1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. KJV
Paul has lovingly confronted and rebuked the Corinthian believers boasting in their spiritual gifts while turning their eyes away from one of their own living openly in a sexually immoral relationship of sleeping with his own father’s wife. Paul has declared to them the responsibility each member of Christ Mystical Body has to Him of yielding ourselves to God the Holy Spirit and allow His Love and Power to work “in us” and “through us” that we would live such a different life in this world of sin and woe that distinguishes us from the non-believer in every area of human life and especially our sexual conduct and behavior. Paul clearly defined for them and for us our responsibility by the Spirit’s Power to “flee sexual immorality” on every occasion the enemy of our souls brings us face to face with one of his human instruments of temptation. Paul now references a letter written to him by these believers in Corinth with apparent questions from them to him about these very issues of sexual relationships for believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew from where these believers were found “in sin” by our Lord Jesus Christ and he reiterated and reaffirmed that reality earlier on in this letter with the words written in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Paul understands that these people lived their entire lives prior to their encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ in the open indulgence of every sort of sexual conduct or lifestyle imaginable and he knew it would require him to be in prayer much for them (as he prayed for the believers in Ephesus, Ephesians 3:14-21). Paul also wanted to reaffirm what he surely had already taught them during the year and a half he remained in Corinth teaching them the Scripture (Acts 18:11). Paul begins his response with these words, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1). Certainly Paul was aware that most of, if not all of the Corinthian believers would never be capable of meeting that standard, but he felt compelled to make it known to them for the sake of some who also may have received such a gift of grace from our Lord. However, Paul immediately affirms the covenant of marriage as the only avenue where sexual intercourse or relationship is honored and blessed by God the Father. Marriage is the “will of God” where fornication is not the “will of God” and Paul affirms this by saying, “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
Paul declares that it is each person’s responsibility to submit to one another and give away their bodies freely to one another in sexual intimacy or intercourse as often and as frequent as each one desires seeing that neither one as Paul puts it “hath not power over their own bodies” (1 Corinthians 7:4). The English phrase “hath not power” Paul uses is translated by the Greek word exousiazo which means control or to exercise authority upon or to be under the power of something or someone. This is the same word Paul used earlier in this epistle or letter in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Paul declares that the husband has power/authority over the wife’s body and likewise the wife has power/authority over the husband’s body. This truth is not even considered to be rational, certainly not reasonable, and definitely not right in this year 2013 with the acceptance of all manner of evil sexual behavior as that which is good or morally excellent or morally virtuous and it takes me back to these words spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 5:20-24).
Paul declares that neither the husband or the wife are to keep back from the other their bodies in pleasing one another sexually except when both mutually agree to abstain from marital sexual intimacy for the purpose of fasting and praying to God the Father, which only serves to strengthen their personal relationships with Him and the more intimate each one is with the Father the more intimate they will be with one another in every capacity, even their sexual love making. Paul being once married himself (during the years he was a Pharisee and unsaved) understands the demands of that relationship and knows how the tempter satan uses times of prolonged absence of physical intimacy between husband and wife to tempt them into adultery. Paul does not tell us what happened to his wife but he is now so thankful and grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ that he has been granted the grace gift of celibacy and again knowing the daily demands in a marriage wished that everyone was granted the gift of celibacy just as he has been by our Lord Jesus, but Paul knows that this is only his wishful thinking and not the “will of God” that all men be celibate.
Therefore, Paul now concludes with these words of wisdom to those who “come to Christ” as a single man or woman or those who are widowed and that is to remain in that calling, if our Lord Jesus Christ grants His Grace Gift of celibacy, but if they are not so gifted and “burn” or to be inflamed with uncontrollable passion or sexual desire, then the man should seek a Christian wife and the woman should seek a Christian husband. Paul says it in this way, “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9). Paul uses the English phrase “they cannot contain” and it is translated by the Greek word egkrateuomai which means to exercise self-restraint or self-control or to be strong in a thing or masterful over one’s diet or chastity (abstaining from sexual relationships). Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians that this power flows from God’s Love to us and in us through the Holy Spirit, as it is written, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
“The Apostle first addresses the unmarried, 1 Corinthians 7:1, etc. He speaks elsewhere reverently of marriage, Ephesians 5:23. Forbidding to marry is in his judgment a symptom of apostasy, 1 Timothy 4:1-3. His recommendations here were evidently due to the special circumstances of that difficult and perilous time. The loftiest conception of marriage is the wedding of two souls, each of which, has found its affinity; the Apostle is treating here the only conception of marriage entertained by these recent converts from paganism. He deals with them on their own level, with the determination of ultimately leading them to view marriage from Christ’s standpoint. It is often well to fast from lawful things, that we may surrender ourselves more absolutely to the Spirit of God.” F. B. Meyer
“It is a mark of true goodness to wish all men as happy as ourselves. But it did not answer the intentions of divine Providence as well for all men to have as much command of this appetite as Paul had. It was a gift vouchsafed to such persons as Infinite Wisdom thought proper: Every one hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that. Natural constitutions vary; and, where there may not be much difference in the constitution, different degrees of grace are vouchsafed, which may give some a greater victory over natural inclination than others. Note, The gifts of God, both in nature and grace, are variously distributed. Some have them after this manner and some after that. Paul could wish all men were as himself, but all men cannot receive such a saying, save those to whom it is given, Matthew 19:11.” Matthew Henry
“Marriage is the only place where God the Father actually looks on with love and joyfully blesses it because He ordained the marriage bed and even made sexual intimacy between husband and wife pleasurable.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…