Re: 1 Cor 7:27

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 2 Sep 1996 08:36:16 -0500

At 6:00 AM -0500 9/2/96, William Dicks wrote:
>I have sent this message to b-greek before, but have not received
>satisfactory answers. I hope I may send it to you for comment?!
>I have been reading in 1 Cor 7 concerning marriage, divorce, etc. v27
>I understand that LELUSAI is Perfect M/P Indicative, and that the Perfect
>tense denotes a present condition based upon a past action. This then would
>mean that the person spoken about here was once bound, got loosed and is
>still loosed. Which comes to my question. Does Paul in the context, based on
>v28 then say that a person that were divorced/loosed can then get married
>again? Theologically I have always believed, once divorced never to remarry
>again. But, plain theology is not the issue here. What do you guys say about
>the text here?
>I will appreciate any comments here.

I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for here, but since you've put the
question directly to me and specifically asked what I think it means _in
its context_, I'll comment, and I'm sure Don Wilkins will have his comment
also. It's probably just as well that this does NOT continue directly on
b-greek, because my answer might upset some of the inerrantists on the list.

I think that Paul is here responding to a question asked him by the
Corinthian congregation. He says quite specifically in 7:25 that he is NOT
basing his advice upon a saying of Jesus (EPITAGHN KURIOU)--so that,
whatever one may think of Paul's advice "as one who by the Lord's mercy is
trustworthy," he is NOT referring to the Jesus-saying in the Synoptics
regarding divorce and remarriage.

Moreover, I don't think that he's talking about divorce and remarriage at
all, but rather about BETROTHAL, and moreover, that he is offering this
advice on the basis of his expectation of the imminent world-end. Just as
he offers the advice that one should not, if a slave, seek emancipation
(not because he is pro-slavery, obviously, but because he expect's God's
new order to establish the right social norms--very soon--) so, if one is
engaged to be married to a woman (7:25 indicated that he's speaking about
PARQENOI, unmarried women), one should not endeavor to be released from the
obligation to go through with that marriage. If, on the other hand, one HAS
ALREADY BEEN RELEASED from such a commitment to marry, then one should not
endeavor to enter into a new commitment to a woman. I won't go on to
discuss verse 28, except to say that there too it appears to me clear that
he is still dealing with an engagement to marry a PARQENOS rather than a
consummated marriage relationship. So: in this passage we are NOT dealing
with the question of divorce and remarriage at all, but rather with a
question based upon an understanding of the present time before the return
of Jesus as very short, the question being, given the shortness of the time
left in this world-age, whether one ought to enter into long-term personal
relationships such as marriage.

I rather suspect this is not what you were looking for, but it is,
nevertheless, my view of the passage in question. The perfect tense does
indeed refer to the present obligation to which the person addressed is
subject because of an agreement that he has made--a contract to marry. Paul
seems to be saying that one should carry out the commitments one has made
and not seek to be released from them--but that one shouldn't, given the
shortness of the time left in the world, make NEW commitments of a
long-term nature. Paul's advice, therefore, is offered upon what we now
know to be a mistaken estimate of the nearness of Jesus' return, and for
that reason, I think his advice--on THIS subject, at least--has ceased to
have any clear relevance for later generations. That's my opinion, at any

Best wishes, cwc

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR