OceanSide church of Christ
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THE PAULINE PRIVILEGE
Victor M. Eskew
A. The holy bond of marriage was given by God to man in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:18, 21-24).
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an
help meet for him… And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he
slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib,
which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the
man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be
called Woman, because she was taken out of
and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh
B. The force of the words “leave” and “cleave” are very strong. During the ministry of Jesus, He revealed just how strong (Matt. 19:3-6).
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a
man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye
not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And
said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and
they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What
therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
C. They were strong words then, and they are strong words today. God intended one man to marry one woman and live with her in marriage until death parts them.
D. Jesus gave one exception to this. (Matt. 19:7-9).
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and
to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts
suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto
you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry
another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit
1. Moses suffered them to put away their wives. “To suffer,” means an exception to the rule.
2. From the beginning it was not so.
3. One who divorces and remarries is in adultery, unless his divorce was for fornication.
E. Some do not believe there is one exception. They believe in the “Pauline Privilege” (I Cor. 7:15).
I. WHAT THEY TEACH
Corinthians 7 is the apostle Paul’s writing to the church at
B. Our text involves questions about marriages between believers and unbelievers (I Cor. 7:12-15).
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and
she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath
an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave
him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is
sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if
the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such
cases: but God hath called us to peace.
C. Three points seem to summarize their teaching:
1. “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord.” Paul only spoke about mixed marriages. Jesus’ words, they say, do not apply to mixed marriages.
2. “But if the unbelieving depart.” This is the desertion of the believer by the unbeliever.
3. “A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.” This is the marriage bond.
II. WHY THEY ARE WRONG
A. First, they make Matthew 19:9 a “covenant passage.”
1. A “covenant passage” is one that applies only to Christians.
2. The context of Matthew 19:9.
a. Jesus is addressing Pharisees, a Jewish sect.
b. Jesus took His words back to the beginning of the entire human race.
c. “Whosoever” means all men and women.
3. The reality is that those who hold to this position do not believe that God has legislated to the non-Christian through the gospel at all. More on this later.
B. Second, their doctrine nullifies the exception clause of Matthew 19:9.
1. Jesus said that one cannot divorce and remarry “except” for fornication, one reason only!
2. Those who teach the “Pauline Privilege” say that “except” does not mean “except.” There is another exception in I Corinthians 7:15.
3. Two problems:
a. This type of treatment of an exception complicates all exceptions (i.e., John 3:5).
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the
he cannot enter into the
b. What about the years in the church between Jesus’ words and I Corinthians 7:15.
C. Third, the Greek word for “bondage” in the text.
1. In the context of I Corinthians 7, a form of the word “bond” is used 3 times (vs. 15, 27, 39).
2. In I Corinthians 7:15, the Greek word is a different Greek word. It is the word “douloo.”
a. This word occurs in some form 133 times in the NT, but never refers to marriage.
b. Perfect tense: The verb means that the Christian is not now, nor has he ever been in the type of bondage indicated by the word bondage. This could not mean marriage.
D. The doctrine implies many false doctrines.
1. Non-believers have no legislation from God on marriage.
a. Divorce and remarriage, polygamy, and same sex marriage.
b. Where there is no law, there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15).
c. Paul said the Corinthians had been guilty of adultery (I Cor. 6:9-11).
2. Every accountable person will be lost.
a. Gospel is only for believers (i.e., baptism, the church).
b. Universal damnation is false (Matt. 7:13, 14; Heb. 5:8, 9).
A. Everything hinges upon the word “bondage.”
B. We have already seen that the tense of the verb means one is not now, nor has he ever been in the bondage indicated by the word.
1. This cannot mean the marriage bond, therefore.
2. Roy Lanier, Sr.: “He simply means that the believer is not so bound to the unbeliever that he must give up Christ to hold the unbeliever” (Studies in I Corinthians, McClish, pp. 388-389).
3. Harvey Floyd: “Paul uses dedoulotai in I Corinthians 7:15 because he wishes to say that for a Christian to yield to pressure to give up his Christianity to preserve his marriage would mean slavery of the most abject kind. The Christian must never consider himself in such bondage.
A. This lesson has sought to be simple in its presentation of these matters.
B. Five words can help us remember the gist of this discussion: 1) Whosoever, 2) Except, 3) Bondage, and 4) False Implications.