Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments. Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Note the verses before it and the verses after it:
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?1 Corinthians 7:14-16
Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.1 Corinthians 7:25-28
It is clear from the passage that the thoughts hang together. The notion of marriage is upper most in Paul’s mind. He is still answering the Corinthians’ questions concerning marriage.
Note how the section begins in 1 Cor 7:17 – ει μη – which literally means “If not” or “Only”. In other words given the situation Paul has described the only option is X. It follows on.
He then moves on to discuss other examples of living in the situation God has placed you. Hey you think this marriage situation is bad well let’s compare it with other untenable situations. What about that of circumcision where you guys go to any lengths to avoid it cover it up, reverse it? In other words change your situation. More on that tomorrow. What about that of a slave? Shouldn’t they seek to change their situation? Wouldn’t you think when a slave becomes a Christian they would want to get out of being a slave. They are trapped in their current situation – in this case not by a choice they have made but by societal restraints. Interesting isn’t it when compared with being in a marriage that one is wanting out of because the wife or the husband are not believers and it is too hard?
Ponder on this for a day. All too often we want to move on before we have properly digested or pondered on the revelation we have been given. Let the word soak into you. Think on it from a number of different perspectives. Ponder it from all angles. Revelation will come.
I have told you before I was inspired by my Greek professor who used to tell us as a class – “Class, dig on this word or this verse, there is gold here.”
I will let you into a secret now – dig on the word επισπασθω [epispastho:] in 1 Cor 7:18.
It has been translated in various ways as follows:
- Let him not seek to remove the evidence of circumcision.
- Let him not become uncircumcised.
- Let him make no change.
- Don’t try to change it.
- Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision.
- Shouldn’t undo his circumcision.
- Don’t try to remove the evidence.
- A believer should not try to reverse it.
We will look at this tomorrow.
Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in shade.Leo Buscaglia
Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do.Bettina Arndt