Not Under Bondage

Text: 1 Corinthians 7:15

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addressed various points about marriage that the brethren in Corinth had questioned him about. In this lesson, we are going to examine what Paul said about those who were “not under bondage” (1 Corinthians 7:15). What did that mean? Who fell into that category? Let us consider what Paul wrote in this lesson.

Understanding the Scenario Addressed

  • Paul addressed the scenario of a Christian married to a non-Christian (1 Corinthians 7:12-15) – if the unbeliever was content to stay, the Christian was to remain committed to their spouse; if the unbeliever was not content to stay, the Christian was to let their spouse leave
  • If one’s spouse left, Paul said the spouse who remained was “not under bondage

Difference Between “Bondage” and the “Bond”

  • When we read of one being under “bondage,” we might think this was referring to the marriage bond – it is not; being bound in marriage is not the same thing as the bondage of this verse
  • Bound, deo (1 Corinthians 7:27; Romans 7:2) – to be bound to a wife/husband (Thayer); two people are bound in marriage when God joins them (Matthew 19:6)
  • Bondage, douloo (1 Corinthians 7:15) – to make a slave of, [given] wholly to one’s needs and service (Thayer); in marriage, this is about the responsibilities to one another in that relationship
  • Furthermore, there are two different Greek words relating to the separation that we must understand
  • Apoluo (Matthew 19:3, 7-9) – to put away, repudiate, release, depart, let go, etc. (Strong’s); a rejection/disavowal of one’s mate; in the case of fornication, remarriage is permitted (Matthew 19:9)
  • Chorizo (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 15; Matthew 19:6) – to place room between (Strong’s); a separation; could be a consequence of apoluo, could be for other reasons
  • It is important that we understand the difference between the bond and bondage in this context – failure to understand this can lead to the belief that any separation gives one the right to remarry

What It Means to Not Be Under Bondage

  • It does not mean not bound – the marriage bond remains intact; when God joins a couple in marriage, no one is to separate them (Matthew 19:6); they are bound to one another for life (Romans 7:2); only one cause (fornication) that permits one to put away a mate and remarry (Matthew 19:3, 9)
  • Means that one is not obligated to fulfill marital responsibilities when one’s spouse departs (1 Corinthians 7:15) – no longer responsible to be the head/help meet (Ephesians 5:22-24; Genesis 2:18); no longer responsible to provide (1 Timothy 5:8) or manage the household (Titus 2:5); no longer responsible to fulfill sexual obligations (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)

What It Means That God Has Called Us to Peace

  • The reason given for this instruction – God has called us to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15)
  • Marriage necessarily requires one to give attention to that relationship (1 Corinthians 7:32-34) – does not mean that marriage is bad/wrong (Proverbs 18:22; 1 Corinthians 7:28), but there are additional responsibilities; more difficult when one’s spouse is not a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14); even more difficult when one’s spouse has left
  • If one’s spouse has departed, the one who remains has not been released from the marriage bond (Romans 7:2-3; Matthew 19:9) – but he is released from marital obligations so he can focus on serving the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:35)

The Hope of Saving One’s Spouse

  • There is a benefit for the one who has been deserted – “not under bondage“; to have “peace“; can focus on his obligation to serve the Lord
  • There is also the hope of saving the spouse who has departed (1 Corinthians 7:16) – put the Lord first (1 Corinthians 7:35); be a positive example in this regard (principle of 1 Peter 3:1-2); do not put them away (apoluo) because of the hope of being reconciled (1 Corinthians 7:11)
  • Of course, fornication gives one the permission to put away (apoluo) his mate – apart from that, the hope should be for reconciliation; we are to make sacrifices to save others (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Conclusion

  • Our primary obligation is serving the Lord – these instructions help us do that in difficult situations
  • Our hope is to save ourselves, then save others – including our spouse

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