1 Corinthians 7:6
But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
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(6) But I speak this by permission.—Better, Now I say this as a permission, and not as a command. As the passage is given in our English version, it might seem as if the Apostle implied that he had no actual command, but only a permission to write this, which is not at all his meaning. What he does say is, that the foregoing instructions are not to be considered as absolute commands from him, but as general permissive instruction, to be applied by each individual according to circumstances.

It has been much discussed as to what part of the previous passage the word “this” refers. It is perhaps best to take it as referring to the leading thought of the whole passage, which is that marriage is allowable, expressed especially in 1Corinthians 7:2.

7:1-9 The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was good, in that juncture of time, for Christians to keep themselves single. Yet he says that marriage, and the comforts of that state, are settled by Divine wisdom. Though none may break the law of God, yet that perfect rule leaves men at liberty to serve him in the way most suited to their powers and circumstances, of which others often are very unfit judges. All must determine for themselves, seeking counsel from God how they ought to act.But I speak this by permission ... - It is not quite certain whether the word "this" (τοῦτο touto), in this verse, refers to what precedes, or to what follows. On this commentators are divided. The more natural and obvious interpretation would be to refer it to the preceding statement. I am inclined to think that the mare natural construction is the true one. and that Paul refers to what he had said in 1 Corinthians 7:5. Most recent commentators, as Macknight and Rosenmuller, however, suppose it refers to what follows, and appeal to similar places in Joel 1:2; Psalm 49:2; 1 Corinthians 10:23. Calvin supposes it refers to what was said in 1 Corinthians 7:1.

By permission - συγγνώμην sungnōmēn. This word means "indulgence," or "permission," and stands opposed to that which is expressly enjoined; compare 1 Corinthians 7:25. "I am 'allowed' to say this; I have no express command on the subject; I give it as my opinion; I do not speak it directly under the influence of divine inspiration;" see 1 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Corinthians 7:25, 1 Corinthians 7:40. Paul here does not claim to be under inspiration in these directions which he specifics. But this is no argument against his inspiration in general, but rather the contrary. For:

(1) It shows that he was an honest man, and was disposed to state the exact truth. An impostor, pretending to inspiration, would have claimed to have been always inspired. Who ever heard of a pretender to divine inspiration admitting that in any thing he was not under divine guidance? Did Mahomet ever do this? Do impostors now ever do it?

(2) it shows that in other cases, where no exception is made, he claimed to be inspired. These few exceptions, which he expressly makes, prove that in everywhere else he claimed to be under the influence of inspiration.

(3) we are to suppose, therefore, that in all his writings where he makes no express exceptions, (and the exceptions are very few in number,) Paul claimed to be inspired. Macknight, however, and some others, understand this as mere adVice, as an inspired man, though not as a command,

Not of commandment - Not by express instruction from the Lord; see 1 Corinthians 7:25. I do not claim in this to be under the influence of inspiration; and my counsel here may be regarded, or not, as you may be able to receive it.

6. by permission … not of commandment—not by God's permission to me to say it: but, "by way of permission to you, not as a commandment." "This" refers to the directions, 1Co 7:2-5. Some refer these words to all that had gone before in this chapter; but the best interpreters rather refer them to what went immediately before in the preceding verse, declaring, that he had no express command from God, as to those things of abstaining for a time for fasting and prayer, and then coming together again, but he spake what he judged equitable and reasonable; but as to particular persons, they ought to judge and govern themselves according to their particular circumstances.

But I speak this by permission,.... Referring either to what he had said before, though not to all; not to 1 Corinthians 7:2 that for the avoiding of fornication, every man should make use of his own wife, and every woman of her own husband; since this is not by permission, but by command, Genesis 2:24 that carnal copulation should be between one man and one woman in a married state; nor to 1 Corinthians 7:3 for that married persons ought to render due benevolence to, and not defraud each other, having a power over each other's bodies, is a precept, and not a permission, Exodus 21:10 but to 1 Corinthians 7:5 their parting for a time, and coming together again: it is not an absolute command of God that they should separate for a time, on account of fasting and prayer, but if they thought fit to do so by agreement, they might; nor was there any positive precept for their coming together again directly, after such service was over. The apostle said this,

not of commandment; but, consulting their good, gives this advice, lest Satan should be busy with them, and draw them into sin; but if they had the gift of continence, they might continue apart longer; there was no precise time fixed by God, nor did the apostle pretend to fix any: or it may refer to what follows after, that he would have all men be as he was; though he laid no injunction, but left them to their liberty; unless it can be thought to regard marriage in general, and to be said in opposition to a Jewish notion, which makes marriage a "command";

"a man, they say (f), is bound to this command at seventeen years of age, and if he passes twenty and does not marry, he transgresses, and makes void an affirmative precept;''

but the apostle puts it as a matter of choice, and not of obligation.

(f) Maimon. Hilch, Isbot, c. 15. sect. 2.

{5} But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

(5) Fifthly he teaches that marriage is not necessary for all men, but for those who do not have the gift of continency, and this gift is by a special grace of God.

1 Corinthians 7:6. Τοῦτο] does not refer to what follows (J. Cappellus, Rosenmüller), which it does not suit; nor to 1 Corinthians 7:2 (Beza, Grotius, de Wette, Gratama, Baur, Hofmann); nor to all that has been said from 1 Corinthians 7:2 onwards (Bengel, Pott, Flatt, Billroth, Rückert, Osiander), for 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 contain precepts actually obligatory; nor to κ. πάλιν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἦτε (Origen, Tertullian, Jerome, Cornelius a Lapide, al[1083]), which is but a subordinate portion of the preceding utterance. It is to this utterance: μὴ ἀποστερεῖτεἀκρ. ὑμῶν, which directly precedes the ΤΟῦΤΟ, that it can alone be made to refer without arbitrariness,—an utterance which might have the appearance of an ἘΠΙΤΑΓΉ, but is not intended to be such. What Paul means is this: Although I say that ye should withhold yourselves from each other by mutual agreement only perhaps for the season of prayer, and then come together again, so as to escape the temptations of Satan; yet that is not to be understood by way of command, as if you might not be abstinent at other times or for a longer period ἐκ συμφώνου, but by way of indulgence (“secundum indulgentiam,” Vulgate), so that thereby concession is made to your lack of continency, it is allowed for. Theophylact puts it well: συγκαταβαίνων τῇ ἀσθενείᾳ ὑμῶν, and Erasmus: “consulo vestris periculis.”

ΣΥΓΓΝΏΜΗ occurs here only in the N. T. (Ecclus., pref. 1 and 1 Corinthians 3:13), but very often in Greek writers,—not, however, in the LXX. It means invariably either forgiveness, or, as here, forbearance, indulgence, γνώμη κριτικὴ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς ὀρθή, Aristotle, Eth. vi. 11. Hammond and Pott transgress the laws of the language by making it the same as κατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν γνώμην. So even Valckenaer; comp Calovius, Flatt, Heydenreich, al[1085] Ewald, too, renders without any support from the usage of the language: “with the best conscience.”

[1083] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1085] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

1 Corinthians 7:6-7. τοῦτο δὲ λέγω points to the leading direction given in 1 Corinthians 7:2, from which 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 digressed: “I advise you to be married (though I think celibacy good, 1), κατὰ συνγνώμην,” secundum indulgentiam (Vg[1021])—i.e., συγκαταβαίνων τ. ἀσθενείᾳ ὑμῶν (Thp[1022]); οὐ κατʼ ἐπιταγήν,—ex concessione, non ex imperio (Bz[1023]). The rendering “permission” is somewhat misleading; συνγνώμη is quite distinct from the γνώμη opposed to ἐπιταγὴ in 1 Corinthians 7:25; it signifies either pardon (venia, excuse for a fault), or, as here, allowance, regard for circumstances and temperament.—In θέλω δὲ κ.τ.λ. the Ap. states his personal bent, which he had set aside in the recommendation just given: “But I would have all men to be as indeed myself,” sc. cœlibem—and contentedly so (cf. Acts 26:29). ὡς καὶ ἐμαυτόν, paratactic acc[1024] (attracted to πάντας ἀν θρώπους) = ὡς καὶ αὐτός εἰμι; καὶ emphasises the assertion that the writer is what he would like others to be. It is manifest (see also 1 Corinthians 9:5) that the Ap. was unmarried, although Clem. Alex. and some moderns have inferred otherwise from Php 4:3. That he had never been married is by no means certain. Two things, however, are clear: that if P. had known the married state, it was before his apostleship—“wife and children are never hinted at, he goes about entirely free from such ties” (Lt[1025]); further, that if in early life he had entered this state, it was not διʼ ἀκρασίαν; he possessed the “grace-gift” (χάρισμα) of undisquieted continence (opposed to πυροῦσθαι, 1 Corinthians 7:9; cf. Matthew 19:12), which was in his case an adjunct of his χάρις ἀποστολῆς.—“However (= I cannot have every one like myself, but) each has a charism of his own from God, the one in this shape and the other in that.” ὁ δὲ οὕτως does not refer to the married Christian, as though his state were in itself a charism, but to any special endowment for service in Christ’s kingdom other than that stated. On χάρισμα see 1 Corinthians 1:7; and cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

[1021] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[1022] Theophylact, Greek Commentator.

[1023] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[1024] accusative case.

[1025] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

6. by permission] i.e. by way of permission on the Apostle’s part to the Corinthian Church, not of God to him, as it is sometimes misunderstood. The original signification of the word thus rendered is agreement. Thence it comes to mean permission, indulgence, concession. Vulgate, indulgentia; Calvin (and Estius), venia; Beza, concessio; Wiclif, well, giving leave; Tyndale, of faveour.

1 Corinthians 7:6. Τοῦτο, this) what has been mentioned all along from 1 Corinthians 7:2.—κατὰ συγγνώμην οὐ κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν) See 1 Corinthians 7:25, note.

Verse 6. - I speak this. The "this" applies to his advice in general, but especially to the last verse. By permission. This phrase is generally misunderstood. It does not mean that St. Paul was permitted though not commanded to give this advice, but that his gentle advice was given "by way of permission" to Christians, not "by way of injunction." He means to say that he leaves the details of their lives, whether celibate or married, to their individual consciences, though with large hearted wisdom and charity he would emancipate them from human and unauthorized restrictions. The clause is not, therefore, a parallel to the restrictions on the authority of his utterances, such as we find in vers. 12, 29, 40, and in 2 Corinthians 8:10; 2 Corinthians 11:17. 1 Corinthians 7:6
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