1 Corinthians 7:32
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
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(32) But I would have you.—These words seem to take up again the form of expression in 1Corinthians 7:28. I would spare you trouble; I also wish to have you free from anxious care. That is my reason for so advising you. And here the Apostle returns to the subject immediately under consideration, and shows here what he has been saying bears upon it. This element of anxious care must be borne in mind in considering the desirability or otherwise of marriage.

There are some important variations in the readings of these verses (1Corinthians 7:32-34) in the Greek MSS. The emendations required in the Greek text, from which the Authorised version is translated, are, I think, as follows:—Omit the full-stop after 1Corinthians 7:33, connecting it with 1Corinthians 7:34 by the insertion of the word “and.” Insert “and” in 1Corinthians 7:34 before “a wife,” and the word “unmarried” after a wife.” The whole passage will then stand thus (rendering the Greek verb as it is in 1Corinthians 1:13, “divided,” and, not, as in the English version here, “a difference between”): The unmarried man careth for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But the married man careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided in his interests (i.e., distracted). Also the wife that is unmarried (i.e., a widow, or divorced), and the unmarried virgin (i.e., the maid who is free from any contract of marriage), cares for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

The whole force of the passage is that married persons have, in the fulfilment of their obligations to each other, an additional interest and concern from which the unmarried are free. It must ever be distinctly borne in mind that this advice was given solely under the impression that the end of all earthly things was impending, and that the great trial and desolation was beginning to darken over the world. The Apostle who wrote these words of warning himself expressly condemns those who applied them as involving general moral obligations, and not as suited merely to temporary requirements (1Timothy 4:1; 1Timothy 4:3). He had himself at this time a strong personal inclination for a celibate life; but still he could enjoy and show a preference for the companionship of those who were evidently otherwise minded—he abode and wrought with Aquila and Priscilla his wife, at Corinth (Acts 18:3). We can still imagine circumstances arising in individual cases to which the principle enforced by the Apostle would apply. A man might feel it his duty to devote his life to some missionary enterprise, in which marriage would hamper his movements and impede his usefulness. Such an exceptional case would hence only establish the general rule. “It may not be out of place to recall” (writes Stanley, in his Exposition of St. Paul’s View of Celibacy) “a celebrated instance of a similarly emphatic preference for celibacy on precisely similar grounds—not of abstract right, but of special expediency—in the well-known speech of our great Protestant Queen, when she declared that England was her husband and all Englishmen her children, and that she desired no higher character or fairer remembrance of her to be transmitted to posterity than this inscription engraved upon her tombstone: ‘Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen.’”

1 Corinthians 7:32-35. But — Or now; I would have you — During this flying moment; without carefulness — Or anxiety, amidst all these uncertainties: without any encumbrance or distraction of your thoughts, about the affairs of this short uncertain life, in order that you may freely and cheerfully wait on God in a due attendance on all his ordinances, and may serve him according to his will; and therefore, for the present, I advise you to remain single as you are. For he that is unmarried — If he understand and use the advantage he enjoys; careth chiefly for the things that belong to the Lord — Namely, the Lord Christ; how he may please the Lord — And is in a great degree at liberty to employ his thoughts, cares, and labours, for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom among men; and surely there is no other employment so honourable, so delightful, and, when remote consequences are taken into the account, so profitable. But he that is married careth for the things of the world — And it is his duty so to do, so far as becomes a Christian; how he may please his wife — May accommodate himself to her temper in all lawful things, so as to make her easy and happy, and provide all things needful for her and his family. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin — Whether the church be under persecution or not. The unmarried woman — Not burdened with a family, if she know and use her privilege; careth chiefly for the things of the Lord — All her time, care, and thoughts, centre in this, how she may be holy both in body and spirit. — This is the standing advantage of a single life in all ages and nations, but who makes a suitable use of it? But she that is married, careth how she may please her husband — And the diversity of humours both in men and women, and the imperfection of even the best tempers, make this sometimes, on both sides, a difficult task; on which account single persons have always some considerable advantages, and especially in times of public danger. And this — Concerning the advantages of a single life; I speak for your profit — To show you what is most advantageous for your souls; not that I may cast a snare upon you — Who are not able to receive this saying; but for that which is comely Προς το ευσχημον, for that which is decent, agreeable to your holy calling and profession: and that you may attend upon the Lord — May resolutely and perseveringly wait upon him in the use of all the means of grace, and in a continual attention to the voice of his providence, word, and Spirit. The word ευπροσεδρον, rendered attend upon, signifies sitting close by a person, in a good posture to hear: so Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, Luke 10:39 : without distraction — Without having the mind drawn from its centre, from its close attention to God, by any person or thing, care or encumbrance whatsoever.

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.But I would have you - I would advise you to such a course of life as should leave you without carefulness My advice is regulated by that wish, and that wish guides me in giving it.

Without carefulness - (ἀμερίμνους amerimnous). Without anxiety, solicitude, care; without such a necessary attention to the things of this life as to take off your thoughts and affections from heavenly objects; see the notes on Matthew 6:25-31.

careth for the things that belong to the Lord - Margin, "The things of the Lord;" the things of religion. His attention is not distracted by the cares of this life; his time is not engrossed, and his affections alienated by an attendance on the concerns of a family, and especially by solicitude for them in times of trial and persecution. He can give his main attention to the things of religion. He is at leisure to give his chief thoughts and anxieties to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom. Paul's own example showed that this was the course which he preferred; and showed also that in some instances it was lawful and proper for a man to remain unmarried, and to give himself entirely to the work of the Lord. But the divine commandment Genesis 1:28, and the commendation everywhere bestowed upon marriage in the Scriptures, as well as the nature of the case, show that it was not designed that celibacy should be general.

32. without carefulness—I would have you to be not merely "without trouble," but "without distracting cares" (so the Greek).

careth—if he uses aright the advantages of his condition.

But I would have you without carefulness; the reason why I have advised (during the present distressed estate of the church) a single rather than a married life, for those to whom God hath given the gift of continency, is, that those who are Christians might live as free from such cares as divide and distract men’s and women’s minds, as they possibly can.

He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: the single person that hath a spiritual heart, disposed to pious performances, being free from other distractions and cares, caused by worldly occasions, will spend all his thoughts about his duty toward God, and how to please him.

But I would have you without carefulness,.... This is another reason, by which the apostle confirms the advice he gives to virgins to remain such, because the married state is full of cares, whereas the single life is no more free from them; and therefore he wishes them to continue in such a state, that they might be without anxious and distracting cares of temporal things, things relating to the good decorum and sustenance of a family, and so be more free and at leisure for the service of God; which he illustrates, by showing the different cares that married and unmarried persons are involved in:

he that is unmarried, careth for the things that belong to the Lord; such as hearing the word, reading it, meditating upon it, praying to God and attending upon all ordinances, taking every opportunity to glorify God, and do good to others; but this is not to be understood as matter of fact, that unmarried persons are so studiously concerned for these things, or that this is the case of all of them; there are many unmarried persons think nothing about them; and are not at all concerned with them; but the meaning is, that such persons are more at leisure, and can more conveniently attend to these things, and ought so to do; and they that have the grace of God will be more or less solicitous to observe them:

how he may please the Lord; for when these things are attended to in faith and fear, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, the good of their own souls and others, they are well pleasing to the Lord; and though they are not meritorious of eternal life, yet they are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, and will be taken notice of with approbation, and followed with a reward of grace another day.

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
1 Corinthians 7:32-34. θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:7): “But I want you to be unanxious (ἀμερίμνους);” cf. φείδομαι, 1 Corinthians 7:28. This is the reason why P. labours the advice of this section; see our Lord’s dehortations from ἡ μέριμνα τοῦ αἰῶνος in Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 13:22.

1 Corinthians 7:32-34 describe, not without a touch of humour, the exemption in this respect of the unmarried: he “is anxious in respect of the things of the Lord”—not “of the world, as to how he should please his wife!” After bidding the readers to be ἀμέριμνοι, P. writes μεριμνᾷ τ. τοῦ Κυρίου, with a certain catechresis in the vb[1178], for the sake of the antithesis. The accs. are of limitation rather than of transitive obj[1179] πῶς ἀρέσῃ is indirect question, retaining the deliberative sbj[1180]—“is anxious … (asking) how he should please,” etc. For the supreme motive, “pleasing the Lord,” cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:9, etc. ὁ γαμήσας, aor[1181] of the event (pf. in 1 Corinthians 7:10 : cf. note), which brought a new care.—Accepting the reading καὶ μεμέρισται. καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄγαμος, with the stop at μεμέρ. (the only possible punctuation with ἡ ἄγαμος in this position: see txtl. note), then it is added about the married Christian, that “he has been (since his marriage) divided,”—parcelled out (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:12): part of him is assigned to the Lord, part to the world. Lt[1182] says that this rendering (R.V. mg.) “throws sense and parallelism into confusion, for καὶ μεμέρισται is not wanted with 1 Corinthians 7:33, which is complete in itself”: nay, the addition is made just because the parl[1183] would be untrue if not so qualified; the married Christian does not care simply for “the things of the world” as the unmarried for “the things of the Lord,” he cares for both “and is divided,” giving but half his mind to Christ (so Ewald, Hf[1184], Hn[1185], Ed[1186]). The attachment of καὶ μεμέρισται to 1 Corinthians 7:34, with the Western reading (see txtl. note), retained by Mr[1187], Bt[1188], El[1189], Lt[1190], Sm[1191], A.V., and R.V. txt., in accordance with most of the older commentt., gives to μερίζω a meaning doubtful in itself and without N.T. parl[1192]: “And there is a distinction between the wife and the maiden”. Gd[1193] escapes this objection by reading μεμέρισται κ. ἡ γυνὴ as a sentence by itself, “the wife also is divided”—then continuing, “And the unwedded maiden cares for,” etc.; an awkward and improbable construction as the text stands (but see Hn[1194] below). Txtl. criticism and exegesis concur in making καὶ μεμέρισται a further assertion about ὁ γαμήσας, revealing his full disadvantage.

[1178] verb

[1179] grammatical object.

[1180] subjunctive mood.

[1181] aorist tense.

[1182] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[1183] parallel.

[1184] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[1185] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1186] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1187] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[1188] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[1189] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[1190] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[1191] P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).

[1192] parallel.

[1193] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[1194] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

Hn[1195], by a very tempting conjecture, proposes to insert a second μεμέρισται after the first: πῶς ἀρέσῃ τ. γυναικί, καὶ μεμέρισται· μεμέρισται καὶ ἡ γυνή. ἡ ἄγαμος καὶ ἡ παρθένος μεριμνᾷ κ.τ.λ.—“He that has married is anxious in regard to the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided; divided also is the wife. The unmarried (woman), with the maiden, is anxious as to the things of the Lord.” This would account for the double καί, which embarrasses the critical text; it gives a fuller and more balanced sense, in harmony moreover with Paul’s principle of putting husband and wife on equal terms (1 Corinthians 7:2 ff., 1 Corinthians 7:11-16); and nothing was easier than for a doubled word, in the unpunctuated and unspaced early copies, to fall out in transcription. Placing the full stop at μεμέρισται, without the aid of Hn[1196]’s emendation, ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄγαμος καὶ ἡ παρθένος are made the combined subject of μεριμνᾷ (1 Corinthians 7:34), “the unmarried woman” being the general category, within which “the maiden,” whose case raised this discussion (1 Corinthians 7:25), is specially noted; the two subjects forming one idea, take a sing[1197] verb.

[1195] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1196] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[1197]ing. singular number.

The purpose ἵνα ᾖ ἁγία κ.τ.λ. is the subjective counterpart of the question πῶς ἀρέσῃ of 1 Corinthians 7:32; note the similar combination in Romans 12:1, also 1 Thessalonians 4:3; and see notes on ἁγίοις, ἡγιασμένοις, 1 Corinthians 1:2. Holiness τῷ σώματι (dat[1198] of sphere; see Wr[1199], p. 270) comes first in this connexion (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:4; 1 Corinthians 6:20), and τῷ πνεύματι is added to make up the entire person and to mark the inner region of sanctification; “the spirit” which animates the body, being akin to God (John 4:24) and communicating with His Spirit (Romans 8:16), is the basis and organ of our sanctification (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).—Of ἡ γαμήσασα, “she that has married,” on the contrary, the same must be said as of ὁ γαμήσας (1 Corinthians 7:33); she studies to “please her husband” as well as “the Lord”.

[1198] dative case.

[1199] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

32. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord] One great reason why the Apostle recommends celibacy is the freedom that it gives from anxiety about worldly matters, the opportunity it offers of “attending upon the Lord without distraction.” But the Apostle does not desire his advice to be a snare to entangle those who feel that they can serve God with less distraction in the married state. He leaves it to all to decide for themselves according to their sense of what is most desirable and becoming in their own case. The words translated here ‘care,’ ‘carefulness,’ have the idea, as in St Matthew 6:25; Matthew 6:27-28; Matthew 6:31; Matthew 6:34 (where our translation has ‘take thought’), of trouble, anxiety.

1 Corinthians 7:32. Ἀμερίμνους, without carefulness) not only without affliction, 1 Corinthians 7:28, but also without any care distracting the mind.—ὁ ἄγαμος, he that is unmarried) namely if he wishes to use wisely the condition in which he is placed.—τοῦ κυρίου, of the Lord) Christ, ἀρέσει, may please) by holiness of body and spirit.

Verse 32. - But I would have you without carefulness. In these words he reverts to ver. 28, after the digression about the transiency of earthly relations. If they were "overcharged... with cares of this life," the day of the Lord might easily "come upon them unawares" (Luke 21:34). 1 Corinthians 7:32Without carefulness (ἀμερίμνους)

Not a good translation, because carefulness has lost its earlier sense of anxiety. So Latimer: "This wicked carefulness of men, when they seek how to live - like as if there were no God at all." See on take no thought, Matthew 6:25. Rev., free from cares. Ignatius uses the phrase ἐν ἀμεριμνίᾳ Θεοῦ in godly carelessness (Polycarp, 7).

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