Saturday, September 27, 2008

See, I am Fallible!!!!!!
(and a discussion of the Radical Marriage Mandators too!!!!!!!!)
I was just reading up on Jim West's, and Lawrence Mykytiuk's comments on the Seal of Gedaliah, which I wrote about a while back. I have to admit, I think Jim brings up a good point that there is nothing on the seal to identify this with the Biblical Gedaliah. I had originally went down this road, but I thought that Finkelstein would have said something if this were possible. I must, therefore, agree with Jim West that, given that we don't know the frequency of these names in Jerusalem, we cannot identify it with the Biblical Gedaliah.
However, I must disagree with his comments that we cannot allow the Bible to interpret our Archaeology. He says, "Or, it’s equally possible, isn’t it, that the biblical account is based on historical factlets without itself being ‘historical’." For the Christian, the answer is simply "No, it is not possible." We are called to "Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ" [2 Corinthians 10:5]. Hence, we view history as being under the sovereign direction of God. Hence, if this does refer to the man spoken of by the Book of Jeremiah, we must understand him in the light of what the scripture says. Then, I would go on to argue that any philosophy of history other than the Christian philosophy of history makes nonsense out of the study of history.
The mistake that myself and Mazor made is that there is nothing in the Bible that says that this is, indeed, the seal of the Gedaliah that tried Jeremiah. I am willing to grant, therefore, that it is indeed possible that there was another Gedaliah that lived at this time, and that he is the owner of that seal, since the scriptures do not rule out that possibility.
However, I will not allow the liberal media off that easy. To this I simply would like to comment on Lawrence Mykytiuk's comments. He noted many of the same things I did, namely, that the script is consistent with this time period, and it was found on a controlled archaeological dig by a respected archaeologist. Hence, this makes it, at very least, difficult to question whether or not it is genuine. He also says that it is, at least, a reasonable hypothesis that this is the seal of the Gedaliah son of Pishhur mentioned in the book of Jeremiah. Therefore, you need to understand that the discovery of this seal does tell us that the book of Jeremiah, at least in this respect, is consistent with the time period in which the book of Jeremiah claims to have been written. Hence, if authentic [and I have little reason to doubt that it is authentic], it would at least confirm the historical accuracy of Jeremiah, namely, that it would further show that Jeremiah's writing shows a knowledge of the time period in which the events spoken of in the book took place.
Let me ask a simple question to drive this home. Why is it that a seal bearing a Biblical name in the script from that time period, recovered by a respected archaeologist, and having a reasonable hypothesis that this is the seal of the Biblical character gets absolutely no media attention, and the Talpiot Tomb theory, which was mocked and laughed at by secular and Jewish archaeologists alike, gets an entire program on the Discovery channel? I cannot figure it out, other than to point out that Christians are not the only ones who are ideologically driven. Hence, while I must agree with Jim West about this seal, it still shows the incredible bias of the leftest media.
As a Van Tillian, am not going to rest my faith on this discovery, but I think it is telling that this seal has gotten no media attention.
Now, from the academic, to people who are simply out of control. I happened to go over to the Boundless Blog today, and, much to my shagrin, found the following comments:
A few of us because concerned about the roots of this problem coming from the proliferation of the "gift of singleness" teachings of the past few decades. This phrase was actually an embellishment of the Living Bible of the 70's (now the NLT), that caught on among singleness writers, becoming somewhat of a rogue doctrine. A few of us became fed up the fact that not only was in not in the original Greek text, but with how it caused so many people to doubt whether or not God was on their side about the goodness of pursuing marriage. So we got together and successfully campaigned to the NLT to have it removed! HALLELUJIAH, IT'S GONE!!
Now, I am assuming that this is the same Jennifer that posts under the screenname Gortexgrrl. Of course, what is maddening about this is that I already addressed this issue a long time ago. As I mentioned in that post, I know one of the translators for the NLT, and if you go to that post, you will see that everything Jennifer is saying here is wrong. She says that she "successfully campaigned to the NLT to have it removed." Of course, the NLT translators told me that they did nothing because they agreed with these women. They did, indeed, decide to reconsider their translation of the passage, but the change was made because they didn't feel translating the passage in this way, and bringing out the fact that Paul was calling singleness a gift here would show the connection between this passage and the following discussion about spiritual gifts. The only thing on which the NLT translators were willing to agree with these women was that this text should not be used to forbid those who would like to marry from marrying or pursuing marriage, which no one was teaching in the first place! In fact, even worse for these girls, is that the NLT translators say that they still believe this passage teaches that singleness is a gift! Now, how did Gortexgrrl respond to this? Did she take back what she said? Did she, at very least, nuance what she said? No, she just said:
Whatever, Adam.
We're just glad the GoS is G.O.N.E.
Notice, no nuancing of what she said. No admittance that the NLT translators do not agree with her, and no acknowledgement that they did not remove this phrase because of their campaigning. Just a response of "whatever." Keep in mind, she knew all of these things before she repeated the same thing in this post on the Boundless Blog!
Not only that, but, [and I have said this before], but I have pointed out that this girl does not know Greek. I pointed out that in her article on 1 Corinthians 7, she simply put the dictionary form down for every word, and acted as if that was the Greek of the text. Here is what she said was the Greek of 1 Corinthians 7:6-9:
De lego touto kata suggnome ou kata epitage 7) Gar thelo pas anthropos einai kai hos emautou alla hekastos echo IDIOS CHARISMA ek theos HOS MEN HOUTO DE HOS HOUTO. 8) Lego de agamos kai chera esti KALOS autos ean meno kago hos kago 9) De ei egkrateuomai ou egkrateuomai GAMEO gar esti kreitton gameo e puroo."
Those of you who know Greek know what I mean. This is incapable of translation. Again, these are all things I have pointed out before this. Now, what is interesting is that, even after pointing this stuff out, what do we have on her post on the Boundless Blog? Well, she says the following with regards to Jesus' words in Matthew 19:12:
Christ then concludes this verse by stating A SECOND TIME the conditions he set in verse 11, reiterating clearly that it is for those capable of receiving it (rather than obeying under compulsion or command from God): Dunamai choreo choreo (He that is able to receive (it), let him receive (it).
Now, is that really the Greek of Matthew 19:12? Well, you guessed it. She did the exact same thing that she did in her article on 1 Corinthians 7, that is, she posted all of the dictionary forms of the words, somehow assuming that this was the way the Greek text read! However, what is even worse this time, is that she left out the article! The Greek text actually reads "ho dunamenos chorein choreito."
Now, I am not saying this because I think that it will somehow change Jennifer's mind. She believes she is right, and, even on something as easily demonstratable as these things, she still is going ahead. However, I was concerned because of the following comment that was left in response to her:
I am glad you brought your study of the original language into your post, God's word has final authority.

The ability to "receive" a teaching may well be what Jesus was referring to in that instance, but does that negate a view of giftedness including all you have been given? What have you NOT been given, in truth?

The label "gift" applies to far more than temporary pleasure, and all things work together for ultimate good (Romans 8). It does not seem a stretch to put all our circumstances and limitations and, dare I say, even sins into His hands & trust Him to use all for His glory & our good since that is His promise.

However, changing the label of "gift" doesn't change our responsibility. I've heard various teaching on "gifts" and have come to the conclusion that it's an area that causes sidetracking because the edges are fuzzy. I should've thought of that before I used the term!
Now, I have to say I am encouraged because it is obvious that this woman is using discernment. The problem is that she has no idea about the fact that Jennifer didn't even post the Greek text, but just simply went through and posted the dictionary form of each word! She also has no idea that the NLT did not remove anything because of these girl's campaigning. You see, this is what I am afraid of with this kind of thing. Many girls who have not heard of Debbie Maken, Captain Sensible, Gortexgrrl, etc. will be sucked into this simply out of ignorance. She has no way to check on these things. For all she knows, Jennifer has studied many years of Greek, and campaigned at the Society for Biblical Literature to have these things removed.
Hence, so that this rumor does not go any further, I am inviting everyone who is interested in this topic to post my response to this stuff found here on their blog, so we can get it out to as many people as possible. I figure that, if we can get this article out, it will at least make it harder for Gortexgrrl and Captain Sensible to go around saying these things all because of the ignorance of the people to whom they are talking. I also have written a response to this stuff at the Boundless Blog, but it would be a total waste of time to go around looking for everytime this issue has come up on the internet, expecially since I am preoccupied with my classes here at Trinity. Hence, anyone who is interested in posting the relevant section of that article on their blog, you have my permission.

21 comments:

Kuya Kevin said...

Here's my question:

Is there a connection between the "gift" of singleness and the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12? I'm just wondering. I'm not a "marriage mandate" guy, but I'm not a big fan of the "gift of singleness" idea either.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Hey Kuya Kevin!

That is the position of the NLT translators. I think it is a respectable position, but I do need to qualify.

I think the problem is that many times, whether it be on something like the gift of singleness, or the marriage mandators, we often will read definitions of things into the text that are not a part of the text. For example, Candice Watters likes to read into the idea of "wholehearted devotion to God" some kind of gospel service, and even tries to bring in Paul's occupation as a minister of the gospel when there is nothing lexically or contextually that demands it.

I think the same thing is true of the Gift of Singleness. Many people draw the wrong conclusions about the gift of singleness, and seem to think that there is something wrong with them if they would like to get married. That is not at all part of the text. What Paul says is that some people are living the life of a single person, and some people are living the life of a married person, and each lifestyle is a blessing of God. Hence, rather than saying that there is something wrong with someone who would like to go over to the married lifestyle, it says that it is a perfectly good and normal thing for a person to desire, since the state of marriage is a gift of God as well.

Hence, I would say the issue is not really over the vocabulary used, but over the meanings of the words. When we call singleness a gift, we need to understand it in *Paul's* context, and not in *our* context. That is extremely hard for many people in this discussion to do, but I believe it is the best solution to this problem.

As I see it, in Paul's context he is affirming the validity of both married and single lives, and points out that we each have our own gift from God in this area. If we would like to be married, it is therefore just fine, and, in fact, encouraged to look for a spouse. However, if God tells us "wait," we need to [apart from continuing to pray about it, and be proactive] realize that he has done so for a reason, and trust in him that his gift for this season of our life will produce a fruit of righteousness.

I hope this helps.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

"However, if God tells us "wait," we need to [apart from continuing to pray about it, and be proactive] realize that he has done so for a reason, and trust in him that his gift for this season of our life will produce a fruit of righteousness."

Whaaa??? Where does 1 Cor 7 say "if God tells us wait"?? There's nothing in this passage that suggests that God might tell you to do one thing or other when it comes to marriage and singleness. From the sounds of this chapter it's left up to the individual to make that choice, based on what's wise, what their gifts are, what they are willing to sacrifice to God.

finn said...

When Paul is talking about "gifts", he's not talking about "lifestyles", he's talking about abilities, talents, unique to the person.

Kuya Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kuya Kevin said...

Puritancalvinist,
I agree with you.

I actually wrote a devotion with similar sentiments over at my blog.

KuyaKevin.com: Decisions and God's Will . ..

Having said all this, I do think we have to be very careful to interpret 1 Cor 7 in light of the Bible's overall affirmation of marriage.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

I wasn't exegeting that passage there. I was exegeting passages that actually address this very topic of what happens when God answers "wait." I would think that no Christian would disagree with me. Are you telling us that we should ultimately trust in ourselves? For instance, consider the following:

Isaiah 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

So, should we wait and hope in the Lord, or wait and hope on our own ability to do things, according to this text?

Also, Finn, what do you do with this verse:

1 Corinthians 7:7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

If you do not believe that this is talking about a particular lifestyle, then can I ask you why this is in the context of marriage and singleness, and why Paul says this in contrast to the way "he is?" There is nothing in this text that even remotely suggests what you have said. Furthermore, the fact remains that this is written in the context of singleness and marriage, and such, whatever you take "gift" here to be, singleness must be a part, or otherwise, the text becomes nonsense.

In other words, isolated from its context, I would agree with you. However, that is why it is that we read the text in the light of the context of marriage in verses 1-5 and singleness in 7a. If we do that, there is no way we can ever arrive at your conclusion that this has nothing to do with lifestyle, given that the lifestyles of singleness and marriage are right there in the context!

Kuya Kevin,

Ya, I think all of this is much ado about nothing. If we interpret the gift in its context, then there really is no problem. Of course, that is the case with all of scripture. When people stop being careful is when the Debbie Maken's of the world are able to write books. That is why I like to emphasize that we teach our young people how to do Biblical exegesis, and that means a whole lot more than looking something up in a concordance. It means reading the text and following the argument.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

Kuya Kevin said...

I'll be starting a new blog soon on singleness issues. One of my first articles will be to challenge the "gift of celibacy."

I find it interesting that the "gift if singleness" is called a "rogue doctrine," but there's talk of a "gift of celibacy." Sorry, I don't really see that in the Bible.

finn said...

"I wasn't exegeting that passage there. I was exegeting passages that actually address this very topic of what happens when God answers "wait. I would think that no Christian would disagree with me. Are you telling us that we should ultimately trust in ourselves?"

I think you're reading too much into the passage, which doesn't deal with God answering "wait". It's clear that we should trust in good scriptural teaching and make our own decision about marriage and singleness.

"If you do not believe that this is talking about a particular lifestyle, then can I ask you why this is in the context of marriage and singleness, and why Paul says this in contrast to the way "he is?"

The context is one of whether or not the individual should choose marriage or singleness, based at least in part on their God-given capabilities. In verses 8 & 9, it's clear that if you "cannot contain", it's better to marry than to "burn with passion", which would apply to the overwhelming majority of us. Not that you should only get married, if you have fallen, or only when the "heat" gets so bad you can't stand it, or that you "should" get married if you feel any heat, or that God wouldn't strengthen you if you remained single. But that the single (and therefore celibate) life shouldn't be embarked upon lightly, and you should consider your God-given talents for being able to handle it (and use it) as well as Paul did.

finn said...

Kevin,

I don't think there's a "gift of celibacy" either. God may give an individual any number of gifts that may result in them preferring or being more suited to the single life (eg. some people are more disciplined than others, not only in resisting sexual temptation, but their inspiration, despite being isolated from others). But I don't think that's the "gift of singleness" or "the gift of celibacy", per se.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

I think you're reading too much into the passage, which doesn't deal with God answering "wait". It's clear that we should trust in good scriptural teaching and make our own decision about marriage and singleness.

Again, context is the key. Here is the beginning of this section back at verse 27:

Isaiah 40:27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God "?

Notice, the thing that draws up this statement is the fact that the people of Israel believe that God does not see their strife. Isaiah goes on to refute that idea. It is in *this* context that he tells them to wait on the Lord. In other words, God has delayed doing something about their struggles. The author tells them that are to wait on the God who is able to give them the strength they need to continue. If the context is not about God saying "no" in prayer, then why is it that these people are getting the idea that God is not even noticing their strife?

Also, with regards to your last statement, I have to ask, are you saying that you can just simply demand something from God on the basis of what you do?

The context is one of whether or not the individual should choose marriage or singleness, based at least in part on their God-given capabilities. In verses 8 & 9, it's clear that if you "cannot contain", it's better to marry than to "burn with passion", which would apply to the overwhelming majority of us.

Again, context is the key here. Notice that, when Paul addresses marriage, he does not address which lifestyle one should choose. He is addressing the *nature* of each lifestyle. He addresses the fact that marriage cannot be celebate, and therefore, he charges those who are married to stop depriving one another [verses 2-6]. Then he goes on to say that he wishes all people to be as he "is." It is in this context that he talks about each person having their own gift from God. There hasn't been anything having to do with how we decide which lifestyle we should pursue. He is talking about the nature of each lifestyle.

With regards to verses 8-9, First of all, I believe that this text is referring to widowers and widows. Gordon Fee and Craig Blomberg have cogently argued this. Again, we have to understand this text in the light of its context. In verse 8 it says:

1 Corinthians 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

Paul tells them that it is "good" [or "better" depending on how you take this adjective] that they remain as he is. It is in contrast to this that he says that if they do not have self-control, they should marry. Hence, Paul has just been extolling the virtues of singleness. What he is anticipating is someone who still has that burning passion from their sexual relationship with their now dead spouse, and still try to remain single because Paul says that it is good/better to do so. Hence, Paul prevents someone from doing that by telling them that they must remarry if they still have these feelings.

Hence, Paul is trying to tell widows and widowers not to try to emulate him if they still have that desire from sexual relationship with their now dead spouse, despite the fact that his single state is good and honorable. Paul doesn't want to give the wrong idea to widowers and widows because he said that it is good if they remain as he is.

Hence, the entire context from verses 1-8 is talking about the nature of the single and the married state, and verse 9 only addresses this issue to keep widows and widowers from trying to emulate Paul simply because he says that it is good. This is why several translations translate verse 8 as "it is better for them to remain as I am" [although that is debatable, and understood the same way without that translation].

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

"He addresses the fact that marriage cannot be celebate, and therefore, he charges those who are married to stop depriving one another [verses 2-6]"

Actually, he does discuss celibacy in marriage in verse 5, on the condition that it's temporary, for periods of prayer and fasting, and it's here where he mentions self-control.

"Then he goes on to say that he wishes all people to be as he "is." It is in this context that he talks about each person having their own gift from God." And what is he? Self-controlled, that's his gift. So it makes sense that he would go on to the next two verses to present self-control (or containment) as something that should be considered in making that choice to marry or "remain as you are".

"Hence, the entire context from verses 1-8 is talking about the nature of the single and the married state" He's talking more about what you should and could do in each state than the "nature of each state". It's a practical discussion of what is permissible and advisable, as are the next few verses about separation and divorce.


"Also, with regards to your last statement, I have to ask, are you saying that you can just simply demand something from God on the basis of what you do?" No. I don't even go there, and neither does the passage.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

Actually, he does discuss celibacy in marriage in verse 5, on the condition that it's temporary, for periods of prayer and fasting, and it's here where he mentions self-control.

But notice, again, it is still in the context of the nature of marriage. The nature of married life is that there is only one exception to rendering to one another what is do. Yes, he also talks about self control, but, again, in the context of the nature of marriage. Obviously, a woman or a man who refuses to give the other person what is rightfully theirs will definitely be putting the other person in harms way. That is just the way things are when you are in a marriage relationship, and things like sexual relations are the norm.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

And what is he? Self-controlled, that's his gift.

Where is that in the text? He hasn't even talked about self-control in the context of singleness at this point in verse 7. His whole context has been about the nature of each lifestyle, and, if he hasn't even addressed it, why are you reading it into the text? Again, self-control in singleness is only addressed in the context of widowers and widows, and a possible abuse of his words in that context.

He's talking more about what you should and could do in each state than the "nature of each state". It's a practical discussion of what is permissible and advisable, as are the next few verses about separation and divorce.

However, again, he is talking about what is permissible and advisable in each state of marriage and singleness. Paul never crosses this line into giving advice as to whether you should be in this state or some other state until verse 9, and that only in response to a possible abuse of his words. He is not, in any way shape or form, discussing how to make a decision as to whether you should pursue one or the other. Again, this idea that these are gifts upon which you are supposed to make a decision as to whether you should get married or remain single is something totally foreign to the text since that is not Paul's context.

No. I don't even go there, and neither does the passage.

However, you said:

It's clear that we should trust in good scriptural teaching and make our own decision about marriage and singleness.

Doesn't that mean that if I "decide" that I want to be married, it will happen so long as I just become proactive? That is what I mean. Are you trying to tell me that, as long as I do something, I will get married? As a Calvinist, I would reject that outright, because I do believe God can turn down a person's request for a spouse, no matter how proactive he or she is in finding a spouse simply because he knows them best, and he knows best how to use them, no matter how much they might want something else.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

But verse 2 also says something about the nature of human beings and the world they inhabit -- that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband, so that they won't be so tempted to sin (as they would be, if they remained single and thus without a legitimate partner -- and yes, I know married people can be tempted to cheat too, but that's beside the point). The desire for sexual relations are the norm for the vast majority of us, not just the married or formerly married.

So in advising people to remain single, you could also be putting them in harms way, unless you're gifted with the kind of self-control that Paul had.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

But verse 2 also says something about the nature of human beings and the world they inhabit -- that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband, so that they won't be so tempted to sin (as they would be, if they remained single and thus without a legitimate partner -- and yes, I know married people can be tempted to cheat too, but that's beside the point). The desire for sexual relations are the norm for the vast majority of us, not just the married or formerly married.

So in advising people to remain single, you could also be putting them in harms way, unless you're gifted with the kind of self-control that Paul had
.

Actually, I already dealt with that passage in my response to
Candice Watters here:

http://puritancalvinist.blogspot.com/2008/06/responses-to-candice-watters-book-part.html

Here is what I wrote:

I have already dealt with that passage here in the context of a response to Candice Watters on the Boundless Blog, and I stand by virtually everything I have said on it. I will repost the comment to which I was responding [in bold], as well as my response:


I would also add that while singles often quote 1 Corinthians 7 in their defense of their "spiritually-superior" unmarried state, Paul didn't just say it's good for the unmarried and widows to stay that way. He also said, "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." (v. 2). This is the most unquoted portion of that passage. And given our present circumstances, I believe it is the most relevant.

And, this text is the most often misused by people who try to say that, because sexual immorality is so rampant, therefore, everyone must get married. That is not Paul's point at all. First of all, notice the structure of verses 2-4

2. ...man...wife...woman...husband.
3. ...husband...wife...wife...husband
4. ...wife...husband...husband...wife

Notice, that verses 2-4 have exactly the same structure, namely, a chiasm. It is in the form of:

A...B...B...A

Thus, most scholars [including Gordon Fee, whom Debbie Maken quotes in her book], will say that verses 2-4 are a unit. However, verses 3-4 are talking about the marital duty of sexual relations. How can this be?

Of course, the simple solution to the problem is that the Greek term echo [to have] can be used as a euphemism for sexual relations. The following texts in the Septuagint and the New Testament are some of the texts mentioned by Gordon Fee as instances in which echo bears this meaning:

Exodus 2:1 There was a certain man of tribe of Levi who took [a wife] from the daughters of Levi, and he had [echo] her. [translation mine]

Deuteronomy 28:30 thou shalt take a wife, and another man shall have [echo] her; thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell in it; thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes of it. [Brenton Translation]

Isaiah 13:16 and they will strike their children in front of them, they will plunder their houses, and they will have [echo] their wives. [translation mine]

Mark 6:18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have [echo] your brother's wife." [NASB]

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has [echo] his father's wife. [NASB]

Thus, the meaning of verse 2 would be "because of sexual immorality, let each man have sexual relations with his own wife, and let each woman have sexual relations with her own husband."

This interpretation would also fit with verse 1. Paul would be admitting that there is some truth to what is said in verse 1 but, because sexual immorality will exist in this life, we are not to refrain from sexual relations with our wives. Indeed, he goes on to say that there is only one case where someone cannot have sexual relations with their wife, and that by an agreement for a period of time so that they can devote themselves to prayer [v.5]. Thus, the text is addressing one topic from verse 1 until verse 5.

There are also some criticisms that can be levied against your interpretation of this passage. First of all, there is a Greek word for "to marry," namely, gameo, and Paul uses that term down in verse 9 in the imperative. It is hard to explain why it is that Paul used the imperative of gameo in verse 9, but not in verse 2. There is no literary reason why he would change, nor is their a contextual reason why he would change.

Also, it would seem, if we take your interpretation, that Paul contradicts himself twice in this passage. First of all, he says that he has no command from the Lord concerning virgins [7:25], and, given your interpretation, this certainly would be a command to virgins. Not only that, but Paul later on commands them not to seek to change their state [7:27]. Now, whether you limit this to the time of the "present distress" or not, you have just made Paul command the virgins in the Corinthian congregation to get married, and yet, to not seek to change their marital status. Such makes Paul utterly self-contradictory.

Not only that, but your interpretation completely disrupts the text of verses 1-7. Verse 2 would be a statement addressed to virgins, verses 3-4 would be a text addressed to married people, and verses 5-7 would again be referring to virgins. Such an interpretation thus makes the structure of the entire passage totally random, and inserts an unnatural break at every change of audience.

Thus, I would say that 1 Corinthians 7:2 is not at all relevant to our present circumstances as single people.

I have also found out something interesting with regards to this passage. The NET has interestingly translated this text as:

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife and each woman with her own husband.

What is also interesting is the footnote that they give explaining the reasoning for their translation:

tn Grk “each man should have his own wife.” “Have” in this context means “have marital relations with” (see the following verse). The verb ἐχέτω (ecetw, “have”) occurs twice in the Greek text, but has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. This verb occurs 8 times in the LXX (Exod 2:1; Deut 28:30; 2 Chr 11:21; 1 Esd 9:12, 18; Tob 3:8; Isa 13:16; 54:1) with the meaning “have sexual relations with,” and 9 times elsewhere in the NT with the same meaning (Matt 20:23; 22:28; Mark 6:18; 12:33; Luke 20:28; John 4:18 [twice] 1 Cor 5:1; 7:29).

It is interesting that they have said the very same thing I said above. Not only that, but other very well known commentators say the same thing. Dr. Craig Blomberg [pgs. 133, 136], Gordon Fee [pgs. 278-279], and Dr. Richard Hays [pgs. 113-114] have all taken this interpretation of this passage in their commentaries. In fact, Gordon Fee says he knows of no instance in which the idiom "to have a wife" means "to take a wife" [Fee, p.278 n48]. He says that, in most of those instances, the Greek term lambano is used. He sights the fact that this idiom is used in a Western text variant of 7:28 where it replaces the Greek verb game,w which means "to marry." He also cites an apocryphal text in Tobit 4:12 which does, indeed, refer to taking a wife because of sexual immorality [pornei,a], and lambano is clearly used there. He concludes that, "Paul's usage is clearly different from these" [Fee, 278 n.48]. Furthermore, Fee notes that, for a woman to "take a husband" was utterly foreign to first century cultures [Fee, 278 n48].

Hence, when someone tells you that you should marry because of the rampant sexual immorality in our culture, and they point to 1 Corinthians 7:2, read it from the New English Translation, and then have the citations from Gordon Fee, Craig Blomberg, and Richard Hays ready and waiting
.

In other words, Paul is still in the context of marriage here because the meaning of 7:2 has nothing to do with commanding people to marry. Rather it is commanding people who are already married to have sexual relations, and not engage in a celebate lifestyle. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to see why, given the fact that Paul goes on to say that sexual relations are a marital debt, and thus, forbidding the other person because you think it is "good for a man not to touch a woman" is walking down a dangerious road.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

First of all, I'm not saying that 1 Cor 7:2 is a "command" that all singles marry, but it certainly affirms the ordinariness of marriage (while stating the goodness of celibacy, as well), and for the very reason that without marriage, all sexual relations would be illicit!

Therefore, I think verses 1 and 2 are expressed more universally (which would certainly be a good way to begin the chapter, to all) rather than being directed straight to the married. The Greek word "echo" is such a common word meaning "have", that a sexual reference wouldn't oridinarily be the first thing that comes to mind, and seems a rather crude and artless way to begin a message to marrieds. Paul more artfully gets down to business about "business" in the next verse when he says "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband", so why would he repeat himself? First comes marriage, then comes sex.

With all due respects to your quoted academics, I doubt that all or even most theologians would agree that "have" means to "have sex" in verse 2. It seems pretty obvious what it means when Paul says that due to sexual immorality each man/woman have his own wife/husband. An interesting theory, though, nonetheless.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

Therefore, I think verses 1 and 2 are expressed more universally (which would certainly be a good way to begin the chapter, to all) rather than being directed straight to the married. The Greek word "echo" is such a common word meaning "have", that a sexual reference wouldn't oridinarily be the first thing that comes to mind, and seems a rather crude and artless way to begin a message to marrieds.

Actually, if you notice the context, it is the Corinthians who brought the problem up to Paul in the first place. In 1 Corinthians 7:1 he quotes a saying about which they were asking him, namely, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." Hence, they are the ones who were asking Paul to address this topic. Also, this would then make perfect sense out of the fact that "have" would be sexual here, given that it has already been brought up in the context.

Paul more artfully gets down to business about "business" in the next verse when he says "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband", so why would he repeat himself? First comes marriage, then comes sex.

Actually, the repetition would make sense in this case because Paul then goes on to describe sexual relations as an opheile, which is the normal term for a debt. In other words, the reason why each are to have one another sexually, is because sexual relations are a debt which is owed in marriage. That is a point upon which Paul is going to expound in verse 4. Hence, it would form what is called Janus parallelism, where verse 3 is connected both to verse 2 and verse 4.

With all due respects to your quoted academics, I doubt that all or even most theologians would agree that "have" means to "have sex" in verse 2.

I think it is more popular than what you think that it is. As I mentioned, even the New English Translation used that translation in their Bible.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

"I think it is more popular than what you think that it is."

Ah, but not with this favorite of yours, who writes the following about this passage:

"As he had spoken of fornication, he now appropriately proceeds to speak of marriage which is the remedy for avoiding fornication."

Taken from Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 39: Corinthians, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50]

PuritanCalvinist said...

Finn,

Why are you quoting Calvin on an issue that requires a study of Greek words that was incapible of being done in his time? If you were to do a word study on the Greek term echo at the time of John Calvin, you would have to go through, by hand, through the entire New Testament [and, if successful there, the Old Testament septuagint] page by page counting up the usage. People would sometimes have to take months upon months to do this kind of study, and it was only done by people who were setting out to do this kind of study. It is only since we have had computer based research that this kind of research would be more easily done by New Testament scholars. Also, the papyri had not yet been discovered, and many of the other contemporanius Greek documents had not yet been discovered at the time Calvin was writing.

Hence, as with everything, you even have to test what Calvin says against the text of scripture. As we grow in our knowledge of the Biblical languages, we must use that knowledge to more accurately interpret the scriptures.

God Bless,
PuritanCalvinist

finn said...

to answer your question...
...since you call yourself "puritancalvinist", I just couldn't resist that one!