And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
The word of God says, “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15). Some brethren (and most denominationalists) interpret the apostle’s statement to allow the believer to remarry when deserted by the unbeliever (James D. Bales, Not Under Bondage, 7-8). By doing so, they put Paul at odds with the Lord Jesus in Matthew 19:3-9, in which He taught one cannot put away “for just any reason” (19:3). There, Jesus said not to sunder what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6). He went on to explain that to put away one’s spouse and marry another, except for the cause of fornication, is adultery (Matt. 19:9; Lk. 16:18; Mk. 10:11-12).
Every man and woman with the right to enter marriage, when they do so, are joined together by God (Gen. 2:24; Heb. 13:4). They are obligated to God and to each other for life (Rom. 7:2; Matt. 19:3-6).
Paul did not teach it is sinful for a Christian to be married to an unbeliever. If he had, then he would have commanded believers to put away their unbelieving mates. But he did not do that; indeed, quite the opposite.
Paul is addressing “bound by God” marriages in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 when he speaks to Christians married to unbelievers. He states a condition within the marriage of a believer and an unbeliever in verse 15 that is antithetical to the condition stated in verses 12-13. There, the believer is “willing (content, ASV) to live with” the Christian. But in verse 15, the unbeliever is not content to be married to the Christian, and “departs” (chrizo, put distance between, sunder, as in Matt. 19:6).
What is the “bondage” of 1 Corinthians 7:15? It is not the life-long marriage bond (deo, obligation, 1 Cor. 7:27, 39; Rom. 7:2). That bond is necessarily implied in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 12, 13 and where it exists, one is not to sunder her or his marriage.
The “bondage” which the believer is not under to the unbelieving spouse is the slavery of servitude (dooloō, to make a slave of, reduce to bondage). The instruction to the Christian is that you are not enslaved to the unbeliever to serve him (or her) to the compromising of your faith. “Let him go” if he is not willing to live with you as you live your faith (1 Cor. 7:15). This understanding is supported by the grammar of the text and by the context of 1 Corinthians 7:15-24.
The grammar used by the Holy Spirit in verse 15 helps explain the type of bondage the believer married to an unbeliever is “not under”. Concerning “not under bondage”, A. T. Robertson notes, “Is not under bondage (ou dedoulōtai). Perfect passive indicative of douloō, to enslave, has been enslaved, does not remain a slave” (Word Pictures of the New Testament, A. T. Robertson). The perfect tense is “action that has been completed in the past yet has results occurring in the present” (Understanding How Greek Verbs Work, Blue Letter Bible). With the negative, then, the meaning of verse 15 is this: the believer has not been under bondage to the unbeliever in the past, and the believer continues not to be under bondage to the unbeliever in the present. The grammar teaches us that the bondage in view here is not the marriage bond (since it was established in the past with continuing results, when God joined them together, Matt. 19:6). The “bondage” in verse 15 must therefore be something else, namely, servitude or enslavement.
“Not under bondage” discusses why the believer lets the unbeliever depart “in such cases” (1 Cor. 7:15). It is not discussing remarriage. Paul already did that when he spoke to “the married” in verses 10-11. (Note: “The married” is unqualified in vv. 10-11; all married ones are addressed.) Paul sets forth what Jesus taught: Do not sunder what God has joined together (7:10; Matt. 19:6). In the absence of Christ’s stated exception in Matthew 19:9, if a sundering occurs one must either “remain unmarried or be reconciled” to one’s mate (1 Cor. 7:11).
In 1 Corinthians 7:12-24, Paul discusses the nature of the relationship between the believer and the unbeliever, as well as the relationship of the believer with Christ. The Christian should not end her marriage because her husband is not a Christian. God has “called us to peace” (7:15). If the unbeliever is content with her being a Christian, do not leave him (7:12-13). In fact, under that scenario, the Christian brings a holy influence into the home (7:14; cf. 1 Pet. 3:1-2). But, if the unbeliever departs (implying a lack of contentment), let him go. Why? The believer has never been a slave to her spouse, either in the past or at the present; you are “not under bondage” (7:15).
This explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:15 is supported by the continuing context of verses 17-24. The foundational principle is stated in verse 17: “as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk”. It is restated in verse 20, “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called”. And, for emphasis, a third time in verse 24, “Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.”
In other words, the Lord expects you to walk with Him in your marriage. While this will be difficult if you are married to an unbeliever, you are to remain faithful to the Lord. Your burden will be eased if your unbelieving spouse is content for you to live your faith. But you are not a slave to the unbeliever; you serve the Lord. “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). If you compromise your faith for the sake of your unbelieving mate, then you become a slave of men.
Paul uses the non-sinful conditions of circumcision and slavery to illustrate his point in 1 Corinthians 7:18-22. Whether circumcised or uncircumcised, one must keep the commands of God. If a slave, you are free in Christ; if free, you are Christ’s slave. This is also true regarding marriage to an unbeliever: “do not become slaves of men” (7:23). Instead, “remain with God in that state in which (you) were called” (7:24).
“Not under bondage” does not free a Christian for remarriage. Instead, it affirms that we are bondservants of Christ.
Scripture Reading:Matthew 25:31-40
1. Matt. 25:31-46:
Judgment scene of the nations before the Son of Man.
I. FIRST, WE MUST SEE JESUS FOR WHO HE IS, Heb. 2:9 (Jno. 6:40).
A. See His Humility, Death and
Exaltation to Save Us, Heb. 2:5-9; Phil. 2:5-11.
II. SEEING JESUS IN OTHERS.
A. We See Jesus When We Accept
and Do His Will Toward Others, Phil. 2:5.
III. LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE.
A. The Self-Absorbed Person does
not See Jesus, Rom. 12:16; 2 Tim. 3:2; 1 Ti. 6:17-19.
Preaching, Persecution and Perseverance (Acts 14)
Scripture Reading:Acts 14:21-28
1. Preaching the gospel
in Antioch of Pisidia had saved lost souls, but also embittered envious
people against the preachers and the gospel they preached (13:44-48).
I. PREACHING BOLDLY IN THE LORD, Acts 14:3.
A. Purposes of Gospel Preaching in
B. Persuasion of Gospel Preaching
II. FACING PERSECUTION FOR THE GOSPEL’S SAKE.
A. The Gospel Naturally Produces
Conflict and Persecution, Lk. 12:49-51; 2 Tim. 3:12; Lk. 6:26, 22-23; Phil.
III. PERSEVERANCE OF THE FAITHFUL, Acts 14:21-23.
A. Through Many Tribulations We
Enter the Kingdom of God, 14:22 (5-7, 19-20); 2 Tim. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:19-23; 2
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
"Professing to be wise, they became fools"
Joe R. Price
Religious people are less intelligent than non-believers according to research out of the University of Rochester (“Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, study finds”, Rob Waugh, Yahoo! News). We are told it is not necessarily that intelligent people “know better” than to believe in God; they simply don’t need God so much. (My question is: What’s the difference?) “For instance, intelligent people are more likely to be married, and more likely to be successful in life – and this may mean they ‘need’ religion less” (Ibid). Reliance upon self-intelligence while ignoring the intelligence of the Almighty doesn’t seem too bright to me! These more intelligent folks should reflect on the intelligence of Romans 1:20-21, and then see themselves in verse 22: “Professing to be wise, they became fools”.
And speaking of foolishness, the California governor just signed a transgender student law. The law allows students, who have decided their “authentic self” is different from their biological reality, “to choose which bathrooms they use and whether they participate in boy or girl sports” (“California Gov. Brown signs transgender-student bill”, FoxNews.com). (How many little boys in California will suddenly think they are little girls so they can visit the girl’s bathroom?!) Who is in charge here, children or adults? The responsibility for this outrageous “gender identity” nonsense falls squarely on the shoulders of parents, educators and lawmakers who advance the LGBT agenda and propaganda. Parents teach children who they are and who they should be; that is the job of parents (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). God made male and female, and with few exceptions, we are born one or the other (Gen. 1:26-28). That is an observable fact. And, what about the privacy of the little boys and girls who are not conflicted about their “authentic self”? Guess that gets lost, somehow, in the “greater good”! Gender neutral public restrooms are not far off!
There is a relentless movement in America to do away with gender roles. Why? Because God is rejected for the wisdom of this present age. God is renounced and the gender roles He set in place are cast aside (1 Cor. 11:3). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”; that is the real problem (Prov. 9:10). The “more intelligent” ones among us do not fear God. In truth, they are not at all wise. They foolishly reproach God and righteousness, hastening the ruin of themselves and of our nation (Prov. 14:34). Wisdom cries out, yet few listen to her. Fools hate her knowledge and do not fear God. Finally, “the complacency of fools will destroy them” (Prov. 1:32, 20-22, 29-33).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/19/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA