Re: I Corinthians 7:27 - "loosed"

From: Ward Powers (
Date: Mon Nov 22 1999 - 01:15:04 EST

B-greekers all,

At 20:23 99/11/20 -0800, Marty Livingston wrote:
>Hello All,
>Would love and appreciate very much reading your
>comments regarding two terms - "loosed" and "loosed."
>"Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be LOOSED.
>Art thou LOOSED from a wife? Seek not a wife" (I
>Cor.7:27) KJV.

Firstly, I join Carl Conrad in extending to you a very warm welcome to
Biblical Greek.

One of the things you will see on this list (perhaps you have noticed it
already) is that on many issues relating to Biblical Greek we feel free to
differ from one another. And we do.

One such issue on which there are differing views is that which lies within
the verse you have raised for our consideration: the validity, from a
Christain perspective of divorce and ramarriage.

Just recently there was on b-greek a long-running discussion about Matthew
19:9. (Marty, were you on the list then, to catch that discussion?) In this
verse Jesus says that anyone who divorces his wife (apart from PORNEIA -
much of the difference of opinion centred on the meaning of this word) and
marries another woman commits adultery.

Some of our list members hold the view that Jesus is here calling
remarriage "adultery" and that this must mean that in God's eyes the first
marriage continues in force so that the (purported) divorce and second
marriage is invalid. That is why (and that is how we know that) the man's
new relationship is adultery.

Indeed, some contributors said that in Mt 19:9 Jesus is forbidding
remarriage after divorce. (I can't see this in the verse myself. What I see
there is Jesus pointing out that a certain course of conduct is adultery.
Which is not the same thing.)

Now, 1 Cor 7:27 raises this issue again, but in terms of Paul's teaching.

Earlier in this chapter (7:11), Paul has said that a wife who has broken
with her partner is AGAMOS, "no longer married". And he has also said (in
verses 8-9) that a person who is AGAMOS and does not have the gift to live
celibate must remarry.

Now in verses 25-28 Paul comments on the same issue again, from another
angle. Because of the particular crisis circumstances of the time (opinions
differ as to what this is - I am not persuaded by Carl's interpretation
here), a virgin is advised to remain as she is (i.e., a virgin; verses 25-26).

Then Paul says, "Are you bound to a wife?" The word used is DEDESAI, the
perfect middle/passive of DEOMAI, "to bind". The perfect form of this verb
means, "Have you become bound to a wife and are you still bound to her?" To
such a person he says, "Do not seek an unbinding, a release, a divorce."

Paul continues, "Have you ecome loosed?" This word is LELUSAI, again a
perfect middle/passive (of LUW). This perfect word form indicates an action
(the loosening or breaking or terminating of a bond) resulting in a state
(of being loosed, i.e. no longer bound).

Therefore I wholeheartedly agree with Carl Conrad in his email to you when
he says that he does not see how this expression "can have any meaning at
all unless we assume that the addressee has at one time been married".

Next, Paul says (verses 27b,28), "Do not look for a wife. But if you do
marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned."
It is (in my judgement) important to note three points from this verse.

First, Paul does not refer to the divorcing of the wife, and say that THAT
is not a sin: this fact is very significant, I believe, for a correct
understanding of the situation.

Second, Paul distinguishes the situation of the person he addresses as
"you", i.e. a person who has had a LUSIS (a divorce), from that on the
other hand of the person who has never been married, the PARQENOS (cf. also
v.25), because he mentions them both separately, and states that in EACH
case it is not a sin if that person marries.

Third, Paul teaches that a person who is divorced is AGAMOS, "unmarried"
(v.11), and that if such a person remarries this is not a sin (v.28). The
sin is the divorce or, more accurately, the sundering of the marriage
relationship which preceded and produced the divorce (1 Cor 7:10; cf. the
word of Jesus in Mt 19:6).

So Marty, in answer to your question, Yes. But quite a bit is at stake in
this answer.



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:
AUSTRALIA. Director, Tyndale College

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