21 February 2015

1 Corinthians 7:25-31

“I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are … For the present form of this world is passing away.” (vv. 26, 31)

Psalm: Psalm 114


Paul is offering particular advice to the church at Corinth having received a letter asking various questions about how Christians there should be behaving. They can't agree between themselves, so they've asked for his advice, as an apostle (1 Corinthians 1:11; 7:1). They clearly want to know what he thinks about single people and marriage.

Paul doesn't have any specific teaching of Jesus to pass on about virginity. This first letter to the Corinthians is likely to have been written in the spring of the AD57, at least a decade before Matthew's Gospel, and so Paul may have been ignorant of the saying of Jesus regarding those who choose virginity 'for the sake of the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 19:12). So he offers his best advice, as someone whom the Lord has called, and in whom the Lord has placed his trust (verse 25).

Paul's teaching here is not so much concerned with whether or not a single person should get married, or a divorced person should remarry (or even whether a married person should get divorced) (verse 27) … but how long they will have left to enjoy their new state before the end of the world. This is because the end of the world will be marked by a time 'great tribulation' (Zephaniah 1:7 - 2:3) and tribulation is always much worse for people with family ties (Luke 21:23). And Paul expects the end of the world to be any time soon!

To Ponder

  • What would have happened to the Church if, despite 1 Corinthians 7:9, everybody had managed to control their passion and no Christian had married?
  • The Day of the Lord still hasn't come! Should Christians plan for it to be later or sooner? How?
  • How good is the Church at supporting people who have chosen to remain single? Or those who would rather have married but never had the opportunity?

Bible notes author

The Revd Neil Cockling

Neil spent 20 years as a circuit minister before becoming the District Development Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne Methodist District. He now works full-time for the NHS as a Consultant Lead Chaplain in mental health, leading a multi-faith team of 14 chaplains working in 10 hospitals in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.