Marriage and Divorce
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Marriage and Divorce

From Series: We Two Are One

1 Corinthians 7:8-16  (ID: 1638)

The Bible is clear about the lifelong commitment involved when two people marry, but are there scriptural grounds for divorce? Should a believer stay with an unbelieving spouse? Is remarriage permissible after divorce or widowhood? Alistair Begg explores these issues and assures believers that, with God’s help, lost affections can be rekindled and covenants made between husbands and wives can be preserved.


Sermon Transcript: Print

Our God and our Father, we’re glad to be able to come tonight and worship you. And as we think of the society in which we live, where almost 50 percent of those who marry eventually are separated from one another, we pray that you will make us not only students of your Word but men and women who are obedient to your Word; that we might display our love for it by our commitment to it—a commitment first of all to understand it. And so we pray that you would help us tonight, as we think of these verses, and in understanding it, then to have it applied to our lives, no matter how costly it may be, no matter how it may run counter to what our friends and the world may suggest, no matter whether it is actually something different than what we would personally like to do. Teach us, Lord, we pray, from your Word again tonight. For Jesus’ sake we ask it. Amen.

It would seem, in listening to people talk, that to be single and satisfied is to be amongst a minority; that to be married and contented is to be also in a small group of people; to be cynical and confused about marriage, its nature, and its benefits is to find oneself in an ever-growing crowd. As it is with other precious gifts, when we take them at a time or in a framework that God has never intended, we will find ourselves in difficulty, so with the matter of human sexuality.

And as we’ve studied in chapters 5 and 6 and now into 7, we’ve been finding that the Bible is very, very practical when it comes to these matters. It is not as naive or as ashamed as we often are to address difficult issues straightforwardly. And so, we have moved these studies in the evening, so that we might deal with them, as it were, at an adult level, with a measure of decorum and with understanding. It would be one thing if the rampant confusion concerning marriage was all to be found beyond the walls of the church, but sadly, that is not the case. And whoever it is that deals with statistics, they tell us that the issues within the church are as prominent as those outside the church—that the whole question of marriage and divorce, of singleness, of the discovery of sexuality, of the framing of who and what we are as individuals is often just as chaotic amongst those who would name the name of Christ as it is beyond the walls of Christendom.

And so, it’s very, very important that we would pay careful attention to what the Bible has to say. And in these verses, Paul provides clear directives to individuals who found themselves in specific circumstances. And it really breaks down into four groups of people.

To the Unmarried and Widows

The first are mentioned in verses 8 and 9 as he addresses those who are “unmarried” and who are “widows.” The group obviously would include those who had never married—the single population, if you like—but it also presumably included those who had married and had subsequently been divorced. And you will see that he specifically mentions one group of unmarried people—namely, those who were now single as a result of the death of their spouse. The question is, what plan should such individuals make when they think about the question of marriage?

In the first 7 verses, we discover that Paul was establishing the fact that marriage was the norm that God had established for men and women, but that singleness as a gift from God, when it was given as a gift from God, was also very good. We also noted that Paul was not here speaking, as it were, in some kind of rarified context, in an ivory tower, but we noted that it would appear more than likely that Paul himself had at one time been married. Since he now says that he is unmarried, we have to ask, why is he now unmarried? Did his wife leave him when he professed faith in Jesus Christ, and therefore, the apostle Paul was actually a divorcee? Or was it simply that his wife had died and he now found himself as a widow? In either case, he is addressing things that are not only important to others but were very, very important for himself. He’s presently unmarried.

Now, he describes essentially the best situation possible for these people: if an unmarried person would be able to find themselves under no pressure to marry at all, then that, he says, would really be the best situation. “It is good for them,” in verse 8, “to stay unmarried, as I am.” That is the best-case scenario. To the unmarried he says, “I think it would be best for you just to stay unmarried.”

Now, why is this? Well, I think verse 32 must always be our point of reference when we tackle Paul’s emphasis here for the unmarried. Why is he so interested in people living unmarried lives for Christ? Well, he tells us in verse 32: “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.” However, he says, “an unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.”

And so, when we try and understand why Paul keeps coming back to this theme, I think his straightforward statements here in verses 32 and following are the key to it all. The best situation, then, is for the unmarried person to remain unmarried, feeling no pressure whatsoever to marry.

The next-best situation is that of the individual who finds that they must express their sexuality and that they would do so within marriage: “But if they cannot control themselves,” if they must express themselves sexually, “they should marry,” because “it is [far] better,” he says, “to marry than to burn with passion.”

However, the least desirable situation is that of the individual who patently needs marriage as a means of expressing their sexuality, but for whatever reason, they feel compelled or they try very hard to do without it—somebody who is trying to live unmarried while knowing themselves that they need to be married. Paul clearly does not regard, as some did in his day and others have done subsequently, he clearly does not regard the suppression of sexual desire as being meritorious—the notion that to want to be married and to refrain from marriage would somehow gain you points, as it were; the kind of celibacy that has pervaded the Roman Catholic Church down through the years. Paul does not subscribe to that view whatsoever. His concern is that if a person is going to burn with passion and cannot live with singleness or to remain in their unmarried state and honor God in doing so, then he is concerned that they would go ahead and get married.

Well, what about the individual who has been married and now finds themselves wondering whether they should or should not? What does it mean to “burn with passion”? Is there a difference between burning with passion and simply feeling the heat? John Calvin, in his commentary, suggests that there is. He says that feeling the heat, if you like, is common to man and is to be dealt with vigorously in the power of the Spirit. However, burning with passion, says Calvin, is “being so aflame with passion that you cannot stand up against it.”[1] It is, in the words of another, “to be so consumed with inward desire that scarcely anything else either matters or can be coolly considered.”[2] That’s what it means. It means that the whole fixation of life is driven towards that eventuality. Clearly, that is to be set on fire with a passionate desire.

J. B. Phillips gets at it when he says, “I think it is far better … to be married than to be tortured by unsatisfied desire.” And “to be tortured by unsatisfied desire” presumably, then, is different from every so often looking at a married couple and saying, “I think I might like to be married too.”

Now, since he specifically mentions widows, I’d like you to look forward to verse 39 and 40, where he again mentions widows. “A woman is bound to her husband,” he says, in verse 39, “as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes,” and then he qualifies that: “but he must belong to the Lord.” “In my judgment”—what do you think he’s going to say?—“she is happier if she stays as she is.” That’s what he has determined. He’s decided that as he’s looked back on his life and as his life is experienced now, he figures that if she can live the kind of 1 Corinthians 7:32 perspective, she’ll be happier in that way.

And then, I think ironically, he says, “And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.” What does he mean, “I think that I too have the Spirit of God”? He knows fine well he has the Spirit of God. I think this is more of the irony that we noted in earlier chapters, remember, where people were acting so smart in the Corinthian church, and they were determining that they knew everything and they had decided everything and they could understand everything. And Paul writes to them somewhat sarcastically, and he says, “So you are kings? I wish I had become a king!”[3] And I think this is the way we can understand this verse: “So you all think you understand the Spirit of God? Well,” he says, “I think that I, too, might have the Spirit of God in addressing these things.” Now, the fact is that he has already expressed the fact, in the very opening verse, that he is called by God to the task of apostleship.[4] We won’t delay there at all.

What he is emphasizing for widows is this. First of all, he emphasizes the lifelong permanence of marriage: “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.” Categorical statement. Marriage is permanent and it is lifelong. Secondly, he emphasizes complete freedom to remarry after the death of our husband or our wife, with the proviso that that individual, then, whom we marry, must belong to the Lord. “Oh, but,” says somebody, “surely a widowed lady or a widower doesn’t need that reminder. After all, maybe they’re forty, maybe they’re fifty, maybe they’re sixty. Maybe when they were fifteen or sixteen they had to have it drummed into them: ‘Now, remember, you shouldn’t marry a non-Christian. It’s very, very important! Because “what fellowship [does] light have with darkness?”[5] Make sure that you only date Christians. Make sure…’ They understood that! But surely not when you’re fifty or sixty.”

Listen: Have you ever seen a fifty- or sixty-year-old widow or widower who has begun to miss dreadfully companionship, who has begun to long for friendship, who has grown tired of sleeping in a great big empty bed and walking round in a big, empty apartment or house? Do you know the pressure on that individual? How real it is for someone, often in their declining years, because they miss the companionship they once enjoyed so much—do you know how easy it is for them to marry somebody who isn’t a Christian? Very, very easy! Because the passage of time does not guarantee the development of spiritual maturity. And Paul, the realist, says, “She’s free to marry. But don’t let her marry anyone who isn’t a Christian.”

To the Married

He then goes on to address a second group in verse 10: “To the married,” he says. To the unmarried and the widows he has had this to say; now he says, “To the married I give this command.” Now, what is he addressing here?

Well, what he’s addressing is this: What about the people who being married and who, having committed themselves in marriage for better and for worse, now feel that they don’t need or they don’t like marriage? Very practical! Because every day you meet somebody who has decided that they don’t need marriage anymore or they don’t like marriage anymore; or, as you meet them every day, they have made a mistake in getting married at the time in which they got married, or that they made a dreadful mistake in the individual whom they married; or that they believe they could be far more useful to the Lord if they were only single.

If you find yourself in difficulty as a couple, commit yourself to the marriage in the firm belief that God is well able to rekindle lost passion, to restore lost desires, and to renew lost affections.

And I’m sure in the Corinthian context, there was a tremendous pressure along these lines. And Paul himself must have had to be very, very careful with this continual emphasis on “I wish that you would remain as I am,” so fueling the notion in the minds of some that if only they could be freed from the responsibilities of marriage, which they had, yes, committed themselves to—if only they could be done with that, now they might be the kind of Christian that they really wanted to be.

Now, you will notice that Paul emphasizes his instruction in pointing out that in this issue, he does not simply speak on his own, but that he is addressing an issue where there is revelation which has come from Jesus Christ himself. All right? Jesus himself had given specific instructions concerning these things. Jesus is the one who in Matthew 19 had quoted from Genesis chapter 2: “For this reason a man will leave his father and [his] mother …, and the two will become one flesh.”[6] He had quoted that to the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 19. Also, he made it perfectly plain—and Mark records it for us in 10:9–11, the words of Jesus himself: “‘Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ [And] when they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.’”

Now, you don’t have to be a genius to understand what is being said there—very straightforward, a categorical statement, which Paul now picks up on and makes the exact same statement. You will notice what he says: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord),” he says: “A wife must not separate from her husband. … If she does”—i.e., if she’s disobedient to the command of the Lord—then she has two options: “remain unmarried or … be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” In other words, he’s saying it cuts both ways.

Now, when you take these verses in 1 Corinthians 7 and the verses in Mark chapter 10, you will notice what we find again and again: that the commitment to marriage by a man and a woman is for life, it is underwritten by God, and it is not to be tampered with by human beings. The bottom line for anybody considering the possibility of divorce is this: don’t consider it! That’s what he’s saying. Divorce is out of bounds. Don’t entertain it as a possibility. If you find yourself in difficulty as a couple, commit yourself to the marriage in the firm belief that God is well able to rekindle lost passion, to restore lost desires, and to renew lost affections. That’s what he’s saying here in 1 Corinthians 7, is it not? That’s what he’s saying!

Now, we’re not considering any exception clauses at the moment. This is what he is saying here. As they heard it read for the first time, in their fornicating society, how it must have pinned their ears back against their heads: “Can he really be saying what he’s saying? You mean we’re stuck like this, and the only option is reconciliation or celibacy?” “Exactly,” says Paul. “Those are your options.”

Now, many of you know your Bibles well enough to know that if we turn back to Matthew chapter 19—and you probably should, especially those of you who don’t—Matthew chapter 19, Jesus, in addressing the subject of divorce and remarriage, qualifies the categorical statement from which we just read in Mark chapter 10. Same issue: the question of the folks concerning divorce, Jesus telling them that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”[7] And then he says, Matthew 19:9, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife … and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Now, there is an exception phrase in the middle of it all. Notice: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Okay? So we know that that exception clause is in there. We know that Jesus said that, and we know that Paul is not standing against that. We have, however, to ask the question: Why does Paul not introduce this exception clause in making this statement here in 1 Corinthian 7? Why do you think? What possible reason is there as to why he would not also say, “However, Jesus said this”?

I think that the most plausible explanation would seem to be that the background of these people was so filled with fornication and sin that if he had said to them, without the opportunity to sit face-to-face with them as individuals, “If any of you have got any fornication in your lives anywhere, you can all get divorced,” about 85 percent of the church would’ve had grounds to go and get divorced. And therefore, a lot of good marriages would’ve been ruined as a result of believers plumbing for the exception clause without ever needing it nor necessarily even wanting it.

Let me give you a quote on this: “The Christians at Corinth were not so firmly rooted in the reality of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, as to give them the stability required to deal with a partner who raked up a murky past after a bitter domestic feud one difficult evening after a bad week at the office.”[8] The Corinthian believers were not stable enough in the truth to be able to deal with a marriage partner who decided to rake up some filth from the past because they’d had a fight and because he’d had a bad week at the office.

If Paul, recognizing that people came from that background, were to give them the notion that because of unfaithfulness at any point in life, divorce was possible or even inevitable, many of them, because of the context from which they had come, would presumably have gone ahead and got divorced—especially if you add to it the notion that there were people going around suggesting that singleness was the only way to be a real Christian. So it was a perfect out for somebody. And that, I think, is the most plausible explanation as to why it is that Paul does not apply the exception at this point.

Now, you will notice that this instruction is radical. And it is vital that we absorb it and that we apply it and that we resist the tidal wave of relativistic thinking in relation to these matters. I’m so discouraged with the emphasis on family values. I’m so sick and tired of this claptrap. “Family values” can only be understood in the light of God’s plan for the family: one mom and one dad, living together in monogamous faithfulness to one another. Family values negate, categorically, homosexual or lesbian marriages. Family values stand against the tidal wave of divorce and fracture and destruction. And so, unless we’re prepared to talk about family values in the way that God said family values are to be addressed, why don’t we just cash in our chips on the phrase and move on to something else we don’t know anything about? It is a sad and sorry state of affairs.

To Believers Married to Unbelievers

Number three, verse 12: What about the Christian married to an unbeliever who no longer wishes to be married to the believer?

Now, the introductory phrase in verse 12 is a real cause for turmoil in many people’s minds. Paul says, “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord),” and people spend a long time in Bible studies saying, “Well, does this mean that this is not inspired?” No, it doesn’t mean that. It’s not a denial of inspiration. “Or is it an indication that Paul is giving his own human opinion?” The phrase here that opens verse 12 is simply to say that God has not given any previous revelation on the subject, unlike what he has just quoted in verse 10. In verse 10, he was able to say, “Now, we have previous revelation on this. Therefore, not I but the Lord says it.” Now, in verse 12, he says, “This is direct revelation. Now I, as an apostle, speaking the very word of God, I’m addressing the subject with you.”

‘Family values’ can only be understood in the light of God’s plan for the family: one mom and one dad, living together in monogamous faithfulness to one another.

Now, it’s very, very important as well that Paul should discriminate between what he said and what the Lord said, because there were people who were going around saying whatever they wanted to say and then saying, “And this is what Jesus said.” Indeed, Moffatt, one of the commentators, says, “It is historically of high importance that [Paul] did not feel at liberty to create a saying of Jesus, even when, as here, it would have been highly convenient in order to settle a disputed point of Christian behaviour.”[9] And one of the charges in biblical criticism is that what you have, really, is a bunch of people who make up the statements of Jesus. Paul says, “I’m not making anything up. The Lord didn’t say this; I’m saying this. It is authoritative. I, as an apostle, now speak: a wife must not separate from her husband. If she does…” Sorry, that’s verse 10. “To the rest I say”—to those who are not now married in the faith, but believers and unbelievers—“if [a] brother has a wife who is not a believer”—and presumably, they married as unbelievers, and then the brother came to faith—if his wife is not a believer “and she[’s] willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.” And then he says the same thing in reverse concerning a woman and her husband. Everything hinges on the attitude, he says, of the unbelieving partner.

Some in Corinth were doubtless teaching that a believer must never live with an unbeliever. After all, Paul himself had said that a Christian should not marry a non-Christian. So they would then deduct, on the basis of that, that if a Christian should not marry a non-Christian, and if they both started as non-Christians and one of them became a Christian, therefore, by the same kind of logic, presumably it was not right for a Christian to live with a non-Christian, since they weren’t supposed to marry a non-Christian; and therefore, they ought to go ahead and get divorced. And so Paul gives authoritative instructions, says, “No, you’re wrong. Don’t begin to think that way. If you’ve come to faith in Christ, and your husband or wife hasn’t, and they’re happy to live with you, make sure that you continue to live with them.”

And then he gives this tremendous statement in verse 14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.” You see, the big question was: Would the uncleanness of the unbeliever cancel out the cleanness of the believer? Would the lack of faith in the unbeliever cancel out the faith in the believer? Paul says, “No. In fact, the godliness of the one does much to sanctify the marriage.”

Now, what does this mean? It clearly doesn’t mean that a man or a wife becomes a Christian as a result of just living in the house with a Christian, kind of like a disease that you catch in the kitchen or something. He is rather teaching that there is a benefit which accrues to any other members of a Christian’s family. And some of us have been brought up in a family where just a mom or just a dad was a Christian. It certainly wasn’t the perfect situation, as in verse 10, but nevertheless, that Christian mom or Christian dad brought a kind of sanctifying influence in our home. And he is referring here to that kind of overall marital impact of a life of someone who prays and someone who worships and someone who believes in God. He says it spills over to the spouse, and indeed, it spills over to the children.

This little sentence that ends verse 14, “Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy,” is often a concern to some. Again, context helps us. There were people who were teaching—the rigorists—that sex was sin all the time, and so they would challenge it at every place. And these people taught that sexual relations, therefore, between a believing wife and an unbelieving husband produced unclean children. Well, in point of fact, we know that all children are born in sin and “shapen in iniquity,”[10] so the distinction that he is making here is not between saved and unsaved, but he is rebutting the notion that if one of you had become a Christian and people out there in the church were telling you, “You’re going to have to divorce that person,” he says, “No, you’re not, and no, you shouldn’t.” “Well,” they said, “if you don’t divorce them, don’t sleep in the same room as them. ’Cause if you sleep in the same room as them, do you know what your children will come out like?” And Paul says, “Don’t you listen to any of that hogwash. You go ahead and fulfill all the benefits and blessings of marriage, and you rejoice in the fact that God will take care of your children. And you will have a sanctifying influence over them, even as you do over your spouse.”

Listen to MacArthur on this: “The sanctification is matrimonial and familial, not personal or spiritual. … Although the believer’s faith cannot suffice for the salvation of anyone but himself, he [or she] is often the means of other family members coming to the Lord.”[11] The cross-reference is 1 Peter 3.

Let me deal with the last point ever so briefly. He then goes on and mentions the fourth and final group: he addresses the Christian married to an unbeliever who is no longer willing to stay with the believer. This is verse 15: “[However,] if the unbeliever leaves”—notice it is the unbeliever that takes the initiative in the separation, because the Christian partner ought always to be upholding the sanctity and lifelong permanence of marriage—but if the unbeliever leaves, then the Christian partner is under no obligation whatsoever to contest it. If the unbeliever sues for divorce because they cannot stand the faith of their now spouse, then the believer is under no obligation whatsoever to contest the divorce. That’s what he means when he says in this circumstance, the believer is “not bound”: “A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.” After all, he says, “God has called us to live in peace.” And to try and prop up a marriage where your unbelieving spouse simply wants to be done with you once and for all is certainly not to live in the realm of peace. So he says, “If they decide to leave, let them do so.”

Now, I want to say—because many of you will have questions about this—that I believe that this is the third way in which it is possible for remarriage ever to take place, as taught in the Bible. There are three ways that a married person may remarry: number one, because their partner died (Romans chapter 7);[12] number two, because their partner committed adultery (Matthew 19);[13] and number three, because their partner, as an unbeliever, could no longer stand living with a believer and so took off. It is my personal understanding of the Bible that in each of those situations, the presupposition is remarriage and therefore is allowable. Not everyone believes that. Many churches teach against that. I can only speak according to the understanding of Scripture that I have.

Now, our last verse is 16: “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” What do you think that’s saying? Do you think that’s saying, “You better stay in there and hang in there as long as you can, because how do you know whether you’ll save your wife, or how do you know whether you’ll save your husband?” Do you read that positively? If this was interactive, we could have a hands up, but there’s no time left. I’m asking that for you to think it out. Do you think of it that way? Do you think what he’s saying is “You better hang in, because how do you know? There’s a great evangelistic opportunity, and I know your husband hates you, and I know he doesn’t like coming to church, and I know everything else, but how do you know? You might save him!” Or do you think what he’s saying is “Just let him go. Because how do you know whether you’ll save him or save her? Let him go! I mean, don’t hold on to the situation as if marriage was designed for evangelism. It clearly wasn’t! So don’t stay married,” he says. “Don’t keep some unbeliever hanging around your house, just so that you can stick tracts under his porridge in the morning, and so that you can turn the Christian radio on as loud as you can, and so that you can stick Bible verses on his shaving mirror. How do you know,” he says, “that you’re going to save your wife or your husband?” The certain strain involved is not justified by the uncertain result.

Make your own decision. I’m not sure myself which way I ought to read this. I certainly know that there have been a number of people who have put themselves under a tremendous amount of guilt because someone has said that verse 16 teaches that if your husband or wife is an unbeliever, you mustn’t let them go, because how do you know whether you might be the means of their salvation? I think that is unjustifiable.

The World Is Watching

Well, our time is gone. What do we learn from this? We learn that these issues touch the very fabric of our lives. We know that they demand our most careful attention. They certainly need to be addressed with a humble heart which recognizes that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”[14] and his wisdom has been given to us in this book. They certainly remind us of the lifelong permanence of marriage, of the sadness that is involved in separation and divorce. They also are a reminder to us of how God is able to restore the years that the locusts have eaten.[15] But I think more than anything else, they’re a classic illustration of what Paul says in Romans 12:2, quoting Phillips: “Don’t let the world … squeeze you into its … mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”

If you’re a believer here tonight and you’ve gone through a divorce in your past, then don’t allow the Evil One to rake you through the garbage cans of forgiven sin. If you’re a believer here tonight who’s going through difficulties in your marriage, then don’t allow the world to talk you into running from it. Rather, with a humble heart, believing that God “is able to do exceeding[ly] abundantly [beyond] all that we [can] ask”[16] or even imagine, ask him to rekindle and to restore and to renew. The world is watching to see whether Christians really are different or not.

Let us pray together:

Our God and our Father, we thank you tonight for your Word, and we thank you for the privilege of studying it together. It’s sharp like a two-edged sword,[17] cuts through to the very core of our being. And I do pray again tonight for those whose lives are marked in the past by regret, by failure, by disappointment, who find that studies such as these are often fertile ground for the Evil One to come and prove himself again to be the accuser of the brethren.[18] I pray, O God, that you will enable them to resist him, firm in the faith. But I do pray, Lord, for any in our fellowship who are considering the slip road of divorce, the possibilities of separation, the desire to make a run for it. I pray tonight that you will so come to their hearts and lives that they might run to you, to the Rock, to the fortress, to the one who makes everything good in his time.[19]

Hear our prayers tonight as we commit the days that open to us in this week to you. May we know the power of the Spirit filling us, the love of the Lord Jesus flowing from us, the joy of the Lord Jesus being our strength, for we commit one another lovingly into the care of Christ. And in his name we pray. Amen.


[1] John Calvin, The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trans. John W. Fraser, ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, Calvin’s Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), 144.

[2] David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians: Life in the Local Church, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1985), 121.

[3] 1 Corinthians 4:8 (paraphrased).

[4] See 1 Corinthians 1:1.

[5] 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV 1984).

[6] Matthew 19:5 (NIV 1984).

[7] Matthew 19:8 (NIV 1984).

[8] Prior, Message of 1 Corinthians, 124.

[9] James Moffatt, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), 80.

[10] Psalm 51:5 (KJV).

[11] John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, the MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 166.

[12] See Romans 7:2.

[13] See Matthew 19:9.

[14] Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10 (NIV 1984).

[15] See Joel 2:25.

[16] Ephesians 3:20 (KJV).

[17] See Hebrews 4:12.

[18] See Revelation 12:10.

[19] See Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Copyright © 2022, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.