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Commentary On Corinthians Volume 1 by Jean Calvin

1 Corinthians 7:39-40

39. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

39. Muller alligata est Legi, quamdiu maritus ejus vivit: si auterm dormierit maritus ejus, libera est, ut cui vult nubat, modo in Domino.

40. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

40. Beatior vero est, si sic maneat,secundum meam sententiam: existimo autem, me quoque Spiritum Dei habere.

39. The wife is bound He had previously spoken indiscriminately of husbands and wives, but as wives, on account of the modesty of their sex, might seem to have less liberty, he has thought it necessary to give in addition some special directions in reference to them. He now, therefore, teaches that women are not less at liberty than men to marry a second time, on their becoming widows. We have already mentioned above, that those who desired a second marriage were branded with the reproach of intemperance, and that, with the view of putting some kind of slight upon them, those who had been contented with being once married, were wont to be presented with the |chaplet of chastity.| Nay more, this first opinion had, in course of time, become prevalent among Christians; for second marriages had no blessing pronounced upon them, and some Councils prohibited the clergy from being present on such occasions. The Apostle here condemns tyranny of that sort, and declares, that no hindrance ought to be thrown in the way of widows' marrying, if they think proper.

It is of little consequence, and so far as the sense is concerned it matters nothing, whether we say that the wife is bound legi, (to the law,) in the dative, or lege, (by the law,) in the ablative. For it is the law that declares the connection between husband and wife to be indissoluble. If, however, you read it in the dative, the term will convey the idea of authority or obligation. Now he reasons from contraries; for if a woman is bound to her husband for life, she is, then, set at liberty by his death. After she has been set at liberty, let her be married to whom she will

When the verb to sleep means to die, it refers not to the soul, but to the body, as is manifest from its constant use in Scripture. It is a foolish part, therefore, that is acted by certain fanatics, who, from this little word, make it their endeavor to prove that the souls of men, after being separated from their bodies, are destitute of thought and intelligence, or, in other words, of their life.

Only in the Lord This is thought to be added for the purpose of admonishing them in passing, that they ought not to yoke themselves with the irreligious, or to covet their society. This, I acknowledge, is true, but I am of opinion that more is meant that they should do this in a religious way, and in the fear of the Lord, for it is in this manner that marriages are formed auspiciously.

40. But she is happier if she so abide Why? Is it because widowhood is of itself a virtue? No; but because it will have less to distract, and is more exempt from earthly cares. As to what he adds -- according to my judgment, he does not mean by this expression that his opinion was doubtful; but it is as if he had said that such was his decision as to this question; for he immediately adds that he has the Spirit of God, which is sufficient to give full and perfect authority. There appears, at the same time, to be somewhat of irony when he says I think For as the false apostles were ever and anon boasting in high-sounding terms of their having the Spirit of God, for the purpose of arrogating to themselves authority, and in the meantime endeavored to derogate from that of Paul, he says that he thinks that he is not less a partaker of the Spirit than they

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