1 Corinthians 7:36
But if any man think that he behaves himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sins not: let them marry.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) But if any man think.—Here the writer turns to the duty of parents, and there is a further explanation to such that the previous expressions are not binding commandments, but apostolic advice. If the case arises that a parent thinks he would be acting unfairly towards his unmarried daughter (i.e., exposing her to temptation) by withholding his permission for her marriage, he ought to do as he feels inclined—i.e., let the lover and his daughter marry.

Let him do what he will.—This sentence does not—as it may at first sight in the English appear to do—imply that he may consent or not, and whichever course he adopts he does right. It is implied, in the earlier part of the sentence, that he thinks he ought to give his consent, and therefore that is what he wishes to do. Let him do that which he so wills, says St. Paul, and he need not in doing so fear that he does wrong.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38. But if any man — Who is a parent or guardian; think that he behaveth himself uncomely — That he should act indecently, or in a manner unbecoming his character, or unsuitably to her credit and reputation; toward his virgin — By hindering her from marriage; if she pass, &c. — Greek, εαν η υπερακμος, if she be above age, or of full age; and need so require Και ουτως οφειλει γινεσθαι, and it be necessary to be so done, whether the necessity ariseth from her conscience and inclination, or her being sought in marriage; let him do what he will — As he sees occasion, according to circumstances, either to marry her, or keep her single. Or, as the words may be rendered, Let him do what she inclineth to; he sinneth not — In complying with her inclination in such a case: let them — Let such virgin daughters, marry — See on 1 Corinthians 7:9. “As both the Jews and Gentiles reckoned celibacy dishonourable, some fathers might think it sinful to restrain their daughters from marriage; while others, following the opinion of the Essenes and rigid philosophers, fancied they acted properly in restraining them. The Corinthians, therefore, had judged it necessary to consult the apostle on that head.” Nevertheless — Or but; he that standeth steadfast, &c. — Who continueth firmly persuaded in his mind, that it is no sin in his daughter to remain unmarried; having no necessity — From her opinion, or inclination, or circumstances, to give her in marriage; and hath power over his own will — Which would incline him to desire the increase of his family, and the strengthening of it by new relations; or, who hath the direction of his own will — In that affair, being a freeman, and not a slave; and hath so decreed, &c. — Hath determined this in his mind; to keep his virgin — Unmarried, agreeably to her own inclination; doeth well — Doeth what is preferable. So then he that giveth her in marriage — When need so requires, doeth well — Doth what is lawful, and in his daughter’s case is, on the whole, proper, even in the present distress; but he that giveth her not doeth better — What is better for her, more for her spiritual improvement; because if she agrees to it, by keeping her in his own family unmarried, she will be exposed to fewer temptations than if she were married, and in a better condition for acquiring that knowledge of, and faith in, the gospel, with holiness in heart and life, which will enable her to adhere to and adorn the cause of Christ in a time of persecution.7:36-40 The apostle is thought to give advice here about the disposal of children in marriage. In this view, the general meaning is plain. Children should seek and follow the directions of their parents as to marriage. And parents should consult their children's wishes; and not reckon they have power to do with them, and dictate just as they please, without reason. The whole is closed with advice to widows. Second marriages are not unlawful, so that it is kept in mind, to marry in the Lord. In our choice of relations, and change of conditions, we should always be guided by the fear of God, and the laws of God, and act in dependence on the providence of God. Change of condition ought only to be made after careful consideration, and on probable grounds, that it will be to advantage in our spiritual concerns.That he behaveth himself uncomely - Acts an unbecoming part, imposes an unnecessary, painful, and improper constraint, crosses her inclinations which are in them selves proper.

Toward his virgin - His daughter, or his ward, or any unmarried female committed to his care.

If she pass the flower of her age - If she pass the marriageable age and remains unmarried. It is well known that in the east it was regarded as especially dishonorable to remain unmarried; and the authority of a father, therefore, might be the means of involving his daughter in shame and disgrace. When this would be the case, it would be wrong to prohibit her marriage.

And need so require - And she ought to be allowed to marry. If it will promote her happiness, and if she would be unhappy, and regarded as dishonored, if she remained in a state of celibacy.

Let him do what he will - He has the authority in the case, for in the east the authority resided with the father. He may either give her in marriage or not, as he pleases. But in this case it is advisable that she should marry.

He sinneth not - He errs not; he will do nothing positively wrong in the case. Marriage is lawful, and in this case it is advisable, and he may consent to it, for the reasons above stated, without error or impropriety.

36. behaveth … uncomely—is not treating his daughter well in leaving her unmarried beyond the flower of her age, and thus debarring her from the lawful gratification of her natural feeling as a marriageable woman.

need so require—if the exigencies of the case require it; namely, regard to the feelings and welfare of his daughter. Opposed to "having no necessity" (1Co 7:37).

let them marry—the daughter and her suitor.

But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely: there is a general and a particular uncomeliness; some things are uncomely with respect to all persons; of such things the apostle doth not here speak; but of a particular uncomeliness with respect to the circumstances of particular persons. Neither doth uncomely here signify a mere indecency and unhandsomeness, but such a behaviour as suiteth not the general rules of the gospel, which judgment is to be ruled by the circumstances of persons, as they more or less desire marriage.

If she pass the flower of her age; if she be of marriageable years, or rather, if she beginneth to grow old,

and need so require, and be desirous of marriage, so as the parent seeth reason to fear that, if he gives her not in marriage, she will so dispose of herself without asking her father’s advice or leave, or be exposed, possibly, to worse temptations: which two things seem to interpret that term, if need so require.

Let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry; in such a case as this a Christian parent shall not sin, if he disposeth her in marriage let her marry to such a person as she loveth, and her parent seeth proper for her. He speaks in the plural number because marriage is between two persons. The reason of this determination is, because the apostle, in his former discourse, had no where condemned a married estate during the present distress of things, as sinful or unlawful, but only as inexpedient, or not so expedient as a single life during the present distress; he had before determined, 1 Corinthians 7:9, that it was better to marry than to burn. Now no inexpediency of a thing can balance what is plainly sinful. If therefore the case be such, that a man or woman must marry, or sin, through marriage brings with it more care and trouble, yet it is to be preferred before plain sinning. But if any man think,.... This some understand of a man that is engaged, or betrothed to a virgin, and protracts marriage, who may use his prudence in consummating it, if he pleases, for any thing the apostle has said to the contrary: but it is better to understand it of a parent, or one that has the care and guardianship of virgins; if such an one is of opinion,

that he behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin: by exposing her to contempt and reproach, in retaining her at home, and not giving her in marriage when at proper age for such a state; it being reckoned reproachful to be at, or past the age of marriage, or to be in years, and not married; or by so doing lay her under temptation to do that which is uncomely, to commit fornication, which would be uncomely, both to him, and to her; and such a tendency has living in a single state, contrary to inclination. The apostle may have respect to a Jewish tradition founded upon the supposed sense of Leviticus 19:29 "do not prostitute thy daughter to cause her to be a whore" (s).

"Says R. Eliezer, this is he who marries his daughter to an old man. Says R. Akiba, (who was contemporary with the apostle,) this is he who detains his daughter at home when she is marriageable.''

If she pass the flower of her age; that is, one that is arrived to years of maturity, is ripe for marriage, and is what the Jewish doctors call who, according to them, was one of twelve years and a half old (t), at which age virgins were judged fit to marry: hence that saying of theirs (u).

"if thy daughter, "is ripe", or come to the flower of her age, make thy servant free and give her to him.''

Moreover, according to their canons, such an one was no longer under her father's power; for so runs the canon (w),

"hrgbv Nwyk "when she is at the flower of her age", she is no more under her father's power:''

her father cannot make void her vows, though a husband can (x):

and need so require: that she be given in marriage to a man; if she has not the gift of continence; if she is in danger of falling into the sin of fornication, and the father or guardian are sensible of this:

let him do what he will, he sinneth not; he is under no obligation by what the apostle had said to detain her in a single life; he may give her in marriage if he pleases: he may

do what she will, as it may be rendered; comply with her inclination and desire in marrying her to some person; in doing which, neither he nor she will break any law of God, and so not sin therein:

let them marry; let parents marry their children when this is the case; let the young men and young women marry who are so disposed; there is no reason why they should not; there is nothing contrary to it in the word of God, nor in the advice of the apostle; nay, according to him, it was much better to marry than to burn, or to be exposed to any snare and temptation.

(s) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 76. 1.((t) Maimon. Hilchot Ishot, c. 2. sect. 2.((u) T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 113. 1.((w) Misn. Nidda, c. 5. sect. 7. (x) Misn. Nedarim, c. 10. sect. 2. T. Bab. Nedarim, fol. 70. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Nedarim, c. 11, sect. 7.

{17} But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he {h} sinneth not: let them marry.

(17) Now he turns himself to the parents, in whose power and authority their children are, warning them that according to the former doctrine they consider what is proper and convenient for their children. That they neither deprive them of the necessary remedy against incontinency, nor force them to marry, if neither their will does lead them, nor any necessity urges them. And again he praises virginity, but of itself, and not in all.

(h) He does well: for so he expounds it in 1Co 7:38.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 7:36. Δέ] introduces something opposed to the εὔσχημον.

ἀσχημονεῖν] means ἀσχήμονα εἶναι (comp εὐσχημονεῖν = εὐσχήμονα εἶναι, Plat. Legg. v. p. 732 C), and may therefore be explained either in the active sense (to Acts dishonourably, conduct oneself in a dishonourable way, Plato, Pol. vi. p. 506 D, Theaet. p. 165 B; Xen. de re eq. xi. 6; Herodian, v. 8. 16; Lucian, de sacrif. 7), or in the passive sense (to have dishonour, Eur. Hec. 407; Herodian, viii. 3. 21; Deuteronomy 25:5; Ezekiel 16:7). The former of the two interpretations is the common and the correct one, namely: if any one thinks that he is acting dishonourably towards his virgin (daughter or ward), i.e. if he thinks that he is bringing disgrace upon her; which means, however, not the disgrace of old maidenhood (see Soph. Ant. 810 ff., O. Rex. 1492 ff.; Eur. Hel. 291; comp Sir 42:9; and Lennep, a[1258] Phalar. p. 362), but the dishonour of seduction, which the father or guardian fears he may give occasion to by refusing permission to marry; see the following context (against Theodoret: ὁ δὲ τὴν ἀγαμίαν ἀκοσμίαν ὑπολαμβάνων, Theophylact, al[1259]). Taking it in the passive sense, we have: if any one thinks to have disgrace in respect of his virgin (from seduction, or her being left unwedded). So in substance the Syriac (“despici”), Grotius, Mosheim, Zachariae, Heydenreich, Pott, Neander; comp Hofmann, who holds that what is here expressed is the matter of fact of its being the father’s fault that the daughter remains unmarried. But even apart from the consideration that ἀσχημ. is most commonly found in the active meaning (see also 1 Corinthians 13:5), there is this against the second rendering, that ἐπί with the accusative takes for granted that ἀσχημονεῖν implies activity, since it states the direction in which it is exerted (comp ἀσχημονεῖν εἴς τινα, Dion. Hal. ii. 26).

νομίζει] “Si perspecto filiae suae ingenio judicet, coelibatui non esse aptam,” Calvin.

ἐὰν ᾖ ὑπέρακμ.] is the case, in connection with which that εἰ δέ τις ἀσχημονεῖν, κ.τ.λ[1262] is supposed: in case she pass her time, pass the highest point of her youthful bloom. As regards the ἀκμή itself, see Plato, Rep. p. 460 E: ἆρʼ οὖν σοι ξυνδοκεῖ μέτριος χρόνος ἀκμῆς τὰ εἴκοσιν ἔτη γυναικί, ἀνδρὶ δὲ τὰ τριάκοντα, and Stallbaum, a[1263] hunc loc.; other definitions of the age may be seen in Locella, a[1264] Xen. Eph. p. 145. Paul’s opinion is, that before the ἀκμή is reached the ἈΣΧΗΜΟΝΕῖΝΝΟΜΊΖΕΙ is not likely to take place with the father or guardian of the girl; but, judging from experience, he conceived that the maiden who is ὙΠΈΡΑΚΜΟς would be more ready to yield to a lover, if she is not allowed to marry. Respecting the word ὙΠΈΡΑΚΜ., which is not found in ancient Greek, see Eustath. Il. i. p. 11, 31; Od. p. 1915, 29. The classical writers use instead of it the perfect of παρακμάζειν, as in Xen. Mem. iv. 4. 23; or the adjective παρακμαστική, as in Galen, VI. p. 312, 14.

ΚΑῚ ΟὝΤΩς ὈΦΕΊΛΕΙ ΓΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ] depends on the ΕἸ:[1265] and if so (namely, that the virgin marry), it must be. Thus there is added to the subjective condition of things, expressed in δέ τις ἀσχημ. Κ.Τ.Λ[1266], the corresponding (not heterogeneous, as Hofmann objects) objective condition on the part of the maiden, whose natural temperament makes marriage needful. It is quite akin to the German phrase: und wenn’s nicht anders sein kann [and if it cannot be otherwise]; the expression has a somewhat euphemistic turn, as referring to the daughter’s inclination to marriage, which determines the ὀφείλει. According to Rückert, κ. οὕτ. ὀφ. γίν. depends upon ἐάν: and she must remain so (i.e. unwedded). But the indicative ὀφείλει is decisive against this rendering; and what an amount of straining is needed to make γίνεσθαι, equivalent to remain! for she is unwedded, and, if she so remains, cannot become so.

ὃ θέλει ποιείτω] not: let him do what pleases him (so ordinarily; but this is contrary to the context; see what follows, and the preceding ὀφείλει), but: let him do what he intends (to give his virgin in marriage). Theodoret puts it well: τὸ δοκοῦν πραττέτω.

γαμείτωσαν] namely, the virgin and he who wishes to have her. It is arbitrary, considering the general form of the whole discussion (1 Corinthians 7:25), to maintain, as Rückert does, that the plural refers to a particular couple respecting whom the Corinthians had asked a question. “Wolf, Heydenreich, and others adopt a needlessly harsh assumption, that Paul passes here from the singular to the plural (the virgins). Billroth again propounds the very unlikely view that “the youths” should be supplied here as the subject, and αὐτήν as the object.

[1258] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1259] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[1262] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1263] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1264] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1265] Theophylact begins the apodosis with καὶ οὕτως: γενέσθω, φησὶ, καὶ οὕτω. πῶς; ὃ θέλει ποιείτω. In that case κ. οὕτως ὀφ. γίν. would be quite superfluous, the καί deprived of its reference, and οὐχ ἁμαρτ. would not suit the obligatory ὀφείλει. Similarly Hofmann, who follows the same view, paraphrasing it thus: “This too (?) is a necessity arising from the nature of the case, that he do what he will.” Laurent also makes καὶ οὕτως ὀφ. γίν. the apodosis, expounding it to mean: so it must be in this case also. The clauses which follow he considers explanatory; and καί must go back for its reference all the way to ver. 9 : not merely in the case of the πυροῦσθκι.

[1266] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 7:36-40. § 24. FREEDOM TO MARRY. The question of the marriage of Cor[1201] Christian maidens Paul has discussed on grounds of expediency. The narrow earthly horizon, the perils of the Christian lot, the division between religious and domestic duty esp. probable under these conditions, render the married state undesirable (1 Corinthians 7:28-34). The Ap. does not on these grounds forbid marriage,—to do so would entangle some of his readers perilously; he recommends what appears to him the course generally fitting, and advantageous for their spiritual interests (1 Corinthians 7:35 f.). If the parent’s judgment points the other way, or if circumstances are such as to enforce consent, then so let it be (1 Corinthians 7:36). But where the father can thus decide without misgiving, he will do well to keep his daughter at home (1 Corinthians 7:37 f.). Similarly in the case of the Christian widow: she is free to marry “in the Lord”; but, in Paul’s decided opinion, she will be happier to refrain (1 Corinthians 7:39 f.). The Ap. gives inspired advice, and the bias of his own mind is clearly seen; but he finds no sin in marriage; he guards sensitively the rights of individual feeling and conscience, and leaves the decision in each case to the responsible parties.

[1201] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.36. his virgin] i.e. his daughter. The advice here given is to parents. In St Paul’s time, and in most continental countries now, it is the parents who decide on the marriage of their children. In France, and in some other foreign countries, the young people very often do not even see one another before they are contracted. But St Paul thinks it might in some cases be ‘unseemly’ conduct on the part of a parent to refuse a proposal of marriage for a daughter who desired to serve God in the married state.

if she pass the flower of her age] Rather, If she have fully attained it.

and need so require] Literally, and so it ought to be; that is, if it be fair and reasonable that the wish of both parties should be carried out, and it would be harsh to act otherwise. Some think that the reference is to the disgrace incurred by a maiden, especially a Jewish maiden who had passed the age of maturity, and was still unmarried—a disgrace which also attached to a Jewish father who had not provided a suitable marriage for her. Cf. Sir 7:25, “Marry thy daughter, and thou hast performed a weighty matter.” See also Sir 42:9. The Rabbins advised rather that a slave should be released as a husband for the daughter, than that she should remain unmarried. Others, again think that the danger of sin (1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:9) is here referred to. See Sir 42:10.

let them marry] i.e. the daughter and her lover.1 Corinthians 7:36. Τὶς, any man) a parent.—ἀσχημονεῖν) viz. ἑαυτὸν.—τὴν παρθένον αὐτοῦ) a virgin, his daughter.—νομίζει, thinks) Antithesis to, I think (suppose), 1 Corinthians 7:26.—εἂν ᾖ ὑπέρακμος) if she pass, ἀκμὴν, the flower, of her age without marriage, as it were despised by suitors.—ὀφείλει, it so ought to be [need so require, Engl. V.] [because he cannot see how better to consult the advantage of his daughter.—V. g.], having no necessity, in the following verse is the antithesis.—οὐχʼ ἁμαρτάνει, he sinneth not) The matter is sweetly expressed by short clauses.Verse 36. - Uncomely. If any father thinks, by keeping his virgin daughter unmarried, he is acting in a way which may cause sin or scandal, then let him permit her to marry her suitor. The word "uncomeliness" is terribly illustrated in Romans 1:27. (For "comely," see 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 12:24.) His virgin. Obviously a daughter or ward. Pass the flower of her age. If she be more than twenty years old, which the ancients regarded as the acme of the woman's life. And need so require. If there be some moral obligation or necessity in the case. Let them marry. The "them" means the virgin and her unmarried lover. Behaveth himself uncomely (ἀσχημονεῖν)

Acts unbecomingly, either by throwing temptation in the daughter's way by constraining her to remain unmarried, or by exposing her to the disgrace which was supposed to attach to the unmarried state. But Paul, in his preceding words, has regarded the latter consideration as set aside by the peculiar circumstances of the time.

His virgin (τὴν παρθένον αὐτοῦ)

Rev. properly inserts daughter. It is an unusual expression for daughter. Xenophon uses it with the word θυγάτηρ daughter ("Cyropaedia," iv., 6, 9), and Oedipus speaks of his two daughters as my maidens (Sophocles, "Oedipus Tyrannus," 1462)

Pass the flower of her age (ᾐ ὑπέρακμος)

Rev., correctly, be past. Beyond the bloom of life. Plato fixes the point at twenty years ("Republic," 460). Diogenes Laertius says: "An undowered maiden is a heavy burden to a father after she has outrun the flower of her age" ("Lycon," v., 65)

Let them marry

Evidently there was assumed to be another in the case beside the father and the virgin.

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