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God says in 1 Corinthians 12-13 :

if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.

To me, my interpretation is (A):
*IF the unbeliever spouse consents to live with him/her, God prohibit a believer to divorce his/her unbeliever spouse *

The reason is verse 14

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband

To me, my interpretation is (B):
The reason is because God Himself made holy the unbeliever spouse because of the believer spouse.


ELSE (if the IF above doesn't meet), verse 15:

But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace

To me, my interpretation is (C):
IF the unbeliever spouse want to divorce, then God wants that the believer one has to let it happen.

Now the verse which I don't understand, verse 16 :

For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

To me, my interpretation is (D), God say that:
the believer spouse don't know whether he/she will save his/her unbeliever spouse.

Then the conclusion (based on my A B C) seems awkward to me:
IF the unbeliever spouse want to divorce, then the believer spouse has to let it happen (C) because... the reason is D.... but,
IF the unbeliever spouse consents to live with the believer spouse, then the believer spouse is not allow to divorce him/her (A) because... the reason is B.

To me, the only way to have a not awkward conclusion is to ADD words in B like this:
who knows, that the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband ? (so, don't divorce her/him)

Now my question: what D means ?
I mean, how D is suddenly a reason for C but not for A ? Something you know: (B) if (A) ..... but then change to something you don't know: (D) if (C).

closed as unclear what you're asking by curiousdannii, Nigel J, KorvinStarmast, Nathaniel Feb 10 at 3:06

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  • Are you essentially asking whether the unbelieving spouse wants to stay or divorce their chances of being saved is greater if they decide for themselves whether to stay or divorce? Therefore rather than one instance and not the other, both are equally conducive to v16 – Autodidact Feb 7 at 17:47
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    you tagged this Non-Christian. Are you looking from the perspective of any particular denomination? For example, often times these verses are understood in a way that allows a believer (non-Catholic Believer) to divorce and re-marry when no scripture anywhere suggests that it is ok to remarry after divorce. So, if an unbelieving wife leaves a man, and the believing man remains faithful to his marriage vows by keeping them and remaining faithful to his word, can the unbelieving woman still be saved? Outside a particular tradition or Tradition, it is difficult to exegete this. – Marc Feb 7 at 17:55
  • @Autodidact, the thing which I don't understand is because to me verse 16 is something like this "who knows what will happen". Verse 16: how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Based from verse 14, then the wife can answer : "If my unbeliever husband consents to live with me, then I know God will save my unbeliever husband because I'm a believer wife". So, there is no "chance" in verse 14 but a certainty. God certainly save the husband. On the other hand, verse 16 is uncertain whether God save the unbeliever husband or not if he left/divorce his wife. – karma Feb 12 at 21:00
  • @marc, you wrote: if an unbelieving wife leaves a man, and the believing man remains faithful to his marriage vows by keeping them and remaining faithful to his word, can the unbelieving woman still be saved? Me: From verse 16, the answer is "nobody knows ... maybe yes maybe no". But if the unbeliever wife consents to live with her husband, then from verse 14, the answer is: "everybody knows that the unbeliever wife is save" – karma Feb 12 at 21:06
  • To be made holy is not to be saved or to be guaranteed being saved. @karma – Autodidact Feb 13 at 0:20
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The meaning, according to the NET Bible, for example, is that the wife may be the agent by which the husband is saved (and vice versa).

The chain of reasoning sort of starts at verse 10, I think:

:10-11 Don't divorce. (Note there's a larger context here btw)

:12-13. Don't even divorce an unbelieving spouse.

:14 Because the unbeliever benefits from the relationship -- can even benefit spiritually. In fact, the children also benefit from a godly spouse (even if one spouse isn't a Christian) -- they can even benefit spiritually.

:15 But don't be obnoxious about it. If the unbeliever is dead-set on divorce, then OK, let him/her (Christian rules don't apply to non-Christians).

:16 What's the benefit? The believing spouse could be the agent of salvation to the non-believer.

  • you wrote: "the wife may be the agent by which the husband is saved". Then what I'm thinking is the same with you.... on verse 14: ADD words in B like this: "who knows, that the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife? (if he consent to live with her)... so, don't divorce him" – karma Feb 12 at 21:23

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