1 Cor. 7:25-35 – Devotion to God (Single or Married)

Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 01 Feb. 2008



25. Now concerning virgins, I don’t have an order from the Lord, but I am going to give advice

                        as one who has been treated mercifully under the Lord - in order to be faithful:

            26. Therefore I think this would be a good thing to begin on account of the current necessity,

            that it would be good for a man to be like this:

                        27. Have you been bonded to a wife? Stop seeking a release;

                        Have you been released from a wife? Stop seeking a wife.

            28. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned,

                        and if a virgin happens to marry she has not sinned,

                        but these will have stress in the flesh, and, as for me, I trying to make it easy for you.

            29. Brothers, the appointed time has been shortened.

            As for the rest, I’m bringing this up in order that:

                        even those having wives might be like those not having [wives],

                        30. and those who weep like those who are not weeping,

                        and those who rejoice like those who are not rejoicing,

                        and those who shop like those who do not own [anything],

                        31. and those who use this world like those who are not making absolute use,

                                    for the order of this world is passing away.

            32. Now, I want you to be free from cares.

                        The unmarried man cares about the things of the Lord –

                                    how he may please the Lord,

                        33. but the married man cares about the things of the world –

                                    how he may please his wife, 34. and his [attention] is divided.

                        Both the unmarried woman and the virgin cares for the things of the Lord

                                    in order that she might be holy in the body and in the spirit,

                        but the married woman cares about the things of the world –

                                    how she may please her husband.

35. Now, I am saying this toward the bearing together of your own selves,

            not in order to throw a lasso on you,

            but rather toward your good order and good service in the Lord without being yanked around.

            36. But if someone thinks [it tends] to disorder his virgin,

                                    if she happens to be of age

                                    and [if] it ought to become thus,

                        let him do what he wants; he is not sinning – let them marry!

                        37. But that which has been standing in his heart, steadfast,

                                    not having [a condition of] necessity,

                                                but he has authority concerning his own will,

                                                and he has rendered judgment on this in his own heart

                                    to keep his own virgin, he will do well.

                        38. Thus both the one who gives his own virgin in marriage does well,

                        and the one who does not give in marriage will do better.

            39. A wife has been bound for however much time her husband may live,

                        but if the husband happens to fall asleep [die],

                        she is released to whomever she wants to be married – only in the Lord,

                        40. but she is happier if she remains thus [released],

by my advice – and I suppose I also have the Spirit of God.

Introduction: Extravagant Valentines

1.      Quinn Fullmer, owner of Bloomers Floral & Gift in Provo, [UT] said his shop sold about 1,200 roses last year for Valentine’s and at least 1,000 stems of other flowers. The carnation, he said, is the second most popular flower among customers. Fullmer said one of the most extravagant Valentine’s purchases he can remember was a $1,200 flower arrangement ordered last year. This lavish arrangement consisted of six dozen roses adorned with calla lilies and stargazer lilies. (http://ericaln.blogspot.com/2007/02/comms-487-news-story.html)

2.      The Scotsman in Edinburgh and its sister hotel, La Trémoille in Paris, claim to have put together Europe's "most extravagant Valentine package". The four-night break from February 12 to 15 starts in a penthouse suite at The Scotsman, includes lavish meals and finishes, via private jet, at La Trémoille - all for a mere £20,000 ($37,750) per couple. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/732193/Jet-set-love-or-a-deckchair-for-two.html)

3.      The Ritz-Carlton is offering what must be the most extravagant Valentine’s package... It includes a three-night stay in a suite on the club level of the luxurious hotel at Lake Las Vegas, a welcome package of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, a full day of four-handed massages and facials, evening stargazing with gourmet “S’mores,” breakfast in bed every morning, your own butler, a custom dinner at Medici, and $50,000 worth of diamonds… Throughout the three day stay, 4 pieces of custom made diamond jewelry (totaling over 5 carats) will be delivered in romantic presentations during meals. The total cost of the package: $50,000. So yes you’re paying for the diamonds but you get your own butler for 3 days! (www.vegas4visitors.com/column/archive/05_02_07.htm)


Such excesses are not consistent with being devoted to God. While in no way demeaning marriage, Paul, in the last half of chapter 7, challenges us all – whether married or single – to make practical lifestyle decisions that are consistent with being devoted to God.

Paul’s Preface – “Concerning Virgins…” (7:25)

I)       Paul is giving a “Judgment/opinion/advice/deliberately-formed decision/ to the best of his knowledge”

II)    Note v.26 “I think/suppose,” v.29 “I say/mean/bring to light,” v.32 “I want/would like,” v.35“I say,” and v.40 “I think/I suppose.” This is the language of deliberation and wisdom, not of authoritative commands.

III) But Paul’s advice is worth listening to because he testifies that he has been treated mercifully by the Lord in order to be trustworthy (v.25), and he testifies that he is speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (v.40).

Three Issues to Consider (vs. 26-35)

I)       Necessity/Distress/Crisis can indicate that Virgins would find it easier to be single (vs. 26-28)

A)    Paul is addressing single people here, and his advice is “stay the way you are”

B)    The reason given is a “Necessity/Distress/Crisis”

1.      Same Greek word shows up again in v.37, where it is translated “necessity/constraint/compulsion.”

2.      The primary idea behind the word is a situation where there is a lack of some sort that limits your options.

3.      Paul does not elaborate as to what this situation is, so it is left up to us to guess:

4.      John Calvin suggested that this refers to the troubles of all Christians in this world in all ages.

5.      JFB suggest this is the persecution of the end times.

6.      However, on the basis of the adjective “present” here in v.26 and on the basis of that necessity of constraint no longer being in effect later in v. 37, Gordon Clark suggests it is a temporary or local persecution of Christians in Corinth which would be easier to endure as a single person than a married person. I am inclined to agree with this.

C)    Now, for balance, Paul turns briefly in v.27-28 to the other classes of people who are not virgins:

1.      To the married couples who have been wavering in their resolve to stay married, Paul exhorts in v.27 that persecution from non-Christians is not a valid reason to get divorced.

2.      To widows who are not virgins, but are free to marry, Paul recommends staying single.

3.      And in v.28, to virgins and widows who decide to marry anyway despite Paul’s advice, he admits that it’s o.k. – it’s not a sin to get married. This Biblical word is a comfort to anyone who has been criticized for wanting to get re-married.

D)    In v. 28, Paul states that those who marry will experience “trouble/ distress/ pressure/ stress/ tribulation.” This word is different from the “necessity” in v.26, and it indicates physical and emotional stress, not spiritual sin.

1.      Paul says that if virgins take his advice, it will spare them this trouble. Their life will be easier.

2.      Men, consider your personal ability and your work situation: Are you able to provide food and shelter for a family? God can provide more through you than you might think, but if the economy is particularly bad, or there’s a war afoot, it might not be a good time to marry.

3.      You might also consider the social aspects: Will you be able to be at home enough to help raise a family? Are there unhealthy extended family or social pressures that would not be conducive to raising children?

E)     Paul will come back to this at the end of the chapter, but the main point here is that there are circumstances in which it is not wise to marry, so if you are a single person and you are interested in getting married, consider well if your circumstances will be conducive to marriage or not.

II)    The Shortened Time indicates that Virgins might not want to marry (vs. 29-31)

A)    This phrase is found nowhere else in the Bible, but here are 3 interpretations of the “time:”

1.      The time until the impending distress of v.26 (G. Clark)
Mat 24:22 “Unless those days had been shortened (different words from I Cor 7), no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.”

2.      The time is short until Christ’s return (Robertson, JFB, Vincent)
“The kingdom has been inaugurated and the next major event is salvation history is the return of Christ. This… demands a type of spiritual intensity we might not otherwise have.” Steve Ratliffe

3.      The human lifespan is short

(a)    Sin has changed everything. Human lifespans have been shortened from the multi-centenarian antedeluvians to the modern three score and ten (Psalm 90:10) which ends in death, and even the earth’s existence is limited as it will be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3). The tree of life was placed out of human reach, and time is shortened from eternity to finiteness.

(b)   (Calvin) – All things that are connected with the enjoyment of the present life are sacred gifts of God, but we pollute them when we abuse them… We often dream of continuance in the world, but it is owing to this that those things which ought to be helps in passing through it become hindrances to hold us fast. Hence, it is not without good reason, that the Apostle, with the view of arousing us from this stupidity, calls us to consider the shortness of this life... For the man who considers that he is a stranger in the world uses the things of this world as if they were another’s — that is, as things that are lent us for a single day. The sum is this, that the mind of a Christian ought not to be taken up with earthly things, or to repose in them; for we ought to live as if we were every moment about to depart from this life.”

(c)    I tend to agree with this interpretation because Paul speaks of the transience of the world at the end of v.31.


1.      We cannot construe this to contradict what God, through Paul, has commanded elsewhere:

(a)    Husbands are commanded to “love” their wives (Eph. 5), so the advice to “be as though you had no wife” cannot mean to ignore your spouse altogether,

(b)   We are to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), so “be as those who are not weeping” can’t mean we should never weep,

(c)    We are to “rejoice always!” (Phil. 4:4), so “be as though who are not rejoicing” can’t mean we should never rejoice,

(d)   And Paul instructed Timothy to bring his coat and his books to him (2 Tim. 4:13), so this can’t mean that buying things and treating them as possessions are wrong, otherwise Paul would be a hypocrite.

2.      Therefore we must take these principles comparatively to mean that our spouse, our emotions, our possessions must not usurp the primacy of God in our lives.

(a)    Life is not all about who you’re married to (that would be Humanism), or about how you feel (that would be Existentialism), or about what you own (that would be Materialism), rather, life is about pleasing the Lord, and being devoted to Him.

(b)   When I was in college, one of my best friends left college early and got married. I went to his home in Pennsylvania for the wedding, and asked him a question that had been bothering me for a while, “Why are you getting married now?” His answer was profound, “Because I can serve God better as a team with Debbie than I can alone.” That’s the attitude. Our spouse should help us serve God rather than replace God in our lives.

(c)    In what ways might your relationship with God improve if you were not married? Can you work on fortifying those areas even while married?

(d)   Shopping and owning things must not become the driving force in our lives. Heb 10:34 “…you have for yourselves a possession [in heaven] that is better and lasting.”

(e)    But we can use the things of this world to fulfill God’s purposes. For instance, “going into all the world and making disciples and baptizing” requires the use of transportation vehicles, communication tools, and water for baptism. This is using the things of the world for God’s divine purposes.

(f)    This probably rules out going to the Ritz-Carlton in Vegas or buying 6 dozen roses for Valentines Day!

(g)   In v.31, Paul uses a play on words with two forms of the Greek word for “use.”

(i)     It’s the same word from v.21 where Paul says to “use” their status as a slave or their freedom.

(ii)   The KJV picks up on it best by translating “they that use the world as not abusing

(iii) The second word has to do with making full/ absolute/ exclusive use of something.

(iv) In other words, we don’t believe that the things of this world are all there is, we live in light of spiritual truths and we live by spiritual resources that are beyond what is in this world.

3.      Reason for making comparatively light of these things is “the form of this world is passing away:”

(a)    The Greek words Paul uses here may be an allusion to plays where the backdrop curtain is rolled up, another backdrop curtain is unfurled, and the props are changed on stage to change from one scene to the next.

(b)   1 John 2:17 “the world and its desires are passing away, but he who does the will of God remains forever!”

(c)    Marriage relationships are not forever. They are only until death – or the return of Christ, whichever comes first.

(d)   Therefore virgins need to consider well if any eternal value might be gained through marrying in this world, or if it would be better not to marry.

(e)    Those of us who are married need to consider the same thing: How can we make this temporary life as a married couple impact eternity through our service to the Lord and our raising of godly seed?

Three issues to consider: the Present Necessity, the Shortened Time, and…

III)       The Distracting Cares of this world may be a reason to remain single (vs. 32-35)

A)    Paul writes in v.32 that he wants us to be “free from cares/concerns/anxieties.”

B)    Definition of cares (v. 32a)

1.      The only other place this word “carefree” occurs in the Bible is in Matt. 28:14, where the chief priests paid off the soldiers who were posted at Jesus’ tomb and told the soldiers to make up a lie about the disciples stealing Jesus’ body. The priests assured the soldiers that they could be “free of concern” because the priests would smooth it over with the governor and keep the soldiers from getting punished if the governor tried to punish the soldiers for not doing their duty and guarding the tomb. In other words, they would not be held responsible.

2.      The “cares” mentioned in vs. 32-34, are responsibilities. (Different word from the “distressing things” from v.28) These “cares” are not necessarily bad, so I don’t like the ESV translation “anxieties” because of its negative connotations.

(a)    They are responsibilities inherent to your station in life.

(b)   A man is responsible to provide food, shelter, and love to his wife.

(c)    If you’re married, you need to remember your anniversary and do something thoughtful for your spouse on Valentine’s Day
Single people just don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff.

(d)   If you get married, it becomes your concern to change diapers, wipe snotty noses, spoonfeed peas and carrots, clean up peas and carrots off the floor, discipline, train teenage drivers, listen to painfully-performed music lessons, and teach God’s ways. It just comes with the territory. Singles don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff.

C)    Freedom of unmarried (v. 32b, 34a)

1.      Unmarried people, it says in v.32 are more free to care for the things of the Lord.

2.      Let me ask, “Is this the case for you, or do you let the world lead you into a ‘fast and giddy’ life?” (A.T. Robertson)

3.      Clement of Rome was a disciple of the Apostle Peter. A few weeks ago, I read from one of Clement’s letters to the Corinthians. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to virgins:
“…Now, those who are truly virgins for the sake of God give heed to Him who has said, ‘Let not righteousness and faith fail you; bind them on your neck, and you shall find favour for yourself, and devise good things before God and before men.’ The paths, therefore, of the righteous shine as the light, and the light of them advances until the day is perfect. For the beams of their light illumine the whole creation even now by good works, as those who are truly the light of the world, giving light to those who sit in darkness… Moreover, also, this is comely and useful, that a man visit orphans and widows, and especially those poor persons who have many children. These things are, without controversy, required of the servants of God, and comely and suitable for them. This also, again, is suitable and right and comely for those who are brethren in Christ, that they should visit those who are harassed by evil spirits, and pray and [pray] over them, intelligently, offering such prayer as is acceptable before God; not with a multitude of fine words…”

4.      Are there any changes you would need to make to your life in order to be more like that?

5.      v.34 says that the “unmarried care for the things of the Lord in order to be holy both in body and in spirit.”
Are you keeping not only your body but also your mind pure and feeding your spiritual life?

D)    Divided Responsibility of married (v. 33, 34b)

1.      v.33&34 “But the married man cares about the things of the world how he may please his wife… and the married woman cares about the things of the world how she may please her husband.”

2.      Tell me, married folks, are you really concerned about that? Are you thinking of ways to please your spouse? That is your responsibility, says Paul.

3.      The beginning of verse 34 has a lot of different translations, partly because the Greek manuscripts are widely varying, and there is no clear and obvious correct reading.

(a)    It starts out “and he/she/it has been divided”

(b)   This verb “divided” is the same word from v.17 describing how God has divided up the spiritual gifts of marriage and of celibacy and distributed them to different people.

(c)    Some Greek manuscripts say “both the wife and the virgin,” others say “both the unmarried woman and the virgin,” others “both the unmarried woman and the unmarried virgin,” and still others, “both the wife, the unmarried woman, and the virgin.”

(d)   So, depending on which manuscript you go with, it could be saying that God has placed differences between married and unmarried people (which is the way the KJ takes it, and JFB, Alfort, Ellicott, and Tishendorf), or it could be a continuation of v.33, describing the married man and saying that he is divided because he has to split his attention between caring for the Lord and caring for his wife. I’m inclined toward the latter (which is the way the NAS,NIV,ESV, Vincent, W&H, Calvin, and Gordon Clark also take it).

(e)    Married folks, are you dividing your time well? Are you caring for the things of the Lord and balancing that with also caring for the needs of your family?

3 issues to consider: the Present Necessity, the Shortened Time, and the Distracting Cares of this world.

Next week: finish chapter with some Decisive Principles for remaining single or marrying (vs. 36-40)


I)       Paul sums up his reasoning in v.35:

II)    Is there anything you can do this week to unclutter your life so you have more time and energy to devote to God?

Order of Worship


1-Feb-09                                     NASB text


1Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


Psalter 131 (Beth on Keyboard)




Pete Mathews


Luke 10:38-42 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  (39)  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word.  (40)  But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."  (41)  But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  (42)  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."




Take my Life and let it be (Beth on keyboard)

OT Text

Psalm 16


Beni W

NT Text

Romans 6


Cry of my Heart (Nate on guitar)


1 Cor. 7:25-40 – Virgins and Devotion to God




I Give you my heart (Nate on guitar, others?)


Rev. 3:20 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.


When I Survey (a cappella)


1Ki 8:57-61 "May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us,  (58)  that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded…  (60)  so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.  (61)  "Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God…