1 Corinthians 7:25
Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.
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(25) Wow concerning virgins . . .—A new subject is here introduced—viz., the duty of parents regarding their young unmarried daughters. Ought they to give them in marriage? The answer occupies to 1Corinthians 7:38. On this subject the Apostle states that he has no actual command from Christ. It was a point to which our Lord had not directly alluded in His teaching, and so the Apostle gives his opinion as one who has obtained mercy to be a faithful instructor. The contrast here is not between Paul inspired by the Lord and Paul not inspired, but, as in 1Corinthians 7:12, between Paul quoting the words of Christ and Paul himself instructing as an inspired Apostle.

1 Corinthians 7:25-26. Now concerning virgins — The word παρθενων, translated virgins, denotes persons of either sex, who never were married. For Elsner, after Suidas, tells us, that men were called παρθενοι, virgins, as well as women; of which Revelation 14:4 is an undoubted example; these are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. The apostle seems here to speak of such single persons as were in their fathers’ families. I have no commandment of the Lord — Namely, delivered during his ministry, or communicated by any particular revelation. Nor was it necessary he should; for the apostles wrote nothing which was not divinely inspired, but with this difference, sometimes they delivered what Christ had expressly declared or enjoined during his personal ministry, or what was made known to them by a particular revelation, and a special commandment; at other times they wrote from the divine light, which abode with them, the standing treasure of the Spirit of God. And this also was not their own private opinion, but a divine rule of faith and practice to the Christians, or a directory to them in cases of difficulty. See note on 1 Corinthians 7:6. Yet I give my judgment — Guided by the Holy Spirit, not only to deliver sound doctrine, but faithful and wholesome advice, 1 Corinthians 7:40; 1 Thessalonians 4:8. As one that hath obtained mercy to be faithful — As one whom God hath in mercy made faithful in my apostolic office, who therefore faithfully deliver what I receive from him. The apostle, in other passages, ascribes his inspiration and supernatural gifts to divine mercy, (2 Corinthians 4:1,) and grace; (Galatians 2:9 :) wherefore, as by this mercy and grace he was enabled to be a faithful apostle and steward of the mysteries of God, his judgment, in all cases, must be considered as being dictated by inspiration. I suppose therefore — The word νομιζω, thus rendered, might, with propriety, have been translated I determine, or I establish by law; (see Park. Dict.;) for the apostle does not give a simple opinion, such as any wise man might give, but an inspired decision: that this is good — Is right and proper, and ought to be observed; for the present distress — Or exigency; that is, while any church is under persecution. The same word, αναγκη, is used for affliction arising from outward circumstances, Luke 21:23. By mentioning the present distress as the chief, or only thing which rendered a single state proper, the apostle hath prevented us from fancying that celibacy is a more holy or perfect state than matrimony. The one or the other, as Macknight justly observes, is proper, according to the circumstances in which persons are placed. I say that it is good for a man so to be — “Though the English word man, like its corresponding word in Greek and Latin, denotes both sexes, the Greek word here might have been translated a person, better to agree with the signification of the word virgin, which, as we have just observed, denotes an unmarried person of either sex.”

7:25-35 Considering the distress of those times, the unmarried state was best. Notwithstanding, the apostle does not condemn marriage. How opposite are those to the apostle Paul who forbid many to marry, and entangle them with vows to remain single, whether they ought to do so or not! He exhorts all Christians to holy indifference toward the world. As to relations; they must not set their hearts on the comforts of the state. As to afflictions; they must not indulge the sorrow of the world: even in sorrow the heart may be joyful. As to worldly enjoyments; here is not their rest. As to worldly employment; those that prosper in trade, and increase in wealth, should hold their possessions as though they held them not. As to all worldly concerns; they must keep the world out of their hearts, that they may not abuse it when they have it in their hands. All worldly things are show; nothing solid. All will be quickly gone. Wise concern about worldly interests is a duty; but to be full of care, to have anxious and perplexing care, is a sin. By this maxim the apostle solves the case whether it were advisable to marry. That condition of life is best for every man, which is best for his soul, and keeps him most clear of the cares and snares of the world. Let us reflect on the advantages and snares of our own condition in life; that we may improve the one, and escape as far as possible all injury from the other. And whatever cares press upon the mind, let time still be kept for the things of the Lord.Not concerning virgins - This commences the "third" subject on which the opinion of Paul seems to have been asked by the church at Corinth - whether it was proper that those who had unmarried daughters, or wards, should give them in marriage. The reason why this question was proposed may have been, that many in the church at Corinth were the advocates of celibacy, and this, perhaps, on two grounds:

(1) Some may have supposed that in the existing state of things - the persecutions and trials to which Christians were exposed - it would be advisable that a man who had unmarried daughters, or wards, should keep them from the additional cares and trials to which they would be exposed with a family; and,

(2) Some may have already been the advocates for celibacy, and have maintained that that state was more favorable to piety, and was altogether to be preferred. It is known that that opinion had an early prevalence, and gave rise to the establishment of "nunneries" in the papal church; an opinion that has everywhere been attended with licentiousness and corruption. It is not improbable that there may have been advocates for this opinion even in the church of Corinth; and it was well, therefore, that the authority of an apostle should be employed to sanction and to honor the marriage union.

I have no commandment ... - No positive, express revelation; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 7:6, 1 Corinthians 7:10.

Yet I give my judgment - I give my opinion, or advice; see the note at 1 Corinthians 7:6.

As one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord - As a Christian; one who has been pardoned, whose mind has been enlightened, and who has been endued with the grace of God.

To be faithful - Faithful to my God. As one who would not give advice for any selfish, or mercenary, or worldly consideration; as one known to act from a desire to honor God, and to seek the best interests of the church, even though there is no explicit command. The advice of "such" a man - a devoted, faithful, self-denying, experienced Christian - is entitled to respectful deference, even where there is no claim to inspiration. Religion qualifies to give advice; and the advice of a man who has no selfish ends to gratify, and who is known to seek supremely the glory of God, should not be disregarded or slighted. Paul had a special claim to give this advice, because he was the founder of the congregation at Corinth.

25. no commandment of the Lord: yet … my judgment—I have no express revelation from the Lord commanding it, but I give my judgment (opinion); namely, under the ordinary inspiration which accompanied the apostles in all their canonical writings (compare 1Co 7:40; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 4:15). The Lord inspires me in this case to give you only a recommendation, which you are free to adopt or reject—not a positive command. In the second case (1Co 7:10, 11) it was a positive command; for the Lord had already made known His will (Mal 2:14, 15; Mt 5:31, 32). In the third case (1Co 7:12), the Old Testament commandment of God to put away strange wives (Ezr 10:3), Paul by the Spirit revokes.

mercy of the Lord—(1Ti 1:13). He attributes his apostleship and the gifts accompanying it (including inspiration) to God's grace alone.

faithful—in dispensing to you the inspired directions received by me from the Lord.

He had before spoken to married persons and widows, now he comes to speak

concerning virgins; and though he mentions only the female sex, yet the following words show that his advice extended to both. As to them he saith, he had no special direction from Christ, none that would suit the case of every virgin; but yet he would give his advice, what seemed to him best. And he would have them look upon him

as one that himself had received mercy from the Lord, and as he desired to be faithful in the discharge of his trust, so might and ought to have credit given him in what he said. In which sense we read in Scripture of a faithful saying, a faithful Creator, a faithful man, & c.

Now concerning virgins,.... Whether they should continue in the same state or not, whether they should marry or not, was one of the cases put to the apostle, and which the Corinthians wrote to him about, and to which he returns this answer:

I have no commandment of the Lord: neither in the Old Testament, in the law of Moses, or writings of the prophets; nothing is therein enjoined concerning celibacy, or commanding persons to live a single life; but on the contrary there are many things directing and exciting to a marriage state; nor had the apostle any command from the Lord Jesus Christ, under the Gospel dispensation, obliging to virginity; nor any special orders, or peculiar revelation from the Spirit of God, fixing and settling this point:

yet I give my judgment, what will be most advisable, convenient, and prudent to be done, considering persons, times, and circumstances. The apostle does not make use of his power and authority, as such, to make decrees, and prescribe rules, binding on the consciences of men; only humbly and modestly gives his opinion, which if thought well of, might be followed by them: and the more to engage them to take his advice, he adds,

as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful; the meaning of which is, not that he, through the goodness and mercy of the Lord, had with great integrity preserved his virginity, and so proposes himself, as an instance and example of retaining it; for it is not certain, that though the apostle was now single, that he had never been married; it seems rather that he had, and therefore this cannot be his sense; nor does he refer to his faithfulness, to the Gospel committed to his trust, and the faithful discharge of his whole ministerial service, and which was owing to divine grace and mercy; but to that plainness, honesty, and integrity, which appeared in the whole course and conduct of his life, and in all his conversation with men; and particularly in giving advice about any matter, or declaring his sentiments on any subject: and when a man is free and faithful, and openly and honestly tells his mind, it greatly recommends him, and commands attention and regard to what he says; and faithfulness, it may be observed, considered in this sense, is not of nature, but of grace; it is obtained not by a man's own power and strength, but by the grace and mercy of God; to which it is here ascribed.

{16} Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my {s} judgment, as {t} one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

(16) He commands virginity to no man, yet he persuades and praised it for another reason, that is, both for the necessity of the present time, because the faithful could scarce abide in any place, and use the commodities of this present life because of persecution. And therefore those who were not troubled with families, might be the readier, and also for the cares of this life, which marriage necessarily draws with it, so that they cannot but have their minds distracted: and this has place in women especially.

(s) The circumstances considered, this I counsel you.

(t) It is I that speak this which I am minded to speak: and the truth is I am a man, but yet of worthy credit, for I have obtained from the Lord to be such a one.

1 Corinthians 7:25. Δέ] indicating the transition to a new section in the discussion on marriage.

παρθένων] virgins. We are not to understand this (with Theodore of Mopsuestia, Bengel, Semler, Zachariae, Schleusner, Schulz, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Pott, Olshausen, Ewald) of the unmarried of both sexes, young men and maidens, which is contrary to the ordinary usage of the language (see too, 1 Corinthians 7:34; 1 Corinthians 7:36-37); for in such passages as Revelation 14:4, Oecumenius, Quaest. Amphil. 188; Nonnus on John 19:26; Fabricius, Pseudepigr. V. T. II: pp. 92, 98; also Arist. Eq. 1302, the word is maidenly; and that it ever with Greek writers means a single man in the proper sense, is at least very doubtful.

γνώμην] view, opinion. As regards γνώμ. δίδωμι (2 Corinthians 8:10), see the examples in Kypke, II. p. 205.

The sense most in accordance with the context for πιστός is that of reliable, i.e. trustworthy (1 Timothy 4:9). The more general faithful (in the service of Christ; so Billroth, Rückert, Ewald) is less suitable; and least of all the simple believing, as Hofmann would have it. Paul’s being an ἀξιόχρεως σύμβουλος (Theodoret) he ascribes to the mercy of Christ; for he knows well in himself that that characteristic would not belong to him without Christ’s gracious call to the apostleship, and without enlightenment and aid from Him. Comp also 1 Corinthians 7:40. Hence ὡς (quippe) ἐλεημένος κ.τ.λ[1191]

[1191] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 7:25-35. § 23. ADVANTAGES OF THE SINGLE STATE. Paul’s opinion had been asked particularly, in this connexion, about the case of marriageable daughters (1 Corinthians 7:25): was it wise for fathers, as things were, to settle their daughters in marriage? He delivers his judgment on this delicate matter, turning aside in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 to a general reflexion upon the posture of Christians towards the perishing world around them; then returning to point out the freedom from care and material engrossment enjoyed by the unwedded (1 Corinthians 7:32 ff.), he restates in 1 Corinthians 7:36 his advice περὶ τῶν παρθένων.

25–38. General Instructions Concerning the Marriage of Virgins

25. virgins] i.e. unmarried women. St Paul now returns to the question of marriage. But before he enters upon the question of the marriage of virgins, he treats, according to his usual rule, of the general principle of which theirs is a particular case. The time is short, and he would have all as free from care as possible.

1 Corinthians 7:25. Παρθένων, virgins) of both sexes: See the following verses. So the word, virgin, Revelation 14:4.—οὐκ ἔχω, I have not) He does not say, we have not. The Corinthians expected a special commandment by revelation, which Paul was to receive.—γνώμην δὲ) A word used with deliberate choice here and at 1 Corinthians 7:40, as presently νομίζω. Aristotle, carefully pointing out the propriety of Greek words, especially in his Ethics, makes the following observations: ἡ καλουμένη γνώμη ἡ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς ἐστὶ κρίσις ὀρθή, “that which is termed γνωμη, opinion, is the right judgment of the equitable man:” and again, ἡ δὲ συγγνώμη, γνώμη ἐστὶ κριτικὴ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς ὀρθὴ. ὀρθὴ δὲ ἡ τοῦ ἀληθοῦς, “and indulgence [concession] is the upright judicious opinion of what is equitable; and the indulgence of the truthful man is right,” Lib. 6, Eth. Nic. c. 11.[59] There the discussion is more extended, and when we read it all, we shall more clearly understand, what ΓΝΏΜΗ and ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗ are. ἘΠΙΤΑΓΉ implies command: ΓΝΏΜΗ relates to opinion, and has ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗ [a common sentiment, fellow-feeling, and so indulgence] closely connected with it, which is a γνώμη, accommodated to the state or mind of another, as in regard to a thing done, so also in case of a thing to be done. See 1 Corinthians 7:6, and 2 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Corinthians 8:8, where both of these words, are opposed to Τῇ ἘΠΙΤΑΓῇ. Each has regard to ΤῸ ΣΥΜΦΈΡΟΝ, the profit of him, whose advantage is consulted; in the same verse 10, and here 1 Corinthians 7:35. Such is the nature of those things which are treated of in this chapter, that they partly fall under ἐπιταγὴν, and partly under ΓΝΏΜΗΝ and ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗΝ. But it was becoming, that ἘΠΙΤΑΓῊ should be throughout written in the name of the Lord, ΓΝΏΜΗ and ΣΝΓΓΝΏΜΗ, in the name of the apostle. Therefore on that point, which falls under ἘΠΙΤΑΓῊΝ, the Lord had expressly suggested to the apostle what he should write, but on this point, which falls under ΓΝΏΜΗΝ, it was not necessary to make any suggestion; for, the apostles wrote nothing, which was not inspired, ΘΕΌΠΝΕΥΣΤΟΝ; but they sometimes had a special revelation and command, 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:15 : they derived the rest from the habitual faith, which had taken its rise within them from their experience of the Lord’s mercy; as in this verse; and also from the treasury of the Spirit of God [which they possessed], 1 Corinthians 7:40 : and consequently in cases like this, they might very freely apply various methods according to the variety of circumstances and persons, as their holy feelings [affections of mind] allowed, and they might give up their own right, humble or reprove themselves, prefer others to themselves, beg, entreat, exhort (2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 7:8; 2 Corinthians 11:17, note), at one time treat with greater severity, at another with greater mildness; and hence Paul, for example, uses the softer word ΝΟΜΊΖΩ, and not ΛΈΓΩ, 1 Corinthians 7:26; 1 Corinthians 7:12. He therefore here also, though without ἘΠΙΤΑΓῊΝ, wrote those things, which nevertheless exactly agreed with the mind of the Lord, who willed it, that this ΓΝΏΜΗ, opinion, alone should be given. But at the same time, the apostle faithfully informs us, according to what principle every thing was written (a modesty from which how far I would ask, has the style of the Pope departed?) and furnishes a proof, that those, who have already sufficient assistance [safeguard] from the word and Spirit of God, should not demand anything extraordinary.—ὡς ἠλεημένος, as having obtained mercy) The mercy of the Lord makes men faithful; faith makes a man a true casuist.—ὑπὸ Κυρίου, from the Lord) Christ.—πιστὸς, faithful) having faith in the Lord; evincing that faith both to Him and to men.

[59] Taylor’s translation of this passage is as follows: “What is called upright decision is the right judgment of the equitable man; but pardon is an upright judiciary decision of the equitable man, and the decision is right which is made by a man observant of truth.”

Verses 25-40. - Advice respecting the unmarried. Verse 25. - Now concerning virgins. This is doubtless another reference to questions contained in the letter from Corinth. No commandment of the Lord. Christ had never directly dealt with this subject. I give my judgment. The word "commandment" is rendered in the Vulgate consillum, and the word "judgment" praeceptum; and thus, as Stanley points out, has originated the modern Romish distinction between "precepts" and "counsels of perfection," which, however, have clearly no connection with the real meaning of the passage. To be faithful. As a steward of his Word, which is the first essential of true ministry (1 Timothy 1:12). "Faith makes a true casuist" (Bengel). 1 Corinthians 7:25Virgins (παρθένων)

Not the unmarried of both sexes, as Bengel. The use of the word by ecclesiastical writers for an unmarried man has no warrant in classical usage, and may have arisen from the misinterpretation of Revelation 14:4, where it is employed adjectivally and metaphorically. In every other case in the New Testament the meaning is unquestionable.

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