Paul was not married (9:5). That fact surprises us. Paul was Jewish, and usually all Jewish men married. (The Jewish people belong to the nation that came from the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) Perhaps the explanation is that Paulís wife had died.
But Paul was not unhappy that he did not now have a wife. In fact, he considered it a good thing to be unmarried. He explains the reasons for this in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. As an unmarried man, he could serve God in ways that would be difficult for a married man.
A married man has a duty to look after his wife. But Paul was free to go wherever God sent him. A married man should avoid unnecessary danger, because his injury or death would cause trouble for his wife. But Paul constantly accepted risks as he worked for God (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). It would not have been sensible for Paul to do these things if he still had a wife.
Paul even wished that all Christians were free to serve God like that. But Paul recognised that God wanted some men to be married. Jesusí brothers, Peter and the other Christian leaders had all married (9:5). That was their gift from God, even as Paulís unmarried state was also a gift from God.
For that reason, Paul was careful not to make any rules about whether Christians should marry. They must pray to find out what God wants them to do. Perhaps God will give them a Christian husband or wife, so that they can serve God better together. Or perhaps, like Paul, they will serve God better as an unmarried person.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.