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Paul's Marriage Advice in Trying Times: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31

July 16, 2023 Preacher: Bob DeWaay Series: 1 Corinthians

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31

July 16 Sermon Description

Title: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31 “Paul’s Marriage Advice for Trying Times”

By Bob DeWaay

This section of 1 Corinthians contains many difficult terms and teachings which require careful, contextual reading as well as sober minded assessment. This is the case because we cannot be sure of what was communicated to Paul from the Corinthians other than looking for clues in his responses.

This sermon lays out the issues, gives tentative definitions of ambiguous terms, and then focuses on the key issue of living in difficult times looking to the more important eternal values. Paul addresses “virgins” as one of his topics, but it is not clear what he meant by that term given the various ideas in their culture at that time.

We propose that “those who have not yet married” is a reasonable definition. Another issue is whether the “critical time” or time of difficulty which prompted Paul’s advice was something culturally traumatic in Corinth (which is unknown to us) or simply the trials of the last days (church age) in general. Given the fact that Paul advises to “remain as you are” if unmarried; it seems reasonable to assume that this was a local crisis such as a famine which was unique to their time.

Elsewhere, such as in Ephesians 5, Paul shows a high regard for marriage. It seems unusual that Paul as a true apostle of Christ would give advice with the disclaimer that it would not be sin to go against his advice. We take on the difficult issues and explain various approaches and why, in the end, we cannot be certain about what prompted Paul’s advice.

We do not have the previous correspondence from the Corinthians to Paul. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 forthrightly tells us that whatever our marriage, work, or financial situation, we are to live as those in a world that is passing away. Our well-being is based on eternal promises rather than the matters of life which consume those who do not believe God’s promises.

To that end, a major portion of the sermon application is to expound the parable of the Great Banquet Invitation found in Luke 14:15-24. The entire church age is a crucial time in which we must respond to the gospel and live with eternal hope in Christ.