The Meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:8 Explained

1 Corinthians 7:8

KJV: I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

YLT: And I say to the unmarried and to the widows: it is good for them if they may remain even as I am;

Darby: But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, It is good for them that they remain even as I.

ASV: But I say to the unmarried and to widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

What does 1 Corinthians 7:8 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Who are the "unmarried" (Gr. agamois) that Paul had in view? Most interpreters have taken this word in its broadest possible meaning, namely, all categories of unmarried people. Others, however, take it to refer to widowers since Paul also specified widows in this verse and since he dealt with males and females in balance in this chapter. There is a Greek word for "widowers," but it does not appear in the koine Greek period. Agamos served in its place. [1] I prefer the former view: all unmarried people.
The unmarried state has some advantages over the married state even though it is better for most people to marry ( Genesis 2:18). Since singleness is not a sinful condition, married people should not look down on single people or pity them because they are unmarried. Sometimes married people tend to do this because singles do not enjoy the pleasures of married life. Notwithstanding they enjoy the pleasures of single life that married individuals do not. Married people should not pressure single people to get married just because they are single.

Context Summary

1 Corinthians 7:1-14 - Marriage Bonds
The Apostle first addresses the unmarried, 1 Corinthians 7:1, etc. He speaks elsewhere reverently of marriage, Ephesians 5:23. Forbidding to marry is in his judgment a symptom of apostasy, 1 Timothy 4:1-3. His recommendations here were evidently due to the special circumstances of that difficult and perilous time. The loftiest conception of marriage is the wedding of two souls, each of which, has found its affinity; the Apostle is treating here the only conception of marriage entertained by these recent converts from paganism. He deals with them on their own level, with the determination of ultimately leading them to view marriage from Christ's standpoint. It is often well to fast from lawful things, that we may surrender ourselves more absolutely to the Spirit of God.
In addressing the married, 1 Corinthians 7:10, etc., Paul is not dealing with the formation of marriage ties; they are settled by 2 Corinthians 6:14. He is deciding what course shall be followed, when either a husband or a wife has become a Christian, the other remaining unchanged. He decides that the Christian should not separate, so long as the unbelieving partner is willing to continue their life together. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Corinthians 7

1  He discusses marriage;
4  showing it to be a remedy against sinful desires,
10  and that the bond thereof ought not lightly to be dissolved
20  Every man must be content with his vocation
25  Virginity wherefore to be embraced;
35  and for what respects we may either marry, or abstain from marrying

Greek Commentary for 1 Corinthians 7:8

To the unmarried and to the widows [τοις αγαμοις και ταις χηραις]
It is possible that by “the unmarried” (masculine plural) the apostle means only men since widows are added and since virgins receive special treatment later (1 Corinthians 7:25) and in 1 Corinthians 7:32 ο αγαμος — ho agamos is the unmarried man. It is hardly likely that Paul means only widowers and widows and means to call himself a widower by ως καγω — hōs kagō (even as I). After discussing marital relations in 1 Corinthians 7:2-7 he returns to the original question in 1 Corinthians 7:1 and repeats his own personal preference as in 1 Corinthians 7:7. He does not say that it is better to be unmarried, but only that it is good (καλον — kalon as in 1 Corinthians 7:1) for them to remain unmarried. Αγαμος — Agamos is an old word and in N.T. occurs only in this passage. In 1 Corinthians 7:11, 1 Corinthians 7:34 it is used of women where the old Greeks would have used ανανδρος — anandros without a husband. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Corinthians 7:8

Acts 26:10 Gave my voice [κατήνεγκα ψῆφον]
Lit., laid down my vote. See on counteth, Luke 14:28. Some suppose that Paul here refers to casting his vote as a member of the Sanhedrim; in which case he must have been married and the father of a family. But this there is no reason for believing (compare 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 7:8); and the phrase may be taken as expressing merely moral assent and approval. [source]
1 Corinthians 7:12 To the rest []
He has been speaking to the unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:8) and to married parties, both of whom were Christians (1 Corinthians 7:10). By the rest he means married couples, one of which remained a heathen. [source]
1 Corinthians 7:7 As I myself []
Not unmarried, but continent. It is not necessary to assume that Paul had never been married. Marriage was regarded as a duty among the Jews, so that a man was considered to have sinned if he had reached the age of twenty without marrying. The Mishna fixed the age of marriage at seventeen or eighteen, and the Babylonish Jews as early as fourteen. A rabbinical precept declared that a Jew who has no wife is not a man. It is not certain, but most probable, that Saul was a member of the Sanhedrim (Acts 26:10). If so, he must have been married, as marriage was a condition of membership. From 1 Corinthians 7:8it is plausibly inferred that he classed himself among widowers. Farrar (“Life and Work of St. Paul,” i., 80) has some beautiful remarks upon the evidence for his marriage afforded by the wisdom and tenderness of his words concerning it. [source]
1 Corinthians 7:10 I give charge [παραγγελλω]
Not mere wish as in 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 7:8. Not I, but the Lord (ουκ εγω αλλα ο κυριος — ouk egō alla ho kurios). Paul had no commands from Jesus to the unmarried (men or women), but Jesus had spoken to the married (husbands and wives) as in Matthew 5:31.; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:9-12; Luke 16:18. The Master had spoken plain words about divorce. Paul reenforces his own inspired command by the command of Jesus. In Mark 10:9 we have from Christ: “What therefore God joined together let not man put asunder” (μη χοριζετω — mē chorizetō). That the wife depart not from her husband First aorist passive infinitive (indirect command after παραγγελλω — paraggellō) of χοριζω — chorizō old verb from adverbial preposition χωρις — chōris separately, apart from, from. Here used of divorce by the wife which, though unusual then, yet did happen as in the case of Salome (sister of Herod the Great) and of Herodias before she married Herod Antipas. Jesus also spoke of it (Mark 10:12). Now most of the divorces are obtained by women. This passive infinitive is almost reflexive in force according to a constant tendency in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, p. 817).sa120 [source]
1 Timothy 5:3 Widows [χήρας]
Paul alludes to widows in 1 Corinthians 7:8only, where he advises them against remarrying. They are mentioned as a class in Acts 6:1, in connection with the appointment of the seven. Also Acts 9:39, Acts 9:41. In the Pastorals they receive special notice, indicating their advance from the position of mere beneficiaries to a quasi-official position in the church. from the very first, the church recognised its obligation to care for their support. A widow, in the East, was peculiarly desolate and helpless. In return for their maintenance certain duties were required of them, such as the care of orphans, sick and prisoners, and they were enrolled in an order, which, however, did not include all of their number who received alms of the church. In Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians, they are styled “the altar of God.” To such an order the references in the Pastorals point. The Fathers, from the end of the second century to the fourth, recognised a class known as πρεσβύτιδες agedwomen (Titus 2:3), who had oversight of the female church-members and a separate seat in the congregation. The council of Laodicaea abolished this institution, or so modified it that widows no longer held an official relation to the church. [source]
1 Timothy 5:14 That the younger women marry [νεωτέρας γαμεῖν]
Better, the younger widows. This seems to be required by οὖν therefore, connecting the subject of the verb with the class just described. They are enjoined to marry, rather than to assume a position in the church which they might disgrace by the conduct described in 1 Timothy 5:11-13. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:9. [source]
1 Timothy 3:2 The husband of one wife [μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα]
Comp. 1 Timothy 3:12; Titus 1:6. Is the injunction aimed (a) at immoralities respecting marriage - concubinage, etc., or (b) at polygamy, or (c) at remarriage after death or divorce? The last is probably meant. Much of the difficulty arises from the assumption that the Pastorals were written by Paul. In that case his views seem to conflict. See Romans 7:2, Romans 7:3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 8:9, where Paul declares that widows are free to marry again, and puts widows and virgins on the same level; and comp. 1 Timothy 5:9, according to which a widow is to be enrolled only on the condition of having been the wife of but one man. The Pauline view is modified in detail by the writer of the Pastorals. Paul, while asserting that marriage is right and honorable, regards celibacy as the higher state (1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 7:26, 1 Corinthians 7:34, 1 Corinthians 7:37, 1 Corinthians 7:38). In this the Pastoral writer does not follow him (see 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 3:12; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 5:10, 1 Timothy 5:14). The motive for marriage, namely, protection against incontinency, which is adduced by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:9, is given in 1 Timothy 5:11-14. As in Paul, the married state is honorable, for Bishops, Deacons, and Presbyters are married (1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:12; Titus 1:6), and the honor of childbearing conferred upon the mother of our Lord is reflected in the Christian woman of later times (1 Timothy 2:15). While Paul advises against second marriages (1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:9, 1 Corinthians 7:27, 1 Corinthians 7:39, 1 Corinthians 7:40), in the Pastorals emphasis is laid only on the remarriage of church-officers and church-widows. In the Pastorals we see a reflection of the conditions of the earlier post-apostolic age, when a non-Pauline asceticism was showing itself (see 1 Timothy 4:3, 1 Timothy 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:8; Titus 1:15). The opposition to second marriage became very strong in the latter part of the second century. It was elevated into an article of faith by the Montanists, and was emphasized by Tertullian, and by Athenagoras, who called second marriage “a specious adultery” ( εὐπρεπής μοιχεία )|Vigilant ( νηφάλιον )|Only in the Pastorals. See 1 Timothy 3:11, and Titus 2:2. olxx. The kindred verb νήφειν means to be sober with reference to drink, and, in a metaphorical sense, to be sober and wary; cool and unimpassioned. Thus Epicharmus, νᾶφε καὶ μέμνας ἀπιστεῖν bewary and remember not to be credulous. See on 1 Thessalonians 5:6. In N.T. the meaning of the verb is always metaphorical, to be calm, dispassionate, and circumspect. The A.V. vigilant is too limited. Wise caution may be included; but it is better to render sober, as A.V. in 1 Timothy 3:11and Titus 2:2, in the metaphorical sense as opposed to youthful levity.|Of good behavior ( κόσμιον )|oP. Only here and 1 Timothy 2:9, see note. Rend. orderly.|Given to hospitality ( φιλόξενον )|oP. Comp. Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9. See note on pursuing hospitality, Romans 12:13.|Apt to teach ( διδακτικόν )|oP. Only here and 2 Timothy 2:24. olxx, oClass. In the Pastorals the function of teaching pertains to both Bishops and Elders (see 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:9). It is at this point that the tendency to confound and identify the two reveals itself. Bishops and Presbyters are not identical. Earlier, the teaching function does not seem to have attached to the position of ἐπίσκοπος. The office acquired a different character when it assumed that function, which is not assigned to it in Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians. In the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (about 100 a.d.) the ministry of teaching is to be assumed by the Bishops only in the absence of the Prophets and Teachers (xiii., xv).| [source]
1 Timothy 5:3 That are widows indeed [τας οντως χηρας]
For οντως — ontōs (actually, really), see Luke 23:47; 1 Corinthians 14:25; and 1 Timothy 5:5. For widows (χηρα — chēra) see note on Mark 12:40; note on Mark 12:42; note on Acts 6:1; and note on 1 Corinthians 7:8. Parry notes that in 1 Timothy 5:3-8 Paul discusses widows who are in distress and 1 Timothy 5:9 those who are in the employment of the local church for certain work. Evidently, as in Acts 6:1-6, so here in Ephesus there had arisen some trouble over the widows in the church. Both for individual cases of need and as a class Timothy is to show proper respect (τιμα — timā keep on honouring) the widows. [source]
Revelation 14:4 For they are virgins [παρτενοι γαρ εισιν]
Παρτενος — Parthenos can be applied to men as well as women. Swete takes this language “metaphorically, as the symbolical character of the Book suggests.” Charles considers it an interpolation in the interest of celibacy for both men and women. If taken literally, the words can refer only to adultery or fornication (Beckwith). Jesus recognised abstinence only for those able to receive it (Matthew 19:12), as did Paul (1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:32, 1 Corinthians 7:36). Marriage is approved by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:3 and by Hebrews 13:4. The New Testament exalts marriage and this passage should not be construed as degrading it.Whithersoever he goeth (οπου αν υπαγει — hopou an hupagei). Indefinite local clause with modal αν — an and the present active indicative of υπαγω — hupagō The Christian life is following the Lamb of God as Jesus taught (Mark 2:14; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:59; John 1:43; John 21:19, etc.) and as Peter taught (1 Peter 2:21) and John (1 John 2:6).Were purchased from among men First aorist passive indicative of αγοραζω — agorazō repeating the close of Revelation 14:3.First fruits (απαρχη — aparchē). See for this word 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5. This seems to mean that the 144,000 represent not the whole, but only a portion of the great harvest to come (Matthew 9:37), not only the first installment, but those marked by high spiritual service to God and the Lamb (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5). [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Corinthians 7:8 mean?

I say now to the unmarried and to the widows [it is] good for them if they should remain as even I
Λέγω δὲ τοῖς ἀγάμοις καὶ ταῖς χήραις καλὸν αὐτοῖς ἐὰν μείνωσιν ὡς κἀγώ

Λέγω  I  say 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
τοῖς  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀγάμοις  unmarried 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ἄγαμος  
Sense: unmarried, unwedded, single.
ταῖς  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
χήραις  widows 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: χήρα  
Sense: a widow.
καλὸν  [it  is]  good 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Singular
Root: καλός  
Sense: beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable.
αὐτοῖς  for  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
μείνωσιν  they  should  remain 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: μένω  
Sense: to remain, abide.
κἀγώ  even  I 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative 1st Person Singular
Root: κἀγώ  
Sense: and I.