Introduction: Paul continues his words of encouragement concerning marriage, answering questions that he’d been asked by the Christians at Corinth. In this section he addresses the marital concerns of three distinct groups: Those who had been (but no longer were) married, those whose marriages were in crisis, and those whose mates did not share the Christian faith. Our approach to these verse will be guided by the observation that they are not a source of God’s Laws concerning marriage, remarriage and divorce, but are instead an account of God’s deep Love for marriages of all sorts, and desire that all marriages would function at their fullest, richest capacity for intimacy, redemption, and peace.
I. For those formerly married, either remain single and celibate, or remarry 8-9
8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
II. For those Christian couples whose marriage are stressed 10-11
A. Do not separate 10
10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
B. If presently separated, either remain single or reconcile with your mate. 11
11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
III. For believers whose mates do not share their faith. 12-15
A. If the non-Christian mate is satisfied—remain in the marriage. 12-14
12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
1. The non-Christian mate is blessed (sanctified) to be married to a Christian. 14a
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband;
2. Their children are sanctified in having a Christian parent 14c
for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
B. If the non-Christian mate leaves the marriage, let them go. 15-16
1. We are called by God to a life of peace 15
15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.…
2. We cannot ensure that our non-Christian mates will be saved by our loyalty to the marriage. 16
16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
Application—What does this text mean for Grace Bible Church today?
1. We are alert to the damage of the hardened heart. 10-11
- Restated: As Christians, we reject the very notion of dissolving our marriages or deserting our mates.
- “…a hardened heart…” is the underlying reason that Jesus gave for the divorce of believer marriages. While there are apparent provisions given in the NT for the divorce of Christians—forgiveness, acceptance, healing, and restoration are ALWAYS the preferred path to take in a marriage
2. We honor the immeasurable worth and absolute legitimacy of marriages that are not united in faith. 12-13
- Restated: We wholeheartedly concur that all marriages, including those between Christian and non-Christian, are of precious in the eyes this church.
- Many Christian ministries have done a pathetic job of ministering to their members who are in mixed marriages, and an even worse job of looking out for their non-Christian mates.
3. We treasure the opportunity for blessing and salvation that a Christian spouse and parent offers their mates and their children. 14
- Restated: We treasure the priceless opportunity to bring the blessing of God and hope of salvation into the lives of our mates and our children.
- This is the Big Picture—the restoration of people to their Creator, the introduction of people to Jesus Christ.
4. We accept the choices of our mates, but long for them to be saved. 15-16
- Restated: While we wholeheartedly give our affection and respect to our unsaved mates, we will also respectfully allow them to leave us should they so choose. But…in our depths of our souls—we long for them to meet Jesus and find His salvation.