Summary: Message 22 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This message explores Paul's answers to questions concerning marriage asked by the Corinthians.

Chico Alliance Church

“Marvelous Matrimony – focused celibacy” 1 Cor 7:10-40


In this chapter, Paul responded to some questions raised by the church in an earlier letter regarding marriage. This church was born amidst a deeply defiled and disintegrating culture. The Corinthians had grown up with come pretty mixed up ideas about marriage. Now they had questions about what would was God’s way. They grew up around multiple wives, no restrictions on sexual activity for men. In fact sexual relationship with the temple prostitutes was considered part of connecting with the gods. Now they realized that these old ways were not only displeasing to God but destructive to them.

God’s sexual boundaries to protect marriage.

1. Selfless commitment between one man and one woman (Marriage)

2. Purity

3. Purpose

4. Mutual Pleasure

5. Spirit Control

Any crossing of God’s boundary lines introduces destructive consequences. There are at least seven possible questions or issues that Paul attempted to address in this chapter.


Isn’t it better to remain single and have nothing to do with the opposite sex? 7:1-9

Since sexual perversion was so rampant in Corinth, many wondered if it wouldn’t be better to stay single or to refrain from sexual activity all together even if you were married. Paul answered this question by addressing several related principles.

1. It is more expedient to stay single.

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 1 Cor. 7:1

2. Marriage (a healthy one) can protect from immorality.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Cor. 7:2

3. Marriage is between one committed man and one committed woman.

4. Couples are indebted to sexually relate to each other.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 1 Cor. 7:3-4

5. Sex is not just for procreation but to communicate and celebrate oneness

6. Sexual abstinence must be carefully managed

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:5

7. Both celibacy and matrimony is a gift from God.

But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 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. 1 Cor. 7:6-7

8. If you don’t have self-control, get married

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 1 Cor. 7:8-9


Is it permissible to divorce one’s spouse? 7:10-11

But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (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.

Paul gave several opinions in this chapter. First, he made it very clear here that this particular instruction was not just an opinion but from the Lord.

“To the ones having been married and still married”

“A wife should not leave her husband”

“the husband should not divorce hi wife.”

“leave” = put distance, separate, go away, depart, put asunder.

“divorce” = send away, forsake, leave, put away

Paul addressed the contemporary culture. A woman would leave a man if she was dissatisfied.

A husband would send a woman away if he was dissatisfied. Paul prohibits either.

Jesus addressed this same question asked by some Pharisees to test Jesus in Matthew 19:3-9

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

To answer, Jesus appealed to the original marriage. Jesus quoted Genesis. Jesus referenced God’s original instructions to Adam and Eve.

Leave (active) father and mother.

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