Paul’s Word: Can You Take It or Leave It?

“Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.” (1 Corinthians 7:25)

I was listening to a sermon this evening on being single.  A preacher referred to this verse and then made the following comment:  “This isn’t God talking …if you disagree with Paul, ‘Relax!’  You’re not disagreeing with God.”  I was stunned.  What do you think about that?

Paul earlier in the chapter distinguished between his commands and the Lord’s commands (verses 10, 12).  Here, he writes, “I have no commandment from the Lord.”  This simply means he has no command from the Lord Jesus to interpret for them.  However,  he gives judgment as a trustworthy and ready-writer for the Lord.  Paul is the source of knowledge for the Corinthians.  It is how they know the commands of the Lord or how we know for that matter.

The apostle did not believe that everything he said while he was living was inspired.  He  certainly could not invent things that Jesus never really said.  But he knew that God was using him to write certain things that were the inspired words of God.  Those are preserved for us (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7.25).

He gave them his judgment (as in purpose or intention) not an opinion (some unfortunate translations use this word) that they could take or leave.  Verse 40 makes it clear that He has the Spirit of God on what he has revealed to them.

Paul’s arguments set forth in this passage are not something you can take or leave.  What Paul is not doing is laying down a universal law that is black and white concerning virgins (single people).  It depends upon the individual’s circumstances.  Paul is not addressing the issue at hand with one right answer.  The matter calls for discernment.  It is not a right-wrong thing but rather a right-better thing.

It is good to remember that Paul is one whom the Lord in His mercy made trustworthy.  Believers cannot dismiss what he says as mere opinion.  Paul’s words are God’s words in this text.  So while he may not have had a particular commandment from the Lord Jesus to elaborate upon, what he says to the Corinthians (and by extension us) is still the very Word of God.

Paul did have a command from the Lord Jesus on marriage and divorce (v. 10; cp. w/ Mark 10.1-12).  Thus, he elaborates upon that command.  So, we must be careful about all of this.  Many dismiss Paul as a homophobe or a misogynist (woman-hater).  Actually, they are creating a god out of their own imaginations and rationalizing Scripture away.  They do this to make room for their new doctrines which fit their fleshly lifestyles.  We cannot trifle with the words of God.  Everyone of them has authority, whether it is acknowledged or not.

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