1 Corinthians 7:39

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 7:39

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth,
&c.] That is, she is bound to her husband, by the law of marriage, during his life; nor can the bond of marriage between them be dissolved but by the death of one of them, except in the cases of adultery, and wilful desertion, see ( Romans 7:2 Romans 7:3 ) .

But if her husband be dead;
or "asleep", for so the word may be rendered; though it designs death: death is often expressed by sleeping in Scripture; for the dead will not always remain in such a state, but be raised from thence at the last day, just as persons are awaked out of sleep. The Alexandrian copy reads (apoyanh) , "dead"; and so seems the Ethiopic version to have read.

She is at liberty to marry whom she will:
so that second marriages are lawful, though condemned by many of the ancients: the liberty of a widow is greater than that of a virgin, because a virgin is under the power, and at the dispose of her parents; but a widow is at her own dispose; and death having dissolved her former obligation, she is at entire liberty to marry, or not marry, and to marry whom she pleases, that is not forbidden by the laws of God:

only in the Lord;
not that it is absolutely necessary that her husband should be in the Lord, a converted person, a believer in Christ; though such an one should be most desirable and eligible: but either that she should continue in the possession of her faith in Christ, and not relinquish it for the sake of an husband; or that she enter into this state in the fear of the Lord, calling upon him, and consulting him in such an important affair; and take care that whom she marries is not within the line prohibited by the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39 In-Context

37 But if he has decided firmly not to marry and there is no urgency and he can control his passion, he does well not to marry.
38 So the person who marries his fiancée does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better.
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.
40 But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Greek but only in the Lord.