“Because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are.”1 Corinthians 7:26
What present crisis? What is Paul referring to?
Some take this to mean Paul is talking about the troubles of marriage: bearing and bringing up children, providing for the family, and concerns like that. Clearly Paul is talking about something more than just the normally stresses and strains that marriage bring. Paul is referring to something very specific and very current in the lives of the Corinthians as a whole, not just one family.
Other commentators think it refers to the growing persecution of Christians, see my comments in the introduction to this letter at the beginning of the series. The present time of persecution, which the churches of Christ were experiencing across the Roman Empire. The Syriac version reads מטל אעקא דזבנא, “because of the necessity of the time”, or season: Paul is using the equivalent Greek word in context to mean “an hour, or time of necessity”, for “a time of great affliction and distress”. Because this was the present situation of the Christians, he thought it most prudent for them to be single and to remain so; since as they often had to move from place to place, to suddenly flee from one city to another, this would be very difficult for married people, who might have young children to take care of, and provide for.
Josephus says the houses were full of women and children that ultimately perished due to famine; and that the mothers snatched the food even out of their own children’s mouths. See War, b. v. c. 10. But he relates a more horrible story than this, of one Mary, the daughter of Eliezar, who being stripped and plundered of all her goods and provisions by the soldiers, in hunger, rage, and despair, killed and boiled her own suckling child, and had eaten one half of him before it was discovered. For that reason be wary of making the decision to marry. Paul is not against marriage, he is giving advice in the historical context in which he is writing – observing the pending doom.
Let’s also examine the words Paul used in some detail. “The present distress” means “in the present state of trial”. The word “distress” (ἀνάγκην anagkēn, necessity) denotes calamity, persecution or trial. The word rendered “present” (ἐνεστῶσαν enestōsan) denotes that which “urges on,” or that which at that time presses on, or afflicts. Here it is implied:
- (1) That at that time they were subject to trials so severe as to render the advice which he was about to give appropriate.
- (2) That he by no means meant that this should be a “permanent arrangement” in the church,
and of course it cannot be used as an argument that Paul was against marriage full stop.
What the “urgent distress” of this time was specifically is not known. If the Epistle was written about 59 AD it was in the time of Nero; and probably he had already begun to oppress and persecute Christians. At all events, it is evident that the Christians at Corinth were subject to some trials which rendered the cares of the marriage life undesirable. I have met many people who have made similar comments in our day and age. They don’t want to get married nor have children with the world like it is and they were not Christians living in the midst of persecution. It is a normal human reaction to added stress.
Apart from this there is no documentary evidence of any more specific incident or event that Paul is referring to.
A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.Paul Sweeney
Once a woman has forgiven her man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.Marlene Dietrich