1 Corinthians 7:26
I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
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(26) I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress.—Better, I think then that it is good because of the impending distressthat it is good for a person to be soi.e., to continue in the state in which he is, married or unmarried, as the case may be.

The construction of this sentence is strikingly characteristic of a writing which has been taken down from dictation. The speaker commences the sentence, and afterwards commences it over again: “I think it is good,” &c., and then, “I say I think it is good.”

From this verse to the end of 1Corinthians 7:35 the Apostle deals again with the general question of marriage, introducing a new element of consideration—“the impending distress”; and at 1Corinthians 7:36 he returns to the immediate subject with which he had started in 1Corinthians 7:25, viz., duty of parents regarding their young unmarried daughters. The “impending distress” is that foretold by Christ, Matthew 24:8 et seq. The Apostle regarded the coming of Christ as no distant event, and in the calamities already threatening the Church, such as the famine in the time of Claudius (Acts 11:28), and in the gathering persecutions, he heard the first mutterings of the storm which should burst upon the world before the sign of the Son of Man should appear in the heavens.

It is good for a man.—It is most important to remember how much stress St. Paul lays upon this point as the ground of his preference for celibacy. As the reason for the preference has ceased to exist, so the advice, so far as it springs from that cause, is no longer of binding obligation (see 1Corinthians 7:29-31).

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.I suppose - I think; I give the following advice.

For the present distress - In the present state of trial. The word "distress" (ἀνάγκην anagkēn, necessity) denotes calamity, persecution, trial, etc.; see Luke 21:23. The word rendered "present" (ἐνεστῶσαν enestōsan) denotes that which "urges on," or that which at that time presses on, or afflicts. Here it is implied:

(1) That at that time they were subject to trials so severe as to render the advice which he was about to give proper; and,

(2) That he by no means meant that this should be a "permanent arrangement" in the church, and of course it cannot be urged as an argument for the monastic system.

What the "urgent distress" of this time was, is not certainly known. If the Epistle was written about 59 a.d. (see the introduction), it was in the time of Nero; and probably he had already begun to oppress and persecute Christians. At all events, it is evident that the Christians at Corinth were subject to some trials which rendered the cares of the marriage life undesirable.

It is good for a man so to be - The emphasis here is on the word "so" οὕτως houtōs; that is, it is best for a man to conduct "in the following manner;" the word so referring to the advice which follows. "I advise that he conduct in the following manner, to wit." Most commentators suppose that it means "as he is:" that is, unmarried; but the interpretation proposed above best suits the connection. The advice given is in the following verses.

26. I suppose—"I consider."

this—namely, "for a man so to be," that is, in the same state in which he is (1Co 7:27).

for—by reason of.

the present distress—the distresses to which believers were then beginning to be subjected, making the married state less desirable than the single; and which would prevail throughout the world before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ's prophecy (Mt 24:8-21; compare Ac 11:28).

Good here signifieth convenient, (as before), if other circumstances of particular persons make it not sinful; or better with respect to

the present distress or necessity: by which, without doubt, the apostle meaneth, not the common necessities of all men that are born once to die, (which is the more easy the fewer relations we have to part from), nor yet of family troubles and concerns, for there is none who hath a family in this world to look after, but will have trouble in the flesh; but the continual troubles with which the church of God was disquieted, as the ark upon the waters, and the more special troubles of the primitive church; for though their great persecutions from the heathen were not, possibly, at that time begun, yet Christ had foretold them, and the apostles had them in a very near prospect (Paul is thought to have died the tenth or eleventh year of Nero). For this present necessity or distress, the apostle gives his opinion, that it was convenient and better, for those that could honestly abstain from marriage, to keep themselves in their single and unmarried condition.

I suppose, therefore, that this is good,.... The opinion of the apostle, the sentiment of his mind, his judgment in this case were, that it was better, more advisable and eligible, for persons that were single to continue so; his reason for it follows,

for the present necessity; by which is meant not the shortness of life, and the necessity of dying, when husband and wife must part, upon which trouble ensues; nor the various sorrows, cares, encumbrances, trials, and exercises that attend a conjugal state, as bearing and bringing forth, and bringing up children, provision for the family, &c. which are common to all, and at all times more or less; but the present time of persecution, under which the churches of Christ were; agreeably the Syriac version reads it, , "because of the necessity of the time", or season: using the very Greek word in text; as the Targumists (q) also have frequently adopted it into their language, and use the phrase , "an hour, or time of necessity", for a time of great affliction and distress, just as the apostle does here; because this was the present case of the Christians, he thought it most prudent for such as were single to remain so; since as they were often obliged to move from place to place, to fly from one city to another, this would be very incommodious for married persons, who might have young children to take care of, and provide for; see Matthew 24:19 upon a like account, the Jewish doctors advise to the same the apostle here does (r);

"from the day that the empire is extended, which decrees hard decrees upon us, and causes the law and the commandments to cease from us, and does not suffer us to circumcise children; it is right that we agree among ourselves, , not to marry, and beget children:''

I say it is good for a man so to be; to remain unmarried, to live a single life, to be a virgin; for the word "virgin", as here used, relates to men as well as maidens, and denotes the single state of either. The apostle does not add, "even as I"; as he does in 1 Corinthians 7:8 which seems to confirm the conjecture already made, that he was not a bachelor, but a widower; otherwise he would doubtless have enforced this advice by his own example, as before.

(q) Targum Jon. & Hieros. in Genesis 22.14. & xxxviii. 25. & Targum Sheni in Esth. v. 1.((r) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 60. 2.

I suppose therefore that {u} this is good for the {x} present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

(u) To remain a virgin.

(x) For the necessity which the saints are daily subject to, who are continually tossed up and down, so that their estate may seem most unfit for marriage, were it not that the weakness of the flesh forced them to it.

1 Corinthians 7:26. In carrying out his theme de virginibus, Paul proceeds as follows: first, in the passage extending to 1 Corinthians 7:35 he gives a general recommendation of single life to both sexes, and only then deals with the subject of virgins exclusively on to 1 Corinthians 7:38.

οὖν] therefore, introduces now the γνώμη in accordance with what was said in 1 Corinthians 7:25.

ἀνθρώπῳ] refers, as the more detailed remarks in 1 Corinthians 7:27 ff. prove, not to virgins alone (Hofmann), as applied to whom, besides, it would be an awkward expression,[1192] but means: a person, including both sexes. It is otherwise in 1 Corinthians 7:1.

οὕτως] so, as he is, i.e. unmarried, which follows from τ. παρθένων, 1 Corinthians 7:25. To be so Paul esteems salutary (καλόν, as in 1 Corinthians 7:1), not absolutely and in itself, but because the Parousia is near, and still nearer, therefore, must be the general calamities which are to precede it, the dolores Messiae, חבלי משיח (see on Matthew 24:3). These form the instant (1 Corinthians 3:23) distress, i.e. a distress which is impending and has already begun to set in. Comp Matthew 24:19. The persecutions (Pott, Flatt, Hofmann, after older expositors) are only a part of it. Matrimonial cares and sufferings, again (Schulz, following Theophylact and others), are not meant at all. See 1 Corinthians 7:39 ff.

As little are we to understand “impending constraint through marriage” (Cropp in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1866, p. 103), against which θλῖψιν alone, in 1 Corinthians 7:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:31, testifies with sufficient clearness. Comp rather τῇ ἐνεστώσῃ ἀνάγκῃ, 3Ma 1:16, the distress having set in, and see generally on Galatians 1:4.

The construction is anacoluthic, so that τοῦτο, which belongs to νομίζω, prepares for the following κακὸν ὑπάρχειν on to οὕτως εἶναι (comp on Romans 2:3 and Kühner, § 631. 2); but then ὅτι καλὸν κ.τ.λ[1196], which states the contents of the ΝΟΜΊΖΩ, instead of ending simply with ἈΝΘΡΏΠῼ ΤῸ ΟὝΤΩς ΕἾΝΑΙ, begins from the beginning again, and that with a ὍΤΙ, which comes in in place of the construction with the infinitive (Kühner, § 771. 5). A manifest confusion of expression, into which in dictation Paul might be especially likely to fall by forgetting, after the enunciation of the principal thought ΔΙᾺ Τ. ἘΝΕΣΤ. ἈΝΆΓΚ., that he had already said ΚΑΛῸΝ ὙΠΆΡΧΕΙΝ. Hence, too, it is more natural to connect ΔΙᾺ Τ. ἘΝΕΣΤ. ἈΝΆΓΚ. with what precedes it than hyperbatically with ὍΤΙ Κ.Τ.Λ[1197] (Ewald, Hofmann[1198]). Translate: My opinion, then, is this, that it is good on account of the impending distress,—that it is good [I think] for a person to he in such a position. Heydenreich holds wrongly—as the fact of there being no αὐταῖς added is enough of itself to show—that Ὅ ΤΙ should be read, so that Paul would say that what is good for the man is good for them, namely, single life. De Wette takes τοῦτο as equivalent to ΠΑΡΘΈΝΟΝ ΕἾΝΑΙ, and then renders ὍΤΙ by because: “because it is in general good for a man to be unmarried.”[1199] But this “in general” is not in the text, and yet of necessity it would have required to be there, for without it the argument emerges as an idem per idem; and in truth, even were the “in general” expressed, the main statement would be an inappropriate one, since it would contain nothing to establish the essential element διὰ τ. ἐνεστ. ἀνάγκην. The anacoluthon of the passage belongs to those in which “celeritate quadam abrepti novam enuntiationem inchoamus priore nondum absoluta,” Bremi, a[1200] Lys. Exc. V. p. 442.

[1192] ἂνθρωπος as a feminine usually answers in Greek writers, as is well known, to the German colloquial phrase: “das Mensch.”

[1196] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1197] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1198] Ewald, moreover, takes τὸ οὕτως εἶναι to mean “that it should be so,” referring to the following rule δέδεσαι, κ.τ.λ.

[1199] This rendering occurs in substance in Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin. Beza, too, agrees with it in his explanation of τοῦτο, but understands ὅτι καλὸν κ.τ.λ. as resumptive.

[1200] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 7:26. νομίζω οὖν τοῦτο κ.τ.λ.: “I consider therefore”—the formula by which one gives a γνώμη (contrast the παραγγέλλω, διατάσσομαι of 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1Co 7:17)—“this to be good because of the present straits”: καλὸν ὑπάρχειν, “good in principle” or “in nature” (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:7, 1 Corinthians 12:22); the existing situation is such as to make the course recommended entirely right and honourable (see note on καλόν, 1, also 1 Corinthians 7:8; 1Co 7:38).—The ἀνάγκη—narrowness, “pinching stress” (Ev[1111])—belongs to the καιρὸς συνεσταλμένος (1 Corinthians 7:29), the brief earthly continuance visible for the Church, a period exposed to persecution (1 Corinthians 7:28) with its hardships and perils; this “might or might not be the beginning of the ἀνάγκη μεγάλη predicted by Jesus” in Luke 21:23 (Lt[1112]). ἐνεστῶσαν signifies “present” rather than “impending” (see 1 Corinthians 3:22, Galatians 1:4); the distress of the time, which P. was feeling keenly at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 4:9 ff., 1 Corinthians 15:32), portended a speedy crisis.—ὅτι καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ τὸ οὔτως εἶναι is open to three constructions, as ὅτι is rendered that, because, or which (, τι): (a) makes the clause an expanded restatement of τοῦτο καλὸν ὑπάρχειν—“I think then this to be good … that it is good (I say) for a man to remain as he is” (so Mr[1113], Ed[1114], El[1115], and most); (b) makes it the ground, lying in the principle stated in 1 Corinthians 7:1, for Paul’s specific advice in the matter of the παρθένοι—“I think this to be good (in their case) … because it is good for one (ἀνθρώπῳ; see note on 1) to remain as one is,” sc. to continue single (Bz[1116], D.W[1117], Gd[1118]); (c) by attaching , τι as relative to the antecedent τοῦτο, and defining it by the subsequent τ. οὕτως εἶναι, Hn[1119] gets another rendering—“I think this to be good (in the case of maidens) because of the present straits, which is good (as I have said, 1) for one generally, viz., to remain unmarried.” (b) and (c), yielding a like sense, avoid the anacoluthon—the former at the expense of leaving τοῦτο undefined, the latter by an artificial arrangement of the words; both explanations are somewhat wide of the mark, for διὰ τ. ἐνεστ. ἀνάγκην supplies here the ground of advice, and 1 Corinthians 7:1, on which they are based, is differently conceived (see note). In giving his advice “about the maidens,” P. suddenly bethinks himself to widen it to both sexes (see 1 Corinthians 7:27 f.). So he recasts his sentence, throwing the ὅτι καλόν κ.τ.λ., with characteristic conversational freedom (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9), into apposition to the incomplete inf[1120] clause: “I think this to be good because of the present straits—yes, that it is good ἀνθρώπῳ (for any one, not τ. παρθένοις only) not to change one’s state”. οὕτως εἶναι, “to be just as one is” (see parls.)—a state defined by the context.

[1111] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[1112] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[1113] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1114] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1115] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1116] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1117].W. De Wette’s Handbuch z. N. T.

F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1119] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1120] infinitive mood.

26. the present distress] The literal rendering of the word here translated distress is necessity, and it is so translated in 1 Corinthians 7:37. But it frequently in the New Testament, as in the Septuagint, has the sense of distress, as in St Luke 21:23; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:7. Here it means either (1) ‘the great tribulation’ which was to precede our Lord’s coming (see St Matthew 24.; St Mark 13.; St Luke 21.; Revelation 7:14), or (2) the general distress and anxiety which attended the profession of Christianity in those times.

so to be] “thus to be,” as explained in the next verse.

1 Corinthians 7:26. Διὰ τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην, for the present distress) The famine in the time of Claudius, Acts 11:28. It was very long and severe, especially in Greece. Therefore this counsel of Paul was, partly at least, suited to the time.—ἀνθρώπῳ, for a man) This term is intended to apply to both sexes.—οὓτως, so) as he is [in the same state in which he is]: comp. 1 Corinthians 7:27.

Verse 26. - I suppose. St. Paul only states this modestly, and somewhat hesitatingly, as his personal opinion. For the present distress; rather, on account of the pressing necessity; in the urgent and trying conditions which at the present moment surround the Christian's life, and which were the prophesied "woes of the Messiah" (Matthew 24:3, etc.). For a man; rather, for a person - whether man or woman. Be to be; that is, unmarried. The words are not improbably a quotation from the Corinthian letter. Otherwise we might explain the "so" to mean "as he is - whether married or unmarried." 1 Corinthians 7:26The present distress (τὴν ἐνεστῶσαν ἀνάγκην)

Ἑνεστῶσαν present may also express something which is not simply present, but the presence of which foreshadows and inaugurates something to come. Hence it may be rendered impending or setting in. See on Romans 8:38. Ἁνάγκη means originally force, constraint, necessity, and this is its usual meaning in classical Greek; though in the poets it sometimes has the meaning of distress, anguish, which is very common in Hellenistic Greek. Thus Sophocles, of the approach of the crippled Philoctetes: "There falls on my ears the sound of one who creeps slow and painfully (κατ' ἀνάγκην." "Philoctetes," 206); and again, of the same: "Stumbling he cries for pain (ὑπ' ἀνάγκας," 215). In the Attic orators it occurs in the sense of blood-relationship, like the Latin necessitudo a binding tie. In this sense never in the New Testament. For the original sense of necessity, see Matthew 18:7; Luke 14:18; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Hebrews 9:16. For distress, Luke 21:23; 1 Thessalonians 3:7. The distress is that which should precede Christ's second coming, and which was predicted by the Lord himself, Matthew 24:8 sqq. Compare Luke 21:23-28.

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