(Tap footnote to read it. Old Testament quotations are underlined. "Love" with a caret ("^love") is agapé.1"agapé" The Greek words ἀγάπη (agapé, noun), and ἀγαπάω (agapaó; verb) are typically translated "love". However, unlike our English word "love" – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agapé centers on choice and behavior. It’s the "love" based on will, choice, behavior, and action; not feelings. (Feelings-based love is the Greek word φιλέω (phileó), which properly means "brotherly love/affection".) Thus, you could hate someone passionately and still treat him with "agapé". Agapé "love" is best understood as the pursuit of what is most beneficial to someone or something, regardless of the cost to yourself or the type of response received from the person or thing. It can also indicate a preference for someone or something over other things. )
Marriage and Sex
- Now, about what you wrote. It’s good for a man not to touch1“touch” this Greek word has the basic meaning of “touch” It’s most often used to indicate a simple touch, like Jesus “touching” various sick people to heal them. However, it can vary considerably in nuance depending on the context. At the other end of the spectrum, it can mean to “touch sexually”, which is interesting considering the same word can also be used of kindling a fire. It can also mean to “fasten or adhere to” perhaps in an affectionate sense, like how we would use the words “snuggle” or cuddle”. It can also mean to feel around with the fingers; i.e. to “grope”. a woman.
- But because of temptation to fornication, let each man have the wife to himself,2“wife to himself” is literal, though most translations render it “his own wife” making it more similar to Paul’s statement in the second half of the verse regarding wives (see following footnote). However, the two clauses are different. The Greek word translated “himself” here is “ἑαυτοῦ” (heautou). In this verse, it’s a 3rd person singular masculine reflexive pronoun, of which English has exactly one: “himself”. For some reason, Paul made a distinction between how husbands “have” their wives vs. how wives “have” their husbands. This difference has been accurately translated here, but we won’t speculate on why Paul made the two clauses different. and let each wife have her husband.3literally “her own husband”, but not in the sense of ownership, like the wife “owns” the husband. Rather, it’s an emphatic way to refer to the wife’s ‘own’ husband, as opposed to a man who isn’t her husband. The Greek word is “ἴδιος” (idios), and it’s often used of ownership in a non-exclusive sense. Example: “his own city” in Matthew 9:1, “his own country” in John 4:44, “his own language” in Acts 2:6, and “on their own” in Matthew 17:1, plus many similar passages. It refers to something that ‘belongs’ to someone, but usually not exclusively to that person. As an example, this same Greek word is used twice in verse 4, and translated “own” both times.
- Let the husband give what is owed4“give what is owed” is literal, and the two Greek words used here implies the payment (or repayment) of a debt, or – more likely – the fulfillment of an obligation which they are required to fulfill. to the wife, and likewise also the wife to the husband.
- The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise also, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
- Don’t defraud5“defraud” is literal. The Greek word literally means to take away or deprive someone of something that is rightfully theirs. each other, except by agreement for a suitable time, that you might devote yourselves to prayer; and then be together again so Satan won’t tempt you through your lack of self-control.
- But I say this as a concession not as a command.
- Now, I wish all men to even be like myself, but each has his own gift from God. Indeed, one man has this gift, but another man that.
- But I tell the unmarried and the widows that it’s good for them if they remain single like I am.
- But if they can’t exercise self-control, let them marry; for it’s better to marry than to burn.
- And to the men who have married,6“the men who have married” is an definite article + participle phrase in Greek. Nearly all translations change the gender of this (masculine) definite article + participle phrase at the beginning of the verse (changing it from “the men who are married” into the genderless “the married”). I command (not I, but the Lord) that a wife isn’t to be separated7“to be separated” is literal, as the Greek verb is a passive infinitive. Nearly all translations change this verb to an active verb, often with the imperative sense (“must not separate from”), making the wife the active agent of the verb. In this word specifically, it can have reflexive force (“to separate herself”) in some cases. from her husband.
- But if she was indeed separated, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to the husband. Also, a husband isn’t to divorce his wife.
- And to the rest, I say (I, not the Lord) if any brother has an unbelieving wife and she happily agrees8“happily agrees” is one word in Greek, with that exact meaning. It could also be translated “happily consents” or “happily approves”. It’s only used 6 times; once here, once in the following verse, plus in Luke 11:48, Acts 8:1, Acts 20:22, and Romans 1:32. The latter three of which clearly mean enthusiastic approval of something, and Luke 11:48 clearly leans that way also. to live with him, let him not divorce her.
- And if any wife has an unbelieving husband and he happily agrees9“happily agrees” is one word in Greek, with that exact meaning. It could also be translated “happily consents” or “happily approves”. It’s only used 6 times; once here, once in the previous verse, plus in Luke 11:48, Acts 8:1, Acts 20:22, and Romans 1:32. The latter three of which clearly mean enthusiastic approval of something, and Luke 11:48 clearly leans that way also. to live with her, let her not divorce the husband.
- For the unbelieving husband has been made holy by the wife, and the unbelieving wife has been made holy by the husband. For otherwise your children are unclean; but now they’re holy.
- But if the unbeliever separates himself,10“separates himself” is literally “is separated”. However, this Greek word can have reflexive force (himself/herself/itself) even in the passive voice. let him be separated. The brother or sister isn’t *under bondage in such cases. But God has called you to peace.
- For wife, how do you *know if you will save the husband? Or husband, how do you *know if you will save the wife?
Walk in Your Calling
- Only as the Lord assigned to each; only as God has called each; so he must walk. And I give instructions like this in all the churches.
- Was someone called who has been circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised.11“become uncircumcised” is one word in Greek, with a literal meaning of “to draw out/over”. Some Jews would use implements to stretch the foreskin so it would again cover the glans, thus simulating what an uncircumcised male would look like. This was done for multiple reasons, but one was to participate in the Olympic Games (in which competitors were traditionally nude). Has someone been called while uncircumcised? Let him not become circumcised.
- Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing; but observing God’s commandments is what matters.
- Let each man remain in the calling in which he was called.
- Were you called as a slave? Don’t let it concern you. But also, if you’re able to become free, it’s better to make use of the opportunity.
- For the slave who was called in the Lord is a freedman12“freedman” the Greek word here refers to a slave who has been freed, not a person born into freedom. of the Lord. Likewise, the free man who was called is a slave of the Anointed.
- You were bought with a price; don’t become slaves of men.
- Brothers, in whatever state each was called, let him remain in that state with God.
To marry or not marry
- Now concerning the virgins, I don’t have a commandment from the Lord. However, I give counsel as one who has received mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy.
- Therefore, I think this is good – because of the *impending distress – that it’s good for a man to be just as he is.
- Have you been bound to a wife? Don’t seek release. Have you been released from a wife? Don’t seek a wife.
- But also, you didn’t sin if you married. And if the virgin marries, she didn’t sin. However, such men will have trouble in the flesh and I want to spare you.
- And I declare this brothers: the opportune moment is *shortened so that from now on, even the men who have wives might be like they don’t have a wife,
- and the men weeping like they aren’t weeping, and the men rejoicing like they aren’t rejoicing, and the men buying like they aren’t taking possession,
- and the men who use this world like they aren’t making full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.
- Now, I wish you to be free from care. The unmarried man cares for the things of the Lord, and how he might please the Lord.
- But the man who married cares for the things of the world, how he might please the wife,
- and he *divides himself.13Or “he is *divided”. The passive and middle endings for this word are identical, so either could be intended. And the unmarried woman and the virgin cares for the things of the Lord; that she might be holy in both body and spirit. But the woman who married cares for the things of the world, how she might please her husband.
- Now, I say this for your own benefit, not so I might throw a restraint14“restraint” the Greek word here refers to a rope with a slipknot – like a cowboy’s lasso – used to catch animals, and restrain them from escaping after they are caught. on you, but toward the honorable and devoted service to the Lord without distraction.
- Now, if someone thinks he acts unjustly over his virgin daughter15“daughter” was added for clarity, as the Greek word for “virgin” here is feminine. Some translations alter verses 36-38 so they refer to a fiancée and his betrothed. Most translations which mistranslate these verses will mistranslate “virgin” as “betrothed”, completely leave out the clause “if she is past the bloom of youth”, and add the word “passion” somewhere to make this interpretation fit. Further, in verse 38 they will usually mistranslate the Greek verb which means “to give in marriage” (and more specifically to betroth a daughter to a husband) as “marry” or something similar. – if she is past the bloom of youth16“past the bloom of youth” is one word in Greek. There are two views as to its meaning. (1) “The bloom of youth” refers to menstruation and “past” this bloom means the girl has not only begun to menstruate, but also has been menstruating long enough to be regular. Historically, this would’ve happened at 15-16 years old, though women did marry younger. (2) “Past the bloom of youth” refers to a woman who is past her prime and thus past the ideal age to be married; i.e. an “old maid”. Some ancient sources fixed this at 20 years old. and thus ought17“ought” is the weakest possible way to translate the Greek word used here. It more literally means “is morally or legally obligated” The word was originally a financial term that literally meant to owe or be indebted to. (It’s used of debts in Matthew 18:28, 30, and 34.) In New Testament times, it referred to anything which someone was legally or morally obligated to do, which included obligations to the gods. to be married – let him do what he wishes; he doesn’t sin, let the daughters marry.
- But a man who has stood firm in his heart (not having a need, but having authority over his own will) and has judged this in his own heart to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.
- And so, the man who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage18“gives… …daughter in marriage” is one word in Greek, with that exact meaning. It properly refers to a father betrothing his daughter to a husband. (In betrothal, the groom-to-be pays a bride price to literally buy a man’s daughter to be his wife; see Exodus 22:16-17, and the footnote on 1 Thessalonians 4:4.) Many translations translate this word as “marry” in this verse as if the man were marrying the girl himself (see the first footnote on verse 36), but this Greek word never means that. It only ever means a father betrothing his daughter to a husband, and never means a man marrying a woman himself. does well, and the man who doesn’t give her in marriage will do better.
- A wife has been bound for as long a time as her husband lives. But if her husband dies, she’s free to be married to who she wishes, but only in the Lord.
- But in my opinion, she’s more blessed if she remains the way she is; and I think I also have God’s Spirit.
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