Charles and Norma Ellis
1 Corinthians 7:36-40
36But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
37Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
39The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
40But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
Paul is careful not to omit anyone. Now he speaks to the father of a young girl of marriageable age who is still single. It is obvious that he is speaking of a time remote from ours when he says that a parent may permit his daughter to marry, if that seems the best thing to do! But if the parent has the strength to resist the pull and feels convinced that this is proper, he should not permit her marriage! Paul is saying that in this 'present distress' it is better not to let one's daughter become involved in a marriage which might well be steeped in misery.
Should Christian parents be reassessing their looseness in marriage counseling in the home? Should the reins be tightened? Surely such matters need serious thought in the light of God's Word.
In verse 39 Paul goes over the material we discussed when Romans was before us. While a man and his wife are both alive, the one remains bound by law to the other. But if one of them dies, the other is free to marry whomsoever he or he pleases, "ONLY IN THE LORD" (7:39).
Then we find a postscript: the wife—he specially mentions her—would be happier is she did not marry again, according to Paul's judgment, in which he feels the Spirit of God is directing him. The use of the term happier here meshes with the use of the word "good in verse 1. It embraces all that has been said about the goodness of marriage, the giving by God of special gifts of chastity, the advantages of the single life as conferring more freedom to serve God. If ever verses have to be considered in context, these surely do!
As we conclude this portion one thing especially is borne in upon us. God is very much concerned about all aspects of our lives. Whether we marry and whom we marry is of supreme importance to Him. How we conduct ourselves generally with our spouse and how we act when the pressures build up are His concern. Let us submit our marriage to the scrutiny of His eye. He can make it a thing of beauty, a true reflection of Christ's marriage to His church!
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.
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