Vol.XIX No.IX Pg.7
November 1982

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

In 1 Cor. 7:6; 2 Cor. 8:8 are we to understand Paul is not speaking (writing) by inspiration of the H.S.? RM


In 1 Cor. 7: Paul writes with some "present distress" (v.26) in mind. He advises against marriage, yet acknowledges marriage is lawful, and urges it if one cannot "contain" ('...better to marry than to burn" v.9). Saying "This I say by way of concession, not of commandment" (v.6) means the nature of the case: regard for the temperament of different people (some who can "contain" and some who can't) prevented his saying either one must marry, or must not, under prevailing circumstances. His personal bent was to remain unmarried, but he would not bind this on all people. Expositor's comments: "Better to marry than to burn; but if marriage is impossible, better infinitely to burn than sin."

In v.10 he cites the Lord's teaching (in personal ministry) re. the permanence of marriage (Matt. 5:32; 19:3-9); then (v.12) "say I, not the Lord" does not mean this is not valid inspired teaching — only that Jesus did not deal with this particular in His personal ministry (Jn. 16:12-f).

Again, in v.25, in view of certain circumstances, and the absence of a command from the Lord, Paul gives his "judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be trustworthy" (Cf. 1 Tim. 1:16). Expositor's comment: "His advice is therefore to be trusted. The distinction made is not between higher and lower grades of inspiration or authority but between peremptory rule, and conditional advice requiring the concurrence of those advised. Paul's opinion, qua opinion (meaning, limited by conditions — rt), as much as his injunction, is that of the Lord's steward and mouthpiece."

In 2 Cor. 8:8 "I speak not by way of commandment," and v.10, "I give my judgment for this is expedient," are statements recognizing that how much and when they produce their offering for the needy saints is their business, and should be done as a matter of love and a willing mind (v.12; 9: 5-7). Paul made clear the divine will re. concern and sacrifice of saints in abundance for those in need; but he wanted their compliance to be more than an ordered response — he sought to bring the human will into "synch" with the divine (Phil. 2:5 Rom. 12:2). It is a point we need to ponder.

Inspiration of the scriptures assures us that the message is accurate and says what the divine will wants said. Clearly the divine will wants us to know that sometimes Paul gave his advice or judgment for special circumstances — and aren't you thankful that when such is the case, we are told so. This casts no shadow upon those special cases, nor upon the remainder of the scriptures where no such qualifiers exist. It does teach us, however, that a careful student considers each statement in context. We are reading history, private letters, letters to churches with special problems, biographical type material, poetry, apocalyptic literature, etc., all inspired, but demanding mature, objective consideration.