1 Corinthians 7:3

3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:3 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 7:3

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence,
&c.] The Syriac version renders it, (byxttmd abwx) , "due love"; and so the Arabic; and may include all the offices of love, tenderness, humanity, care, provision, and protection, which are to be performed by the husband to his wife; though it seems chiefly, if not solely, here to respect what is called, (htne) , ( Exodus 21:10 ) "her marriage duty", as distinct from food and raiment to be allowed her; and what is meant by it the Jewish doctors will tell us: one says F20, it is (hjmh vymvt) , "the use of the marriage bed"; and, says another F21, (hyle abl) , "it is to lie with her", according to the way of all the earth. And so the phrase here, "due benevolence", is an euphemism, and designs the act of coition; which as it is an act of love and affection, a sign of mutual benevolence, so of justice; it is a due debt from divine ordination, and the matrimonial contract. The Jewish doctors have fixed and settled various canons F23 concerning the performance, of this conjugal debt: and the apostle may not be altogether without some view to the rules and customs which obtained in his own nation.

And, likewise also the wife unto the husband;
she is not to refuse the use of the bed when required, unless there is some just impediment, otherwise she comes under the name of (tdrwm) , a "rebellious wife"; concerning whom, and her punishment, the Jews


F24 give the following rules:

``a woman that restrains her husband from the use of the bed, is called rebellious; and when they ask her why she rebels, if she says, because it is loathsome to me, and I cannot lie with him; then they oblige him to put her away directly, without her dowry; and she may not take any thing of her husband's, not even her shoe strings, nor her hair lace; but what her husband did not give her she may take, and go away: and if she rebels against her husband, on purpose to afflict him, and she does to him so or so, and despises him, they send to her from the sanhedrim, and say to her, know thou, that if thou continuest in thy rebellion, thou shalt not prosper? and after that they publish her in the synagogues and schools four weeks, one after another, and say, such an one has rebelled against her husband; and after the publication, they send and say to her, if thou continuest in thy rebellion, thou wilt lose thy dowry; and they appoint her twelve months, and she has no sustenance from her husband all that time; and she goes out at the end of twelve months without her dowry, and returns everything that is her husband's.''

This account, with a little variation, is also given by Maimonides F25.

F20 Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, praecept. neg. 81. Sol. Jarchi in Exod. xxi. 10.
F21 Maimon. Hilch. Isbot, c. 12. sect. 2. Vid. Aben Ezra in Exod. xxi. 10.
F23 Vid. Misn. Cetubot, c. 5. sect. 6. & Mikvaot, c. 8. sect. 3.
F24 Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 81.
F25 Hilch. Ishot, c. 14. sect. 8, 9, 10. Vid. Misn. Cetubot, c. 5. sect. 7. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

1 Corinthians 7:3 In-Context

1 About the things you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman."
2 But because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.
4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another-except when you agree, for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.