1 Corinthians 7:36-38 | September 10

1 Corinthians 7:36-37

36 But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry.

37 Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well.

38 So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

Throughout this passage, Paul has not been forbidding marriage.  In 1 Timothy 4:3, Paul dealt with the problem of people forbidding marriage. We have the freedom to get married or stay single. Paul is pro-marriage. Yet, as we have seen, singleness can be an advantage.

There is a great deal of variance that takes place in translations when it comes to this verse, in particular:

If any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin,

NKJV/KJV: His virgin.

NIV: The virgin he is engaged to.

NASB: Toward his virgin daughter.

ESV: Toward his betrothed

NLT: His fiancée.

Darby: His virginity.

If she is past the flower of youth (getting old!)

NKJV/KJV: The flower of youth/her age.

NASB: Past her youth.

NIV/ESV: His passions are too strong.

Darby: The flower of his age.

Let him do what he wishes…let them marry.

NKJV: Let him do what he wishes.

KJV: Let him do what he wills.

NASB: Let him do what he wills.

ESV: Let him do what he wishes, let them marry.

Darby: Let them marry.

So what is Paul actually saying?  Obviously, there is a debate about this verse.  The Greek text allows for it to be his virgin, or his virginity. 

It could be Paul says (to paraphrase) if you are getting older, and you are single, go ahead and get married if you are worried about it.  It’s not a sin. Past the flower of youth is in the masculine form in Greek.

The Darby translation might come the closest:

36  But if any one think that he behaves unseemly to his virginity, if he be beyond the flower of his age, and so it must be, let him do what he will, he does not sin: let them marry.*

*Darby, John Nelson. The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages.

Verses 37,38 then,

37  But he who stands firm in his heart, having no need, but has authority over his own will, and has judged this in his heart to keep his own virginity, he does well. 38  So that he that marries himself does well; and he that does not marry does better.

Darby, John Nelson. The Holy Scriptures: A New Translation from the Original Languages.

We would probably not want to build a doctrine on these verses alone.

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