1 Corinthians 7:37
Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart.—The previous verse must not be understood as applying to any other cases than those to which it is strictly limited—viz., those where positive harm is likely to result from the parent withholding his consent. Where no such necessity arises, but the parent has power over his own will (in contrast to the parent whose will must be under the control of the external necessity of the case), and has made this resolution in his heart, the result of which is to keep his daughter with him unmarried, will do well (future tense, see next Note).

7:36-40 The apostle is thought to give advice here about the disposal of children in marriage. In this view, the general meaning is plain. Children should seek and follow the directions of their parents as to marriage. And parents should consult their children's wishes; and not reckon they have power to do with them, and dictate just as they please, without reason. The whole is closed with advice to widows. Second marriages are not unlawful, so that it is kept in mind, to marry in the Lord. In our choice of relations, and change of conditions, we should always be guided by the fear of God, and the laws of God, and act in dependence on the providence of God. Change of condition ought only to be made after careful consideration, and on probable grounds, that it will be to advantage in our spiritual concerns.Nevertheless - But. The apostle in this verse states some instances where it would not be proper to give a daughter in marriage; and the verse is a kind of summing up of all that be had said on the subject.

That standeth steadfast in his heart ... - Most commentators have understood this of the father of the virgin, and suppose that it refers to his purpose of keeping her from the marriage connection. The phrase to stand steadfast, is opposed to a disposition that is vacillating, unsettled, etc., and denotes a man who has command of himself, who adheres to his purpose, a man who has "hitherto" adhered to his purpose, and to whose happiness and reputation it is important that he should be known as one who is not vacillating, or easily moved.

Having no necessity - Where there is nothing in her disposition or inclination that would make marriage necessary, or when there is no "engagement or obligation" that would be violated if she did not marry.

But hath power over his own will - Hath power to do as he pleases; is not bound in the case by another. When there is no "engagement, or contract," made in childhood, or promise made in early life that would bind him. Often daughters were espoused, or promised when they were very young, and in such a case a man would be bound to adhere to his engagement; and much as he might desire the reverse, and her celibacy, yet he would not have power over his own will, or be at liberty to withhold her.

And hath so decreed in his heart - Has so judgeD, determined, resolved.

That he will keep his virgin - His daughter, or ward, in an unmarried state. He has "power and authority" to do it, and if he does it he will not sin.

Doeth well - In either of these cases, he does well. If he has a daughter, and chooses to retain her in an unmarried state, he does well or right.

37. steadfast—not to be turned from his purpose by the obloquy of the world.

having no necessity—arising from the natural inclinations of the daughter.

power over his … will—when, owing to his daughter's will not opposing his will, he has power to carry into effect his will or wish.

decreed—determined.

Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart; if a man be resolved to keep his daughter a virgin, not uncertain in his own mind, and wavering what he should do, upon a just consideration of circumstances;

having no necessity; and doth not see a necessity to dispose of her, either for the avoiding some sin against God, or for the better providing for himself and the rest of his family;

but hath power over his own will; but hath a perfect freedom in his own will, so that his will be not contradicted by his daughter’s fondness of a married life; for in such a case the father, though he would willingly not dispose of his daughter in marriage, yet ought to be overruled by the will of his daughter, and so hath not a power over his own will, being forced by the rules of religion to take care of the soul and spiritual welfare of his child; for though the parent hath a great power over his child, and ought to consent to the marriage of his child, yet he hath no such power as wholly to hinder them from marriage.

And hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin; if he be fully resolved, upon a due consideration of all circumstances, and the virgin be satisfied, and yields up herself in the case to her father’s pleasure, in such a case, if the father doth not put her upon marriage, but resolves to keep her unmarried, he

doeth well; that is, not only he shall not sin against God, but he doth that which is more eligible, considering the present circumstances of things, and better than if he did find out a husband for her, and give her to him (as it is expounded in the next verse). Nevertheless, he that standeth steadfast in his heart,.... The apostle returns to confirm his former advice, where it can be attended to with safety; and observes, that notwithstanding what he had allowed might lawfully be done, and was proper to be done; yet a man that had deliberated upon, and had well weighed the matter of virginity, the case of a single life, and was at a point about in, having no hesitation nor fluctuation of mind concerning it: and also "having no necessity"; of acting otherwise, either through the meanness of his circumstances, or rather through the weakness of his virgin, she not having the gift of continency:

but hath power over his own will; his daughter's will being the same with his, and she entirely consenting to live a single life; otherwise he would have no power of acting as he pleased in such a case:

and hath so decreed in his heart: it is a fixed point on mature deliberation, in which he himself is hearty and determined, and his child perfectly assents to it, so that on all hands it is an agreed matter:

that he will keep his virgin; at home with him, unmarried, and not give her to any man in marriage:

doth well: or that which is for both temporal and spiritual profit and advantage, as before observed. Some understand all this of a man's keeping his own virginity, and determining to continue unmarried.

Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his {i} heart, having no {k} necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

(i) Resolved himself.

(k) That the weakness of his daughter does not force him, or any other matter, that that he may safely still keep her a virgin.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:37. He who, on the other hand, stands stedfast in his heart, is of a stedfast and unchangeable mind, firm in disposition and resolution. Comp 1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 1:23; Colossians 4:12.

μὴ ἔχων ἀνάγκην] without having constraint (objective necessity), as he, in 1 Corinthians 7:36, whom the natural temperament of his virgin causes to fear the ἀσχημονεῖν before explained.

ἐξουσίαν δὲ ἔχει κ.τ.λ[1268]] contrasted with the ΜῊ ἜΧ. ἈΝΆΓΚ. (ΔΈ, but rather) as the correlative positive state of free disposal in respect of what he himself wills. Strictly speaking, therefore, we should have the participle here, but instead, there is again a change in the construction. Comp on 1 Corinthians 4:14; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 327 f. [E. T. 382].

τοῦτο] is not explained—though this is the common supposition—by the infinitive which follows; were that the case, we should have τὸ τηρεῖν, or (as in Od. i. 82; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jam 1:27, al[1270]) the simple infin. (comp the critical remarks). But Paul leaves the reader to gather from the connection what is meant by ΤΟῦΤΟ (namely, not giving the maiden in marriage). The design of this τοῦτο κέκρικεν (conclusum habet) is then declared by τοῦ τηρεῖν: in order to keep (to preserve in her maidenly state) his own maiden. And this is not a mere periphrasis for not giving in marriage (as de Wette objects), but rather the design which the father or guardian has in his τοῦτο κέκρικεν, by virtue of his right to dispose of his own child: observe the emphatic τὴν ἑαυτοῦ παρθένον. That the maiden’s will should be left entirely out of account by Paul, can surprise no one who is aware of the power given to fathers among the Jews (comp Ewald, Alterth. p. 267) and Greeks (Herm. Privatalterth. § 30. 2 ff.).

καλῶς ποιεῖ] in the sense of action, morally right, the positive side of the οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει of 1 Corinthians 7:36, and in so far stronger here; hence, too, it is represented in 1 Corinthians 7:38 by ΚΡΕῖΣΣΟΝ ΠΟΙΕῖ in relation to the ΚΑΛῶς ΠΟΙΕῖ, which is equivalent to ΟὐΧ ἉΜΑΡΤΆΝΕΙ.

[1268] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1270] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.1 Corinthians 7:37. For the opposite resolution, adopted by a father who “keeps his own virgin (daughter)” instead of “marrying” her (1 Corinthians 7:38), four conditions are laid down: (1) unshaken firmness in his own mind (ἕστηκεν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ἑδραῖος, cf. Romans 14:5; Romans 14:23), as against social pressure; (2) the absence of constraint (μὴ ἔχων ἀνάγκην) arising from previous engagement or irresistible circumstances; (3) his full authority to act as he will (ἐξουσίαν δὲ ἔχει κ.τ.λ.)—slaves, on the other hand, could not dispose of their children, and the unqualified patria potestas belonged only to Roman citizens (see Ed[1208] in loc.); ἐξουσία, however, signifies moral power, which reaches in the household far beyond civil right; (4) a judgment deliberately and independently formed to this effect (τοῦτο κέκρικεν ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ καρδίᾳ). Granting all this, the father who “has decided to keep his own maiden, does well”—καλῶς, rightly, honourably well (see note on καλόν, 1). The repeated καρδία (the mind, the seat of thought and will, rather than the heart with its modern emotional connotation; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 4:5, and notes), and the phrase περὶ τοῦ ἰδίου θελήματος, press on the father the necessity of using his judgment and acting on his personal responsibility; as in 1 Corinthians 7:6 f., 1 Corinthians 7:28; 1Co 7:35, the Ap. is jealous of allowing his own authority or inclination to overbear the conscience of his disciples; cf. Romans 14:4-10; Romans 14:22 f.—This ἀνάγκη urges in the opp[1209] direction to that of 1 Corinthians 7:26; in both cases the word signifies compulsion, dictating action other than that one would independently have taken.—ἐξουσίανπερί κ.τ.λ. is “power as touching his own resolve,” the right to act as one will—in other words, mastery of the situation.—The obj[1210], τ. παρθένον, suggests the tacit complement to τηρεῖν (see parls.): “to keep intact, in what he believes to be the best state” for the Lord’s service (Ed[1211]). “The will of the maiden is left wholly out of court” (Hn[1212]); social custom ignored this factor in marriage; for all that, it might constitute the opposed ἀνάγκη, and might, in some circumstances, practically limit the paternal ἐξουσία; see 1 Corinthians 7:28 b, and note.

[1208] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1209] opposite, opposition.

[1210] grammatical object.

[1211] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[1212] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).37. having no necessity] This might be the case either (1) if the maiden be not specially desirous for the married life, or (2) if her hand be not sought in marriage, or (3) if, when sought, she be unwilling to accept the proposal. The language of the Apostle embraces all three suppositions.

but hath power over his own will] The legitimate authority of the parent is great, but he has no right to treat his children as mere chattels. He can only be said to have ‘power over his own will’ when he can act without selfishly thwarting the reasonable wishes of those whom God has committed to his care.

and hath so decreed in his heart] “If in other lighter actions nothing is permitted to children without the authority of their parents, much less is it desirable that freedom should be given them in contracting matrimony.” Calvin.

keep his virgin] i.e. to keep her at home unmarried.1 Corinthians 7:37. Ἕστηκεν, he who standeth stedfast) There is in this passage an admirable synonymy [accumulation of synonymous clauses] and description of liberty.—μὴ ἔχων ἀνάγκην, having no necessity) on account of which he should prefer celibacy to marriage, 1 Corinthians 7:26, or marriage to celibacy.—ἐξονσίαν) control [power], without any interference.—ἔχει, has) for having: for not and but are in mutual relation to each other. There is the same enallage in Colossians 1:6, note.—περὶ, over) For often the will is one thing, and the power an altogether different thing.—ἰδιόυ, his own) Liberty is elegantly denoted. [Those who have now a regard to the Divine will, are often led to think, that they have been appointed to obtain only by one way, the things which correspond to the Divine will. Nevertheless, God grants to man full liberty regarding what is agreeable to His law, Deut. 36:6.[61]—V. g.]—κέκρικεν) has so judged [decreed, has come to this as his decided opinion].—καλῶς ποιεῖ, doeth well) he not only does not sin; he acts very well (καλῶς).

[61] Rather Numbers 36:6. Let them marry to whom they think best.—ED.Verse 37. - Steadfast. The general meaning of the verse is that the father, who, from high motives, remained unshaken in the resolve to dedicate his daughter (as Philip did) to the virgin life, doeth well, though neither Jews nor pagans thought so. Having no necessity. Because the maiden did not wish to marry or was not sought in marriage. Necessity (ἀνάγκην)

Either outward or moral constraint. See on 1 Corinthians 7:26, and note on Luke 14:18.

Power over his own will (ἐξουσίαν περὶ τοῦ ἰδίου θελήματος)

The A.V. is ambiguous, and might be understood to imply self-control. The meaning is rather: is free to act as he pleases. Rev., as touching his own will. The repetition of his own emphasizes the fact that the disposal of the daughter lay wholly in the parent's power. Among the Greeks and Romans the choice of a wife was rarely grounded upon affection. In many cases the father chose for his son a wife whom the latter had never seen, or compelled him to marry for the sake of checking his extravagances. Thus Terence pictures a father meeting his son in the forum, and saving. "You are to be married to-day, get ready" ("Andria," i., 5) Nor was the consent of a woman generally thought necessary. She was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and perhaps to receive a stranger. Thus Hermione says: "My marriage is my father's care: it is not for me to decide about that" (Euripides, "Andromache," 987). Under the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations, the father's power over the children in the matter of marriage was paramount, and their consent was not required. After the Exile the parents could betroth their children, while minors, at their pleasure; but when they became of age their consent was required, and if betrothed during minority, they had afterward the right of insisting upon divorce.

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