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Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology

Department

School of Theology • Seminary

First Advisor

Richard Dillon

Abstract

This exegetical study highlights the intended dynamics of Paul's particular message in I Cor. 7:25-40 by considering the social setting of Corinth, the status of Corinthian Christians, and the place of these verses in the context of the entire letter. Paul's writing here is a corrective for two reactionary extremes in the Corinthian church: the Libertines, who validated sexual licence as a matter of ethical indifference; and the Ascetics, who were convinced that celibacy was vital to the spiritual perfection of the entire community. Paul deals delicately with the merits of marriage versus virginity, yet he does not pit them against each other. Rather, they are but two guide posts on a path that takes one to consider eschatology and its relationship to the present world, personal discernment and spiritual transformation, and proper exercise of authority. Paul acknowledges the presence of different spiritual gifts or "callings" in each person's life, and affirms the capacity of the spirit-filled individual to discern one's own "seemliness" in the practice of building up the body of Christ.

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