Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What does “not under bondage” in 1 Corinthians 7:15 mean?

The Text:
  • "But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1 Corinthians 7:12-15)
The Question: 
  • What does Paul mean when he states “the brother or sister is not under bondage”?
Answer:
  • The word bondage is “Douloo”- defined as enslaved.
    • Used in 8 verses in the New Testament.
    • Every time it is in reference to being enslaved to something or someone.
    • IT NEVER is used to refer to the marriage bond.
    • “Deo” used in vs. 27, does mean the marriage bond, but it is not the word Paul employs in verse 15.
  • What Paul is saying is, if an unbelieving spouse leaves(du to persecution etc..) the believing partner is not enslaved to them and should not feel obligated to track them down and be with them.
    • These would be encouraging words during a period of intense persecution. A unbelieving spouse may not have tolerated the potential persecution that would befall him for being married to a Christian.
    • It may be the case, that at this time, the non-Christian spouse might give the Christian an ultimatum like, "Either you leave Christ or I leave you!". Paul is saying that in this case you can let them leave and keep your faith in Jesus...you are not your spouses slave. If your spouse tells you to leave Jesus, you DO NOT have to listen.
  • NOTE: The passage never implies or mentions remarriage after allowing the unbeliever to leave. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus says the only allowable occasion for a remarriage after a divorce is if the divorce was due to the sexual unfaithfulness of one's spouse.
Post by Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotes from NASB 95.