If a spouse did not convert to Christ, some thought it would be better to divorce the unbeliever. This was a particularly threatening time (1 Cor 7:26)—-far worse than the norm.
Jesus warned that they would be made “outcasts” and that “an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God” (Jn 16:2). It was a difficult time for marriage!
Parents had written to Paul asking how or whether to arrange their daughters’ weddings, and he responded with some general principles. In this context, the “one bound to a wife” (lit. “having been bound”) was to “stop seeking to be loosed” (Gk. “dissolving of any tie”)—-that is, the believer should not seek a divorce. In the first place, marriage is a lifelong commitment that—-from a biblical perspective—-can only be broken by death, adultery (Matt 5, 19), or abandonment or divorce by an unsaved spouse (1 Cor 7:15).
All other marital problems are to be resolved. The quicker any issues can be faced and counsel sought, the better the chance of resolution. If the couple waits until there is a “hardness of heart,” reconciliation becomes difficult.
If the unbeliever abandons the marriage (1 Cor 7:15), the believer is allowed to “depart” (Gk. to “separate completely, dissolve the marriage bond”; Louw and Nida, Greek–English Lexicon). If a divorce occurs, “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (7:15)—-that is, the marital bond ceases.
In our verse, Paul writes that those who have chosen to remain single (1 Cor 7:26) or who “have been loosed from a wife” (perfect tense; thus the divorce was a completed action in the past) should “stop seeking a wife” (7:27). The word seek means to “strive to find.” This is not an absolute prohibition, but searching for a spouse is not to become a priority.
The next verse clarifies the marriage or remarriage issue: “If you get married, it is not a sin” (1 Cor 7:28), where “you” refers back to the person who “has been loosed from a wife” or the single person (7:25).
Paul warns of potential problems in marriage (7:28) that could limit the spread of the gospel and “how [one can] please the Lord” (7:32). The proper balance enables each partner to become an asset for the Gospel.
“Lord Jesus, when You bind us together in marriage, we truly become one. May we always see our marriage from Your perspective and work to make our love and relationship grow, even through life’s difficulties.”