1 Corinthians 7:1
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.
Note 1 at 1Co 7:1: Paul had made mention of the fact that he had written a previous letter to the Corinthians (1Co 5:9). Here he revealed that the Corinthians had previously written to him. There are no copies of these letters left today.
Note 2 at 1Co 7:1: This chapter covers the subjects of marriage, divorce, and celibacy. Celibacy is discussed in more detail here than in any other chapter in the Bible. These were questions that the Corinthians asked Paul to comment on (this verse) and were no doubt asked because of the extreme sexual immorality that existed in Corinth (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to 1 Corinthians). These Gentile Christians lived in a world where having multiple wives was normal and sexual immorality was a part of pagan worship (see note 1 at Ac 18:1). They needed clarification on the proper sexual conduct of a Christian.
For analytical purposes, this chapter can be divided into the instructions that Paul said were commandments from God (1Co 7:1-5, 10-11, and 18-24), and those that Paul said were his own opinions (1Co 7:6-9, 12-17, and 25-40). That means only 35 percent of the verses in this chapter are direct commands from the Lord, while 65 percent of the verses are Paul's opinions.
The scriptures that Paul identified as being his own opinions and not direct commandments from the Lord deal with celibacy (1Co 7:6-9), conditions under which a believing spouse can leave a marriage and arguments against doing so (1Co 7:12-17), and once again, the virtues of remaining single (1Co 7:25-40). The verses that Paul identified as being direct instructions from the Lord deal with an encouragement for everyone to be married and sexual conduct within marriage (1Co 7:1-5), a command against divorce (1Co 7:10-11), and an admonition to sanctify the marital situation people find themselves in at the time of conversion (1Co 7:18-24).
Note 3 at 1Co 7:1: Paul began his answers to the Corinthians' questions with a shocking statement. He said it is good for a man not to touch a woman! Strong's Concordance says the Greek word "HAPTOMAI," translated "touch" here, means "properly, to attach oneself to, i.e. to touch (in many implied relations)," so Paul was speaking of not marrying. Still, this is still a shocking statement.
Very few people even consider celibacy, but Paul made no apologies for advocating celibacy. Paul was living a celibate life, and he recommended it for those who could receive it. He brought this issue up three times in this chapter (this verse; 1Co 7:7-8, and 26-40).
However, it is totally wrong to interpret these statements in a way that makes those who don't marry somehow holier than those who do. That was not Paul's message. Paul's own statement in 1Ti 4:1-3 calls it a doctrine of devils to forbid marriage. Therefore, it is a demonic doctrine to demand abstinence from marriage as a requirement for ministers.
Paul encouraged marriage in 1Co 7:2, 9, 28, and 38. He also gave a command to young widows to remarry (1Ti 5:14).
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