Drop files to upload.
Faithlife
Faithlife

Answers to Questions

To the Church of God at Corinth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 3 views
Notes & Transcripts
Faithlife Study Bible Building Hedges against Adultery

Building Hedges against Adultery

During the Allied invasion of France in 1944, a lot of fighting was done in areas bordered by hedgerows. Hedgerows were mounds of earth situated along roads and between fields. These mounds, which measured between 4 and 8 feet high and as much as 10 feet thick, were heavily planted with trees and shrubs. During the war, the dense growth made them tough barriers for armies to get through. In addition, areas surrounded by hedgerows could be easily defended by very few troops.

In the Bible, the word “hedge” is used as a picture of protection. For instance, in Job 1, Satan complains that God has put a hedge around Job and everything he has. With this protection in place, Satan is unable to attack Job. The seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” is God’s way of putting a protective hedge around marriage. This hedge is a strong barrier that is meant to keep the union safe and to keep temptation out.

I don’t have to tell you about the damage that adultery can do; physically, emotionally, and relationally, adultery can wreak havoc in your life. But the greatest damage it does is to your relationship with God. After all, the cry of David in Psa 51 was, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psa 51:4).

Of course, adultery is not the unpardonable sin, and it can be forgiven (see 1 John 1:9). But you can prevent adultery by putting a hedge around your married relationship.

Secure your mind. You need to put a hedge around your mind. That’s where the battle is fought and where it is either won or lost. Job offered good advice when he said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1 NIV).

Block out temptation. Build a hedge against temptation. This is more than just avoiding the magazines, movies, and TV channels that cause you to stumble (not to mention the internet). It also means severing any emotional attachments that threaten your marriage. Maintain appropriate distances in relationships. Flee from temptations.

Recognize your weaknesses. Christians often fall into immorality through overconfidence. They leave themselves wide open to an emotional hook—and then a physical hook. Paul cautioned, “Let him who thinks he stand take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12; NASV, NKJV).

Protect your marriage. Build a hedge of affection around your marriage. Marriages don’t collapse overnight; they suffer a slow leak. Find ways to help your partner grow and feel satisfied. Try writing a letter telling him or her how you felt the day you got married. Maybe renew your vows in a public ceremony. Commit to meeting each other’s needs—emotional, spiritual, and sexual (Paul is very candid about the latter in 1 Cor 7:3–5).

God put a hedge of protection around marriage so that our lives would be full, blessed, and satisfied. We should cultivate and tend that hedge through our thoughts and actions.

1 Corinthians 7:1–16 NASB95
1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 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. 10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 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. 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. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 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. 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?
1 Corinthians 7:1-16

In 1 Corinthians 5–6, Paul addressed issues related to reports he received about the Corinthians. Paul now turns to answer questions from the Corinthian church. The Corinthian believers wrote to him about several issues in the church community, including marriage (v. 1), virgins (v. 25), food sacrificed to idols (8:1), spiritual gifts (12:1), and the money he was collecting for Jerusalem Christians (16:1). Paul spends a majority of the rest of the letter responding to these inquiries.

A. This is Paul's most extensive discussion of domestic relationships. He deals with
1. sexual immorality, 6:9-20; 7:2
2. marriage, , ,
3. singles, , ,
ADVERTISEMENT
4. virgins,
5. remarriage of widows and widowers,
6. the recurrent theme is, "stay as you are," , , , , , , , ; because of the current crisis and the expected coming of Christ, although he allows for exceptions
B. Chapter 7 is a very good example of how the local and temporal situation must be taken into account before one can accurately interpret the Bible or draw universal principles for application. It is very difficult in the book of 1 Corinthians to know the historical setting because
1. we do not know exactly what the current crisis was in Corinth (possibly famine)
2. we do not know which factious group Paul is addressing and in which verses (i.e., ascetics or libertines)
3. we do not have the letter that the church wrote to Paul asking these questions (cf. ,; ; ; ,)
C. There seem to be two inappropriate attitudes/factions in Corinth that were causing great strife. The first were those people who tended toward asceticism (cf. ). The other group were those who tended toward moral looseness or antinomianism (cf. ; ). All truth is attacked by the extremes. In , Paul is trying to walk a practical and theological tightrope between these excesses, while still speaking to both groups.
1 Corinthians 7:1
1 Corinthians 7:1 NASB95
1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.

the things about which you wrote The precise nature of the Corinthians’ first question is unknown. Paul’s response suggests that the inquiry was broadly related to matters of marriage and sexual relations.

the things about which you wrote The precise nature of the Corinthians’ first question is unknown. Paul’s response suggests that the inquiry was broadly related to matters of marriage and sexual relations.

touch a woman The Greek text here uses an idiom to refer to having sexual intercourse with a woman; it may not imply marriage.

It is very difficult to interpret this chapter without knowing exactly what questions the Corinthians asked and who asked them (i.e., the faithful believers, the libertine group, the ascetic group, or one of the factious house churches).

ascetic group among the Corinthian Christians who not only condemned sexual promiscuity (rightly) but also argued (wrongly) that Christians should avoid marriage and abstain from sexual relations even in marriage.

The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon 1. 7:1–16. Advice to Those Who Are Married

Sexual abstinence by devotees of the gods was common among the devotees of the cult of Isis, an Egyptian goddess, who was also widely celebrated and worshiped in Corinth

The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon 1. 7:1–16. Advice to Those Who Are Married

The Cynics of Paul’s day were more likely to urge sexual abstinence so that the pursuit of their philosophy could go uninterrupted,

touch a woman The Greek text here uses an idiom to refer to having sexual intercourse with a woman; it may not imply marriage.

This is most likely a quote from the Corinthians’ previous letter to Paul and not the position of the apostle himself. Some married believers in Corinth deprived their spouses of sexual relations on the basis of this slogan. While Paul acknowledges the benefits of celibacy, he asserts it is not an option for those who are already married (v. 5). Thus, married couples should enjoy sexual relations and only abstain from them when both parties agree to do so.

1 Corinthians 7:2 NASB95
2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

because of sexual immorality Although the Greek word porneia can refer to any illicit sexual behavior, Paul may refer to prostitution here (see 6:9, 12 and note; 6:15–16). Some female believers may have deprived their husbands of sexual relations. In response, these men sought out prostitutes.

Marriage is not the exception; it is the norm, not a concession
Marriage is not the exception; it is the norm, not a concession
1 Corinthians 7:3–4 NASB95
3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Paul gives four guidelines in two verses. It is just possible that Paul is dealing with two problems in this area of human sexuality (cf. Gordon D. Fee, To What End Exegesis, pp. 88-98).
Paul gives four guidelines in two verses. It is just possible that Paul is dealing with two problems in this area of human sexuality (cf. Gordon D. Fee, To What End Exegesis, pp. 88-98).
1. promiscuous Christians who continued their previous pagan sexual patterns, particularly at pagan temples and feasts (i.e., libertines)
2. Christians who have made even married sex a spiritual taboo (i.e., ascetics, cf. and thereby becomes a slogan or one of the factions)

These are remarkable verses in that they reveal viewpoints that appear to be far ahead of their time: a healthy perception of the woman’s sexuality, and an understanding of the complete equality that exists between a man and a woman in the most intimate area of their relationship. The Scripture gives no support whatever to the notion that sexual relations are solely at the direction and for the enjoyment of the husband.

The wife does not have authority Paul discusses this because of the problem of unsatisfied husbands seeking fulfillment from local prostitutes. In Paul’s view, married men and women have pledged their bodies to their spouses and thus do not have authority to deny their spouses sexual relations.

Paul’s perspective assumes a framework in which a godly, loving husband does not take advantage of his wife (see note on Eph 5:23; note on Eph 5:25). Paul immediately follows this exhortation with the same requirements for husbands whose bodies are likewise committed to their wives.

1 Corinthians 7:5 NASB95
5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
:
"Stop depriving one another" This implies "stop an act in process." This relates to the problem of asceticism in the Corinthian church. It also asserts that sex, or withholding sex, must not be a tool to control one's spouse!
The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon 1. 7:1–16. Advice to Those Who Are Married

For Paul, it was expected that men and women would marry (Gen. 1:28), but there were times when it was appropriate with the consent of the spouse to dedicate a time to prayer and during this time it was agreed by both partners to avoid sexual contact.

not defraud one another Paul advises married Corinthian believers not to deprive each other of sexual relations (see note on 1 Cor 7:1); doing so could lead them into temptation.

Building Hedges against Adultery Devotional

devote yourselves to prayer Paul advises the Corinthians to practice abstinence within marriage only for the express purpose of a limited season of focused prayer.

The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon 1. 7:1–16. Advice to Those Who Are Married

According to the Mishnah,

If a man vowed to have no intercourse with his wife, the School of Shammai say: [She may consent] for two weeks. And the School of Hillel say: For one week [only]. Disciples [of the Sages] may continue absent for thirty days against the will [of their wives] while they occupy themselves in the study of the law; and laborers for one week. The duty of marriage enjoined in the Law [Exod. 21:10] is: every day for them that are unoccupied; twice a week for labourers; once a week for ass-drivers; once every thirty days for camel-drivers; and once every six months for sailors. So R. Eliezer (m. Ketuboth 5.6, Danby trans.).

Paul is closer in thought to the author of The Testament of Naphtali (ca. 137–107 B.C.), however, who writes: There is a time for having intercourse with one’s wife, and a time to abstain for the purpose of prayer” (T. Naph. 8:8, OT Pseud 1:814). Paul contends that abstinence must be mutually agreed to by husband and wife, that it must be for a limited amount of time, and that it should be for the purpose of prayer.

The reason for this is simple:
Satan This type of sexual deprivation within marriage provides an easy means for Satan to tempt people.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Even married couples need to be extremely careful of Satan's insidious temptations within marriage. Human sexuality, though a gift from God, is a powerful human drive. Satan uses this aspect of biological need as a tool to alienate fallen mankind from God. This is true both for lost and saved, though at different levels (cf. ).
In this context there is obviously a problem addressing a theology of human sexuality in the church of Corinth. Probably it had both extremes of asceticism or libertinism.
1 Corinthians 7:6 NASB95
6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.
:6

concession Paul is advising, not commanding, the Corinthians.

He is giving his Spirit-led opinion not a command from God.
His purpose was to help believers cope with current circumstances, not limit them.
In this context, Utley says: Paul expects 3 things
1. the Second Coming at any moment
2. increased persecution at any moment
3. continuing famine
Therefore Paul's purpose was to help believers cope with current circumstances, not limit them.
His purpose was to help believers cope with current circumstances, not limit them.
1 Corinthians 7:7 NASB95
7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.
"Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am" This may refer to (1) Paul as a single person; (2) Paul as content; or (3) Paul as self-controlled (cf. ). Paul was probably married at one time because of the cultural pressure from his Jewish background and the implications of , where Paul seems to be a member of the Sanhedrin (i.e., "I cast a vote"). If he was part of the Sanhedrin, he had to be married.
What happened to Paul’s wife? She may have died…some say she may have divorced him because of his Christian faith....we don’t know
Paul's desire that all believers remain as he was, needs to be clarified in several ways.
1. Paul expected the Second Coming in his lifetime, as did all first century Christians. The any-moment return of Jesus (see Special Topic at ) is meant to be a strong motivator towards Christlikeness and evangelism in every age.
2. Paul's view must be seen in light of God's command "to be fruitful and multiply" of . If Christians were all single what of the next generation?
3. Paul himself had a high view of marriage (cf. ), how else could he use it as the analogy of Christ and the church compared to husband and wife in ?
The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts–Philemon 1. 7:1–16. Advice to Those Who Are Married

Paul now addresses the concerns of those who are unmarried and widowed.

1 Corinthians 7:8 NASB95
8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

unmarried The Greek work used here, agamos, occurs only four times in the NT, all in this passage (compare vv. 11, 32, 34). The word refers to someone who has no spouse, a state that may result from various circumstances: death of one’s spouse, desertion by a spouse (see v. 15), divorce, or remaining single.

good for them Paul describes the advantages of remaining single in vv. 32–34, but he recognizes that not everyone has this “gift” (v. 7); some people should get married (v. 9; compare v. 39).

if they remain as I am The circumstances of Paul’s unmarried state are unclear, and he does not reveal them in any of his autobiographical comments found elsewhere.

Paul has just mentioned a spiritual gift in , but this verse mentions a situation in life, not a gift. Possibly "gift" is used in this context in the sense of attitude or perspective.
1 Corinthians 7:9 NASB95
9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

they should marry The solution for those without the gift of celibacy (v. 7). Those with this gift appear to be the exception, not the rule.

to burn with sexual desire Refers to intense sexual desire. Some believers could not refrain from illicitly satisfying their sexual desire. He advises such people to marry and enjoy sexual relations within an exclusive relationship.

"they do not have self-control" This sounds so negative to modern ears. Is Paul saying marriage is a sign of a believer's lack of self-control? Is it a less spiritual state? In light of the teaching of all Scripture this cannot be true. Paul is directing his comments to the current local, temporal situation. This is not a universal comment on marriage and singleness. Marriage is not the lesser of two evils; promiscuous sex, however, is always out of bounds.
▣ "let them marry"
Notice the contrast between "to marry" (aorist active infinitive) and "to burn" (present passive infinitive). The marriage brings the continuing passion under control. This is also not a disparaging comment on marriage, but a practical observation. Marriage is the normal way to fulfill a strong and recurrent, God-given desire. This same term "burn" is used by Paul of himself in , therefore, it is not automatically a negative term.
2 Corinthians 11:29 NASB95
29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
"to the married" This is the third of the groups addressed: "the unmarried," "the widowed," and now "the married."
1 Corinthians 7:10 NASB95
10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
; ; ;
Matthew 5:32 NASB95
32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 19:9 NASB95
9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Mark 10:11 NASB95
11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;
Luke 16:18 NASB95
18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

not I, but the Lord Refers to Jesus, who provided His own commands about divorce (e.g., Matt 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18). While Roman law and some Jewish teachers permitted divorce, Jesus did not permit divorce except in cases of marital unfaithfulness.

wife Paul addresses wives first, probably because women brought up this issue. Women in Graeco-Roman society could separate from their husbands, but this was not the custom in Jewish tradition.

1 Corinthians 7:11 NASB95
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.

remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband Not an ordinary command; rather, this refers back to seeking the gift of celibacy in 1 Cor 7:6–9. Paul is not categorically prohibiting all remarriage after divorce; instead, he is encouraging people to be free in Christ just as he is, rather than seeking another spouse.

There may have been a problem in Corinth with believers divorcing unbelievers for the sake of marrying a believer (compare note on v. 14). Paul’s prohibition makes that an unsatisfying option since it would result in a celibate lifestyle (vv. 12–16).

Robert Utley states:
"she must remain unmarried" This is a present active imperative. The question of Christian remarriage is a difficult one. was written by Moses to provide for remarriage. Jesus' answers, in light of the Pharisees' questions, do not specifically deal with the subject. One might say, what about . The problem is that this Gospel does not include the exception clause as does. How does the exception clause relate to remarriage? needs to be expanded in our day to a wider group than "young widows." Surely God's care for singles who desire to marry in must relate to our troubled society also. Humans were created by God as sexual creatures. Unless there is a gift of celibacy, and/or self-controlled maturity, there must be an appropriate sexual option for God's people; sexual immorality is never an option, but a Christian remarriage may be an acceptable alternative. Grace and revelation must both apply here.
▣ "or else be reconciled to her husband" This is an aorist passive imperative. In this cultural situation the Pauline options for the already married were (1) singleness or (2) reconciliation.
This verse has been used as a hard and fast universal rule by many modern believers. Reconciliation is always a hope unless remarriage of one of the partners has occurred. In that situation it ceases to be a desired result (i.e., it is forbidden in the OT).
It is difficult to interpret 1 Corinthians because
1. there are obviously cultural issues that modern western culture does not directly deal with (i.e., food offered to idols, virgin partners in ministry, etc.).
2. there are two groups of personality types (i.e., ascetics or libertines) or theological factions. Paul's words are an attempt to affirm the truths involved, but limit the excesses (i.e., dogmatic legalism, do not marry; and no-rules freedom, if it feels good, do it).
It is uncertain if these extremes reflect (1) Jews/Gentiles; (2) legalists/libertines; (3) personality types; or (4) two forms of Greek thought (later seen in Gnostic factions). The confusion comes when modern interpreters do not know
1. what the slogans were
2. the source of the slogans
a. Paul's earlier preaching
b. Judaism
c. Stoics/incipient Gnostics
Paul addresses both extremes! The difficulty is deciding which words are addressed to true believers and which to factious groups. Modern interpreters hear what they want to hear and condemn what they do not like! Our interpretations say more about our theology than Paul's letter to a Roman city in first century Achaia.
1 Corinthians 7:12 NASB95
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.

has an unbelieving wife Some married people converted to Christianity but their spouses did not. The Corinthians sought Paul’s counsel on this issue.

consents to live with him A euphemism for marriage.

he must not divorce her Paul applies the same instruction from vv. 10–11 to believers who are married to unbelievers. In this instance, if an unbeliever chooses to remain married to a believer, the couple should not seek divorce.

1 Corinthians 7:13 NASB95
13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
1 Corinthians 7:13–14 NASB95
13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

is sanctified Some believing spouses in Corinth may have been concerned that sexual relations with their unbelieving spouse would cause defilement. Paul explains to these believers that they are not defiled; instead, it is their unbelieving spouses who are sanctified through the process of knowing a believer (compare v. 16). This does not mean that such spouses receive salvation.

unclean Describes unbelievers.

holy Just as it is acceptable for a believing wife to have sexual relations with an unbelieving husband, it is also acceptable for her to have children by her husband. Paul also reasons that since the marriage relationship leads to “holiness” instead of defilement, there is no need for divorce.

1 Corinthians 7:14 NASB95
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
This does not imply that the unbelieving spouse is saved. This relates to the concern of some in Corinth that being married to an unbeliever might equal their participation in sin. They may have heard Paul's teaching about one flesh (cf. ). This must relate to the godly influence of the believing spouse on the family. This cannot relate to the unbeliever's position in Christ. There is no way to be spiritually saved except through personal faith and repentance in Christ. Evangelism is the goal of the believer for his/her spouse (
1 Corinthians 7:15 NASB95
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.

brother or the sister is not bound The believing spouse is under no obligation to maintain a marriage with an unbelieving spouse who decides to leave the relationship.

brother or the sister is not bound The believing spouse is under no obligation to maintain a marriage with an unbelieving spouse who decides to leave the relationship.
1 Corinthians 7:16 NASB95
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?
1 Corinthians 7:16 NASB95
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?
brother or the sister is not bound The believing spouse is under no obligation to maintain a marriage with an unbelieving spouse who decides to leave the relationship.

you will save The believing spouse may have the opportunity to participate in the conversion of the unbelieving spouse. In this way, the believer becomes an instrument that helps the unbeliever turn toward God

There are two possible interpretations here which are diametrically opposite.
There are two possible interpretations here which are diametrically opposite.
1. this passage probably follows where evangelism is a meaningful reason for continuing the marriage relationship (cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB, NEB, NIV)
The believing spouse may have the opportunity to participate in the conversion of the unbelieving spouse. In this way, the believer becomes an instrument that helps the unbeliever turn toward God.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
2. marriage is not primarily for evangelism; it is for companionship and fellowship, therefore, a believing partner should not stay with the unbelieving partner in a situation of abuse and unlove, simply for the hope of evangelism (cf. footnote, Phillips translation, and LB)
RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →