1 Corinthians 7:39


Thursday, 14 August 2014

A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39

Paul’s words now are probably a direct response to a question put forth by the Corinthians. However, even if not directly asked, they still provide a well-rounded summary of his previous thoughts on marriage. First he reiterates his earlier words by stating that “a wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives.” This “law” is speaking of that of God from the beginning of creation, conscience in Christ, and New Testament theology; not the Old Testament law which has been set aside because of the work of Christ.

As long as the husband is alive, she is bound to him. However, “if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes.” Again in this verse, it is implicitly seen that the giving of a virgin in marriage was done by the one who had responsibility over her, not by her own choice. This is unlike today where that right is generally granted to those getting married and by mutual consent. Having noted that, for the widow, there were no restrictions and the choice to remarry was hers “to whom she wishes.” Paul speaks of the widow’s freedom from her marriage in Romans 7 –

“For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.” Romans 7:2, 3

Understanding that a woman is freed from the marriage by the death of her husband, and that she is free to marry whom she wishes, Paul adds in one caveat requiring her obedience which is that she must marry “only in the Lord.” Regardless of whether her previous husband was a believer or not, if she is a believer, she is required to marry a Christian. Several reasons for this should be obvious, but above all, her consideration of Christ as her Head is the most important. How could she be honoring Christ by allowing a non-Christian the authority over her? Paul speaks of the headship of Christ over man and the headship of the husband over the wife in 1 Corinthians 11. Her marriage to a non-believer would ultimately be dishonoring of Christ.

Paul gives this same general guideline in 2 Corinthians 6:4 when he says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Marriage implies a yoke and to be yoked to a non-believer in marriage would certainly be an unequal yoking. Therefore, Paul’s words are intended to honor Christ and ensure that He is exalted in our lives.

Life application: Heartstrings are far less important than obedience. When making decisions in life, the first and most important consideration is our allegiance to Christ. We need to make sure that our emotions don’t drive our decisions lest we be led astray from a proper walk with Him.

Lord God, there are times when I really want something which I know I shouldn’t have. Sometimes taking a bite of something yummy costs more calories that then flavor ss worth: A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Sometimes, taking part in an adventure may unnecessarily risk my life and so I need to not engage in that activity. I know these things and try to live by them. And yet, do I hold obedience to Your word as just as important? Help me to live according to its precepts first and foremost and never take part in something that would hinder my walk with You. This I ask that our fellowship will be pure and undefiled. Thank You for help in this. Amen.



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