by Charles and Norma Ellis
1 Corinthians 7:10-16
10And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
12But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
Paul turns to the married again, this time warning the Christian person against divorce. If a person has divorced his spouse he should either be reconciled to his former partner or else refrain from remarrying. Here Paul is presenting what the Lord Jesus had taught during His earthly life. Jesus has commanded married people to stay together. This is not simply 'good' (to use Paul's term in verse 1): it is a requirement of God. Marriage is a permanent contract and sexual relations with others outside that union are adulterous.
In verse 12 Paul turns to those in mixed marriages ('the rest,' he calls them) and gives special details over and above what had been spoken by Christ during His ministry. Paul says that if a Christian man has an unbelieving partner who is content to live with him, he is not to initiate a divorce. For, he argues, the believing partner has a sanctifying influence over the unbeliever, and the Lord in His grace may even use the Christian man to bring his wife to salvation! Furthermore, children of such a marriage are 'holy' in that they are granted the protecting arm of the church and come under Christian influences in the home, such as godly teaching and the prayers of a loving parent to a Covenant God.
However, if there is not peace in the home and the unbelieving partner does proceed toward a divorce, the believer should not contest it but allow it to proceed. The believer is not under bondage to an unbeliever in such a case. If he were, he would have to renounce his faith in order to keep the marriage. For in this instance the unbeliever's departure is tantamount to rejection of the Christian faith. Let him (or her) be gone, Paul is saying. The believer is not to keep on fighting against this divorce by bringing up the argument that his (or her) testimony might still win the mate! It is important in the sight of God that we live in an atmosphere of peace. To this He has called us, not to the bondage that requires either renunciation of our faith or constant strife.
How very practical are these verses in our day! Does this help us to see God's will in our own home? Does it help us in counselling someone else?
We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."
Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.
Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.