1 Corinthians 7:16

16 For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 7:16 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 7:16

For what knowest thou, O wife
These words may be understood, as containing a reason either why the believing party should be easy at the departure of the unbeliever, after all proper methods have been used in vain to retain him or her; taken from the uncertainty and improbability of being of any use to them, to bring them to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation by him; "for what knowest thou, O wife"; thou dost not know, thou canst not know, thou canst not be sure,

whether thou shall save thy husband?
be the means of bringing of him under the means of grace, and so of his conversion and salvation; there is no likelihood of it, since he is such an implacable enemy to Christ, and so bitterly averse to the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; and therefore since he is determined to separate, even let him go: or else, as rendering a reason why the believer should seek for peace and reconciliation, and by all means, if possible, continue to dwell with the unbeliever; taken from hopes of being serviceable under a divine influence and blessing, for their spiritual and eternal good, the wife for the good of the husband; by whose conversation he may be won over, and prevailed upon to entertain a better opinion of the Christian religion; to take a liking to the Gospel, and to attend upon the ministry of the word, which may be made the power of God unto salvation to him:

or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife;
this may possibly be done, in the same manner as now suggested: persons in such a relation have often great influence upon one another, and are by divine Providence often great blessings to each other, in things spiritual as well as temporal. This puts me in mind of a case related by the Jewish doctors F1:

``it happened to a holy man that he married a holy woman, and they had no children; say they, we are of no manner of profit to the blessed God; they stood up and divorced one another; he went and married a wicked woman, and she made him wicked; she went and married a wicked man, (qydu wtwa htvew) "and she made him righteous";''

or, to use the apostle's phrase, "saved him".


F1 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 17. fol. 14. 4.

1 Corinthians 7:16 In-Context

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the Christian husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him leave. A brother or a sister is not bound in such cases. God has called you to peace.
16 For you, wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Or you, husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?
17 However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. This is what I command in all the churches.
18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should not undo his circumcision. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised.
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