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Studies │ Remarriage after Divorce

1 Corinthians 7:15, Page 1789

“Yet, if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.”

In 1 Corinthians 7:15, page 1789, Paul described the case of the unbelieving spouse who “leaves” the believing spouse. 1The Greek term here for “leaves” (“χωρίζεται”) means to depart, but in this context, we see that it also means to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10). As we learned above in 1 Corinthians 7:10, page 1789, the term “leaves” means “divorce” in this context. Therefore, if the unbelieving spouse divorces the believing spouse, the believing spouse is not under bondage. 2The Greek term for “bondage” (“δεδούλωται “) here means to live under the marriage bond. The same word is used in the same form only  in 2 Peter 2:19, page 1902, where it speaks of the slavery of corruption suffered by false prophets. A better comparison of the use of the same concept of “bondage” occurs in 1 Corinthian 7:39, page 1790, where Paul wrote that a woman is “bound” (“δέδεται“) to her husband as long as he lives. But once he dies, then she is “free” (“ἐλευθέρα”) to remarry. Compare Romans 7:2, page 1766, where Paul spoke of the woman as “”bound” (“δέδεται”) by the law to her husband so long as her husband lives. But when the husband dies, the the wife is “released” from the law. In a parallel sense, the term for “released” (“κατήργηται“) means to abolish, to destroy, or to replace one thing with another, such as light removes darkness. Just as the woman is no longer bound to her husband after death, so also salvation releases us from the bondage of sin. Compare the use of a similar term for “bondage” (“δεδουλωμένοι“) in Galatians 4:3, page 1823, where it indicates that people were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world, but freed when Christ appeared bringing salvation and adoption into the family of God, now crying “Abba! Father! In this same sense, something that once held one in bondage now has been removed.  What does the term “bondage” mean in this context? Does it mean the believing spouse divorced by the believing spouse may remarry after the unbeliever files for divorce and obtains the final judgment of divorce? 

Paul described the believer divorced by his unbelieving spouse as not under “bondage” in such cases. The best way to understand the term or concept of “bondage” is to look at the same author’s use of the same or similar idea. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, page 1790, we read that Paul said that a wife is “bound” to her husband as long as he lives. The key idea here is that “bondage” in that verse indicates a marriage bond that endures for the life of the other spouse. But once the spouse dies, then the living spouse is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. So, we see the idea of being bound means unable to remarry, but once the spouse dies, then the bondage has been lifted, and the widow is free to remarry. Please recall that Paul distinguished the “unmarried” and the “widows” in 1 Corinthians 7:8, page 1789, apparently identifying the means by which some people become single, respectively, through: (a) divorce or never married; and (b) death. Therefore, we see that Paul used “bondage” in this context in the sense of being bound to the spouse in marriage. As we follow Paul’s teaching, we observe that “bondage” referred to the inability to remarry in this larger context of the chapter. Therefore, we may conclude that “bondage” in 1 Corinthians 7:15, page 1789 means bound to a marriage and unable to remarry. Now, we may apply these doctrines and learn that if an unbeliever divorces a believer, then the believing spouse may remarry because they are not under bondage. As a final note, Paul also teaches us that the believer has been called to peace. This phrase helps the believer have peace from God about the difficult decision to remarry. Speaking through Paul, Jesus provided comfort to some contemplating remarriage. He implied that He Himself will help that believer divorced by the unbeliever to find a new believing spouse and pour His blessing upon that new marriage. In conclusion, the believer who has been divorced by the unbeliever is free to remarry, but the believer must  only marry another believer (“in the Lord”).

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The Greek term here for “leaves” (“χωρίζεται”) means to depart, but in this context, we see that it also means to divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10).
2. The Greek term for “bondage” (“δεδούλωται “) here means to live under the marriage bond. The same word is used in the same form only  in 2 Peter 2:19, page 1902, where it speaks of the slavery of corruption suffered by false prophets. A better comparison of the use of the same concept of “bondage” occurs in 1 Corinthian 7:39, page 1790, where Paul wrote that a woman is “bound” (“δέδεται“) to her husband as long as he lives. But once he dies, then she is “free” (“ἐλευθέρα”) to remarry. Compare Romans 7:2, page 1766, where Paul spoke of the woman as “”bound” (“δέδεται”) by the law to her husband so long as her husband lives. But when the husband dies, the the wife is “released” from the law. In a parallel sense, the term for “released” (“κατήργηται“) means to abolish, to destroy, or to replace one thing with another, such as light removes darkness. Just as the woman is no longer bound to her husband after death, so also salvation releases us from the bondage of sin. Compare the use of a similar term for “bondage” (“δεδουλωμένοι“) in Galatians 4:3, page 1823, where it indicates that people were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world, but freed when Christ appeared bringing salvation and adoption into the family of God, now crying “Abba! Father! In this same sense, something that once held one in bondage now has been removed.