1 Corinthians 7:6-7: A Caveat And A Framework For ‘The Sayings’ In 7:8-24 -- By: Bruce W. Winter

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 48:1 (NA 1997)
Article: 1 Corinthians 7:6-7: A Caveat And A Framework For ‘The Sayings’ In 7:8-24
Author: Bruce W. Winter


1 Corinthians 7:6-7: A Caveat And A Framework For ‘The Sayings’ In 7:8-24

Bruce W. Winter

Summary

It is the case that, with verbs of saying, the neuter demonstrative pronoun (‘this’) often introduces the subordinate clause with an implied ‘that’ (as in, ‘I say this,[that]…’ We contend that this same construction in 1 Corinthians 7:6 helps to unlock the pattern of Paul’s thought in 1 Corinthians 7:8-24. 1 Corinthians 7:6 does not refer to the contents of 7:1-5, but emphatically to 7:7a where δέ assumes an adverbial role of ‘rather’ in Paul’s caveat. With the strong adversative ‘but’ (ἀλλά) in 7:7b he acknowledges that either singleness or marriage is a divine gift and then proceed to discuss aspects of these gifts and callings of God in 7:8-24.

There is diversity of opinion on the relationship of 1 Corinthians 7:6-7 to its wider context and, as a result, widely differing interpretations of 7:1-24 have been offered. The resolution of some of the alternatives narrows down to the referent of the neuter demonstrative pronoun, ‘this’ (τοῦτο), in 7:6. Commentators on 1 Corinthians have themselves seen how important ‘this’ is in determining the overall interpretation of the passage. Some have suggested that the neuter demonstrative pronoun refers to marriage in 7:2: ‘But because of the temptation to immoralities, each man must have his own wife and each woman must have her own husband.’ Thus they have concluded that Paul sees marriage as a concession to the lack of self—control and a less desirable option for Christians.1 Others see the phrase ‘by way of concession’ pointing to temporary sexual abstinence and ‘this’ refers to Paul’s whole response (7:2-5) to the question raised by letter from the

Corinthian Christians (7:1). Paul is therefore seen to agree with what some see as the Corinthians’ positi...

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