Volume VI, Number 37
In this issue:
“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jno. 5:28-29). “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). These are sobering words for any who are not obeying Jesus in this life. But, they are cause for hope and joyful expectation for the Christian. Victory over death! The resurrection of mankind will surely occur when Jesus returns (1 Cor. 15:21-23). His resurrection from the dead guarantees it (1 Cor. 15:20). What can we expect on that great day?
We can expect to hear Christ’s voice commanding death to give up its captives (1 Ths. 4:16). Christ, who has the keys of death and of Hades, will command the dead to arise. He who is “the resurrection and the life” and who cried with a loud voice “Lazarus, come forth,” will open the tombs of both the just and the unjust on that day (Rev. 1:17; Jno. 11:25, 43; Acts 24:15). Truly, there will be victory over death (1 Cor. 15:54)!
We can expect the dead to be raised incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:42-44). Just as the stalk of grain which grows out of the ground is markedly different in appearance from the seed planted into the ground, even so the resurrected body will be different from the dead body which was placed into the grave. The resurrected body will be suited to live in the spiritual realm (1 Cor. 15:50). Because neither heaven nor hell are physical places, resurrected bodies will not be physical. But, they will be our bodies, make no mistake (1 Cor. 15:49). No longer subject to the decay of mortality, we will be resurrected with bodies suited for eternity.
We can expect individual judgment of our lives on this earth (2 Cor. 5:10). With the resurrection of the dead comes the judgment of all mankind (Matt. 25:30-46; Rom. 14:12). Here is the motivation for each of us to seriously consider the day of resurrection. It will also be the day of judgment. Are we ready? Our lives will be judged. Are we in harmony with the will of Christ? Those who do “the will of My Father in heaven” will enter the heavenly reward in that day (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:34-40). But, those who “do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” will suffer a just and eternal punishment (2 Ths. 1:7-9; Matt. 25:41-46; Rom. 2:1-11).
We can expect the resurrection to happen in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52). Will you be ready for that day? In order to joyfully anticipate the resurrection day, faithfully obey the gospel of Christ today!
1 Corinthians 7:27-28by Harry Osborne
Several years ago, I debated a brother in Christ who sought to use 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 to justify a broader right of remaining in subsequent remarriages following divorce. He argued that the word “released,” from the New American Standard Version (NASV), in 1 Corinthians 7:27 simply means “divorced.” With this assumption, he then concluded that verse 28 upholds the right of a divorced person to marry another. He did not apply this concept to its logical end in the debate, but left the audience to conclude that anyone divorced for any cause may marry another. Since that time, I have noted the same argument being made by several others based upon these verses. Is such taught in these verses? Would our Lord have us to conclude that any remarriage following any divorce for any cause is acceptable? Certainly not! Jesus forbade the remarriage of the divorced woman of Matthew 5:32 saying, “Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Jesus said she was “divorced,” but had no right to marry another. Thus, the wide door opened by some brethren is too wide for Jesus. Such teaching will lead to a tragedy of multiplied divorce and the heartache which accompanies it.
The false conclusion noted above is based on the false assumption that the word translated “released” (1 Cor. 7:27b) in the NASV means “divorced.” In fact, the NASV is joined by only two versions (NEB and Confraternity) out of sixteen major translations in a rendering which might imply a divorce following a previous marriage. The other thirteen do not. The word used in the Greek is lelusai, a perfect tense verb. It denotes a state of being free or loose which has continued from the past to the present time. It could have reference to a state of freedom one has always enjoyed or one gained at some point in the past. The Greek writer Hermas (140 A.D.) used a form of this word to describe a woman “with unbound hair” (Similitude, 9:9:5). The fact that a woman’s hair is loose or unbound does not imply that it was previously bound. In order to determine if her hair was formerly bound, other information would be necessary. After pointing to this and other pertinent evidence, Arndt and Gingrich say the phrase in 1 Corinthians 7:27 should be rendered, “Are you free from a wife, i.e. not bound to a wife?” They then add the comment, “a previous state of being ‘bound’ need not be assumed” (Arndt & Gingrich, p.483).
The vast majority of scholars state the same conclusion even though their practice conflicts with their conclusion. In commenting on 1 Corinthians 7:27, Alford’s Greek New Testament says the word “does not imply previous marriage” (II:529). Albert Barnes defended the same conclusion (First Corinthians, p.126). Fisher said the perfect tense form of the word used here implied a “permanent state of freedom from marriage ties,” not one previously married and now divorced (F. Fisher, 1-2 Corinthians, p.117). Of the 22 commentaries consulted, only two say that divorced people may be included. Absolutely none say that it speaks only of divorced people as some brethren are suggesting. Many of the commentators state that Paul was referring to a “bachelor.”
The context supports the conclusion that 1 Corinthians 7:27 refers to one free from marriage ties as a “bachelor.” In context, Paul is affirming the right of those never married to become married. The paragraph starts with the words, “Now concerning virgins...” (v.25). Paul’s comment, “I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give my judgment,” also helps us clarify the subject being considered. Jesus had given commandment regarding who may marry another following a divorce (Matt. 19:9; 5:32). However, the question of whether or not a virgin should marry in a time of distress was a matter of “judgment” rather than “commandment.” Throughout the paragraph, Paul tells those never married to remain free or loose from marriage ties. Lest anyone misunderstand this advice to mean that a married person should end his marriage, Paul begins verse 27 with this statement: “Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed” (1 Cor. 7:27a). The apostle then returns to the case of those never married saying, “Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife” (1 Cor. 7:27b). In verse 28, he parallels this man with the “virgin.” What is the parallel? They were both persons never previously married - one male and the other female.
This context does not establish the right of anyone divorced to marry another spouse. The only party described as “unmarried” following a divorce in 1 Corinthians 7 is told what to do in verse 11: “let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband....” Why do some of our brethren affirm a view in direct opposition to that of the inspired apostle? Why would the same inspired apostle who clearly stated this charge in verse 11 turn around and negate the charge with contradictory instructions in verses 27 and 28? Yet, that would be exactly the effect of the interpretation put on this passage by some of our brethren who would use it to justify a broader right of remarriage.
Even if 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 implied the right of some divorced person to remarry, we must include all other related passages to ascertain God’s truth on the matter. The Bible pattern on any subject must consider all related passages and interpret them in a way which does not conflict with any other passage. Remember, “the sum of thy word is truth” (Psa. 119:160). The Baptist finds a passage which says faith is essential, but does not mention baptism. He reasons that baptism is not essential because the verse does not mention it. Is that sound reasoning? No, it fails to consider all related passages. This is the fallacy of brethren misusing 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 as well. They disregard part of the pattern (i.e. Matt. 5:31-32; 19:3-10) saying it is not found in 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 and conclude that it does not apply there. 1 Corinthians 7 may add more restrictive conditions to Jesus’ teaching about the right of a divorced person to lawfully marry another, but it cannot loosen those conditions. Paul did not give every divorced person the right to marry another, thus contradicting Jesus.
Jesus clearly stated a condition which must be met if one is to marry another spouse following a divorce: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery” (Matt. 19:9). Teaching to the contrary not withstanding, “except” means just exactly what it says! The word “except” is found three times in John 3:2-5. In verse 2, Nicodemus rightly says, “for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him.” Jesus could work miracles if and only if God was with him. In verse 3, Jesus says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” One can see the kingdom of God if and only if he is born again. In verse 5, our Lord declares, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Is it hard to see that one can enter the kingdom of God if and only if he is born of water and the Spirit? All of us understand that more conditions need to be met for salvation than are stated here, but these conditions are absolutely essential in every case! The exception clause makes that abundantly plain. By the same token, Matthew 19:9 shows that one may put away a spouse and lawfully marry another if and only if that spouse was put away for fornication. Thus, the condition is essential!
-Reason for Hope, Dec. 1, 2002
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