SUMMARY.--Marriage the Resource Against Social Sins. Not to be Lightly Dissolved. The Mutual Obligations. The Unmarried State Freest from Trouble in Times of Persecution. But Neither Husband nor Wife to Leave Each Other. If They Should, to Remain Unmarried. Not to Abandon an Unbelieving Husband or Wife Because of their Unbelief. To Rest Content with the Secular State in which One is Converted. The Treatment of Virgin Daughters. Let Them Marry Under Certain Conditions. Under Others, Best Not to Marry in those Critical Times. The Remarriage of Widows.
25-28. Now concerning virgins. No doubt in the letter from Corinth it was asked whether a father should place his virgin daughters in marriage. In the East to this day the marriage arrangements are made by the parents. I have no commandment. He had no revelation upon the subject, but could give his Christian judgment. 26. I suppose . . . for the present distress. The critical condition in which Christians were placed by the spirit of persecution which then prevailed. Good for a man so to be. To remain in the state he already is. 27. Art thou bound? If married, he is to remain true to the bond; if unmarried, at present it seemed best to remain so. 28. But and if thou marry. Still, while it seemed prudent, with impending persecution, not to marry, it was not wrong to do so. Nevertheless, those who did, should have trouble in the flesh. Anxiety and distress on account of their domestic ties.
29-35. The time is short. The precise application cannot be known. It was but a short time until Jerusalem should be destroyed, and the early church supposed this would be the end of the world. Life, too, is short; the time of preparation is short. It was the general feeling then that some awful convulsion was close at hand. There was. Within half a generation the whole Roman world was turned up by civil war, three emperors in succession were slain, and Jerusalem was destroyed.
As though they had none. Should look on all earthly ties as soon to be broken. All earthly arrangements must be regarded as transitory. 31. Those that use this world, etc. We all have to use the world; but we must not misuse it. That is the charge here. 32. I would have you free from cares. That is, I would have you free from the causes which bring cares. 34. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The sole thought of the unmarried person who is consecrated to Christ is to please Christ. 35. This I speak . . . not that I may cast a snare. Not to interfere with your freedom to marry. A snare thrown over the head made the victim helpless. Paul merely advises what, under the circumstances of that period, seemed most prudent.
36-38. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin daughter. While giving a judgment in favor of the unmarried state, at that time, he gives full liberty. A man may give his daughter in marriage. Behaveth uncomely. Improperly in withholding her from marriage. If she pass the flower of her age. If she is fully matured. If need so require. If circumstances of any kind seem to require her marriage. 37. He that standeth steadfast . . having no necessity. If no need makes marriage necessary, and the purpose that she remain unmarried continues steadfast, he does well to let her remain so. To choose either course is well, but the last is the better, where circumstances permit ( verse 38 ), on account of the "distress" ( verse 26 ).
39, 40. The wife is bound by the law, etc. One point remains to be discussed, viz., The remarriage of widows. I suppose that the letter of inquiry asked about this. She is at liberty. In case of her husband's death, she is free from the marriage bond, and can marry whom she will, with one limitation--she must marry in the Lord; that is, a Christian. An alien marriage is prohibited. Indeed, so far was an ancient Christian from marrying an unbeliever that the question actually arose whether, when the sinner was converted, he could still live with an unconverted partner. See verses 12-14 . 40. But she is happier. In his judgment, and in the conditions then prevailing, she will consult her happiness by remaining a widow. It is not only his judgment, but the Spirit seems to point the same lesson. 1 Tim. 5:14 , might be supposed to conflict with this, but it does not, when we remember that Paul's advice here is due to prevailing circumstances. The question of marriage or remarriage is one of prudential considerations.