Monday, April 29, 2024

“The Present Distress” (1 Corinthians 7:25-28)

"Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife" (1 Cor. 7:27).

Paul urges the married and unmarried to remain as they are because of the “the present distress.” While he maintains that marriage is not sinful, he still considers the burden and troubles of marriage in light of external calamities and trials. But what “present distress” is Paul talking about? Most commentators agree that the “present distress” was probably not some particular trouble which the Corinthian Church faced, but something more general. Paul might have had in mind the troubles that would precede the second coming of Christ, but how and when those calamities would come was not known. The desolation which would soon fall upon Jerusalem, a destruction that had been predicted by the prophets, might have been in the back of Paul’s mind.

But, despite these concerns, the context calls for something more general. “It is not necessary, therefore, to assume, as is so often done, that the apostle anticipated the second advent of Christ during that generation, and that he refers to the calamities which were to precede that event,” Hodge wrote. “Such expectation would not, indeed, be incompatible with his inspiration. It was revealed to him that Christ was to come a second time; and that He was to come as a thief in the night. He might, therefore, naturally look for it at any time.… Still, he knew not … when Christ would come. It was not, however, to the calamities which are to precede the second advent to which Paul here refers, but rather to those which it was predicted should attend the introduction of the Gospel.”

Christians can expect persecution because of their faith, as Jesus warned in Matthew 5. Paul describes these final days as “a present evil age” (Gal. 1:4), wrought with hardship, struggle, and fiery trials. Whenever one considers marriage, he or she must take into consideration the struggles that life holds and how those struggles might be eased or, as Paul indicates, increased by marriage. It would be unwise to enter blindly into marriage without weighing the pros and cons and examining one’s willingness and ability to deal with the difficulties that await. This is what Paul wants to emphasize here as he maintains that marriage is good, but is attended with troubles especially in the evil days in which we live.

If someone were to come to you for advice about getting married, what would you advise them to consider? What are some pros and cons of marriage? If you are unmarried, ask a married person you know well to tell you some of the troubles and advantages of marriage that you should consider before getting married.