Was Paul Married or Opposed to Marriage?

1 Corinthians 7:7
I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
It appears Paul is opposed to marriage. Actually he was combating a common thought of his day (and ours) that being single is a second class status. He is saying that each person needs to live according to the “gift” they have received. Marriage is honorable (Hebrews 13:4) but singles have more liberty to give themselves fully to the Lord. “So then, he who marries … does right, but he who does not marry … does even better.” (1 Corinthians 7:38)

A bit of trivia today, there is reason to believe the apostle Paul was married but a widower when he wrote this. First of all, it fits well into the context here as he specifically addresses widows suggesting they “stay unmarried, as I am” (7:8). Secondly, there are indications Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, because in Acts 26:10 he says he cast his vote for the death of the believers. If he is not speaking figuratively and he was a member of the Sanhedrin, he was married as that was a requirement for membership.

Also, in 1 Corinthians 9:5 he mentions that he and Barnabas should have the “right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles”. Of course, he could just be speaking in defense of Barnabas.

Finally, in his book, “Ecclesiastical History”, written around the year 300AD, Eusebius claims Paul was married based on Philippians 4 where Paul mentions, but does not name, a “yokemate”. The Greek word, “syzygos”, can refer to a person with whom one shares a common burden or to a spouse.

All are rather wispy evidence but there is at least a possibility that Paul was married and his wife died leaving him free to remarry. But he decided in his case and calling it was better for him to stay single.
Matthew 19:10-12
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. … The one who can accept this should accept it.”

1 Timothy 4:2-4
Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *