1 Corinthians 7:25-40
This World Is Passing Away
Imagine for a moment that you are living in a country where those of the Christian faith are persecuted. You must meet in secret to worship or to have a Bible study together. Even being found with a Bible in your house or on your person can get you into serious trouble. Christians are being imprisoned for the faith, some languishing there and others dying. Now let us say that you love this woman or man and desire to marry. Perhaps you were engaged to one another before coming to saving faith. What do you do? Do you go through with marriage or would it be best “under the present distress” to refrain?
I place this scenario before us to understand the circumstances under which these Corinthian Christians were living, and which some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are living under today. As we mentioned before, it seems that some in the church at Corinth were advocating that the betrothed should not marry since “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” As we have seen, Paul disagrees: Marriage is a good thing. But Paul here highlights the present distress that these Christians are under as something to consider. Our Lord himself referred to a similar set of circumstances which this fallen world deals us, feeling sorrow for those women who would be expecting or nursing when Jerusalem fell, as he prophesied would happen (Matthew 24:19; Mark 13:17; Luke 21:23). So Paul simply highlights the present circumstances for those Corinthians wondering whether they should marry, and the consequences of that choice; and there is no wrong answer.
But the crux of the passage is 7:29-31, ending with the line, “The present form of this world is passing away.” Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether one marries or not, buys or sells, or laughs or cries. Why is this? Because the Christian is living for the next world. Gordon Fee writes, “Those who have a definite future and see it with clarity live in the present with radically altered values as to what counts and what does not” (NICNT, 339). The circumstances of this life are not to dictate the terms under which Christians live—the next life is. Our future is the Kingdom of heaven, and in the light of that Kingdom, the things of this world pale into insignificance—yes, even very significant decisions like marriage, which deserves all the prayer and godly wisdom one can utilize. So Paul would have us to understand that the end of the issue is to remain heavenly-minded and Kingdom-focused, for this world is passing away. So whatever we decide to do, let us do it to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17).