For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)For I would that all men were even as I myself.—Better, I wish rather that all men were as I myself. These words do not mean that the Apostle wished that every one was unmarried, but that every one had the same grace of continence which he himself was endowed with, so that they might without risk of sin remain unmarried (see 1Corinthians 7:26). Yet, he adds, there are many gifts, and God has given to each man his own gift, so that, though you may not have the particular gift of continence which I have, you have some other. One has one kind of gift; another has another kind.
That all men ... - That Paul was unmarried is evident from 1 Corinthians 9:5. But he does not refer to this fact here. When he wishes that all people were like himself, he evidently does not intend that he would prefer that all should be unmarried, for this would be against the divine institution, and against his own precepts elsewhere. But he would be glad if all people had control over their passions and propensities as he had; had the gift of continence, and could abstain from marriage when circumstances of trial, etc., would make it proper. We may add, that when Paul wishes to exhort to anything that is difficult, he usually adduces "his own example" to show that "it may be done;" an example which it would be well for all ministers to be able to follow.
But every man hath his proper gift - Every man has his own special talent, or excellence. One man excels in one thing, and another in another. One may not have this particular virtue, but he maybe distinguished for another virtue quite as valuable. The doctrine here is, therefore, that we are not to judge of others by ourselves, or measure their virtue by ours. We may excel in some one thing, they in another. And because they have not our special virtue, or capability, we are not to condemn or denounce them; compare Matthew 19:11, Matthew 19:12.
Of God - Bestowed by God either in the original endowments and faculties of body or mind, or by his grace. In either case it is the gift of God. The virtue of continence is his gift as well as any other; and Paul had reason, as any other man must have, to be thankful that God had conferred it on him. So if a man is naturally amiable, kind, gentle, large-hearted, tender, and affectionate, he should regard it as the gift of God, and be thankful that he has not to contend with the evils of a morose, proud, haughty, and severe temper. It is true, however, that all these virtues may be greatly strengthened by discipline, and that religion gives vigor and comeliness to them all. Paul's virtue in this was strengthened by his resolution; by his manner of life; by his frequent fastings and trials, and "by the abundant employment" which God gave him in the apostleship. And it is true still, that if a man is desirous to overcome the lusts of the flesh, industry, and hardship, and trial, and self-denial will enable him, by the grace of God, to do it. idleness is the cause of no small part of the corrupt desires of people; and God kept Paul from these:
(1) By giving him enough to do; and,I would that all men were even as I myself: I would, in this place, can signify no more than, I could wish or desire, (if it were the will of God), that all Christians had the gift of continency, which God (blessed be his name) hath given me: that this is meant, is plain by the next words, and 1 Corinthians 7:9: it is apparent that Paul did not will this absolutely, for that had been to have willed the dissolution of the world, as well as the church, within the compass of that age.
But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that: But, saith the apostle, every one hath not the gift of continency, one hath it, another hath it not; which is the same thing which our Saviour said in reply to his disciples, saying: If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given, Matthew 19:10. 1 Corinthians 7:8 but be it which it will, it can hardly be thought he should wish all men to be in either state, either all married, or all unmarried; but he speaks of the gift of continency, which he had, as the following words show; and this he desires for all men, that they might not be in any danger from Satan's temptations, and that they might be more fit for and intent upon the service of Christ. The Syriac version adds, in "purity", or "chastity"; which may be preserved in a marriage state, as well as in single life:
but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that: all the gifts of nature and grace which men have, they have of God, and not of themselves; and every man has a gift proper to himself; no one man has all gifts, but some one, and some another; and with respect to the case in hand, one man has the gift of continency, another the gift of marriage; all cannot contain themselves, only to whom it is given: and all are not disposed to marriage; some are inclined to a single life, and some to a marriage state; and of those that are married, some can abstain from the use of the marriage bed longer than others, without being in danger of being tempted by Satan for their incontinency; and such a disposition is desirable.For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Corinthians 7:7. I do not say by way of command that you should withhold yourselves only for the time of prayer and then be together again; but indeed (δέ) I wish that every one had the gift of continency, as I myself, and so could restrain himself, not merely at such isolated periods for some particular higher end; still (and that justifies what I said: κατὰ συγγνώμην) this gift is not vouchsafed to all. There is no more ground for supposing that μέν should be supplied (after λέγω) in connection with this δέ, than there is in 1 Corinthians 7:2 (against Rückert).
ὡς καὶ ἐμαυτόν] as also I myself, that is to say, endued with the donum continentiae, ἐν ἐγκρατείᾳ, Chrysostom. See what follows. He does not mean his state of single life, but its charismatic basis. The καί is, as for instance in Acts 26:29, the quite commonly used καί of comparison.
χάρισμα] a special endowment bestowed by divine grace, fitting him for the purposes of the kingdom of God. Comp on 1 Corinthians 12:1-4; Romans 12:6. It is of course, and necessarily (because communicated through the Spirit), conceived as existing within the church. The words πάντας ἀνθρώπους do not contradict this; for Paul could most warrantably wish to all men that gracious gift, which he as a Christian was conscious that he possessed, and as to which he knew that even within the Christian pale it was vouchsafed to one and withheld from another.
ὁ μὲν οὕτως Κ.Τ.Λ] is not to be understood as if the first οὕτως meant the gift of continence, and the second a man’s suitableness for wedded life (de Wette, with older commentators, beginning with Theodoret and Theophylact), but in a quite general sense: the one has his peculiar gift of grace after this fashion, the other in that; the one so, the other so. Under this general statement, the possession of continence, or some other gracious endowment in its place, is included. As to the double οὕτως, comp LXX. 2 Samuel 11:25 : ποτὲ μὲν οὕτως καὶ ποτὲ οὕτως καταφάγεται ἡ ῥομφαία, also Jdg 18:4; 2 Kings 5:4; 2 Samuel 17:15. It is not so used in Greek writers.
 .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.7. every man hath his proper gift of God] Cf. St Matthew 19:11.1 Corinthians 7:7. Θέλω) I would for my part, 1 Corinthians 7:32. Paul had tasted the sweetness of celibacy, and was desirous that others should have the same pleasure in it. The expression, I would, may be also taken absolutely for it is to be wished, comp. 1 Corinthians 6:12, note: as he says on other occasions, οὐκ ἦν θελημα, there was no wish.—γὰρ) for, used in its strict sense. The reference is to 1 Corinthians 7:6.—ὡς καὶ ἐμαυτὸν, as even myself) unmarried. The Corinthians seem to have looked to the example of Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:8.—χάρισμα, gift) That, which in the natural man is a natural habit, becomes in the saints a gift. The gift here is the entire habit [habitual bearing] of the mind and body in the Christian, in so far, for example, as marriage or celibacy is more suitable to him, along with the actions consonant to each state, being in accordance with the commandments of God. But in the case of godly men in an involuntary condition, the assistance of grace is more sure.Verse 7. - For I would. The verb here used is thelo (will). In 1 Timothy 5:14 he says, "I prefer (boulomai) that the younger women marry." Even as I myself; endowed, that is, with the gift of continence, which would (in the expected nearness of Christ's coming) render marriage needless, and the condition of man like that of the angels in heaven, who neither marry nor are given in marriage. His proper gift. The "gifts" alluded to are the "graces" (charismata) of the Holy Spirit; and the grace of perfect continence does not exist equally in all (Matthew 19:11). One after this manner, and another after that. The remark is general, but also has its special application to continence and marriage (Matthew 19:12).
Not unmarried, but continent. It is not necessary to assume that Paul had never been married. Marriage was regarded as a duty among the Jews, so that a man was considered to have sinned if he had reached the age of twenty without marrying. The Mishna fixed the age of marriage at seventeen or eighteen, and the Babylonish Jews as early as fourteen. A rabbinical precept declared that a Jew who has no wife is not a man. It is not certain, but most probable, that Saul was a member of the Sanhedrim (Acts 26:10). If so, he must have been married, as marriage was a condition of membership. From 1 Corinthians 7:8 it is plausibly inferred that he classed himself among widowers. Farrar ("Life and Work of St. Paul," i., 80) has some beautiful remarks upon the evidence for his marriage afforded by the wisdom and tenderness of his words concerning it.
See on Romans 1:11. As regards the matter of continence, fitting some for marriage and some for celibacy.
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