1 Corinthians 7:20
Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.—This is an emphatic repetition of the principle on which the previous practical instruction is based. “Calling” must not here be regarded in the modern sense of profession or condition in life; it is nowhere so used in the New Testament, but always signifies God’s calling of us. (See Romans 11:29; Ephesians 1:18.) Continue to be Christians of the kind which God’s call to Christianity made you. If you were circumcised—and so God’s call into the Christian Church made you a circumcised Christian—continue so; don’t do anything which would seem to imply that some other change in addition to your “call” was necessary to complete your admission to the Church.

1 Corinthians 7:20-24. Let every man abide wherein he was called — Affect not to change without the clear and evident leadings of Providence, as there is generally greater reason to expect a man will enjoy comfort, and be holy and useful, in a situation to which he is accustomed, than in another to which he is a stranger. The apostle repeats the injunction because of its great importance; for they who are so unsettled in their minds as to be continually changing from one condition or line of life to another, seldom make progress, or are of much use to themselves or others, in any one. Art thou called being a servant — Or bondman, as δουλος properly signifies; care not for it — Do not much regard it, nor anxiously seek liberty: do not suppose that such a condition renders thee less acceptable to God, or is unworthy of a Christian. But if thou mayest be made free — By any lawful method; use it rather — Embrace the opportunity. He that is called in, or by, the Lord — To the Christian faith; being a servant — Or a bond-man; is the Lord’s freeman — Being delivered by him from the slavery of sin and Satan, and therefore possesses the greatest of all dignities. Likewise — In like manner; he that is called, being free — From the authority of any human master; is Christ’s servant — Or bondman; not free in this respect; not at his own disposal; not at liberty to do his own will, but bound to be subject and obedient to Christ. Surely, as Goodwin observes, “the apostle could not have expressed in stronger terms his deep conviction of the small importance of human distinctions than he here does; when, speaking of what seems, to great and generous minds, the most miserable lot, even that of a slave, he says, Care not for it.” To this Doddridge adds, “If liberty itself, the first of all temporal blessings, be not of so great importance as that a man, blessed with the high hopes and glorious consolations of Christianity, should make himself very solicitous about it, how much less in those comparatively trifling distinctions on which many lay so disproportionate, so extravagant a stress.” Ye are bought with a price — Christ hath redeemed you at the expense of his own blood, a price of infinite value; be not ye the servants — The slaves; of men — If it can by any lawful means be avoided, since so many evils, dangers, and snares are inseparable from such a condition. Brethren, let every man, &c. — Here the apostle repeats the same advice a third time in the compass of a few verses, intending, L’Enfant thinks, “to correct some disorders among the Christian slaves in Corinth, who, agreeably to the doctrine of the false teachers, claimed their liberty, on pretence that, as brethren in Christ, they were on an equality with their Christian masters.” Therein abide with God — Doing all things as unto God, and as in his immediate presence. They who thus abide with God, preserve a holy indifference with regard to outward things.7:17-24 The rules of Christianity reach every condition; and in every state a man may live so as to be a credit to it. It is the duty of every Christian to be content with his lot, and to conduct himself in his rank and place as becomes a Christian. Our comfort and happiness depend on what we are to Christ, not what we are in the world. No man should think to make his faith or religion, an argument to break through any natural or civil obligations. He should quietly and contentedly abide in the condition in which he is placed by Divine Providence.Let every man abide - Let him remain or continue.

In the same calling - The same occupation, profession, rank of life. We use the word "calling" in the same sense to denote the occupation or profession of a man. Probably the original idea which led people to designate a profession as a CallinG was the belief that God called every man to the profession and rank which he occupies; that is, that it is by his "arrangement, or providence," that he occupies that rank rather than another. In this way every man has a Call to the profession in which he is engaged as really as ministers of the gospel; and every man should have as clear evidence that "God has called" him to the sphere of life in which he moves as ministers of the gospel should have that God has called them to their appropriate profession. This declaration of Paul, that everyone is to remain in the same occupation or rank in which he was when he was converted, is to he taken in a general and not in an unqualified sense. It does not design to teach that a man is in no situation to seek a change in his profession when he becomes pious. But it is intended to show that religion was the friend of order; that it did not disregard or disarrange the relations of social life; that it was suited to produce contentment even in an humble walk, and to prevent repinings at the lot of those who were more favored or happy. That it did not design to prevent all change is apparent from the next verse, and from the nature of the case. some of the circumstances in which a change of condition, or of calling, may be proper when a man is converted, are the following:

(1) When a man is a slave, and he can obtain his freedom, 1 Corinthians 7:21.

(2) when a man is pursuing a wicked calling or course of life when he was converted, even if it is lucrative, he should abandon it as speedily as possible. Thus, if a man is engaged, as John Newton was, in the slave-trade, he should at once abandon it. If he is engaged in the manufacture or sale of ardent spirits, he should at once forsake the business, even at great personal sacrifice, and engage in a lawful and honorable employment; see the note at Acts 19:19. No considerations can justify a continuance in a course of life like this after a man is converted. No consideration can make a business which is "evil, and only evil, and that continually," proper or right.

(3) where a man can increase his usefulness by choosing a new profession. Thus, the usefulness of many a man is greatly promoted by his leaving an agricultural, or mechanical employment; or by his leaving the bar, or the mercantile profession, and becoming a minister of the gospel. In such situations, religion not only permits a man to change his profession, but it demands it; nor will God smile upon him, or bless him, unless the change is made. An opportunity to become more useful imposes an obligation to change the course of life. And no man is permitted to waste his life and talents in a mere scheme of money-making, or in self-indulgence, when by changing his calling he can do more for the salvation of the world.

20. the same calling—that is, the condition from which he is called a Jew, a Greek, a slave, or a freeman. Let every man abide in the same state and condition of life in which he was when he was first converted to the faith of Christ, that is, supposing that he was in an honest course of life; for we read in the Acts that the conjurers burnt their books, and unlawful courses of life must not be adhered to after men have once given up their names to Christ. The apostle’s design is only to show, that the profession of Christianity maketh no state of life unlawful, which was before that profession lawful, nor dischargeth any from such as were before the duties of persons in their circumstances and relations. They too far strain this text, who interpret it into an obligation upon all men, not to alter that particular way and course of life and trading to which they were educated, and in which they formerly have been engaged; though such a thing be of too great moment and consequence for any to do without just advice and deliberation. The world is a mutable thing, and trades and particular courses of life wear out, and what will now bring in a due livelihood, possibly seven years hence will not furnish any with bread; and it is unreasonable in such a case to think, that the rule of Christian profession ties up a man under these changes of providence to such a particular course of life, as he cannot, in it, in the sweat of his face eat his bread. Let every man abide in the same calling,.... Civil calling, station, and business of life,

wherein he was called; that is, in which he was when he was called by the grace of God; and is to be understood of such a calling, station, and business of life, as is lawful, honest, and of good report; otherwise he ought not to abide in it, but betake himself to another, as Matthew and Zacchaeus, when called by grace, left the scandalous employment of a publican: nor is it the apostle's sense, that a man that is in an honest way of living, may not change that for another that is equally so, as if a man was bound down to that sort of business he is in when first called; for no doubt it may be lawful, and there may be just reason for it in Providence, why a man should change his calling and station in life; though this ought not to be done rashly and unadvisedly, and without wise and good reasons; but the chief view of the apostle is to teach contentment in every condition, and station of life, and that persons should not be uneasy and restless in it, and seek for an alteration when there is no just occasion; and particularly he seems to have reference, either to the different state of married and unmarried persons, he had before been speaking of; see 1 Corinthians 7:27 or to the different circumstances of Jew and Gentile, as circumcised or uncircumcised, as in the foregoing verse; or to the different condition of bond and free, servant and master, in the following verse; and persuades them to remain easy and satisfied, for that the Christian religion does not necessarily require a change in a man's civil circumstances of life.

Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:20. An emphatic repetition of the rule after giving the illustration of it. Comp 1 Corinthians 7:24.

ἐν τῇ κλήσει ἧ ἐκλήθη] Since Calvin, expositors have often understood κλῆσις of the outward position in life, like our calling [Beruf], and have supplied ἐν before in accordance with the pure Attic idiom (Stallbaum, a[1169] Plat. Phaed. p. 76 D; Kühner, a[1170] Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 32). So, recently, Rückert. But although κλῆσις (Dionys. Hal. Antt. v. 18) does expressly correspond to the Latin classis, a division of the burgesses, according to the true derivation of that technical term from the Greek, yet even profane writers never use κλῆσις in the sense of avocation [Beruf] (rank, and the like); and in the whole N. T. the Christian meaning of καλεῖν and κλῆσις is that in which they are invariably used, and so here also: in the calling (to the Messianic kingdom) through which ( being the dat. instrum., as in 2 Timothy 1:9) he was called. This may have been, that is to say, κλῆσις going forth from God to a circumcised man or an uncircumcised, to a slave or a freeman, etc. If, now, the man, for example, who was called in circumcision by a vocatio circumcisi thereafter restores the foreskin, so as to give himself out for an uncircumcised person, he does not abide in the calling through which he was called. The right interpretation is already given be Chrysostom and Theophylact (ἐν οἵῳ βίῳ καὶ ἐν οἵῳ τάγματι καὶ παλιτεύματι ὢν ἐπίστευσεν, ἐν τούτῳ μενέτω· κλῆσιν γὰρ τὴν εἰς τὴν πίστιν προσαγωγήν φησι). Comp 1 Corinthians 7:17 : ὡς κέκληκεν ὁ Θεός The emphatic ἐν ταύτῃ (1 Corinthians 6:4) points at the misdirected yearning for another state of matters through which another κλῆσις would present itself, as e.g. through the ἐπισπᾶσθαι a being called ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ, etc.

[1169] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1170] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.1 Corinthians 7:20. Diff. views are taken of this ver., as κλῆσις is referred to the religious call or secular calling of the man; and as is accordingly rendered “wherewith” (instrum. dat[1081]: cf. Ephesians 4:1, 2 Timothy 1:9), or “wherein” (governed by the foregoing ἐν: cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1Co 7:18; 1Co 7:24; see Wr[1082], pp. 524 f.). The latter interpretation is negatived by the fact that it destroys the unity of sense between κλῆσις and ἐκλήθη (see note on 1 Corinthians 7:18 : does κλῆσις in Gr[1083] anywhere mean avocation?). Besides, “circumcision” and “uncircumcision” are not “callings”. Yet P. is manifestly referring to outward conditions affecting the religious call. The stress of the sentence lies on μενέτω (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:24); and Galatians 3:2 f., 1 Corinthians 5:2-6, give the clue to the Apostle’s meaning. A change of secular condition adopted under the idea that circumcision or uncircumcision is “something,” that it makes a diff[1084] in the eyes of God, would be a change of religious princple, an abandonment of the basis of our call to salvation by grace and through faith; cf. Galatians 2:11-21. The Gentile who embraced circumcision in order to fulfil the law of God was severing himself from Christ and falling from grace. The “abide” of 1 Cor. is parl[1085] to the “stand fast” of Gal.

[1081] dative case.

[1082] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[1083] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[1084]
difference, different, differently.

[1085] parallel.20. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called] See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:20. It is not what we call man’s “vocation,” but God’s act of calling that is spoken of.1 Corinthians 7:20. Ἐν τῇ κλήσει, in the calling) The state in which the [heavenly] calling stumbles upon [finds] any one, is equivalent to a calling.Verse 20. - Let every man abide in the same calling, etc. In accordance with this general principle, which illustrates the distinction between Christianity and violent social revolutions, St. John the Baptist had not bidden publicans or soldiers to abandon their callings, but to do their duty in that state of life to which God had called them (Luke 3:12-14). The "calling" alluded to is not what is described as "a vocation," a calling in life, but the condition in which we are when we are called by God (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:26; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:1). Calling (κλήσει)

Not the condition or occupation, a meaning which the word does not have in classical Greek, nor in the New Testament, where it always signifies the call of God into His kingdom through conversion. Paul means: If God's call was to you as a circumcised man or as an uncircumcised man; as a slave or as a freedman - abide in that condition. Compare 1 Corinthians 1:26.

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