Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

1 Corinthians Ch.7 / 16 Ch.s


* The apostle answers several questions about marriage. (1-9)
Married Christians should not seek to part from their
unbelieving consorts. (10-16) Persons, in any fixed station,
should usually abide in that. (17-24) It was most desirable, on
account of the then perilous days, for people to sit loose to
this world. (25-35) Great prudence be used in marriage; it
should be only in the Lord. (36-40)

#1-9 The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was good, in that
juncture of time, for Christians to keep themselves single. Yet
he says that marriage, and the comforts of that state, are
settled by Divine wisdom. Though none may break the law of God,
yet that perfect rule leaves men at liberty to serve him in the
way most suited to their powers and circumstances, of which
others often are very unfit judges. All must determine for
themselves, seeking counsel from God how they ought to act.

#10-16 Man and wife must not separate for any other cause than
what Christ allows. Divorce, at that time, was very common among
both Jews and Gentiles, on very slight pretexts. Marriage is a
Divine institution; and is an engagement for life, by God's
appointment. We are bound, as much as in us lies, to live
peaceably with all men, #Ro 12:18|, therefore to promote the
peace and comfort of our nearest relatives, though unbelievers.
It should be the labour and study of those who are married, to
make each other as easy and happy as possible. Should a
Christian desert a husband or wife, when there is opportunity to
give the greatest proof of love? Stay, and labour heartily for
the conversion of thy relative. In every state and relation the
Lord has called us to peace; and every thing should be done to
promote harmony, as far as truth and holiness will permit.

#17-24 The rules of Christianity reach every condition; and in
every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. It is the
duty of every Christian to be content with his lot, and to
conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian.
Our comfort and happiness depend on what we are to Christ, not
what we are in the world. No man should think to make his faith
or religion, an argument to break through any natural or civil
obligations. He should quietly and contentedly abide in the
condition in which he is placed by Divine Providence.

#25-35 Considering the distress of those times, the unmarried
state was best. Notwithstanding, the apostle does not condemn
marriage. How opposite are those to the apostle Paul who forbid
many to marry, and entangle them with vows to remain single,
whether they ought to do so or not! He exhorts all Christians to
holy indifference toward the world. As to relations; they must
not set their hearts on the comforts of the state. As to
afflictions; they must not indulge the sorrow of the world: even
in sorrow the heart may be joyful. As to worldly enjoyments;
here is not their rest. As to worldly employment; those that
prosper in trade, and increase in wealth, should hold their
possessions as though they held them not. As to all worldly
concerns; they must keep the world out of their hearts, that
they may not abuse it when they have it in their hands. All
worldly things are show; nothing solid. All will be quickly
gone. Wise concern about worldly interests is a duty; but to be
full of care, to have anxious and perplexing care, is a sin. By
this maxim the apostle solves the case whether it were advisable
to marry. That condition of life is best for every man, which is
best for his soul, and keeps him most clear of the cares and
snares of the world. Let us reflect on the advantages and snares
of our own condition in life; that we may improve the one, and
escape as far as possible all injury from the other. And
whatever cares press upon the mind, let time still be kept for
the things of the Lord.

#36-40 The apostle is thought to give advice here about the
disposal of children in marriage. In this view, the general
meaning is plain. Children should seek and follow the directions
of their parents as to marriage. And parents should consult
their children's wishes; and not reckon they have power to do
with them, and dictate just as they please, without reason. The
whole is closed with advice to widows. Second marriages are not
unlawful, so that it is kept in mind, to marry in the Lord. In
our choice of relations, and change of conditions, we should
always be guided by the fear of God, and the laws of God, and
act in dependence on the providence of God. Change of condition
ought only to be made after careful consideration, and on
probable grounds, that it will be to advantage in our spiritual