Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.'Chap. 7:1-40.] Reply to their enquiries respecting marriage; by which occasion is given for various collateral instructions and commands. In order to the right understanding of this chapter, it will be well to remember, that the enquiries in the letter of the Corinthians appear to have been made in disparagement of marriage, and to have brought into doubt whether it were not better to avoid it where uncontracted, and break it off where contracted, or this last at all events where one of the parties was an unbeliever. These questions he answers, vv. 1-16: and puts on their true grounds, vv. 17-24. They appear also to have asked respecting virgins, what was their duty and that of their parents, as to their contracting marriage. This he discusses in its various aspects of duty and Christian expediency, vv. 25-38. Then he concludes with an answer and advice, respecting the liberty of a woman to marry after the death of her husband.
The whole is written under the strong impression (see on this, notes, Acts 2:20; Romans 13:11, and 2Co_5: and Prolegg. to Vol. III. ch. 5 § iv. 5-10) of the near approach of the end of this state of things (vv. 29-31), and as advising them under circumstances in which persecution, and family division for the Gospel’s sake, might at any time break up the relations of life. The precepts therefore and recommendations contained in the chapter are to be weighed, as those in ch. 8 al., with reference to change of circumstances; and the meaning of God’s Spirit in them with respect to the subsequent ages of the Church, to be sought by careful comparison and inference, not rashly assumed and misapplied. I may also premise, that in hardly any portion of the Epistles has the hand of correctors and interpolators of the text been busier, than here. The absence of all ascetic tendency from the Apostle’s advice, on the point where asceticism was busiest and most mischievous, was too strong a testimony against it, to be left in its original clearness. In consequence, the textual critic finds himself in this chapter sometimes much perplexed between different readings, and in danger of on the one hand adopting, on overwhelming manuscript authority, corrections of the early ascetics,—and on the other excluding, from a too cautious retention of the rec. text, the genuine but less strongly attested simplicity of the original.
1, 2.] Concession of the expediency (where possible) of celibacy, but assertion of the practical necessity of marriage, as a remedy against fornication.
1.] δέ, transitional, passing on to another subject.
καλὸν.…] not, morally good: for in ver. 28 expressly not sin, but inexpediency, is the reason for not marrying: nor good in the sense ὑπερέχον, of as Jerome, adv. Jovin. i. 7, vol. ii. p. 246, ‘si bonum est mulierem non tangere, malum ergo est tangere:’ but expedient, generally: ‘more for a man’s best interests under present circumstances:’ Angl. ‘it is the best way,’ in the colloquial sense: so also throughout the chapter: see the word qualified ver. 26, καλὸν … διὰ τὴν ἐνεστῶαν ἀνάγκην. ἀνθρώπῳ
ἀνθρώπῳ] though of necessity by what follows, the man only is intended, yet ἀνθρώπῳ does not here or in reff. = ἀνδρί, but as Meyer remarks, regards the man not merely in his sexual but in his human capacity. Thus in its deeper reference, it would embrace the other sex also.
απτεσθαι] so in reff.; and in Latin tangere, attingere, virgo intacta. See examples in Wetst. This expression is obviously here used in the widest sense, without present regard to the difference between the lawful and unlawful use of the woman. The idea that the assertion applies to abstinence from intercourse in the already married (see again below), is altogether a mistake.
2.] The former course is expedient—would avoid much trouble’ in the flesh:’ but as a general rule it may not be, seeing that for a more weighty reason the contrary course is to be recommended. But on account of [the] fornications (the many instances of fornication current. The plur. of an abstract noun implies repetition, or varieties of the occurrence: so Herod. vii. 158, ὑμῖν μεγάλαι ὠφελίαι τε κ. ἐπαυρέσεις γεγόνασι: iii. 40, ἐμοὶ δὲ αἱ σαὶ μεγάλαι εὐτυχίαι οὐκ ἀρέσκθυσι, see reff., and Kühner, Gramm. ii. 28 (§ 408, γ)) let each man possess her own wife, and let each woman possess his own husband. The ἐχέτω is (1) not concessive, but imperative; not ‘habere liceat,’ but ‘habeto.’ So the other expressions, γαμησάτωσαν ver. 9, μενέτω ver. 11, &c. (2) not here in the sense of ‘utatur, eigue commisceatur,’ as Estius, al., which does not come into consideration till the next verse. (3) not emphatic, let each retain, according to the mistaken idea mentioned on ver. 1, that he is speaking to the married, who though they are not to cohabit are yet to remain together.
Had either of the two latter senses been meant, the sentence would rather have stood ἐχέτω ἕκ. τ. ἑαυτ. γυναῖκα, κ. ἐχέτω ἑκάστη τ. ἴδ. ἄνδρ.
With regard to the assertion of Rückert, that the Apostle here gives a very low estimate of marriage, as solely a remedy against fornication, the true answer is, that Paul does not either here, or in this chapter at all, give any estimate of marriage in the abstract. His estimate, when he does, is to be found Ephesians 5:25-32.
3, 4.] The duty of cohabitation incumbent on the married. This point was in all probability raised in the letter of the Corinthians. The Apostle’s command is a legitimate following out of διὰ τὰς πορνείας above.
3. τὴν ὀφειλήν] ‘debitum tori’. The rec. was perhaps an euphemism (we have also the varieties, ὀφειλομένην τιμὴν, Chrysostom once: ὀφ. τιμὴν καὶ εὔνοιαν in the ms. 40) for the same thing. Meyer will not concede this, but thinks it arose from a mistaken interpretation of ὀφειλή as meaning merely ‘benevolentia:’ thinking that not εὔνοια, but φιλότης would be the word in the other case. But some of the later examples in Wetst. seem to bear out this meaning of εὔνοια.
4.] The axiom is introduced without a γάρ, as frequently.
τοῦ ἰδίου … οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει] ‘sui, cum potestatem non habet, elegans facit paradoxon.’ Bengal. The ground of this being another’s while they remain their own, is to be found in the oneness of body, in which the marriage state places them.
5.] ἀποστερεῖτε is applied by Meyer to τῆς ἐξουσίας,—by Billroth, al., to τῆς ὀφειλῆς; De Wette suggests τοῦ σώματος, but prefers, and rightly, leaving its reference indefinite, to be supplied in the reader’s mind.
εἰ μή τι, unless perchance (reff.).
ἄν] “The verb is sometimes omitted after this particle, but always so that it can be supplied from a foregoing clause. So σὲ δʼ ἄλλη γυνὴ κεκτήσεται, σώφρων μὲν οὐκ ἂν μᾶλλον, εὐτυχὴς δʼ ἴσως.” Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 330.
ἐκ, according to: the mutual agreement being the ground, and the measure, of the act.
ἵνα σχ.] in order that ye may have undisturbed leisure for prayer. The pres. σχολάζητε of the rec. would refer to the general habit, and would thus make τῇ προς., ‘your ordinary prayers,’—being thus inconsistent with the direction given πρὸς καιρόν: the aorist expresses this temporary purpose, and shews that the prayer meant is not ordinary but extraordinary,—seasons of urgent supplication.
Both the alteration to the present and the addition of τῇ νηστείᾳ καί, shew how such passages as this have been tampered with by the ascetics: see also Mark 9:29.
ἦτε,—not συνέρχησθε as it has been amended (nor -εσθε as it has been reamended), because εἶναι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό in this sense is the normal state of the married. For the expression see reff.
The subjunc. still depends on ἵνα—the aim of the temporary separation is not that you may keep apart, but for a certain end, and then that you may be united again.
ἵνα μὴ πειρ.] Purpose of the re-union stated, by that which might happen did it not take place. πειράζῃ now is present, not aor., as betokening the danger of a state of abstinence if continued.
ἀκρασία here, not that from ἄκρᾱτος (˘‾˘‾),—which signifies a bad mixture, as ἄκρ. ἀέρος, ‘insalubrity of the air:’ but that from ἀκρᾰτής (˘‾˘˘‾),—incontinence; see reff.
διὰ τ. ἀκρ. ὑμ., on account of your incontinence,—but hardly, as Meyer seems to think, with allusion to the proverbial fault of the Corinthians in this particular, which would be more definitely expressed, were it intended. The ὑμῶν is necessary to carry out the form of the sentence, corresponding to ὑμᾶς above.
6.] But this I say by way of allowance (for you), not by way of command.
τοῦτο refers, not to ver. 2, as Beza, Grot., and De Wette, because the precept there given depends on a reason also given, διὰ τὰς πορνείας, from the nature of which reason it must be κατʼ ἐπιταγήν: nor to the whole since ver. 2, as Billroth, Rückert, al.,—because the precept in ver. 3 depends on the general truth in ver. 4, and is also a command: nor to πρὸς καιρόν, as Theophyl.:—nor as the ascetics, , , Jerome, Estius (also Calvin), to ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἦτε, because both these are but subordinate members of the preceding sentence:—still less to what follows, as Rosenm., al.:—but, as the context (ver. 7) shews, to the whole recommendation given in ver. 5. This recommendation all depended on the possibility of their being tempted by incontinence: he gives it not then as a command in all cases, but as an allowance for those to whom he was writing, whom he knew, and assumes, to be thus tempted. The meaning ‘by permission,’ E. V., is ambiguous, appearing as if it meant by permission of the Lord (to say it): that given by Hammond, al., κατὰ τὴν ἐμὴν γνώμην, is philologically inadmissible.
7.] I rather (δέ) wish that all men were as I myself also am (καί comparandi, so Xen. Anab. ii. l. 22, καὶ ἡμῖν ταὐτὰ δοκεῖ ἅπερ καὶ βασιλεῖ. See Hartung, Partikell. i. 126)—viz., ἐν ἐγκρατείᾳ, which Chrys. seems to have read in the text; see below on ver. 8.
ἀλλὰ ἕκαστος … said in the most general way, as a milder expression of ‘all have not the gift of continence.’
οὕτως … οὕτως] both are said generally, not one in the way in which I have it (of continence), another in the way of marrying (i.e. though he have not this, and be therefore better married, yet has some other), which should be ἐκείνως,—but, one thus, and another thus,—i.e. ‘one in one way, another in another.’
8, 9.] Advice to the unmarried, that it is best so to remain, but better to marry than be inflamed with lust.
8. λέγε δέ] taking up the former λέγω, ver. 6, and bringing this advice under the same category as ver. 7, viz. his own wish that all were as himself. The stress is on λέγω, not on τοῖς ἀγ. κ. ταῖς χ., which would in that case be placed first, as τοῖς γεγαμηκόσιν below.
τοῖς ἀγάμοις, the unmarried, of both sexes: not as usually interpreted, widowers, or unmarried males alone: this is shewn by the contrasted term γεγαμηκόσιν, which embraces (see vv. 10, 11) both sexes.
καὶ ταῖς χήραις may be added as singling out widows especially;—or more probably, because τοῖς ἀγάμοις would naturally be taken as those who never were married, and thus widows would not be understood to be included.
καλόν, see on ver. 1, it is good for them, i.e. ‘their best way.’
ὡς κἀγώ] i.e. ἄγαμος. This brings the Apostle’s own circumstances more clearly before us than ver. 7, which might be misunderstood: and there can be little doubt from this, that he never was married. Grot. says, “ex h. l. non improbabiliter colligitur, Paulo fuisse uxorem, quod et Clemens Alex. putat, sed cum hæc scriberentur, mortuam.” But this rests on the mistaken interpretation of ἀγάμοις noticed above. The passage of Alex. (Strom. iii. [6.] 53, p. 535 P., alluded to in Euseb. iii. 30) is grounded on Paul’s having in a certain epistle addressed τὴν αὐτοῦ σύζυγον, ἣν οὐ περιεκόμιζε, διὰ τὸ τῆς ὑπηρεσίας εὐσταλές. But the words σύνζυγε γνήσιε, Philippians 4:3, certainly have no reference to a wife: see note there.
9.] but if they are incontinent … οὐκ must be joined not with εἰ, which would require μή, but with the verb. So reff. and Soph. Aj. 1131, εἰ τοὺς θανόντας οὐκ ἐᾷς θάπτειν παρών, ‘vetas.’ See other examples in Hartung, Partikellehre, ii. 122 f.
ἐγκρατεύω is said by Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 44, not to be found except in the LXX and N. T. But both Phrynichus and Thom. Mag. say ἀκρατεύεσθαι μηδαμῶς εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ οὐκ ἐγκρατεύεσθαι. See in Wetst.
γαμησάτ.] Lobeck, in Phrynichus, p. 742, says, “post ἔγημα (ut ἔγηρα) ἐγάμησα invaluit quod non solum in N. T. libris, ut quidam putaverunt, sed etiam in ipsa Græcia reperitur, auctore, ut videtur, Menandro: ἐγάμησεν ἣν ἐβουλόμην ἐγώ, nihil impediente pedum modulatione quominus usitato uteretur aoristo.”
ποροῦσθαι] “melius nuberent quam urerentur, id est, quam occulta flamma concupiscentiæs in ipsa conscientia vastarentur.” de sancta Virginitate, 34, vol. vi. p. 415.
10, 11.] Prohibition of separation after marriage; or in case of separation, of another marriage. These γεγαμηκότες, as the ἄγαμοι and χῆραι above, are all Christians. The case of mixed marriage he treats ver. 12 ff. They are those already married. 10. οὐκ ἐγώ, ἀλλὰ ὁ κύριος
10. οὐκ ἐγώ, ἀλλὰ ὁ κύριος] Ordinarily, the Apostle (ἐγώ) writes, commands, gives his advice, under conscious inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. See ver. 40. He claims expressly. ch. 14:37, that the things ἃ γράφω ὑμῖν should be recognized as κυρίου (ἐντολή). But here he is about to give them a command resting, not merely on inspired apostolic authority, great and undoubted as that was, but on that of the Lord himself. So that all supposed distinction between the Apostle’s own writing of himself and of the Lord, is quite irrelevant. He never wrote of himself, being a vessel of the Holy Ghost, who ever spoke by him to the church. The distinction between that which is imperative, and that which is optional, that which is more and that which is less weighty in his writings, is to be made by the cautious and believing Christian, from a wise appreciation of the subject-matter, and of the circumstances under which it was written. All is the outpouring of the Spirit, but not all for all time, nor all on the primary truths of the faith.
Not I, but the Lord, viz. in ref. Matt. See also Mark 10:12, where the woman’s part is brought out. That it occupies the principal place here, is perhaps because the Christian women at Corinth may have been the most ready to make the separation: or perhaps, because the woman, from her place in the matrimonial union, may be more properly said ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς χωρισθῆναι than the man ἀπὸ γυναικὸς χωρισθῆναι.
χωρισθ., be separated, whether by formal divorce or otherwise; the καταλλαγήτω below, is like this, an absolutepassive; undefined whether by her own or her husband’s doing.
11.] ἐάν to καταλλαγήτω is parenthetical. It supposes a case of actual separation, contrary of course to Christ’s command: if such have really taken place (καί, veritably: see note on 2Corinthians 5:3, and Hartung, Partikell. i. 132), the additional sin of a new marriage (Matthew 5:32) must not be committed, but the breach healed as soon as possible.
καταλλ.] see above on χωρισθῇ.
κ. ἄνδρ. γυν. μὴ ἀφ.] The Apostle does not add the qualification παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας Matthew 5:32 (19:9), not found in Mark 10:11 or Luke 16:18. But we cannot hence infer that he was not aware of it. The rule, not the exception, here was in his mind: and after what had been before said on the subject of fornication, the latter would be understood as a matter of course.
12-16.] Directions for such Christians as were already married to Heathens. Such a circumstance must not be a ground per se of separation,—and why: but if the unbelieving party wished to break off the union, let it be so.
12.] τοῖς λοιποῖς, the rest, perhaps in respect of their letter of enquiry,—the only ones not yet dealt with. At all events, the meaning is plain, being those who are involved in mixed marriages with unbelievers.
ἐγώ, οὐχ ὁ κύρ.] I, i.e. I Paul, in my apostolic office, under the authority of the Holy Spirit (see above on ver. 10), not the Lord, i.e. not Christ by any direct command spoken by Him: it was a question with which He did not deal, in His recorded discourses. In the right arrangement of the words (txt) the stress is not on ἐγώ, but on λέγω: But to the rest I say (I, not the Lord).
συνευδοκεῖ presupposes his own wish to continue united.
αὕτη, not αὐγή, and οὗτος, not αὐτός, below,—see reff.
13.] The change of construction καὶ γυνὴ ἥτις … καὶ οὗτος …, is found frequently with καί: so Il. α. 78, ἦ γὰρ ὀΐομαι ἄνδρα χολωσέμεν, ὃς μέγα πάντων " Ἀργείων κρατέει καί οἱ πείθονται Ἀχαιοί. See reff., and Kühner, ii. 526 (§ 799).
Meyer remarks, that the Apostle uses the vox media ἀφιέναι here, of both parties, the husband and wife, not ἀπολύειν (as Matthew 5:31, &c.), which would apply only to the husband. In the E. V. this identity of terms is unfortunately neglected. The same word, part from, would well have expressed ἀφιέτω in both cases.
By the Greek as well as Roman customs the wife had the power of effecting a divorce. At Athens,—when the divorce originated with the wife, she was said ἀπολείπειν the house of her husband: when with the husband, ἀποπεμπέσθαι. At Rome, the only exception to the wife’s liberty of effecting a divorce appears to have been in the case of a freedwoman who had married her patronus. See Smith’s Dict, of Gr. and Rom. Antt. artt. Divortium, and ἀπολείψεως δίκη. Olsh. thinks that Paul puts both alternatives, because he regards the Christian party as the superior one in the marriage. But, as Meyer remarks, this would be inconsistent with the fundamental law of marriage, Genesis 3:16, and with the Apostle’s own view of it, ch. 11:3, 14:34; Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:23; 1Timothy 2:11, 1Timothy 2:12.
14.] Ground of the above precept.
ἡγίασται] The meaning will best be apprehended by remembering (1) that holiness, under the Gospel, answers to dedication to God under the law; (2) that the ἡγιασμένοι under the Gospel are the body of Christian men, dedicated to God, and thus become His in a peculiar manner: (3) that this being so, things belonging to, relatives inseparably connected with, the people of God are said to be hallowed by their ἁγιότης: so Theophylact, οὐχ ὅτι ἅγιος γίνεται ὁ Ἕλλην. οὐ γὰρ εἶπεν ὅτι ἅγιός ἐστιν· ἀλλʼ, ἡγίασται· τουτέστι, τῇ ἁγιότητι τοῦ πιστοῦ νενίκηται. Chrysostom well shews the distinction between this case and that in ch. 6:15, that being a connexion κατὰ τὴν ἀσέβειαν,—in and under the condition of the very state, in which the other party is impure: whereas this is a connexion according to a pure and holy ordinance, by virtue of which, although the physical unity in both cases is the same, the purity overbears the impurity.
ἐν γῇ γ., ἐν τῷ ἀδελ.] in, i.e. his or her ἁγιότης is situated in, rests in, the other (see reff.: and note, ch. 6:2).
ἐπεὶ ἄρα] as ref., but here elliptically: since in that case (i.e. as understood, the other alternative,—the non-hallowing).
ἐστιν, not ἂν εἴη, nor ἦν [E. V.], but pres.: because the supposed case is assumed, and the ind. pres. used of what has place on its assumption.
ἅγια] as ἡγίασται above: holy to the Lord. On this fact, Christian children being holy, the argument is built. This being so,—they being hallowed, because the children of Christians,—it follows that that union out of which they sprung, must as such have the same hallowed character; i.e. that the insanctity of the one parent is in it overborne by the sanctity of the other. The fact of the children of Christians, God’s spiritual people, being holy, is tacitly assumed as a matter of course, from the precedent of God’s ancient covenant people. With regard to the bearing of this verse on the subject of Infant Baptism,—it seems to me to have none, further than this: that it establishes the analogy, so far, between Christian and Jewish children, as to shew, that if the initiatory rite of the old covenant was administered to the one,—that of the new covenant, in so far as it was regarded as corresponding to circumcision, would probably as a matter of course be administered to the other. Those, as Meyer, who deny any such inference, forget, as it seems to me, that it is not personal holiness which is here predicated of the children, any more than of the unbelieving husband or wife, but holiness of dedication, by strict dependence on one dedicated. Notwithstanding this ἁγιότης, the Christian child is individually born in sin and a child of wrath; and individually needs the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, just as much as the Jewish child needed the typical purifying of circumcision, and the sacrificial atonements of the law. So that in this ἁγιότης of the Christian child there is nothing inconsistent with the idea, nor with the practice, of Infant Baptism.
On νῦν δέ, see note, ch. 5:11.
15.] But if the wish for separation (implied by the present χωρίζεται,—is for being separated, see Winer, edn. 6, § 40. 2. a, and compare John 10:32, John 10:13:6, John 10:27) proceed from the side of the unbeliever (emphasis on ὁ ἄπιστος), let him (or her) depart (be separated off).
οὐ δεδούλ.] οὐκ ἔχει ἀνάγκην ὁ πιστὸς ἢ ἡ πιστὴ ἐν τοῖς ἀπίστοις τοιαύτην, οἵα αὐτῷ ἐπίκειται ἐπὶ τῶν πιστῶν. ἐκεῖ μὲν γὰρ παντὶ τρόπῳ, χωρὶς λόγῳ πορνείας, οὐκ ἔξεστιν ἀπʼ ἀλλήλων τοὺς συναφθέντας χωριαθῆναι· ἐνταῦθα δέ, ἂν μὲν συνευδοκῇ τὸ ἄπιστον μέρος τῷ πιστῷ συνοικεῖν, δεῖ μὴ λύειν τὸ συνοικέσιον. ἂν δὲ στασιάζῃ καὶ τὴν λύσιν ἐκεῖνος ποιῇ, οὐ δεδούλωται ὁ πιστὸς εἰς τὸ μὴ χωρισθῆναι. Photius, in Œcumenius.
ἐν τοῖς τοιούτοις may be taken as masc., in the case of such persons,—as above by :—but the ἐν seems harsh; it is better therefore to render it, in such cases. ἐν δὲ εἰρ.
ἐν δὲ εἰρ.] Not = εἰς εἰρήνην [E. V.], but signifying the moral element in which we are called to be: see reff. and ver. 22 below.
The meaning is, ‘let the unbeliever depart, rather than by attempting to retain the union, endanger that peace of household and peace of spirit, which is part of the calling of a Christian.’
Observe, (1) that there is no contradiction, in this licence of breaking off such a marriage, to the command of our Lord in Matthew 5:32,—because the Apostle expressly asserts, ver. 12, that our Lord’s words do not apply to such marriages as are here contemplated. They were spoken to those within the covenant, and as such apply immediately to the wedlock of Christians (ver. 10), but not to mixed marriages.
De Wette denies this, and holds that Paul is speaking only of the Christian’s duty in cases where the marriage is already virtually broken off,—and by his remarks on Matthew 5:32, seems to take πορνεία in a wide sense, and to regard it as a justifiable cause of divorce because it is such a breaking off. This however appears hardly consistent with ver. 12; for, if it were so, there would be a command of the Lord regarding this case. At all events, we may safely assume that where the Apostle is distinctly referring to our Lord’s command, and supplying what it did not contain, there can be no real inconsistency: if such appear to be, it must be in our apprehension, not in his words. (2) That the question of re-marrying after such a separation, is here left open: ou this, see note on Matthew 5:32. (3) That not a word here said can be so strained as to imply any licence to contract marriages with unbelievers. Only those already contracted are dealt with: the ἑτεροζυγεῖν ἀπίστοις is expressly forbidden, 2Corinthians 6:14, and by implication below, ver. 39.
16.] This verse is generally understood as a ground for remaining united, as ver. 13, in hope that conversion of the unbelieving party may follow. Thus ver. 15 is regarded as altogether parenthetical. But (1) this interpretation is harsh as regards the context, for ver. 15 is evidently not parenthetical,—and (2) it is hardly grammatically admissible (see below, for it makes εἰ = εἰ μή,—‘What knowest thou … whether thou shalt not save.…?’ Lyra seems first to have proposed the true rendering, which was afterwards adopted hesitatingly by Estius, and of late decidedly by Meyer, De Wette, and Bisping: viz. that the verse is not a ground for remaining united, in hope, &c.,—but a ground for consummating a separation, and not marring the Christian’s peace for so uncertain a prospect as that of converting the unbelieving party. τί οἶδας εἰ thus preserves its strict sense, What knowest thou (about the question) whether.…? and the verse coheres with the words immediately preceding, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κέκλ. ἡμᾶς ὁ θ.
I may observe, in addition to Meyer and De W.’s remarks, that the position of the words further establishes this rendering. If the point of the argument had been the importance, or the prospect, of saving (= converting) the unbelieving party, the arrangement would probably have been εἰ σώσεις τὸν ἄνδρα, and εἰ σώσεις τὴν γυναῖκα, whereas now the verb holds in both clauses a subordinate place, rather subjective to the person addressed, than the main object in the mind of the writer.
Those who take εἰ for εἰ μή, attempt to justify it by reff. 2 Kings, Joel, Jonah, where the LXX have for the Heb. מִי יוֹדַעֵ, τίς οἶδεν εἰ, to express hope: but (1) in every one of those passages the verb stands in the emphatic position, and (2) the LXX use this very expression to signify uncertainty, e.g. ref. Eccles., τίς εἶδε(οἶδεν : add τό Aא3) πνεῦμα υἱῶν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, εἰ ἀναβαίνει αὐτὸ (add εἰς א) ἄνω