Marriage and the Kingdom of God

Followers of Jesus do just that; they follow Jesus by incorporating his attitudes and behavior. Since they follow Jesus, they do not adhere to the cultural norms of society.

The Corinthian church came into conflict with the accepted values of that city in two significant ways.

The majority in Corinth did not believe in life after death or of any judgment beyond the grave.

The church believed in the imminent return of Christ to set up his kingdom. There would be both reward and punishment based on how people responded to God’s grace through Jesus.

Paul’s counsel to remain single took into account the soon return of Christ.

1 Corinthians 7.8-9To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am.

But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

The theme of non-marriage will surface again in this chapter. When people are unmarried and unencumbered with children, they have greater freedom to serve Jesus.

Paul reasoned that if the kingdom of God is coming in your lifetime, you should devote all of your energy to serving the Messiah (King) Jesus.

Rudy Ross points out in today’s YouTube video that Paul’s assumption was wrong. If an Internet article I recently read is correct, some 1300 Christian leaders have expected the return of Christ in their lifetime only to be wrong.

Jesus’ message is appropriate for our understanding of Jesus’ return.

Matthew 24.36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Matthew 24.42 “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”

Even though Paul and many other devoted followers of Jesus have been wrong, Jesus is 2000 years closer to his return than when Paul first spoke about it.

Vigilance is essential.

The Second Contrast

Followers of Jesus did not conform to the pattern of marriage in Corinth. Marriage customs in the Roman Empire were distinct from marriage in our age.

— Marriages were arranged and focused on the transfer of property. Today’s idea of romantic love as the basis for marriage was foreign in the first century.

— Men were generally older than their wives. A man could be in his 20’s or 30’s and his wife aged 13 to 15. Some husbands were called “uncle,” because of the significant age differences.

— There was no marriage ceremony and neither was there an official divorce. A woman moved in with the man and they were considered married.

A man could say to the woman, “Go away,” and the divorce was complete.

— There were some instances where women could divorce their husbands. Women were able to work and achieve some level of independence in Corinth.

Jesus elevated marriage and Paul reminded the church of his command.

1 Corinthians 7.10-11To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband

(But if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

I think there are two essential elements to a good marriage, love, and faithfulness.

(1) Love is an essential part of God’s nature.

Jesus taught, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15.13).

Self-giving love is the foundation of a legendary marriage.

Living a Jesus-kind-of-life with those who are closest to us will guarantee a good marriage and family.

(2) Faithfulness is an often overlooked component of a good marriage, but it shouldn’t be.

A faithful person is trustworthy, reliable, honest, upright, and sure.

Jesus is our example. As we read the accounts of his life, we will see the embodiment of faithfulness.

As we pursue living a Jesus-kind-of-life, we will be faithful to our wives, children, business associates, and others.

Divorce in 55 A.D. Corinth was easy, particularly for the husband.

Paul wanted church members to count the cost of divorce and work diligently on greater love and faithfulness.

Divorce is not an unpardonable sin. Jesus died on the cross for broken people. He specializes in restoring humans to the fullness of life.

Nevertheless, we need to pursue every effort to live in self-giving love and faithfulness before ever considering divorce.

Prayer for Ukraine

I prayed for the war in Ukraine from Jeremiah this morning. Below are a few scriptures and prayer themes that I used.

Please join me by praying for this evil that has come upon Ukraine and our world. I hope the scriptures and my thoughts are beneficial.

Jeremiah 17

(Verse 1) The sin of Judah is written with an iron pen; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts, and on the horns of their altars.

The Problem: Sin is so much a part of human existence that it appears to be engraved on our hearts.

The “horns of the altars” are part of the sacrificial system.

Prayer: God, we confess that sin and evil have a tremendous hold on our world.

(Verse 5) Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
and make mere flesh their strength,

whose hearts turn away from the Lord.

(Verse 7) Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.

The Problem: A reliance on human leaders and military technology is to put our trust in idols (substitutes for God).

Prayer: God, we confess our need for you. We place our trust in you. Please conform our thoughts and prayers to your will.

Please help pray for people in Ukraine, Poland, Europe, and America to align our prayers with your will.

(Verses 9-10) The heart is devious above all else;
it is perverse—
who can understand it?

I the Lord test the mind
and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
according to the fruit of their doings.

Problem: God tests the emotions and thoughts of humans and knows they are devious and perverse.

Prayer: God, please test our hearts and show us how to align our thoughts with your plans and purposes in Ukraine and Europe.

We affirm that you are the Lord of All. Please reveal to Christian leaders in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Europe, and America the intents of warring parties so we can better align our prayers with your will.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss 1 Corinthians 7 and marriage in today’s YouTube video. Rudy has insights that you will want to hear. The videos are found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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