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1 Corinthians 7:39 & meaning...

wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39


1 Corinthians 7 [35.] This I say for your own profit; not that I may ensnare you, but for that which is appropriate, and that you may attend to the Lord without distraction. But if any man thinks that he is behaving inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of her age, and if need so requires, let him do what he desires. He doesn’t sin. Let them marry. But he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own heart, to keep his own virgin, does well. So then both he who gives his own virgin in marriage does well, and he who doesn’t give her in marriage does better. A wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in the Lord. 

1 Corinthians 7 [40.] But she is happier if she stays as she is, in my judgment, and I think that I also have God’s Spirit.


This verse provides guidance on the marital status of a widow and, in societal context, all spouses. It underscores the freedom of choice individuals have when it comes to marriage within the Christian context. This verse, authored by the apostle Paul, addresses the unique circumstances of widows and widowers within the broader discussion of marriage and singleness in 1 Corinthians 7.

  • Binding Nature of Marriage: 

The verse begins by affirming the binding nature of marriage, stating that a spouse is bound by law as long as their partner lives. This reflects the biblical understanding of the lifelong commitment and covenant inherent in the marriage relationship.

  • Freedom After the Husband's Death: 

The verse introduces a key principle, declaring that if one spouse is dead, the other is free to be married again. This recognizes the change in marital status brought about by the death of a spouse, releasing the surviving spouse from the obligations of the marital covenant.

  • Qualification "Only in the Lord": 

The freedom to remarry for a widow comes with the qualification "only in the Lord." This phrase emphasizes the importance of believers marrying within the Christian faith, ensuring that the union is in accordance with the principles and values of the Christian worldview.

Significance and Reflection:

Respect for the Covenant of Marriage: The acknowledgment of the binding nature of marriage affirms the sanctity and seriousness of the marital covenant. While recognizing the freedom for widows to remarry, the verse underscores the respect and commitment associated with the institution of marriage.

Freedom of Choice: The verse highlights the autonomy and freedom of choice that spouses possess in deciding whether to remarry. This reflects a biblical perspective that respects individual agency and recognizes that life circumstances, including the loss of a spouse, can lead to a reconsideration of one's marital status.

Guidance for Christian Marriages: The qualification "only in the Lord" emphasizes the importance of believers aligning their choices, including marriage, with Christian principles. This guidance ensures that the remarriage of a widow is in harmony with the shared faith and values of the Christian community.

Cross References:

Romans 7:2-3: The concept of being bound by law as long as a spouse lives is echoed in Romans 7:2-3. This passage elaborates on the analogy of marriage to highlight the binding nature of the covenant until death, providing a broader context for the understanding presented in 1 Corinthians 7:39.

2 Corinthians 6:14: The principle of believers being united with those who share the same faith is emphasized in 2 Corinthians 6:14. This aligns with the qualification "only in the Lord," emphasizing the importance of spiritual compatibility in marriage.

In Conclusion: 1 Corinthians 7:39 addresses the specific circumstances of spouses within the framework of Christian marriage. It affirms the binding nature of marriage while recognizing the freedom to remarry, with the crucial qualification that such marriages should be entered into "only in the Lord." As we reflect on this verse, we are guided by biblical principles that respect the sanctity of marriage and promote choices aligned with our faith.

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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