Called Us to Peace

1Corinthians 7:12-16 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother has a wife that believes not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace. For what know thou, O wife, whether thou shall save thy husband? or how know thou, O man, whether thou shall save thy wife? 

‘Let her not leave him’ – That men and women have complete equal rights is clear in all Scripture (7:2-5, 10-16, 27-40; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).

‘Sanctified’ [Greek: hagiazo] Here it simply means that the unbeliever, by virtue of being one flesh with a Christian, is not considered living in an unlawful relationship. It also refers to the spiritual influence and power the Christian holds over the unbelieving companion. It could not mean that the Christian could save the soul of the unbeliever. Should the sanctification referred to here not be allowed, the children would be considered ceremonially unclean, not to be received by Christians or given any rights and privileges of Christians. Children also qualify for God’s provision – which includes protection -because of the one saved parent.

‘Unclean; but now are they holy.’ Jews considered any child born out of holiness if born of parents who were not proselytes at the time of his birth, even though afterwards they became proselytes. On the other hand, they considered children of heathen born in holiness, provided the parents became proselytes before the birth of their children. All heathen children were considered unclean by Jews; and all their own children holy. Heathen mothers went through certain ceremonies to idols and children were consecrated to the goddess Statina. Children of Christians came into the world without these impure and unhallowed heathen rites and were consecrated to God. This is what the apostle alludes to here. ‘If the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God has called us to peace.’ Here we have another legal and scriptural reason for divorce and remarriage. If the unbeliever refuses to live with a wife or husband because of Christianity and if he or she is determined to leave on this account, the Christian is not under further marriage bonds and is not held responsible or punished by requirement to remain single the rest of his or her life because of the rebellion of another. The Christian is to submit to the breaking of the marriage covenant under such circumstances.

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