Question:

My question is, 23 different bibles all say the same thing. They specifically say "divorced from your wife" no problem there.

Yet there are 7 different biles that also say the same thing. Instead of saying divorced from your wife they say " if you are unmarried" here's the problem with the word "unmarried" .

Does it literally mean that you are not married, you have never been married or does it mean that you are unmarried now because you are divorced from your wife??

Big difference between the 2 meanings and yet if a person is reading the bible for the first time, and reads one of these seven, they may get entirely the wrong meaning.

I Corinthians 7:27

God's Word Translation and ASV, BBE, CEB, RHE, ESV, HNV, CSB, KJV, LEB, NAS, NKJV, NRS, RSV, DBY, WBT, TMB, TNIV, TYN, WNT, WEB, WYC, YLT

Do you have a wife? Don't seek a divorce. Are you divorced from your wife? Don't look for another one.

Good News Translation and CJB, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, MSG

Do you have a wife? Then don't try to get rid of her. Are you unmarried? Then don't look for a wife.

Thanking you


Answer:

The Greek literally says in I Corinthians 7:27: dedesai ("have you been bound") gunaiki ("woman or wife") me ("not") zetei ("seek") lusin ("loose or divorce") lelusai ("have you been loosed or divorced") apo ("from") gunaikos ("woman or wife") me ("not") zetei ("seek") gunaika ("wife")

The problem comes because the word for woman is also the word for wife in Greek. The word for loosed is also the word for divorced in Greek. Usually context helps us keep it straight, but in the immediate context Paul is discussing both the married and the unmarried.

The first part isn't as hard. When a man is bound to a woman, it is because he is married to her (Romans 7:2 uses the same word "bound"). "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Therefore, "wife" is a clearer translation of gunaiki.

Both "have you been bound" and "have you been loosed" are in the present indicative case in the Greek. Verbs in this case are referring to actions that are either continuous or undefined as to when they happened. Thus, "have you been bound" means the man is married (continuous) without regards as to when he became married. "Have you been loosed" means the man was never married (continuous) or no longer married (undefined as to when). It would cover a man who was never married, a man whose wife died, or a man who was divorced.

Therefore, the question becomes was Paul contrasting the bound and unbound states of a man or discussing only a married man being married or formerly married. The problem with the latter is the following verse: "But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you" (I Corinthians 7:28). It is not true that a divorced man can marry in general. Such would contradict what Paul just said: "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). Therefore, it seems clear to me that Paul is contrasting the bound and unbound states of a man.

By the way, you are incorrect about the weight of the translations:

  • (NKJV) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
  • (NAS95) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
  • (KJV) Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
  • (NIV) Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.
  • (ASV) Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife.
  • (BBE) If you are married to a wife, make no attempt to get free from her: if you are free from a wife, do not take a wife.
  • (DBY) Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed; art thou free from a wife? do not seek a wife.
  • (MKJV) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you freed from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
  • (MNT) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from the marriage bond? Do not seek for a wife.
  • (NASB) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
  • (NRSV) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
  • (Oracl) Are you bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
  • (RSV) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage.
  • (TCNT) Are you married to a wife? Then do not seek to be separated. Are you separated from a wife? Then do not seek for a wife.
  • (WEB) Are you bound to a wife? Don't seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don't seek a wife.
  • (WNT) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to get free. Are you free from the marriage bond? Do not seek for a wife.
  • (YLT) Hast thou been bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed; hast thou been loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

None of these use the word "divorced" though you might argue that the TCNT strongly implies a divorce (as does the ISV). The only ones that I can find that uses the word "divorce" are the CEB and GW. None of these versions are known for the strength of their accuracy in following the Greek text. The majority of English translations strive to use broader terms in the last half of I Corinthians 7:27.