1 Corinthians 7:31
And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passes away.
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(31) Not abusing it.—We can scarcely find a better word in English than “abusing” by which to render the Greek of this passage. But this word implies, in modern language, an abuse arising from misuse, and not, as in the original here, an abuse arising from over-much use. All the things mentioned in this series by the Apostle are right things; and the warning is against being in bondage to those things which are in themselves right and good, and not against any criminal use of them. Though they are not wrong in themselves, we are not to become slaves of them; we are to renounce them, “so as not to follow nor be led by them.”

For the fashion of this world passeth away.—Better, for the outward form of this world is passing away (the word translated “fashion” occurs only here and in Philippians 2:8). The allusion is not a merely general reference to the ephemeral nature of things temporal, but arises from the Apostle’s conviction that the last days were already commencing, when the outward temporal form of things was being superseded (Romans 8:19; Revelation 21:1). The word “for” does not introduce a reason for the immediately preceding injunction, but carries us back to the previous statement in 1Corinthians 7:29 : “the time is short,” the intervening series of illustrative exhortations being parenthetical.

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.And they that use this world - That make a necessary and proper use of it to furnish raiment, food, clothing, medicine, protection, etc. It is right so to use the world, for it was made for these purposes. The word using here refers to the lawful use of it (χρώμενοι chrōmenoi).

As not abusing it - καταχρώμενοι katachrōmenoi. The preposition κατα kata, in composition here has the sense of "too much, too freely," and is taken not merely in an intensive sense, but to denote evil, the abuse of the world. It means that we are not to use it to EXCesS; we are not to make it a mere matter of indulgences, or to make that the main object and purpose of our living. We are not to give our appetites to indulgence; our bodies to riot; our days and nights to feasting and revelry.

For the fashion of this world - (τὸ σχῆμα to schēma.) The form, the appearance. In 1 John 2:17, it is said that "the world passeth away and the lust thereof." The worst "fashion" here is probably taken from the shifting scenes of the drama where, when the scene changes, the imposing and splendid pageantry passes off. The form, the fashion of the world is like a splendid, gilded pageant. It is unreal and illusive. It continues but a little time; and soon the scene changes, and the fashion that allured and enticed us now passes away, and we pass to other scenes.

Passeth away - (παράγει paragei). Passes off like the splendid, gaudy, shifting scenes of the stage. What a striking description of the changing, unstable, and unreal pageantry of this world! Now it is frivilous, splendid, gorgeous, lovely; tomorrow it is gone, and is succeeded by new actors and new scenes. Now all is busy with one set of actors; tomorrow a new company appears, and again they are succeeded by another, and all are engaged in scenes that are equally changing, vain, gorgeous, and delusive. A simliar idea is presented in the well known and beautiful description of the great British dramatist:

"All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players.

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts."

If such be the character of the scenes in which we are engaged, how little should we fix our affections on them, and how anxious should we be to be prepared for the "real and unchanging" scenes of another world!

31. not abusing it—not abusing it by an overmuch using of it. The meaning of "abusing" here is, not so much perverting, as using it to the full [Bengel]. We are to use it, "not to take our fill" of its pursuits as our chief aim (compare Lu 10:40-42). As the planets while turning on their own axis, yet revolve round the sun; so while we do our part in our own worldly sphere, God is to be the center of all our desires.

fashion—the present fleeting form. Compare Ps 39:6, "vain show"; Ps 73:20, "a dream"; Jas 4:14, "a vapor."

passeth away—not merely shall pass away, but is now actually passing away. The image is drawn from a shifting scene in a play represented on the stage (1Jo 2:17). Paul inculcates not so much the outward denial of earthly things, as the inward spirit whereby the married and the rich, as well as the unmarried and the poor, would be ready to sacrifice all for Christ's sake.

And they that use this world, as not abusing it: while you have any thing of this world’s goods you may use them, yea, you must use them, without them you cannot live in the world; but the consideration how little the time is you are like to have them to use, should govern you in the use of them, so as you ought to take heed you do not use them to any other purpose, or for any other end, than that for which God hath appointed and given them to you.

For the fashion of this world passeth away; for this world is like a stage or theatre where are diversities of scenes, and the present scene abideih but for a little time, then passeth, and another scene or figure of things appeareth: those who appear this day in the form of princes and nobles, tomorrow appear as beggars, and persons of a low estate and degree. And they that use this world, as not abusing it,.... Such as have a large affluence of the things of this world, should use them in a moderate and temperate manner; should not squander them away extravagantly, or spend them on their lusts, and use them intemperately, which is to abuse them:

for the fashion of this world passeth away; not the nature, matter, and substance, but the figure and form of it; for after this world is burnt up, a new one, as to form and fashion, will arise, in much more beauty and glory; all that looks glorious and beautiful in the present world, as riches, honour, &c. are all mere show and appearance, having nothing solid and substantial in them; and are all fluid and transitory, are passing away; there is nothing firm and permanent; in a little time, all will be at an end, the world itself, as to its present form, and all that is in it; when there will be no more marrying, nor giving in marriage, no more buying and selling, no more of the present changes and vicissitudes of prosperity and adversity, of joy and sorrow; these scenes will be all removed, and quite a new face of things appear: wherefore what the apostle exhorts unto, with respect to present conduct and behaviour, must be right and good.

And they that use this {c} world, as not abusing it: for the {d} fashion of this world passeth away.

(c) Those things which God gives us here.

(d) The guise, and shape, and fashion: by which he shows us that there is nothing in this world that continues.

1 Corinthians 7:31-32. Lachmann places only a comma after τούτου, in which he is followed by Billroth, Rückert, Olshausen, and Maier. From παράγει on to εἶναι would thus form collectively a ground for the preceding καὶ οἱ χρώμενοι κ.τ.λ[1233] This would be correct, if the foregoing words conveyed an exhortation, or if ἽΝΑ in 1 Corinthians 7:29 were dependent upon ΤΟῦΤΟ ΔΈ ΦΗΜΙ. Since, however, what is conveyed in the preceding statement is the design of God, the full stop after τούτου should be retained; the words from ΠΑΡΆΓΕΙ on to ΤΟΎΤΟΥ form thus a confirmatory addition to ΟἹ ΧΡΏΜΕΝΟΙΚΑΤΑΧΡΏΜΕΝΟΙ, while ΘΈΛΩ ΔΈ, again, marks the advance to something new, to what Paul, in view of this passing away of the fashion of this world, now desires of his readers, namely, that they should be ἀμέριμνοι, i.e. without worldly cares (see 1 Corinthians 7:33-34).

παράγει] is passing away, in accordance with the καιρὸς συνεσταλμ. in 1 Corinthians 7:29. ΤῸ ΣΧῆΜΑ, habitus, i.e. status externus. See Wetstein. It is not the transitory character of earthly things in general that is meant (so most of the older expositors and Billroth; comp also Hofmann), but the expiry of the ΑἸῺΝ ΟὟΤΟς, the end of which is the world-embracing catastrophe of the Parousia, the transformation of the form of this world, and therewith of its whole temporal constitution, into the new heaven and the new earth. Comp 1 John 2:17; Revelation 21:1; Romans 8:19 ff.; 2 Peter 3:10; Matthew 5:18. Grotius, Valckenaer, and Flatt are wrong in holding that the meaning is: “non manebunt, quae nunc sunt, res tranquillae, sed mutabuntur in turbidas,” and that the expression is taken from the language of the theatre (changing the scene, Eurip. Ion. 166; Lucian, Herm. 86). Our rendering is demanded by 1 Corinthians 7:26; 1 Corinthians 7:29, and by the eschatological view of the N. T. generally.

θέλω δὲ Κ.Τ.Λ[1236]] Comp ἐγὼ δὲ ὑμ. φείδομαι in 1 Corinthians 7:28.

τὰ τοῦ Κυρίου (the cause of Christ) is more precisely defined by what follows.

The readings ἀρέσει, how he shall please, and ἀρέσῃ, how he may please (see Stallbaum, a[1238] Sympos. p. 216 C; Fritzsche, a[1239] Marc. p. 350), are equally suitable so far as the sense is concerned.

[1233] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1236] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1238] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1239] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.31. as not abusing it] Perhaps better, as not using It to excess. So in ch. 1 Corinthians 9:18.

for the fashion of this world passeth away] Rather, is passing away, as a scene in a theatre (see Stanley and Alford’s notes). This translation brings out more clearly the belief of the early Church in the speedy coming of Christ. Cf. 1 John 2:17.1 Corinthians 7:31. Οἱ χρώμενοι, they that use) Paul seems to have used this expression for, and they that sell, because according to the general practice of the world, selling in itself is most suitable to travellers. We must use, not enjoy.—ὡς μὴ καταχρώμενοι) as not abusing. The compound verb both in Greek and Latin denotes not only the perversion of the use, but also [‘abundantiam,’ the abundant use] an over-much using.—παράγει, passeth away, every moment, not merely shall pass away.—τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, the fashion of this world) the world itself and the fashion of it, which is to marry, to weep, to rejoice, to buy, etc., Heb. צלם, Psalm 39:7; Psalm 73:20. While a man, for example, is advancing from the twentieth to the fortieth year of his age, he has almost lost all his former relations and acquires new connexions.Verse 31. - As not abusing it; rather, as not using it to the full - not draining dry the cup of earthly advantages (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:18). Like Gideon's true heroes, we must not fling ourselves down to drink greedily of the river of earthly gifts, but drink them sparingly, and as it were with the palm of the hand. The fashion of this world passeth away. So St. John says, "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof" (1 John 1:18). It is but as the shifting scene of a theatre, or as a melting vapour (James 4:14). Abusing (καταχρώμενοι)

Only here and 1 Corinthians 9:18. The verb means to use up or consume by using. Hence the sense of misuse by overuse. So A.V. and Rev., abuse. But the American Rev., and Rev. at 1 Corinthians 9:18, use to the full, thus according better with the preceding antitheses, which do not contrast what is right and wrong in itself (as use and abuse), but what is right in itself with what is proper under altered circumstances. In ordinary cases it is right for Christians to sorrow; but they should live now as in the near future, when earthly sorrow is to be done away. It is right for them to live in the married state, but they should "assimilate their present condition" to that in which they neither marry nor are given in marriage.

Passeth away (παράγει)

Or, as some, the continuous present, is passing. If the former, the nature of the worldly order is expressed. It is transitory. If the latter, the fact; it is actually passing, with a suggestion of the nearness of the consummation. The context seems to indicate the latter.

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