain faithful to his obligation to God, whether he is single, widowed, married to a believer, or married to an unbeliever. The overriding principle is as Paul said, “Let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” The prescription for peace and holiness is to remain in communion with God. Therefore, even though it means living with an unbeliever, Paul is able to say, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” With the Lord’s help, they can fulfill their calling in a greater way, and glorify God at the same time.

The apostle also builds on the principle stated in verse 7, that is, “Every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”

Commentary

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

But as God hath distributed to every man,

The apostle has introduced a new subject that is somewhat different from what was discussed before, although it is of the same general nature. He had discussed the question of whether a husband and wife ought to be separated on account of a difference in religion. He now says that the general principle stated there should apply everywhere; that men who become Christians should not try to change their condition, or calling in life; but preferably, they should remain in the situation they were in when they became Christians, and by doing so, they would express the excellence of their religion in the life they live, and the wisdom of God, who called them to it. And it implies that God determines a person’s lot in life; whether rich or poor, in a state of freedom or servitude, of learning or ignorance, etc.; that the aim of religion is NOT to interfere directly with this; and that men should endeavor to show the desirability of religion in the particular sphere into which they may have been placed by Divine Providence before they became converted. The phrase, “as God hath distributed," refers to the circumstances into which men are placed within the framework of the social order.

This passage fits well with what goes before, and follows after; it may have reference to every man's individual gift, whether it is continence (self control; having power over sexual desires), or a disposition to marriage. These are given by God to some, and NOT to others, and those who receive them ought to live accordingly; in a married state: those who do Not have them Ought to remain single—“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that” (1 Cor 7:7; KJV).

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