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1 Corinthians 7:17-24

You can read the text here.

Paul moves on, becoming more general in his discussion, making relative all human categorizations, and digressing slightly by showing application of his general principles to the issues of circumcision and slavery. Whether married, single, or in any other situation, Paul wants the Corinthians to avoid being enslaved by their circumstances.[1] Paul hammers this home with respect to two of the greatest divisions in his world, Jew/Gentile and slave/free.

Paul argues that circumcision or lack thereof is irrelevant as a distinction. What matters is obedience.[2] Similarly, God does not care whether one is slave or free.[3] If anything, slaves are on better footing in God's eyes. All each is called to, is service to God in the situation they are in. Additionally, at times it may have been tempting to try to gain status by enslaving oneself to an important person. The Corinthians ought not to do that. Status that matters comes from being in Christ, not from any status in the world.[4] In the end, the circumstances don't confer status, they cannot distract from the calling to serve God.

[1] Thiselton hammers home this point, that undue concern to change one's circumstances is itself a form of slavery.

[2] I would not so much say, like Ciampa and Rosner, that Paul repudiates the law here. Because Jesus has come there is no more need to become Jewish to enter into God's people. I think saying the law doesn't apply to Gentiles (e.g., they don't have to become circumcised) is not the same as saying Paul repudiates the law here.

[3] This is particularly important. As Ciampa and Rosner point out, slaves often were forced to do immoral things (especially sexually which may be the reason for the inclusion of this piece in this particular chapter).

[4] As both Thiselton and Ciampa and Rosner nicely draw out.


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