71Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about.
A man does well not to marry.7.1 A man does well not to marry; or You say that a man does well not to marry. 2But because there is so much immorality, every man should have his own wife, and every woman should have her own husband. 3A man should fulfil his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. 4A wife is not the master of her own body, but her husband is; in the same way a husband is not the master of his own body, but his wife is. 5Do not deny yourselves to each other, unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations. In this way you will be kept from giving in to Satan's temptation because of your lack of self-control.
6I tell you this not as an order, but simply as a concession. 7Actually I would prefer that all of you were as I am; but each one has a special gift from God, one person this gift, another one that gift.
8Now, to the unmarried and to the widows I say that it would be better for you to continue to live alone as I do. 9But if you cannot restrain your desires, go ahead and marry — it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband; 11but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.
12To the others I say (I, myself, not the Lord): if a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she agrees to go on living with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever and he agrees to go on living with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made acceptable to God by being united to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made acceptable to God by being united to her Christian husband. If this were not so, their children would be like pagan children; but as it is, they are acceptable to God. 15However, if the one who is not a believer wishes to leave the Christian partner, let it be so. In such cases the Christian partner, whether husband or wife, is free to act. God has called you to live in peace. 16How can you be sure, Christian wife, that you will not save7.16 How can you be sure… that you will not save; or How do you know… that you will save. your husband? Or how can you be sure, Christian husband, that you will not save your wife?
17Each of you should go on living according to the Lord's gift to you, and as you were when God called you. This is the rule I teach in all the churches. 18If a circumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not try to remove the marks of circumcision; if an uncircumcised man has accepted God's call, he should not get circumcised. 19For whether or not a man is circumcised means nothing; what matters is to obey God's commandments. 20Each of you should remain as you were when you accepted God's call. 21Were you a slave when God called you? Well, never mind; but if you have a chance to become free, use it.7.21 but if you have a chance to become free, use it; or but even if you have a chance to become free, choose rather to make the best of your condition as a slave. 22For a slave who has been called by the Lord is free for the Lord; in the same way a free person who has been called by Christ is his slave. 23God bought you for a price; so do not become slaves of human beings. 24My friends, each of you should remain in fellowship with God in the same condition as you were when you were called.
25Now, concerning what you wrote about unmarried people: I do not have a command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is worthy of trust.
26Considering the present distress, I think it is better for a man to stay as he is. 27Have you got a wife? Then don't try to get rid of her. Are you unmarried? Then don't look for a wife. 28But if you do marry, you haven't committed a sin; and if an unmarried woman marries, she hasn't committed a sin. But I would rather spare you the everyday troubles that married people will have.
29What I mean, my friends, is this: there is not much time left, and from now on married men should live as though they were not married; 30those who weep, as though they were not sad; those who laugh, as though they were not happy; those who buy, as though they did not own what they bought; 31those who deal in material goods, as though they were not fully occupied with them. For this world, as it is now, will not last much longer.
32I would like you to be free from worry. An unmarried man concerns himself with the Lord's work, because he is trying to please the Lord. 33But a married man concerns himself with worldly matters, because he wants to please his wife; 34and so he is pulled in two directions. An unmarried woman or a virgin concerns herself with the Lord's work, because she wants to be dedicated both in body and spirit; but a married woman concerns herself with worldly matters, because she wants to please her husband.
35I am saying this because I want to help you. I am not trying to put restrictions on you. Instead, I want you to do what is right and proper, and to give yourselves completely to the Lord's service without any reservation.
36In the case of an engaged couple who have decided not to marry: if the man feels that he is not acting properly towards the young woman and if his passions are too strong and he feels that they ought to marry, then they should get married, as he wants to.7.36 an engaged couple… as he wants to; or a man and his unmarried daughter: if he feels that he is not acting properly towards her, and if she is at the right age to marry, then he should do as he wishes and let her get married. There is no sin in this. 37But if a man, without being forced to do so, has firmly made up his mind not to marry,7.37 not to marry; or not to let his daughter get married. and if he has his will under complete control and has already decided in his own mind what to do — then he does well not to marry the young woman.7.37 marry the young woman; or let her get married. 38So the man who marries7.38 marries; or lets his daughter get married. does well, but the one who doesn't marry7.38 doesn't marry; or doesn't let her get married. does even better.
39A married woman is not free as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, then she is free to be married to any man she wishes, but only if he is a Christian. 40She will be happier, however, if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I too have God's Spirit.
81Now, concerning what you wrote about food offered to idols.
It is true, of course, that “all of us have knowledge”, as they say. Such knowledge, however, puffs a person up with pride; but love builds up. 2Those who think they know something really don't know as they ought to know. 3But the person who loves God is known by him.
4So then, about eating the food offered to idols: we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God. 5Even if there are so-called “gods”, whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these “gods” and “lords”, 6yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.
7But not everyone knows this truth. Some people have been so used to idols that to this day when they eat such food they still think of it as food that belongs to an idol; their conscience is weak, and they feel they are defiled by the food. 8Food, however, will not improve our relations with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat.
9Be careful, however, not to let your freedom of action make those who are weak in the faith fall into sin. 10Suppose a person whose conscience is weak in this matter sees you, who have so-called “knowledge”, eating in the temple of an idol; will not this encourage him to eat food offered to idols? 11And so this weak person, your brother for whom Christ died, will perish because of your “knowledge”! 12And in this way you will be sinning against Christ by sinning against your Christian brothers and sisters and wounding their weak conscience. 13So then, if food makes my brother or sister sin, I will never eat meat again, so as not to make my brother or sister fall into sin.
91Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven't I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren't you the result of my work for the Lord? 2Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.
3When people criticize me, this is how I defend myself: 4Haven't I the right to be given food and drink for my work? 5Haven't I the right to follow the example of the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter, by taking a Christian wife with me on my travels? 6Or are Barnabas and I the only ones who have to work for our living? 7What soldier ever has to pay his own expenses in the army? What farmer does not eat the grapes from his own vineyard? What shepherd does not use the milk from his own sheep?
8I don't have to limit myself to these everyday examples, because the Law says the same thing. 9
We read in the Law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh corn.” Now, is God concerned about oxen? 10Didn't he really mean us when he said that? Of course that was written for us. The one who ploughs and the one who reaps should do their work in the hope of getting a share of the crop. 11
We have sown spiritual seed among you. Is it too much if we reap material benefits from you? 12If others have the right to expect this from you, haven't we an even greater right?
But we haven't made use of this right. Instead, we have endured everything in order not to put any obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ. 13
Surely you know that the men who work in the Temple get their food from the Temple and that those who offer the sacrifices on the altar get a share of the sacrifices. 14
In the same way, the Lord has ordered that those who preach the gospel should get their living from it.
15But I haven't made use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this now in order to claim such rights for myself. I would rather die first! Nobody is going to turn my rightful boast into empty words! 16I have no right to boast just because I preach the gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the gospel! 17If I did my work as a matter of free choice, then I could expect to be paid; but I do it as a matter of duty, because God has entrusted me with this task. 18What pay do I get, then? It is the privilege of preaching the Good News without charging for it, without claiming my rights in my work for the gospel.
19I am a free man, nobody's slave; but I make myself everybody's slave in order to win as many people as possible. 20While working with the Jews, I live like a Jew in order to win them; and even though I myself am not subject to the Law of Moses, I live as though I were when working with those who are, in order to win them. 21In the same way, when working with Gentiles, I live like a Gentile, outside the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles. This does not mean that I don't obey God's law; I am really under Christ's law. 22Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.
23All this I do for the gospel's sake, in order to share in its blessings. 24Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. 25Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last for ever. 26That is why I run straight for the finishing line; that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches. 27I harden my body with blows and bring it under complete control, to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.