What Did Paul the Apostle Say About Marriage in the Bible?

Paul the Apostle

Illustration of Paul the Apostle
Illustration of Paul the Apostle

What Did Paul Say in the Bible?

What did Paul have to say in the Bible?

He actually had a lot to say, as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write 13 books in the New Testament.

These are the books he wrote:

Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

An Open Bible

Source

The Bible Talks about Marriage vs. Singleness

The Bible is known as Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, if you look at it as an acronym. God inspired 40 different authors to write the Bible, yet the Bible is unlike any other book ever written because of its divine inspiration. There is one thread of commonality that runs throughout the Bible, which is very unique, because the Bible doesn't contradict itself.

Every prophecy in the Bible has either come true - as it was fulfilled - or has yet to be fulfilled.

Archaeological finds continue to add more proof that the events described in the Bible took place, and give even more reasons for people to trust God's Word as true and accurate.

What is even more interesting, is that ancient manuscripts within 50 years of Jesus have been compared to the Bible we have today, and they are an exact match. The Bible has not changed, unless you are reading from one that has been intentionally changed by a cult.

Knowing all of this, the Bible is an excellent source on how a person should live.

Paul the Apostle wrote a good deal of the New Testament, and gives us some direction for Christian living.

In Genesis 2:18, the Bible says: "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him."

In Genesis 2:22, God made a woman for the man, and formed her from a rib taken out of man.

Genesis shares that man was not meant to be alone, so he made a female for man.

In the New Testament, Paul the Apostle talks about singleness.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8: "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am."

Is Paul the Apostle ordering Christians to stay single?

Let's first let's look at the context of the passage, before making a "snap" judgment.

A Real Life Situation in a Church

There was a couple that took on the role of teaching a Sunday School class. They were a married couple teaching a 20's Singles class. At the end of each class, this couple would take prayer requests and then pray.

During the prayer, the couple would always make sure that they prayed that each Single person in the class would get married, as if being single was bad. They firmly believed that every person is supposed to get married.

Should this couple have taken the liberty to do this? Was their prayer in line with God's Known Will?

Context is Key

A very important lesson that I have learned about the Bible, is that it is critical to understand the context of the passage, before quoting a verse and taking it at face value. Not all verses in the Bible are standalone.

Some verses can have a general application - such as many verses of wisdom found in proverbs - but most of Paul's writings have context that must be understood before applying a verse as a general decree.

If we reference the verse from earlier (1 Cor. 7:8), then we must read the whole passage. Verse 9 says: "But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

So Paul tells unmarried Christians to stay single if they can, but if they are burning with lustful passion, then to consider marrying than to be tempted.

Why does Paul the Apostle suggest for unmarried Christians to stay single?

Illustration of Nero

Source

Nero Sources

Sources on Nero:

  1. Wikipedia entry "Nero"
  2. Tacitus Annals XV
  3. Tertullian Apologeticum, lost text quoted in [3],Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, II.25.4.
  4. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History II.25.5

What Was the "Present Crisis" in 1 Cor. 7:26?

Paul the Apostle wrote 1 Corinthians when he was in Ephesus, for the church in Corinth (about 180 mil. away). So let's examine what the present crisis was that Paul was talking about.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:26: "Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is."

What is this present crisis, and did it have the Apostle Paul in "survival mode"?

One Theory Behind the Present Crisis

Around this time, Caesar Nero was the Roman Emperor (from 54 - 68 A.D). The impact that Nero had on Christians can be found in a simple web search.

Caesar Nero was persecuting Christians. That is clearly evident.

Wikipedia cites the following three things regarding Nero:

  1. "Non-Christian historian, Tacitus, describes Nero extensively torturing and executing Christians after the fire of 64."
  2. "Christian writer Tertullian (c. 155–230) was the first to call Nero the first persecutor of Christians. He wrote, 'Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine.'"
  3. "Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275–339) was the first to write that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero."

Was Caesar Nero the present crisis that Paul was referring to?

We must first determine when 1 Corinthians was written. GotQuestions.org says it was written in 55 A.D. Wikipedia says between 53 - 57 A.D.

It is possible that the Apostle Paul could have been talking about Caesar Nero.

If Paul was referring to a life or death situation going on, then choosing not to court a woman during such a distressing time would make sense.

Remember, we are always in spiritual warfare with the enemy. In times when Christians are being persecuted locally, then it would require a special prayerful focus when petitioning God. Such meditation is harder to do when one is thinking about a potential love interest.

Abstract Dualism

Source

1 Timothy 4:3

1 Timothy 4 talks about some people that will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

1 Timothy 4:3 says, "They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."

"Spiritual" teachings that forbid people to marry are not from God. However, marriage should be as the Bible instructs - between one man and one woman.

How Dualism Impacted the Corinthian Church

Another factor that plays into the cultural context of the Corinthian church is dualism.

Dualism is the belief that material things - or "materialism" - was pure evil. Inversely, immaterial things were good and pure.

Some members of the Corinthian church believed that if a person was truly spiritual, he or she transcended the need for sex, as sex was linked to the material body. This school of thought clearly came from the dualistic thinking of the times.

If said person no longer needed sex because he was too spiritual, then there would be no obvious need for a wife, or the institution of Marriage. This is partly what the Apostle Paul was addressing in 1 Corinthians.

This is a distorted view on spirituality.

Such distortions wouldn't happen in today's churches, would it?

Conclusion

Take heed to what this church was dealing with.

Don't pretend to be spiritual and secretly burn with lustful desires, when you should really get married. But if a person can truly live for God as a single person, then take that route.

There are simply some things that a Christian cannot and should not do as a married person. Being single is better for traveling and mission work in dangerous places. However, it is a blessing to have a family and raise children up in the admonition of the Lord.

It is not wrong to be single, nor is it wrong to be married. If you can be happy and seek God joyously as a single person, then serve God as a single person.

If you want to get married, then seek God first on who you should marry. Then, build your house on a solid foundation, teaching your children to love the Lord.

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

shofarcall profile image

shofarcall 3 years ago

Hello Zeke2100,

Interesting hub and scripture that I have often pored over (I am one of the single ones, happily serving the Lord) too.

I was so glad you expounded the importance of reading verses before and after and stressed the importance of understanding (finding out) what was taking place at the time i.e. the context of the time/verse.

I am sure that there is much misunderstanding of scripture because of the failure to do this. Thank you and God Bless

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working