James J. Barker

Lesson 17

Text: 1 CORINTHIANS 7:17-40


  1. We left off last week at verse 17 – “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.”
  2. The apostle Paul often uses the word “walk” to mean, “to live the Christian life.” Romans 6:4 – “we also should walk in newness of life.”
  3. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
  4. The key word here is “called.” The word “called” or “calling” is found ten times in verses 15–24.
  5. “As the Lord hath called every one,” means in the condition or circumstances in which any one is when he is called by the Lord to be a Christian.
  6. These Scriptures teach that each person should “walk” (live the Christian life) in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them. “Just as God has called them.”
  7. For example, if a man is saved in jail, he will probably have to remain in jail (at least for a while). Now he can get busy trying to win souls in jail.
  8. If a man is employed in a certain occupation when he is saved, that probably will not change right away.
  9. However, when Paul says to "abide in the same calling" (7:20), he is referring to callings that are not in themselves sinful. Paul is not saying that is alright for a Christian to stay in a sinful occupation (e.g. bartender, gambler, etc.).
  10. Furthermore, salvation does not change the state of a man’s marriage (7:12-17). "As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk" (7:17).



  1. If a Jew gets saved, he is still a Jew. Now he is a saved Jew, but he does not lose his Jewishness. A Jew does not have to become a Gentile, nor does a Gentile become a Jew (7:18-20).
  2. Circumcision (7:18, 19) was the covenant sign between God and the people of Israel.
  3. In Genesis 17:10, God said to Abraham, “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”
  4. In the early days of the Christian church, there were men who taught that a man could not be saved unless he was first circumcised. They insisted that Gentiles become Jews before they became Christians.
  5. Acts 15:1, 2 says, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”
  6. Paul says in I Corinthians 7:19, “Circumcision is nothing…” It has nothing to do with the Gospel. It has nothing to do with salvation.
  7. “But the keeping of the commandments of God” (7:19b) is what is important. Though circumcision was very important to the Jew under law, it is not important for us today.



  1. This also applies to servants (7:21). If they were able to secure their freedom they should do so, but there was no guarantee that they would get their freedom (7:21-24).
  2. It is interesting to note that these verses are in the middle of a chapter that is dealing with marriage and divorce (7:1, 2, 9-13, etc.).
  3. There is a reason for it and this is the point: "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (7:20). "Let every (single, divorced, widower, married with an unsaved wife, married with a saved wife, etc.) man abide in the same calling…"
  4. Salvation does not affect these circumstances. "Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God" (7:24).
  5. Verse 22 puts everything into perspective. A servant that is saved is now “the Lord’s freeman,” and the free man that is saved is now “Christ’s servant.”
  6. Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
  7. “Ye are bought with a price…” (I Cor. 7:23), i.e., that is the precious blood of Christ.
  8. First Peter 1:18 and 19 says, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”



  1. Verse 25 sounds like the apostle Paul had been asked advice as to the duty of parents regarding their unmarried daughters.
  2. Should they give them in marriage or should they withhold their consent.
  3. “I have no commandment of the Lord” (7:25) means that the Lord Jesus did not give any clear teaching on this subject. Paul makes a similar statement in verse 12 – “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord.”
  4. Whereas the first part of chapter 7 deals primarily with married people, this next section deals primarily with single people.
  5. "Virgins" (7:25) refers to "virgin daughters," i.e., single women. And Paul also speaks to single men as well (7:26).
  6. The expression "present distress" (7:26) refers to local conditions. The Christians in Corinth were facing difficult times of oppression and persecution.
  7. This principle is found elsewhere in the Bible. For example, the Lord told the prophet Jeremiah not to marry (Jer. 16:1-4).
  8. And during the tribulation, the 144,000 witnesses will not marry (Rev. 14:4).
  9. Paul himself found it easier to minister without a wife (I Cor. 7:7, 8, 38, 40).
  10. This is not to suggest that celibacy is preferable or better. Under normal circumstances, it is not wrong to get married. Celibacy is good for certain people (7:7, 8), however, it is clear from Scripture that marriage is the rule, and celibacy is the exception.
  11. Paul goes on to say, "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned" (7:28).
  12. After God created Adam, He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18).
  13. Proverbs 18:22 says, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”
  14. Proverbs 19:14 says, “A prudent wife is from the LORD.”
  15. Proverbs 31:12 says a virtuous woman will do her husband “good and not evil all the days of her life.”
  16. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
  17. Paul is saying that under the present circumstances, i.e. "the present distress" (I Cor. 7:26), it would be better to remain single. We are not told what this "present distress" was but it probably involved terrible persecution as well as the widespread immorality that was prevalent in Corinth.
  18. Certainly, this type of situation could apply in some cases today but it would be the exception rather than the rule. Paul plainly says, "Nevertheless such (married folk) shall have trouble in the flesh" (7:28b).
  19. The idea here is to put God first (7:29-31). Many men start out strong for the Lord but then allow a worldly wife to sidetrack them. Likewise, many spiritual women have been hindered by worldly husbands.
  20. We should not allow any temporal relationship or any human occupation to hinder our fellowship with God or our obedience to His will (7:29-31).
  21. Paul refers to weeping, and rejoicing, and buying (7:30) – all normal activities for the saved as well as the unsaved. The point he is making is that we should not be preoccupied with the things of this world (7:31).
  22. Notice the words "carefulness" (anxiety) and "careth" (7:32-34). A wife that is married to a pastor or a missionary must be willing to sacrifice. Paul recognizes this (7:40; cf. 7:8).
  23. This passage indicates that fathers should pick out the right husbands for their daughters (7:36-38). The older I get the more and more convinced I am that this is God’s way (cf. Gen. 24:1-4).
  24. Too many people enter into marriage lightly, as if it were of little consequence. To them, breaking up a marriage is like quitting a job or dropping out of school or moving to a different neighborhood.
  25. But that is not the way God looks at it (I Cor. 7:10, 11, 39).
  26. This is the view of the New Testament (cf. Rom.7:1-3; Mark 10:2-12).
  27. Death breaks the marriage relationship (I Cor. 7:39). However, if the widow wishes to remarry it must be "in the Lord" (7:39), i.e. to a Christian and it must be in the will of God.
  28. Certainly no one should ever marry someone outside of God’s will.



  1. In verse 17, Paul says, “as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.”
  2. And in verse 20, Paul says, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”
  3. And in verse 24, Paul says, “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.”
  4. These verses emphasize the providence of God.
  5. All of us are where we are because of the providence of God. We’re in certain circumstances because of God’s providence.
  6. Providence means that all things are sustained, directed, and controlled by God. Ephesians 1:11 says God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
  7. That means, your personal situation is sustained, directed, and controlled by God. “As the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk” (7:17).

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