1 Corinthians 7:8 MEANING

1 Corinthians 7:8
(8) I say therefore.--Better, Now what I say is, . . . Widows are here joined with those who have not been married, otherwise discussion might have arisen as to whether the Apostle had intended his advice for them also. It has been curiously conjectured (by Luther amongst others), from the passage where St. Paul recommends widows to "abide even as I." that the Apostle was himself a widower. This, however, requires the word "unmarried" to be restricted to widowers, which is quite inadmissible; and even if such were admissible, the deduction from it that St. Paul was a widower could scarcely be considered logical. The almost universal tradition of the early Church was that St. Paul was never married, and unless we can imagine his having been married, and his wife dead before the stoning of St. Stephen which is scarcely possible (Acts 7:58), the truth of that tradition is evident. (See Philippians 4:3.) "Even as I;" that is, unmarried.

Verse 8. -To the unmarried; including widowers. In my 'Life of St. Paul,' 1:75-82, I have given my reasons for believing that St. Paul was a widower. It is good for them. It is an expedient, honourable, and morally "beautiful thing," but, as he so distinctly points out further on, there might be a "better" even to the "good." Even as I. In the unmarried state, whether as one who had never married, or, as I infer from various circumstances, as a widower (so too Clemens of Alexandria, Grotius, Luther, Ewald, etc.); see my 'Life of St. Paul,' 1:169). Tertullian and Jerome (both of them biassed witnesses, and with no certain support of tradition) say that St. Paul was never married.

7:1-9 The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was good, in that juncture of time, for Christians to keep themselves single. Yet he says that marriage, and the comforts of that state, are settled by Divine wisdom. Though none may break the law of God, yet that perfect rule leaves men at liberty to serve him in the way most suited to their powers and circumstances, of which others often are very unfit judges. All must determine for themselves, seeking counsel from God how they ought to act.I say therefore to the unmarried and widows,.... Not by way of command, but advice: by the "unmarried" he means, either such men who never were in a married state, or else such who had been married, but their wives were dead; which latter sense seems more agreeable, since they are joined with "widows", who had lost their husbands:

it is good for them if they abide; unmarried, and do not change their condition any more; not that it was sinful to marry again, for he allows of it in the next verse, in case they have not the gift of continence; and therefore "good" here, is not opposed to evil, only signifies that it would be better for them, more expedient and profitable for them; they would be more free from the cares of life, have less trouble, and be more at leisure to serve the Lord; and which he knew by experience, and therefore, proposes himself as an example:

even as I; that is, as he was then; for at that time it seems certain that he had no wife; though whether he had had one, and she was now dead, or whether he had never been married, may be matter of dispute; the former seems most agreeable, since he proposes himself as an example to widowers and widows; and having known what a married and single state both were, was better able to give his judgment of both, and proper advice to such persons which must come with more force and strength, and a better grace, from such an one.

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