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1 Corinthians 7-9 Common English Bible (CEB)

Marriage and celibacy

Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command. I wish all people were like me, but each has a particular gift from God: one has this gift, and another has that one.

I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 I’m passing on the Lord’s command to those who are married: A wife shouldn’t leave her husband, 11 but if she does leave him, then she should stay single or be reconciled to her husband. And a man shouldn’t divorce his wife.

12 I’m telling everyone else (the Lord didn’t say this specifically): If a believer has a wife who doesn’t believe, and she agrees to live with him, then he shouldn’t divorce her. 13 If a woman has a husband who doesn’t believe and he agrees to live with her, then she shouldn’t divorce him. 14 The husband who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of his wife, and the wife who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be contaminated by the world, but now they are spiritually set apart. 15 But if a spouse who doesn’t believe chooses to leave, then let them leave. The brother or sister isn’t tied down in these circumstances. God has called you to peace. 16 How do you know as a wife if you will save your husband? Or how do you know as a husband if you will save your wife?

17 Nevertheless, each person should live the kind of life that the Lord assigned when he called each one. This is what I teach in all the churches. 18 If someone was circumcised when called, he shouldn’t try to reverse it. If someone wasn’t circumcised when he was called, he shouldn’t be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing; not being circumcised is nothing. What matters is keeping God’s commandments. 20 Each person should stay in the situation they were in when they were called. 21 If you were a slave when you were called, don’t let it bother you. But if you are actually able to be free, take advantage of the opportunity. 22 Anyone who was a slave when they were called by the Lord has the status of being the Lord’s free person. In the same way, anyone who was a free person when they were called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought and paid for. Don’t become slaves of people. 24 So then, brothers and sisters, each of you should stay with God in the situation you were in when you were called.

25 I don’t have a command from the Lord about people who have never been married,[a] but I’ll give you my opinion as someone you can trust because of the Lord’s mercy. 26 So I think this advice is good because of the present crisis: Stay as you are. 27 If you are married, don’t get a divorce. If you are divorced, don’t try to find a spouse. 28 But if you do marry, you haven’t sinned; and if someone who hasn’t been married gets married, they haven’t sinned. But married people will have a hard time, and I’m trying to spare you that. 29 This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: The time has drawn short. From now on, those who have wives should be like people who don’t have them. 30 Those who are sad should be like people who aren’t crying. Those who are happy should be like people who aren’t happy. Those who buy something should be like people who don’t have possessions. 31 Those who use the world should be like people who aren’t preoccupied with it, because this world in its present form is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from concerns. A man who isn’t married is concerned about the Lord’s concerns—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the world’s concerns—how he can please his wife. 34 His attention is divided. A woman who isn’t married or who is a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s concerns so that she can be dedicated to God in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the world’s concerns—how she can please her husband. 35 I’m saying this for your own advantage. It’s not to restrict you but rather to promote effective and consistent service to the Lord without distraction.

36 If someone thinks he is acting inappropriately toward an unmarried woman whom he knows, and if he has strong feelings and it seems like the right thing to do, he should do what he wants—he’s not sinning—they should get married. 37 But if a man stands firm in his decision, and doesn’t feel the pressure, but has his own will under control, he does right if he decides in his own heart not to marry the woman. 38 Therefore, the one who marries the unmarried woman does right, and the one who doesn’t get married will do even better. 39 A woman is obligated to stay in her marriage as long as her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry whomever she wants, only it should be a believer in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion, she will be happier if she stays the way she is. And I think that I have God’s Spirit too.

Meat sacrificed to false gods

Now concerning meat that has been sacrificed to a false god: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should know. But if someone loves God, then they are known by God.

So concerning the actual food involved in these sacrifices to false gods, we know that a false god isn’t anything in this world, and that there is no God except for the one God. Granted, there are so-called “gods,” in heaven and on the earth, as there are many gods and many lords. However, for us believers,

There is one God the Father.
        All things come from him, and we belong to him.
And there is one Lord Jesus Christ.
        All things exist through him, and we live through him.

But not everybody knows this. Some are eating this food as though it really is food sacrificed to a real idol, because they were used to idol worship until now. Their conscience is weak because it has been damaged. Food won’t bring us close to God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat, and we don’t have any advantage if we do eat. But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak. 10 Suppose someone sees you (the person who has knowledge) eating in an idol’s temple. Won’t the person with a weak conscience be encouraged to eat the meat sacrificed to false gods? 11 The weak brother or sister for whom Christ died is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 You sin against Christ if you sin against your brothers and sisters and hurt their weak consciences this way. 13 This is why, if food causes the downfall of my brother or sister, I won’t eat meat ever again, or else I may cause my brother or sister to fall.

Waiving rights for the gospel

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you my work in the Lord? If I’m not an apostle to others, at least I am to you! You are the seal that shows I’m an apostle. This is my defense against those who criticize me. Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? Don’t we have the right to travel with a wife who believes like the rest of the apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who don’t have the right to not work for our living? Who joins the army and pays their own way? Who plants a vineyard and doesn’t eat its fruit? Who shepherds a flock and doesn’t drink its milk? I’m not saying these things just based on common sense, am I? Doesn’t the Law itself say these things? In Moses’ Law it’s written: You will not muzzle the ox when it is threshing.[b] Is God worried about oxen, 10 or did he say this entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake because the one who plows and the one who threshes should each do so with the hope of sharing the produce. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it so much to ask to harvest some material things from you?

12 If others have these rights over you, don’t we deserve them all the more? However, we haven’t made use of this right, but we put up with everything so we don’t put any obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get to eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share part of what is sacrificed on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who preach the gospel should get their living from the gospel. 15 But I haven’t taken advantage of this. And I’m not writing this so that it will be done for me. It’s better for me to die than to lose my right to brag about this! 16 If I preach the gospel, I have no reason to brag, since I’m obligated to do it. I’m in trouble if I don’t preach the gospel. 17 If I do this voluntarily, I get rewarded for it. But if I’m forced to do it, then I’ve been charged with a responsibility. 18 What reward do I get? That when I preach, I offer the good news free of charge. That’s why I don’t use the rights to which I’m entitled through the gospel.

19 Although I’m free from all people, I make myself a slave to all people, to recruit more of them. 20 I act like a Jew to the Jews, so I can recruit Jews. I act like I’m under the Law to those under the Law, so I can recruit those who are under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law). 21 I act like I’m outside the Law to those who are outside the Law, so I can recruit those outside the Law (though I’m not outside the law of God but rather under the law of Christ). 22 I act weak to the weak, so I can recruit the weak. I have become all things to all people, so I could save some by all possible means. 23 All the things I do are for the sake of the gospel, so I can be a partner with it.

24 Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. 25 Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies. 26 So now this is how I run—not without a clear goal in sight. I fight like a boxer in the ring, not like someone who is shadowboxing. 27 Rather, I’m landing punches on my own body and subduing it like a slave. I do this to be sure that I myself won’t be disqualified after preaching to others.

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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