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The Corinthians were confused. Many of the original Christians in Corinth were slaves. The sexual immorality of Corinth was staggering. The family life in Rome Empire overall had become a joke. The Brethern had questions:

To be spiritual do we need to abstain from sex whether single or married?What about marriage, fidelity, divorce, mixed marriages with non-believers?

Bob Deffingbaugh quotes from William Barclay's commentary on Corinthians, p. 202:

"Seneca writes that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married. In Rome the Romans did not commonly date their years by numbers; they called them by the names of their husbands. Martial the Roman poet tells of a woman who had ten husbands; Juvenal tells us of one who had had eight husbands in five years; Jerome declares it to be true that in Rome there was a woman who was married to her twenty-third husband and she herself was his twenty-first wife. We find even a Roman Emperor Augustus demanding that her husband should divorce the lady Livia when she was with child that he might himself marry her. We find even Cicero, in his old age, putting away his wife Terentia that he might marry a young heiress, whose trustee he was, that he might enter into her estate, in order to pay his debts."

John MacArthur cites:

"Seneca, says that men have ... women have wives for the housekeeping and the raising of children and concubines for physical pleasure...Jerome Carcopino writes about it, he says: “Some were not content to live their lives by their husband’s side; they carried on a totally separate life unto themselves. And Juvenal, says: “What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a helmet, hates her own sex and delights in feats of strength?” And Juvenal* said the women were going bare‑breasted through the streets with spears, sticking pigs and climbing posts. It’s not my kind of woman. But you have all of that kind of stuff. And Juvenal also says that “She lords it over her husband... before long she vacates her home ... flits from one house to another wearing out her bridal veil.”

JUVENAL (ca. 55-127 c.e.). Roman satiric poet whose works attacked corruption

Jérôme Carcopino (1881 - 1970) was a French historian and author. "Daily Life in Ancient Rome", Pelican, London, 1956]

There were four types of marriages in Roman Empire:

1) contubernium, meaning "tent companionship" which was an arrangement between slaves which lasted only as long as their owner permitted, as the slaves were completely without rights. Slave owners mated their slaves with the hope of getting offspring with desired characterstics. Much like prize cattle and horses are mated today.

2) usus, a form of common law marriage recognizing a couple to be husband and wife after they had lived together for a year. To preserve property from spousal attachment - a partner needed to live apart from spouse three consecutive days in each year.

3) coemptio in manum, in which a father would sell his daughter to a prospective husband.

4) confarreatio, on which the modern Christian marrige ceremony is based..involved participation by both families in the arrgenements for the wedding, a matron to accomany the bride and a man to accompany the groom, exchanging of vows, the wearing of a veil by the bride, the giving of a ring (placed on the third finger of the left hand), a bridal bouquet, and a wedding cake.
So there was rampant sexual immorality, decaying family life, marriage was varied and probably confusing to a slave -

is it any wonder that the brethren were confused?

Paul addresses their questions in 1Cor7. We only see the answers, but it is not hard to imagine the questions.

[Note: Looked up the majority of references that Barclay and MacArthur cited - found most - and am satisfied that the representation of life in those times is accurate.]


Paul begins to answer their questions:

1) Should we be celibate?
It is ok (good)to be single and celibate.

2) What about in marriage?
Given the temptations in climate. It is good to be married. One husband to One wife, and marital duties should be fulfilled. A concession, but not a command that abstinence can be allowed by mutual consent for prayer, but afterwards to resume relations.

3)So which way is best - single or married?
Neither, each is a gift from God. They are both good.

"While Paul recognizes that some are gifted for marriage, and some are gifted for the unmarried state, no one is “gifted” for sexual immorality! The married must live faithfully to their spouse, and the unmarried must live celibate. - David Guzik

4) What if we are single and cannot resist temptation?

Then get married. "..for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." NIV

"burn in Greek is "on fire" not just tempted, but filled with overflowing passion.

5) What about a marriage between Christians? Can they divorce?
No. (Unless there is infidelity Matt5 and 19). But I think the brethren just want to know in general given the permissive divorce practices in Corinth,and Paul says, "NO". BUT if you do - you must stay unmarried or reconcile with your mate.

6) What about if I become a believer and spouse is not?
You stay together unless the non-believer wants "out". Let them go, while you were to pray for their salvation, their is no guarantee of "conversion". While in the marriage the unbeliever is "sanctified"???

"Sanctified, in this context, does not mean that the unbelieving spouse is saved just by being married to a Christian. It simply means that they are set apart for a special working in their lives by the Holy Spirit, by virtue of being so close to someone who is a Christian." - David Guzik

What’s your message to the church, Paul? I mean, how ... what’s, your practical message? Look, the message is this. The way God made you, the way ordained you, the way called you, that’s the way you ought to walk. In other words, if...if He designed you for marriage, you ought to get married. If He designed you for singleness, you ought to be single. And if you were saved married, stay married. And if you were saved single, stay single unless you feel you need to get married. He’s just saying ‑ Look, what I say in all the churches is that the Lord has to work this out as He distributes to every individual. And only you know between you and God whether you need to be single or married. But...but salvation shouldn’t change those things.

Rethinking #5 ftom above

We don't know the questions asked, but the theme of the responses, seem to indicate the questions asked center around:

We came into Christianity with a backgorund - do we need to change our situation to pursue spirituality, celibacy, or closeness to God?

For a marriage where both partners are believers, Paul is saying - no - you stay together as situation God called you in at salvation. You do not divorce to pursue some perceived ideal lifestyle regarding the Lord.

I would like to make a personal comment on 1 Corinthians 7 and being single. I was married for 10 years and out of that marriage came a marvelous son who I am so proud of and is such a joy to everyone that knows him. He is truly one of my great blessings. However, when I was divorced in 1977 I had no desire to remarry. I came close to remarrying twice during my 29 years of being single but both times realized that I actually did not want to reenter the bonds of matrimony. I am truly a happy single person with a full life filled with joy, and I’m very content with my lifestyle. My sister on the other hand was miserable after her divorce and fitfully looked for another husband even to the point of searching the Internet. She felt incomplete without a husband and was not happy until she remarried last year. Neither of our divorces was something that we wanted. My divorce stemmed from being a Christian and my husband wanted to live a lifestyle that was totally opposite to Christianity. I’m thrilled to say that my ex-husband and his wife found Christianity later in their lives and now are among our Christian bothers and sisters. Her husband found someone else while she was attending seminary. Her ex-husband married his mistress and had since divorced that wife for a new mistress. I think being single or married is a personal choice and that choice should be respected. There is nothing wrong with being happily married and there is nothing wrong with being happily single. God created us as individuals and each of us is different in our own way and each of us is precious to the Lord.

Now I would like to comment on how I personally feel about Psalms 32. We need to confess our sins to God! We need to address them individually and not in just a generic way. Why? When we do something that we know is wrong – and we know it because the Holy Spirit lets us know – we need to talk it over with God. Sure God already knows the sin we committed but by discussing it with God then we let God know that we know what we did was wrong! It’s easy to pray “forgive me of my sins” but it takes on more emphasis in our own life when we pray “forgive me because today I did this xxxxxx and I know I shouldn’t because xxxxxx” and then ask the Lord to forgive us and give us strength not to repeat the sin. Confession is not for God’s benefit because He is all knowing but confession is for our benefit because it makes us take a close look at ourselves and how our attitude and actions can affect our relationship with God and with the other people we come in contact with.

God Bless!


The best part of Nehemiah 3 is the way they were organized on the wall. Over and over it says "so and so was next to so and so" all through the chapter. Here they are demonstrating how the body of Christ is to funtion, side by side for the sake of advancing the gospel into our world, and side by side to build up the church of Christ, each one doing his/her part. TEAM spells 'together each achieves more"... Nehemiah was an organizational genius. I wonder where he learned to lead this way. He had probably never been to any of our leadership seminars but God equipped him well for the essentials of doing a work for God.

One little note in Nehemiah 3:5 about the leaders from Tekoa. Sadly it says, "though their leaders refused to help." We're not told why but I'm sure they had their excuses. Same is true today isn't it!! As leaders, if we are leaders, let's make sure we lead by example and not just by exhorting and challenging people without putting our own hand to the plough.
By the way, I just went to see the new movie called World Trade Center starring Nicolas Cage. Talk about a leader leading by example. Whew! And talk about people coming together to 'rescue people' and rebuild a different kind of wall. Powerful. I highly recommend this inspiring but heart wrenching movie. You will be pleasantly surprised by how God and Jesus and spiritual themes are woven throughout this story.


Ch. 4

When we are doing the work of the Lord, do we have one hand on our "Sword of the Spirit" (God's Word)?

When we are not on the frontlines doing the work of the Lord, are we in the breeches praying and armed with the Sword of the Spirit to help protect those on the frontlines?

When the trumpet call comes, are we willing to rush into the battle in prayer and the Word? - (thinking of corporate prayer).
Ch. 5
Nehemiah's Handling of Sin
(Brother against Brother)

1) He thought about it.
2) He confronted the sinner's directly.
3) Called an assembly to deal with the sins.
4) Presented evidence in front of assembly.
5) Explained the bad influence of such conduct.
(Note: Nehemiah himself was a good example in this case.)
6) Called for repentance and restitution.
7) Required a defined stated commitment of changes to be made.
8) Emphasized seriousness of matter.
9) Warned of consequences of further sin.


Paul turns to Christians in general.

1) What if I am young, unmarried - should I stay unmarried?

Paul thinks so, but if you get married it is ok.

Paul is giving his own opinion and it is based on:
A) existing distress - there may have been some local persecution in Corinth as Christians were half of one percent of the population. On a larger scale, Roman persecution started around 64 AD. Persecution is tough if you are married, but if you are married - don't abandon family because of it.

B) There will be troubles in the marriage - solving your "burning desire by marriage is good, but there will be other problems. Life will not be a utopia, just because you get married. The distractions of the problems of marriage may hinder your service to the Lord.

C) Time is short - I can only take this as Paul thinks Christ is coming back soon - and as earth is a way-station. Whatever your status live as if time is short.

[Note: I wonder if Paul knew that God would "tarry" many centuries if his advice would be the same???]

2) What of my children? Should I keep them celibate to the Lord?

Either way is Good. Determine it through prayer and communication with your children.

3) Widows can remarry if they marry a Christian. Again Paul suggests it is better to be single.

"Paul will affirm celibacy, but not because sex itself is evil (as some of the Corinthian Christians were thinking). Instead, the unmarried state can be superior because it offers a person (if they are so gifted) more opportunity to serve God." - David Guzik

There is precedent for staying single. Some prophets were single, John the Baptist was single, and Jesus was single.

I don't have as much problem with the idea of God "calling" (alternate translation: "inviting") us to to a particular path regarding marriage.

Reading your comment, it seems you are convicted by the Holy Spirit that you should be married. If that is the case, I agree with you that God will provide at the right time in your life.

For me, I have no overwhelming "conviction" regarding marriage. There has been great benefit for me in being single since being saved. It has allowed me to catch-up (being a latecomer to Christ) in my studying of the Word the last two years, and free to do other things to serve Christ.

At some points, I feel it would be nice to be married, but it does not burden me. I had proposed three times in my life, and looking back - I see the wisdom of God in not allowing those proposals to come to fruition.

Currently, I just leave it up to God, and in prayer tell him - "thy will be done".

Did you see Christ in Nehemiah?

Nehemiah was the wine taster for Artaxerxes: The KING! He was in a position of great power and honor, and despite this preferential treatment and comfort with the life he lived in the palace of the king, he chose to go and be with and build up the common people, those who needed a leaders, a savior: The walls of the city were down, and needed to be built in order to resume the sacrificial offerings and the dedications, and worship in the temple, and what did Jesus do?

Divorce is clearly not God’s will, as in Malachi 2 (NKJV):
“ For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the LORD of hosts. “ Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
You have wearied the LORD with your words; yet you say, “ In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “ Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,” or, “Where is the God of justice?”

The Holy Spirit through Paul clearly reinforces this in I Corinthians 7 (NKJV):
Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.
But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.

Yet, Jesus allowed it (though because of the hardness of heart) if there was sexual immorality.

A believer and follower of Christ is not allowed to leave an unbeliever, and to put for the spiritual effort of prayer, love and partnership to make marriage with an unbeliever a beautiful thing.

Yet, the Holy Spirit says that if the unbeliever wants to leave, then he or she is allowed to.

It seems clear to me that in two (2) cases, the Lord allows for divorce and subsequent remarriage:
if one spouse commits adultery—though divorce is allowed, God’s glory can still rebuild the marriage and make it into an even more wonderful testimony of God’s power and grace
if the unbeliever chooses to leave—i.e., desertion by the unbeliever. Then, in that case, the believer must (of course) then remarry “in the Lord”.

Yet, the overall principle to follow is found in a passage we read a few days ago—I Corinthians 5 (NKJV):
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.
Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

This is God’s rule—“ not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral”. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 19 (NKJV):
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, [Or fornication] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

By Jesus’ own testimony—“whoever divorces [his or her spouse] and marries another commits adultery”. Adultery is sexual immorality.

We are not to even have fellowship with someone who deliberately disregards the command of the Lord and follows the “unbridled passion of lust” or “unbridled longing for love” to divorce a spouse and marry someone else.

Of course, all sin can be forgiven, and is covered by the Blood of Jesus. If someone divorces against God’s will (i.e., because long for someone else, because of unhappiness in present marriage, because of uncontrolled desires or anger, etc.)—and they later genuinely repent, then they are forgiven through Christ.

At that moment, as much as is possible, they need to try to reconcile with the former spouse. However, that may not be possible as the former spouse may not be able to or willing to remarry them.

Then, these persons need to follow the Lord with all of their hearts and follow the Word and the Holy Spirit in the context of a local fellowship of believers who serve the Lord.

Psalm 32 (Amplified Bible)
BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, to be envied) is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

I really like this rendering of these marvelous verses. MAY WE REALLY PRESS INTO, in order to KNOW AND EXPERIENCE this marvelous GRACE of God every day of our lives!

I praise God that there are always THOUSANDS and MILLIONS of chances for ALL of us who are sincerely willing to repent, ask forgiveness, and follow the Lord.

Regardless of the sin or injury (if sinned against), we can ALL LIVE in a REAL state of live where our spirits are free from ALL DECEIT and DARKNESS.

Of course, we always have to submit to God, repent of sin, and resist the devil every day. Of course, we will be attacked spiritually as we obey. YET, God HAS MADE PROVISION for us to live our lives FREE of DECEIT and DARKNESS.

We can like Jesus "for the joy set before us" endure any temptation and cross.

WE CAN KNOW REAL STRENGTH THROUGH INTIMACY WITH THE LORD at all times-- when we feel weak or strong. God is our joy, life, and prosperity.

ALL WE ARE AND ALL WE HAVE is in Him and from Him!


Everytime I read Paul talking about single people and how they should stay single, but if they are on fire they should marry, I have to wonder and it makes me sad. I am single, never married. I would say that I'm not on fire, but I do burn. I so much would like to be married. I pray to be brought together with the woman that God has for me, but in more than a half century, that hasn't happened. I guess it's not in God's plan for my life of serving Him, but then I question why I burn so and long so? I trust God to guide me and that I am where He wants me to be and doing what it is He planned for me to do. I just can't help wondering why, if it's not in God's plan for me to be married, that I have such a strong desire to be married? I guess I'll just keep praying and keeping the faith that I'm working within Gods plan.

Yours in Christ,

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