1 Corinthians 7:14
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife.—Any scruple which a Christian might have felt as to whether matrimonial union with an unbeliever would be defiling is here removed, and the purity of the former teaching justified. In contrast to that other union in which the connection is defiling (1Corinthians 6:16), the purity of the believing partner in this union, being a lawful one, as it were, entirely overweighs the impurity of the unbeliever, it being not a moral, but a kind of ceremonial impurity. The children of such marriages were considered to be Christian children; and the fruit being holy, so must we regard as holy the tree from which it springs. It must be remembered that the “sanctification” and “holiness” here spoken of is not that inward sanctification which springs from the action of the Holy Spirit in the individual heart, but that consecration which arises from being in the body of Christ, which is the Christian Church (Romans 9:16.)

1 Corinthians 7:14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife — That is, so far that their matrimonial converse is as lawful, holy, and honourable, as if they were both of the same faith: and in many instances the unbeliever, whether husband or wife, hath been converted to God by the instrumentality of the believing partner. The former sense, however, and not this latter, seems to be the primary meaning of the apostle. Else were your children unclean — And must be looked upon as unfit to be admitted to those peculiar ordinances by which the seed of God’s people are distinguished; but now are they holy — Confessedly; and are as readily admitted to baptism as if both the parents were Christians: so that the case, you see, is in effect decided by this prevailing practice. So Dr. Doddridge, who adds, “On the maturest and most impartial consideration of this text, I must judge it to refer to infant baptism. Nothing can be more apparent than that the word holy signifies persons who might be permitted to partake of the distinguishing rites of God’s people. See Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:19; Ezra 9:2; Acts 10:28, &c. And as for the interpretation, which so many of our brethren, the Baptists, have contended for, that holy signifies legitimate, and unclean, illegitimate, (not to urge that this seems an unscriptural sense of the word,) nothing can be more evident, than that the argument will by no means bear it; for it would be proving a thing by itself, (idem per idem,) to argue that the converse of the parents was lawful, because the children were not bastards; whereas all who thought the converse of the parents unlawful, must of course think that the children were illegitimate.” Thus also Dr. Whitby: “He doth not say, ‘else were your children bastards, but now they are legitimate,’ but

‘else were they unclean;’ that is, heathen children, not to be owned as a holy seed, and therefore not to be admitted into covenant with God, as belonging to his holy people. That this is the true import of the words ακαθαρτα and αγια, will be apparent from the Scriptures, in which the heathen are styled the unclean, in opposition to the Jews, who were in covenant with God, and therefore styled a holy people. Whence it is evident that the Jews looked upon themselves as δουλοι Θεου καθαροι, the clean servants of God, Nehemiah 2:20; and upon all the heathen and their offspring, as unclean, by reason of their want of circumcision, and the sign of the covenant. Hence, whereas it is said that Joshua circumcised the people, chap. 1 Corinthians 5:4, the LXX. say, περιεκαθαρεν, he cleansed them. Moreover, of heathen children, and such as are not circumcised, they say, they are not born in holiness; but they, on the contrary, are styled σπερμα αγιον, a holy seed, Isaiah 6:13; Ezra 9:2; and the offspring from them, and from those proselytes which had embraced their religion, are said to be born in holiness, and so thought fit to be admitted to circumcision, or baptism, or whatsoever might initiate them into the Jewish Church; and therefore to this sense of the words holy and unclean, the apostle may be here most rationally supposed to allude. And though one of the parents be still a heathen, yet is the denomination to be taken from the better, and so their offspring are to be esteemed, not as heathen, that is, unclean, but holy; as all Christians by denomination are. Hence, then, the argument for infant baptism runs thus: ‘If the holy seed among the Jews was therefore to be circumcised, and be made federally holy, by receiving the sign of the covenant, and being admitted into the number of God’s holy people, because they were born in sanctity; then, by like reason, the holy seed of Christians ought to be admitted to baptism, and receive the sign of the Christian covenant, the laver of regeneration, and so be entered into the society of the Christian Church.’ So also Clemens Alexandrinus and Tertullian.”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.For the unbelieving husband - The husband that is not a Christian; who still remains a pagan, or an impenitent man. The apostle here states reasons why a separation should not take place when there was a difference of religion between the husband and the wife. The first is, that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife. And the object of this statement seems to be, to meet an objection which might exist in the mind, and which might, perhaps, be urged by some. "Shall I not be polluted by such a connection? Shall I not be defiled, in the eye of God, by living in a close union with a pagan, a sinner, an enemy of God, and an opposer of the gospel?" This objection was natural, and is, doubtless, often felt. To this the apostle replies, "No; the contrary may he true. The connection produces a species of sanctification, or diffuses a kind of holiness over the unbelieving party by the believing party, so far as to render their children holy, and therefore it is improper to seek for a separation."

Is sanctified - ἡγίασται hēgiastai. There has been a great variety of opinions in regard to the sense of this word. It does not comport with my design to state these opinions. The usual meaning of the word is, to make holy; to set apart to a sacred use; to consecrate, etc; see the note at John 17:17. But the expression cannot mean here:

(1) That the unbelieving husband would become holy, or be a Christian, "by the mere fact" of a connection "with" a Christian, for this would be to do violence to the words, and would be contrary to facts everywhere; nor,

(2) That the unbelieving husband had been sanctified by the Christian wife (Whitby), for this would not be true in all cases; nor,

(3) That the unbelieving husband would gradually become more favorably inclined to Christianity, by observing its effects on the wife (according to Semler); for, though this might be true, yet the apostle was speaking of something then, and which rendered their children at that time holy; nor,

(4) That the unbelieving husband might more easily be sanctified, or become a Christian, by being connected with a Christian wife (according to Rosenmuller and Schleusner), because he is speaking of something in the connection which made the children holy; and because the word ἁγιάζω hagiazō is not used in this sense elsewhere. But it is a good rule of interpretation, that the words which are used in any place are to be limited in their signification by the connection; and all that we are required to understand here is, that the unbelieving husband was sanctified "in regard to the subject under discussion;" that is, in regard to the question whether it was proper for them to live together, or whether they should be separated or not. And the sense may be, "They are by the marriage tie one flesh. They are indissolubly united by the ordinance of God. As they are one by his appointment, as they have received his sanction to the marriage union, and as one of them is holy, so the other is to be regarded as sanctified, or made so holy by the divine sanction to the union, that it is proper for them to live together in the marriage relation." And in proof of this, Paul says if it were not so, if the connection was to he regarded as impure and abominable, then their children were to be esteemed as illegitimate and unclean. But now they were not so regarded, and could not so be; and hence, it followed that they might lawfully continue together. So Calvin, Beza, and Doddridge interpret the expression.

Else were your children unclean - (ἀκάθαρτα akatharta). Impure; the opposite of what is meant by holy. Here observe:

(1) That this is a reason why the parents, one of whom was a Christian and the other not, should not be separated; and,

(2) The reason is founded on the fact, that if they were separated, the offspring of such a union must be regarded as illegitimate, or unholy; and,

(3) It must be improper to separate in such a way, and for such a reason, because even they did not believe, and could not believe, that their children were defiled, and polluted, and subject to the shame and disgrace attending illegitimate children.

This passage has often been interpreted, and is often adduced to prove that children are "federally holy," and that they are entitled to the privilege of baptism on the ground of the faith of one of the parents. But against this interpretation there are insuperable objections:

(1) The phrase "federally holy" is unintelligible, and conveys no idea to the great mass of people. It occurs no where in the Scriptures, and what can be meant by it?

(2) it does not accord with the scope and design of the argument. There is not one word about baptism here; not one allusion to it; nor does the argument in the remotest degree hear upon it. The question was not whether children should be baptized, but it was whether there should be a separation between man and wife, where the one was a Christian and the other not. Paul states, that if such a separation should take place, it would imply that the marriage was improper; and of course the children must be regarded as unclean. But how would the supposition that they were federally holy, and the proper subjects of baptism, bear on this? Would it not be equally true that it was proper to baptize the children whether the parents were separated or not? Is it not a doctrine among Pedobaptists everywhere, that the children are entitled to baptism upon the faith of either of the parents, and that that doctrine is not affected by the question here agitated by Paul? Whether it was proper for them to live together or not, was it not equally true that the child of a believing parent was to be baptized? But,

(3) The supposition that this means that the children would be regarded as illegitimate if such a separation should take place, is one that accords with the whole scope and design of the argument. "When one party is a Christian and the other not shall there be a separation?" This was the question. "No," says Paul; if there is such a separation, it must be because the marriage is improper; because it would be wrong to live together in such circumstances. What would follow from this? Why, that all the children that have been born since the one party became a Christian, must be regarded as having been born while a connection existed that was improper, and unChristian, and unlawful, and of course they must be regarded as illegitimate. But, says he, you do not believe this yourselves. It follows, therefore, that the connection, even according to your own views, is proper.

continued...

14. sanctified—Those inseparably connected with the people of God are hallowed thereby, so that the latter may retain the connection without impairing their own sanctity (compare 1Ti 4:5); nay, rather imparting to the former externally some degree of their own hallowed character, and so preparing the way for the unbeliever becoming at last sanctified inwardly by faith.

by … by—rather, "in … in"; that is, in virtue of the marriage tie between them.

by the husband—The oldest manuscripts read, "by the brother." It is the fact of the husband being a "brother," that is, a Christian, though the wife is not so, that sanctifies or hallows the union.

else … children unclean—that is, beyond the hallowed pale of God's people: in contrast to "holy," that is, all that is within the consecrated limits [Conybeare and Howson]. The phraseology accords with that of the Jews, who regarded the heathen as "unclean," and all of the elect nation as "holy," that is, partakers of the holy covenant. Children were included in the covenant, as God made it not only with Abraham, but with his "seed after" him (Ge 17:7). So the faith of one Christian parent gives to the children a near relationship to the Church, just as if both parents were Christians (compare Ro 11:16). Timothy, the bearer of this Epistle, is an instance in point (Ac 16:1). Paul appeals to the Corinthians as recognizing the principle, that the infants of heathen parents would not be admissible to Christian baptism, because there is no faith on the part of the parents; but where one parent is a believer, the children are regarded as not aliens from, but admissible even in infancy as sharers in, the Christian covenant: for the Church presumes that the believing parent will rear the child in the Christian faith. Infant baptism tacitly superseded infant circumcision, just as the Christian Lord's day gradually superseded the Jewish sabbath, without our having any express command for, or record of, transference. The setting aside of circumcision and of sabbaths in the case of the Gentiles was indeed expressly commanded by the apostles and Paul, but the substitution of infant baptism and of the Lord's day were tacitly adopted, not expressly enacted. No explicit mention of it occurs till Irenæus in the third century; but no society of Christians that we read of disputed its propriety till fifteen hundred years after Christ. Anabaptists would have us defer baptism till maturity as the child cannot understand the nature of it. But a child may be made heir of an estate: it is his, though incapable at the time of using or comprehending its advantage; he is not hereafter to acquire the title and claim to it: he will hereafter understand his claim, and be capable of employing his wealth: he will then, moreover, become responsible for the use he makes of it [Archbishop Whately].

Ver. 13,14. Sanctifying, in holy writ, generally signifieth the separation or setting apart of a person or thing from a common, to and for a holy use, whether it be by some external rites and ceremonies, or by the infusing of some inward spiritual habits. In this place it seemeth to have a different sense from what it usually hath in holy writ; for it can neither signify the sanctification of the person by infused habits of grace; for neither is the unbelieving husband thus sanctified by the believing wife, neither is the unbelieving wife thus sanctified by the believing husband; nor are either of them thus set apart for the service of God by any legal rites: which hath made a great difference in the notions of interpreters, how the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, or the unbelieving wife, by the believing husband. Some think it signifies no more than prepared for God, as sanctified signifies, Isaiah 13:3. Others think they are sanctified by a moral denomination. I rather think it signifies, brought into such a state, that the believer, without offence to the law of God, may continue in a married estate with such a yoke-fellow; and the state of marriage is a holy state, notwithstanding the disparity with reference to religion.

Else were your children unclean; otherwise, he saith, the children begotten and born of such parents would be unclean, in the same state that the children of pagan parents are without the church, not within the covenant, not under the promise. In one sense all children are unclean, i.e. children of wrath, born in sin, and brought forth in iniquity; but all are not in this sense unclean, some are within the covenant of grace, within the church, capable of baptism.

But now are they holy; these are those that are called holy; not as inwardly renewed and sanctified, but relatively, in the same sense that all the Jewish nation are called a holy people: and possibly this may give us a further light to understand the term sanctifed, in the former part of the verse. The unbelieving husband is so far sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife so far sanctified by the believing husband, that as they may lawfully continue in their married relation, and live together as man and wife, so the issue coming from them both shall be by God counted in covenant with him, and have a right to baptism, which is one of the seals of that covenant, as well as those children both whose parents are believers. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,.... That is, "by the believing wife"; as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, and so it is read in some copies; and likewise in the next clause the same is read,

by the believing husband; this is a reason given by the apostle why they should live together. This cannot be understood of internal sanctification, which is never the case; an unbeliever cannot be sanctified by a believer in this sense, for such a sanctification is only by the Spirit of God; nor external sanctification, or an outward reformation, which though the unbelieving yoke fellow may sometimes be a means of, yet not always; and besides, the usefulness of one to another in such a relation, in a spiritual sense, urged as a reason for living together, in 1 Corinthians 7:16 nor merely of the holiness of marriage, as it is an institution of God, which is equally the same in unbelievers as believers, or between a believer and an unbeliever, as between two believers; but of the very act of marriage, which, in the language of the Jews, is expressed by being "sanctified"; instances almost without number might be given of the use of the word in this sense, out of the Misnic, Talmudic, and Rabbinic writings; take the following one instead of a thousand that might be produced (s).

"The man "sanctifies", or espouses a wife by himself, or by his messenger; the woman "is sanctified", or espoused by herself, or by her messenger. The man "sanctifies", or espouses his daughter, when she is a young woman, by himself or by his messenger; if anyone says to a woman, "be thou sanctified", or espoused to me by this date (the fruit of the palm tree,) "be thou sanctified", or espoused to me by this (any other thing); if there is anyone of these things the value of a farthing, "she is sanctified", or espoused, and if not she is not "sanctified", or "espoused"; if he says, by this, and by this, and by this, if there is the value of a farthing in them all, "she is sanctified", or espoused; but if not, she is not "sanctified", or espoused; if she eats one after another, she is not "sanctified", or espoused, unless there is one of them the value of a farthing;''

in which short passage, the word which is used to "sanctify", or be "sanctified", in the Hebrew language, is used to espouse, or be espoused no less than "ten" times. So the Jews (t) interpret the word "sanctified", in Job 1:5 he espoused to them wives; in the Misna, the oral law of the Jews, there is a whole treatise of "sanctifications" (u), or espousals; and in the Gemara or Talmud (w) is another, full of the disputes of the doctors on this subject. Maimonides has also written a treatise of women and wives (x), out of which might be produced almost innumerable instances in proof of the observation; and such as can read, and have leisure to read the said tracts, may satisfy themselves to their heart's content. Let it be further observed; that the preposition which is in most versions rendered "by", should be rendered "in" or "to" or "unto", as it is in the next verse, and in many other places; see Matthew 17:12 Colossians 1:23 if it be rendered in the former way, "in", it denotes the near union which by marriage the man and woman are brought into; if in the latter, it designs the object to which the man or woman is espoused, and the true sense and even the right rendering of the passage is this: "for the unbelieving husband is espoused to the wife, and the unbelieving wife is espoused to the husband"; they are duly, rightly, and legally espoused to each other; and therefore ought not, notwithstanding their different sentiments of religion, to separate from one another; otherwise, if this is not the case, if they are not truly married to one another, this consequence must necessarily follow; that the children born in such a state of cohabitation, where the marriage is not valid, must be spurious, and not legitimate, and which is the sense of the following words:

else were your children unclean, but now are they holy; that is, if the marriage contracted between them in their state of infidelity was not valid, and, since the conversion of one of them, can never be thought to be good; then the children begotten and born, either when both were infidels, or since one of them was converted, must be unlawfully begotten, be base born, and not a genuine legitimate offspring; and departure upon such a foot would be declaring to all the world that their children were illegitimate; which would have been a sad case indeed, and contains in it another reason why they ought to keep together; whereas, as the apostle has put it, the children are holy in the same sense as their parents are; that as they are sanctified, or lawfully espoused together, so the children born of them were in a civil and legal sense holy, that is, legitimate; wherefore to support the validity of their marriage, and for the credit of their children, it was absolutely necessary they should abide with one another. The learned Dr. Lightfoot says, that the words "unclean" and "holy" denote not children unlawfully begotten, and lawfully begotten; but Heathenism and Christianism; and thinks the apostle alludes to the distinction often made by the Jews, of the children of proselytes being born in "holiness", or out of it, that is, either before they became proselytes or after; but it should be observed, that though the word "holiness" is used for Judaism, yet not for Christianity; and besides, the marriages of Heathens were not looked upon as marriages by the Jews, and particularly such mixed ones as of a Jew and Gentile, they were not to be reckoned marriages; for so they say (y),

"he that espouses a Gentile woman, or a servant, , "they are not espousals"; but lo, he is after the espousals as he was before the espousals; and so a Gentile, or a servant, that espouses a daughter of Israel, , "those espousals are no espousals";''

nor do they allow children begotten of such persons to be legitimate. This learned writer himself owns such a tradition, and which he cites (z),

"that a son begotten in uncleanness is a son in all respects, and in general is reckoned as an Israelite, though he is a bastard, , "but a son begotten on a Gentile woman is not his son";''

all which are just the reverse of what the apostle is here observing; and who, it must be remarked, is speaking of the same sort of holiness of children as of parents, which cannot be understood of Christianity, because one of the parents in each is supposed to be an Heathen. The sense I have given of this passage, is agreeable to the mind of several interpreters, ancient and modern, as Jerom, Ambrose, Erasmus, Camerarius, Musculus, &c. which last writer makes this ingenuous confession; formerly, says he, I have abused this place against the Anabaptists, thinking the meaning was, that the children were holy for the parents' faith; which though true, the present place makes nothing for the purpose: and I hope, that, upon reading this, everyone that has abused it to such a purpose will make the like acknowledgment; I am sure they ought.

(s) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 2. sect. 1.((t) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 152. 1.((u) Massech. Kiddushin. (w) T. Bab. & Hieros. Kiddushin. (x) Hilch Ishot. c. 3. & 4. & 5. & 6. & 7. & 8. & 9. (y) Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 4. sect. 15. (z) Maimon. Hilch. Issure Bia, c. 12. sect. 7. Vid. Ib. Hilch. Nechalat, c. 2. sect. 12.

{9} For the unbelieving husband is {h} sanctified by the {i} wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the {k} husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they {l} holy.

(9) He answers an objection: but the faithful is defiled by the company of the unfaithful. The apostle denies that, and proves that the faithful man with good conscience may use the vessel of his unfaithful wife, by this, that their children which are born of them are considered holy or legitimate (that is, contained within the promise): for it is said to all the faithful, I will be your God, and the God of your seed.

(h) The godliness of the wife is of more force to cause their marriage to be considered holy, than the infidelity of the husband is to profane the marriage.

(i) The infidel is not sanctified or made holy in his own person, but in respect of his wife, he is sanctified to her.

(k) To the faithful husband.

(l) The children are holy in the same sense that their parents are; that is they are sanctified, or lawfully espoused together, so the children born of them were in a civil and legal sense holy, that is, legitimate. (Ed.)

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:14.[1116] For—this justifies the injunction given in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13the unholiness of the non-believing partner is taken away in virtue of his personal connection with the believer; he is sanctified—this sanctification having its causal basis in the person of the Christian consort with whom he stands in married union, and the possible stumbling-block of self-profanation through continuing in such a marriage being thereby removed. Paul’s judgment, therefore, is that the Christian ἁγιότης, the higher analogue of the Jewish theocratic consecration to God, affects even the non-believing partner in a marriage, and so passes over to him that he does not remain a profane person, but through the intimate union of wedded life becomes partaker (as if by a sacred contagion) of the higher divinely consecrated character of his consort, who belongs to the Israel of God, the holy φύραμα (Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:16).[1117] The clause: ἘΠΕῚ ἌΡΑ ΤᾺ ΤΈΚΝΑ Κ.Τ.Λ[1118], shows that what the ἄπιστος is here said to have entered upon is not the moral holiness of the new birth (the subjective condition of which is nothing else but faith), but the holy consecration of that bond of Christian fellowship which forms the ἐκκλησία Θεοῦ, of which holiness, as arising out of this fellowship, the non-believing husband, in virtue of the inner union of life in which he stands to his Christian consort, has become a partaker (not, of course, without receiving a blessing morally also). The non-believer is, as it were, affiliated to the holy order of Christians by his union of married life with a Christian person, and, so soon as his spouse is converted to Christ and has thereby become holy, he too on his part participates in his own person (not “simply in his married relationship,” to which Hofmann, following older interpreters, unwarrantably restricts the meaning of the text) in his consort’s holiness, the benefit of which he receives in virtue of his fellowship of life with her, so that he is no longer ἀκάθαρτος as hitherto, but—although mediately after the fashion described—a ἡγιασμένος. The manifold misinterpretations of the older commentators may be seen in Poole’s Synopsis and Wolf’s Curae (e.g. Calovius and others hold that ἡγ. refers to the usus conjugalis as sanctified per preces fidelis conjugis; Tertullian, Jerome, Theodoret, Castalio, Estius, al[1119], think that it points to his being destined to be converted afterwards, so that the meaning would be candidatus fidei est). Observe, moreover, in how totally different a way Paul regarded the relation of the Christian who had connected himself with a harlot (1 Corinthians 6:15). In that case the harlot is the preponderating element, and the members of Christ become unholy, members of an harlot.

With ἐν τῇ γυν. and ἐν τῷ ἀνδ., comp ἐν σοὶ πᾶσʼ ἔγωγε σώζομαι, Soph. Aj. 519; ἐν σοί ἐσμεν, Oed. R. 314, and the like; Ellendt, Lex Soph. I. p. 597.

ἐπεὶ ἄρα κ.τ.λ[1121]] because according to that (if, namely, that ἡγίασται did not hold good; comp 1 Corinthians 5:10), i.e. because otherwise your children are unclean, profane. That Christians’ children are not profane, outside of the theocratic community and the divine covenant, and belonging to the unholy κόσμος, but, on the contrary, holy, is the conceded point from which Paul proves that the non-believing husband is sanctified through his believing wife; for just as in the children’s case, that which makes them holy is simply the specific bond of union with Christians (their parents); so, too, in the case of the mixed marriage, the same bond of union must have the same influence.[1123]

Had the baptism of Christian children been then in existence, Paul could not have drawn this inference, because in that case the ἁγιότης of such children would have had another basis.[1124] That the passage before us does not even contain an exegetical justification of infant baptism, is shown in the remarks on Acts 16:15 (against de Wette in the Stud. u. Krit. 1830, p. 669 ff., Neander, Olshausen, Osiander, and older expositors). Neither is it the point of departure, from which, almost of necessity, paedobaptism must have developed itself (Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 423); such a point is rather to be found in the gradual development of the doctrine of original sin.

ὑμῶν] should not be restricted, as is done by most expositors, following Chrysostom (so recently, Pott, Flatt, Ewald, Harless), to those involved in mixed marriages;[1125] but, as Paul himself makes clear by changing the person, referred to the readers as Christian in general[1126] (de Wette, Schrader, Rückert, Olshausen, Osiander, Neander, Maier, Hofmann; Billroth is undecided), not, however, to the exclusion of the children of a mixed marriage, since it must be logically inferred that these, too, could not fail to have from their Christian father or mother at least “quandam sanctitatis adsperginem” (Anselm). In how far the offspring of mixed marriages were counted holy by the Jews, may be seen in Wetstein and Schoettgen in loc[1127]

ΝῦΝ ΔΈ] but so, as in 1 Corinthians 7:11.

[1116] Comp. on this verse, Otto against Abrenunciation, 1864.

[1117] In a mixed marriage, therefore, the Christian ἁγιότης forms, in relation to the non-Christian unholiness, the preponderating element, extending the character of sanctity even to what of itself would be profane; as Chrysostom expresses it: νικᾶ ἡ καθαρότης τῆς γυναεκὸς τὴν ἀκαθαρσίαν. Comp. the paraphrase of Erasmus: “Non inficit deterioris impietas alterius pietatem, quin illud potius praeponderat quod melius est et efficacius.”

[1118] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1119] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1121] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1123] The essence of this bond of union, as regards the children, does not lie in their being born or begotten of Christian parents; for the children, although holy for their parents’ sakes, might be born or begotten before the father or mother had embraced Christianity. Nor are we warranted in saying, with Hofmann, that the child, as the gift of God, is holy for its relation to its parents, who, so far as that is concerned, do not regard the sin with which it is born. That is arbitrarily to limit the apostle’s thought, and to read all the most essential points of it from between the lines. On the contrary, the relationship which Paul here enunciates simply and without any artificial saving clause is one which consists in the immediate close fellowship of life, by virtue of which the consecration of Christian holiness attaching to the parents passes over from them to their children also, to whom otherwise, as being still ἀπίστοις, the predicate ἀκάθαρτα would rightly belong. Equally close and cordial is the fellowship of life between husband and wife, while every other kind of mutual connection is less intimate, and forms a more distant degree of vital union. It is upon this paritas rationis that the validity of the argument depends.

[1124] Comp. Jebamoth, f. lxxviii. 1 : “Si gravida fit proselyta, non opus est, ut baptizetur infans quando natus fuerit; baptismus enim matris ei cedit pro baptismo.”

[1125] Ἀκάθαρτοι is taken by many as equivalent to spurii. See Melanchthon in particular: “Si non placeret consuetudo conjugalis, filii vestri essent spurii et eatenus immundi, ἀκάθαρτοι. At filii vestri non sunt spurii; ergo consuetudo conjugalis Deo placet.” He interprets ἀκάθαρτοι after מַמְזֵר in Deuteronomy 23.

[1126] Comp. Müller, v. d. Sünde, II. p. 383, ed. 5. Our passage, however, ought not to be adduced to prove the universal pollution of men by nature and birth, for ἀκάθαρτα must denote, not moral, but theocratic uncleanness, like the κοινά of Acts 10:28. This against Ernesti also, Ursprung der Sünde, II. p. 16 ff. The children of Christians are, it is plain according to this verse, holy already (without baptism) at a time of life at which it is as yet inconceivable that the uncleanness should be removed through fellowship with the Redeemer by faith.

[1127] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.1 Corinthians 7:14 obviates the objection which the Christian wife or husband (for the order, see note on 10 f.) might feel to continued union with an unbeliever (cf. Paul’s own warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14 ff.): “Will not the saint,” some one asks, “be defiled, and the ‘limbs of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 6:15) be desecrated by intercourse with a heathen?” To such a protest ἡγίασται γὰρ κ.τ.λ. replies: “For the husband that is an unbeliever, has been sanctified in his wife,” and vice versâ. ἡγίασταιὁ ἄπιστος is a paradox: it does not affirm a conversion in the unbeliever remaining such—whether incipient or prospective (D. W[1045], and some others)—the pf. tense signifies a relationship established for the non-Christian in the past,—sc. at the conversion of the believing spouse; but man and wife are part of each other, in such a sense (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:16 f., by contrast) that the sanctification of the one includes the other so far as their wedlock is concerned. The married believer in offering her- (or him-) self to God could not but present husband (or wife) in the same act—“sanctified in the wife, brother,” respectively—and treats him (or her) henceforth as sacred. “Whatever the husband may be in himself, in the wife’s thought and feeling he is a holy object.… Similarly the Christian’s friends, abilities, wealth, time, are, or should be, holy” (Bt[1046]). Marriage with an unbeliever after conversion is barred in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

[1045]. W. De Wette’s Handbuch z. N. T.

[1046]
J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

The (relative) sanctity of the unconverted spouse is made more evident by the analogous case of children: “Else one must suppose that your children are unclean; but as it is, they are holy!” P. appeals to the instinct of the religious parent; the Christian father or mother cannot look on children, given by God through marriage, as things unclean. Offspring are holy as bound up with the holy parent; and this principle of family solidarity holds good of the conjugal tie no less than of the filial derived therefrom. See the full discussion of this text in Ed[1047]; it has played no small part in Christian jurisprudence, and in the doctrine of Infant Baptism; it “enunciates the principle which leads to Infant Baptism, viz. that the child of Christian parents shall be treated as a Christian” (Lt[1048]).—On ἐπεὶ ἄρα, alioqui certe, si res se aliter haberet, see 1 Corinthians 5:10 and parls.; νῦν δὲ, as in 1 Corinthians 5:11, is both temporal and logical (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20, Romans 6:22).

[1047] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1048] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).14. is sanctified] In both members of the sentence the original has hath been sanctified, i.e. by the conversion of the believer to Christianity. The sacred character imparted by Christianity has, since it imparts union with Christ the Lord of all, a power to overbear the impurity of the non-Christian partner in wedlock. Meyer’s note is very striking here. He says that “the Christian sanctity affects even the non-believing partner in a marriage and so passes over to him that he does not remain a profane person, but through the intimate union of wedded life becomes partaker (as if by a sacred contagion) of the higher divinely consecrated character of his consort.” And this is because matrimony is “a holy estate instituted of God.” For the much stricter view under the Law, Dean Stanley refers to Ezra, ch. 9, and Nehemiah 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23-28. But these marriages were contracted in defiance of the prohibition in Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4, a prohibition rendered necessary by the surrounding idolatry and its attendant licentiousness. They stand upon a different footing to marriages contracted before admission into covenant with God.

else were your children unclean, but now are they holy] This principle applies also to the children of such a marriage. The sanctity, i.e. the consecration, of the parent possessing the life of Christ, and living in holy wedlock with an unbelieving husband or wife, descends to the child, which from its birth may be regarded as ‘holy to the Lord.’ “Which we may not so understand as if the children of baptized parents were without sin, or grace from baptized parents derived by propagation, or God by covenant and promise tied to save any in mere regard of their parents’ belief: yet to all professors of the name of Christ this pre-eminence above infidels is freely given, that the fruit of their bodies bringeth into the world with it a present interest and right to those means wherewith the ordinance of Christ is that His Church shall be sanctified.” Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, Book v. lx. 6. This holds good, however, only of such marriages as were contracted before conversion. Christians were forbidden in 1 Corinthians 7:39 and in 2 Corinthians 6:14, to contract such marriages.1 Corinthians 7:14. Ἡγίασται) has been sanctified, so that the believing party may hold intercourse with the other in the exercise of holiness, and ought not to put him or her away: comp. 1 Timothy 4:5. A very significant word is here used, because Scripture wishes to guarantee to us conscience being left everywhere unencumbered.—ἐν τῇ γυναικὶ) [by the wife] in respect to the wife, with whom he willingly remains; so ἐν, 1 Corinthians 14:11.—πιστῇ, the believing, is not added to γυναικὶ, in accommodation to human modes of thought [κατʼ ἄνθρωπον]: for an unbelieving husband does not know what faith is.—ἐπεὶ ἄρα, otherwise) For [otherwise] the children would follow the condition of the unbelieving parent. The marriage is Christian, and so also are the offspring.—τέκνα, children) who are born of a believing and an unbelieving parent.—ἀκάθαρτα, unclean) as those who are born of parents, who are both unbelievers, although they be not bastards.—ἅγιά ἐστιν, they are holy) ἡγίασται differs from this expression as, to become holy, from to be holy; but the holiness itself of the children and of the unbelieving parent is the same. He is speaking of a purity, which not only makes the children legitimate, not bastards, such as those also have, who are born from the marriage of two unbelievers; but which also imports a degree of nearer relationship with the Church, and a more open door to faith itself, just as if both parents were Christians. Comp. Romans 11:16. Timothy is an example, Acts 16:1, who was the bearer of this epistle, and there might have been many such among the children at Corinth. [A husband is in other respects preferred; but the faith of the wife has more influence than the unbelief of the husband.—V. g.]Verse 14. - Is sanctified; literally, has been sanctified, the status has been rendered (so to speak) theoretically clean. By the wife; literally, in the wife. The bond is still holy; its holiness rests in the believing wife or husband. The reasoning would remove any scruples which Jewish Christians might derive from Deuteronomy 7:3, etc. By the husband; rather, in the brother. The liberty implied by these remarks, contrasting so strongly with the rigid rules laid down in the days of Ezra (Ezra 9; Nehemiah 9.) recall the change of dispensation. Unclean; i.e. not placed in immediate covenant relation to God. But now are they holy. This does not necessarily imply that they were baptized as infants, but only that they were hallowed as the fruit of a hallowed union. See the remarkable words of Malachi (Malachi 2:15). "If the root be holy, so are the branches" (Romans 11:16). Is sanctified (ἡγίασται)

Not, made morally holy, but affiliated to the Christian community - the family of the ἅγιοι saints - in virtue of his being "one flesh" with his Christian wife.

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