1 Corinthians 7:12
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) But to the rest.—Up to this point the writer has alluded only to Christians; he has spoken of the duties of unmarried persons, of widows, and of those already married. There still remains one class of marriages concerning which differences of opinion existed—viz., mixed marriages. In a church like Corinth there would have been, no doubt, many cases where one of the partners was a heathen and the other a Christian, arising from the subsequent conversion of only one of the married couple. This subject is treated of in 1Corinthians 7:12-16. The words are emphatically, “If any man have already a wife,” &c. The case of a Christian marrying a heathen is not alluded to. In 2Corinthians 6:14, the marriage of a Christian to a heathen is forbidden.

Speak I, not the Lord.—The Apostle has no word of Christ’s to quote on this point, it being one which did not arise during our Lord’s life. (See Note on 1Corinthians 7:10.)

It is to be noticed that the Apostle, in giving his own apostolic instruction on this point, does not use the word “command,” which he applied to our Lord’s teaching, but the less authoritative “speak.”

A wife that believeth not.—That is, a heathen. In some modern religious circles this whole passage has been used (as also 2Corinthians 6:14) as if by “unbeliever” St. Paul meant a careless Christian, or one who, in modern phraseology, was not “converted.” The Apostle is referring under this designation to heathens, and the only case to which his teaching could now or ever apply would be when two heathens had been married, and subsequently only one had embraced the Christian faith. It is to be noticed that both here and in 1Corinthians 7:13 the being “pleased to dwell” is put only in reference to the partner who is a heathen, for the Apostle takes for granted that after the instructions he here gives to the Christian partner, no such desire for separation will arise on the part of a Christian.

1 Corinthians 7:12-13. To the rest — Who are married to unbelievers; speak I — By revelation from God; not the Lord — Who, during his ministry, gave no commandment concerning the matter. If any brother hath a wife that believeth not — Is a heathen, not yet converted; let him not put her away — If she consent to dwell with him. The Jews indeed were obliged, of old, to put away their idolatrous wives, Ezra 10:3; but their case was quite different. They were absolutely forbid to marry idolatrous women; but the persons here spoken of were married while they were both in a state of heathenism. It is probable that some of the more zealous Jewish converts, on the authority of that example of Ezra, contended that the Corinthians, who before their conversion had been married to idolaters, were bound to put away their spouses, if they continued in idolatry. Therefore the sincere part of the church having consulted the apostle on that question, he ordered such marriages to be continued, if the parties were willing to abide together. But as a difference of religion often proves an occasion of family quarrels, and there was danger, if the believers should be connected in marriage with idolaters and open sinners, lest they should be drawn by their partners into similar vices and abominations, the apostle advised them, in his second epistle, in contracting marriages after their conversion, by no means to marry idolaters, 2 Corinthians 6:14. And — On the other hand, if any Christian woman have an unbelieving husband, whether he be a Jew or a Gentile, and he consent to dwell with her, let her not leave him — Nor put him away, as the expression αφιετω αυτον (the same that is used in the preceding verse) implies. And it is certain, though the Jewish law did not put it into a woman’s power to divorce her husband, yet that in those countries, in the apostle’s days, the wives among the heathen had a power of divorce as well as the husbands; and that the Roman women practised it in a most scandalous manner, as did several Jewish ladies of distinguished rank; and among them, even Josephus’s own wife. See Lardner’s Credibility, part I, vol. 2. p. 890, Juv. Sat., ver. 222-230.7:10-16 Man and wife must not separate for any other cause than what Christ allows. Divorce, at that time, was very common among both Jews and Gentiles, on very slight pretexts. Marriage is a Divine institution; and is an engagement for life, by God's appointment. We are bound, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men, Ro 12:18, therefore to promote the peace and comfort of our nearest relatives, though unbelievers. It should be the labour and study of those who are married, to make each other as easy and happy as possible. Should a Christian desert a husband or wife, when there is opportunity to give the greatest proof of love? Stay, and labour heartily for the conversion of thy relative. In every state and relation the Lord has called us to peace; and every thing should be done to promote harmony, as far as truth and holiness will permit.But to the rest - "I have spoken in regard to the duties of the unmarried, and the question whether it is right and advisable that they should marry, 1 Corinthians 7:1-9. I have also uttered the command of the Lord in regard to those who are married, and the question whether separation and divorce were proper. Now in regard to "the rest of the person's and cases" referred to, I will deliver my opinion." "The rest," or remainder, here referred to, relates particularly to the cases in which one party was a Christian and the other not. In the previous verses he had delivered the solemn, explicit law of Christ, that divorce was to take place on neither side, and in no instance, except agreeably. to the law of Christ; Matthew 5:32. That was settled by divine authority. In the subsequent verses he discusses a different question; whether a "voluntary separation" was not advisable and proper when the one party was a Christian and the other not. The word "rest" refers to these instances, and the questions which would arise under this inquiry.

Not the Lord - See the note at 1 Corinthians 7:6. "I do not claim, in this advice, to be under the influence of inspiration; I have no express command on the subject from the Lord; but I deliver my opinion as a servant of the Lord 1 Corinthians 7:40, and as having a right to offer advice, even when I have no express command from God, to a church which I have founded, and which has consulted me on the subject." This was a case in which both he and they were to follow the principles of Christian prudence and propriety, when there was no express commandment. Many such cases may occur. But few, perhaps none, can occur, in which some Christian principle shall not be found, that will be sufficient to direct the anxious inquirer after truth and duty.

If any brother - Any Christian.

That believeth not - That is not a Christian; one who is a pagan.

And if she be pleased - If it seems best to her; if she consents; approves of living together still. There might be many cases where the wife or the husband, that was not a Christian, would be so opposed to Christianity, and so violent in their opposition, that they would not be willing to live with a Christian. When this was the case, the Christian husband or wife could not prevent the separation. When this was not the case, they were not to seek a separation themselves.

To dwell with him - To remain in connection with him as his wife, though they differed on the subject of religion.

Let him not put her away - Though she is a pagan, though opposed to his religion, yet the marriage vow is sacred and inviolable. It is not to be sundered by any change which can take place in the opinions of either party. It is evident that if a man were at liberty to dissolve the marriage tie, or to discard his wife when his own opinions were changed on the subject of religion, that it would at once destroy all the sacredness of the marriage union, and render it a nullity. Even, therefore, when there is a difference of opinion on the vital subject of religion, the tie is not dissolved; but the only effect of religion should be, to make the converted husband or wife more tender, kind, affectionate, and faithful than they were before; and all the more so as their partners are without the hopes of the gospel, and as they may be won to love the Saviour, 1 Corinthians 7:16.

12. to the rest—the other classes (besides "the married," 1Co 7:10, where both husband and wife are believers) about whom the Corinthians had inquired, namely, those involved in mixed marriages with unbelievers.

not the Lord—by any direct command spoken by Him.

she be pleased—Greek, "consents": implying his wish in the first instance, with which hers concurs.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord; either as to the other part of your Epistle, or as to the cases of the rest mentioned in your Epistle, I shall give you my advice so far as I am instructed by the Holy Spirit of God, though our Lord Jesus Christ hath set no certain rule concerning them.

If any brother hath a wife that believeth not: that believeth not, both here and 1 Corinthians 7:13, signifieth, that hath not embraced the Christian faith, but still remaineth a pagan.

And she be pleased to dwell with him; if there be no other matter of difference between such persons, save only in matter of religion, let him not for that put her away. If a Christian man or woman had their choice to make, it were unlawful for either of them to make choice of a pagan for their yoke-fellow; but if, after marriage, either the husband or the wife embraceth the Christian faith, the other correlate still abiding a pagan, their difference in religion is not a sufficient ground for a separation: this seemeth to be the apostle’s meaning. The case seemeth a little different in the opinion of some divines, when the idolater or idolatress blasphemeth God and the true religion, and is continually tempting the correlate to apostacy: but it is hard to determine against the plain precept of so great an apostle, especially considering the reason by which he backeth his precept. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord,.... He had spoken before to married persons in general, and had delivered not his own sentiments barely, but the commandment of the Lord, that such should never separate from, or put away each other; in which he has respect to such as were upon equal foot in matters of religion, who were both of them believers in Christ; but now he speaks to the rest, to such as were unequally yoked, the one a believer, the other an unbeliever; and what he delivers on this head, concerning their living together, there being no express determination of this matter by the Lord himself, he under divine inspiration gives his sense of it; as that such marriages were valid, and that such persons ought to live together, and not separate on account of difference in religion: or the sense is, that as "to the rest" of the things they had wrote to him about, besides what he had given answer to already, he should speak to under divine illumination; though he had not an express law of Christ to point unto them, as the rule of their conduct: and particularly, whereas they had desired his judgment and advice upon this head, whether one who before conversion had married an unbeliever, ought to live with such an one, or whether it would not be advisable to leave, or put such away, to it he answers,

if any brother hath a wife that believeth not; that is, if any man who is now a brother, one called by the grace of God, and is in church fellowship, has a wife to whom he was married whilst in a state of unregeneracy and infidelity; who is as she was when he married her, entirely destitute of faith in Christ; not one that is weak in the faith, or only makes an outward profession, but that has no faith at all in Christ, nor in his Gospel, not so much as an historical one; who disbelieves, denies, and rejects, the truths of the Gospel:

and she be pleased to dwell with him; loves her husband, chooses to continue with him, notwithstanding their different sentiments of religion:

let him not put her away; infidelity is no reason for a divorce. The Gospel revelation does not dissolve the natural obligations men and women are in to one another. The Jews had a law prohibiting marriages with Heathens and idolaters; and such marriages were dissolved, and such wives put away, Exodus 34:16 but this was a law peculiar to that people, and was not obligatory on other nations, and especially has no place under the Gospel dispensation.

{8} But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

(8) Eighthly, he affirms that those marriages which are already contracted between a faithful and an unfaithful or infidel, are firm: so that the faithful may not forsake the unfaithful.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:12. The λοιποί are those who, before their conversion, had entered into marriage with a non-believer, so that one of the two had become a Christian and the other not. See on 1 Corinthians 7:10.

οὐχ ὁ Κύρ.] For, as respected such marriages, Christ had given no command. He had no occasion to do so. Observe how suitably Paul refrains here from again using παραγγέλλω.

συνευδοκεῖ] approves with him (comp on Romans 1:32), joins in approving; for Paul takes for granted that the Christian partner on his side approves the continuance of the union.[1111] It is alien to the scope of the passage to hold, with Billroth, that in συνευδ. is implied the contempt of the heathen for the Christians. Regarding οἰκεῖν μετά, to dwell with, of living together in marriage, see Seidler, a[1112]. Eur. El. 99: ἐν γάμοις ζευχθεῖσαν οἰκεῖν, comp 212.

It may be noted, moreover, that 1 Corinthians 7:12 f. does not give permission to a Christian to marry a non-belie1Co 7:“Non enim dixit: si quis ducit, sed: si quis habet infidelem,” Pelagius. περὶ τῶν πρὸ κηρύγματος συναφθέντων ἔφη, Theodoret.

[1111] Hence the compound συνευδοκεῖ is used rightly and of deliberate purpose in the second part of the statement also, although there the husband is the subject, and it ought not to be supplanted by the simple εὐδοκεῖ, according to B (in opposition to Buttmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 369).

[1112] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.1 Corinthians 7:12-13. “But to the rest”—as distinguished from Christian couples (1 Corinthians 7:10)—“say I, not the Lord”: this is my word, not His. On the problem of mixed marriages, which Jesus had no occasion to regulate, the Ap. delivers his own sentence. Not that he exhorts, whereas the Lord commands (Cm[1039])—λέγω is a word of authority (virtually repeating παραγγέλλω, 1 Corinthians 7:10), as in 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Corinthians 14:37, 1 Corinthians 15:51, 2 Corinthians 6:13, Romans 12:3; much less, that he disclaims inspiration upon this point (Or[1040], Tert[1041], Milton), or betrays a doubt of his competence (Baur): he quoted the dictum of Jesus where it was available, and on the fundamental matter, and indicates frankly that in this further case he is proceeding on his personal judgment. The Christian spouse is forbidden to cast off the non-Christian in terms identical for husband and wife, only γυνὴ ἣτις (or εἴ τις: 1 Corinthians 7:13) standing over against εἴ τις ἀδελφός (1 Corinthians 7:12). Ἀφίημι, used of the ἀνὴρ specifically in 1 Corinthians 7:11, is now applied to both parties: cl[1042] Gr[1043] uses ἀποπέμπειν or ἀπολύειν (Matthew 5:31) of the husband as dismissing the wife, ἀπολείπειν of the wife as the deserting husband; “in the structure of the two verses, with their solemn repetition, the equal footing of man and wife is indicated” (Hn[1044]; cf. notes on 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 above). συν-ευδοκεῖ, “is jointly well-pleased,”—implying that the ἄπιστος agrees with the Christian spouse in deprecating separation, which the latter (after 1 Corinthians 7:10 f.) must needs desire to avoid; cf., for the force of συν-, Luke 11:48, Acts 8:1.

[1039] John Chrysostom’s Homiliœ († 407).

[1040] Origen.

[1041]ert. Tertullian.

[1042] classical.

[1043] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1044]
C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).12. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord] That is, there has been no precept given by Christ Himself in the particular case now referred to, therefore St Paul falls back on the general inspiration given by Christ to His Apostles. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:40 (where see note), and St John 16:13. “Christ lays down the general rule, the Apostles apply it to particular emergencies.” Stanley.

If any brother hath a wife that believeth not] This, the case where one of the two persons already married is an unbeliever, the most difficult of all, is here dealt with, and the sacredness of the marriage tie maintained under circumstances the most unpromising. The only case in which ‘a brother or sister is not under bondage’ to its obligations is where (1 Corinthians 7:15) the unbelieving partner insists upon a separation.1 Corinthians 7:12. Τοῖς δὲ λοιποῖς) but to the rest, who are living in marriage.—ἐγὼ, I) see 1 Corinthians 7:25, note.—λέγω, I say) he does not use the expression, I command, as in 1 Corinthians 7:10. I say, viz. this, which is spoken of, 1 Corinthians 7:12-13; 1 Corinthians 7:15-16, and mostly indeed at 1 Corinthians 7:15-16; for if 1 Corinthians 7:12-14, be considered separately, they flow from 1 Corinthians 7:10.—συνευδοκεῖ, she be pleased) There might be many, who either doubted or were not averse from the faith.—Μὴ ἀφιέτω, let him not put away) This rule was stricter in the Old Testament. That the difference between the Old and New Testament is here regarded, we gather from 1 Corinthians 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:15, note.Verses 12-16. - Directions about mixed marriages. Verse 12. - To the rest. That is, to those who are married, but are heathen. They were the remaining class about whose duties the Corinthians had made inquiry. Not the Lord. The Lord had made no express reference to such cases, since it had been no part of his mission to lay down minute details which would be duly settled from age to age by the wisdom taught by the Holy Ghost. She be pleased to dwell with him. It is assumed that, if she did not please, the poor Christian convert would have no protection of his fights; pagan courts would regard conversion as a sufficient reason for breaking off marriages. To the rest

He has been speaking to the unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8) and to married parties, both of whom were Christians (1 Corinthians 7:10). By the rest he means married couples, one of which remained a heathen.

I, not the Lord

These cases are not included in Christ's declarations.

Be pleased (συνευδοκεῖ)

Rev., be content. Better, consent. Both the other renderings fail to express the agreement indicated by σύν together.

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