1 Corinthians 7:3
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
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(3) Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence.—Rather, Let the husband render unto the wife her due—such being the reading of the better MSS. In this verse the Apostle answers the scruples of those who already were married and who doubted whether they should continue so.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4. Let the husband — Where this relation is commenced; render unto the wife, Την οφειλομενην ευνοιαν, the due benevolence — That is, the conjugal duty, the duty resulting from the nature of the marriage- covenant. Or, let not married persons fancy that there is any perfection in living with each other as if they were unmarried. The wife hath not power over her own body — Namely, in this respect, but by the marriage- covenant hath transferred it to her husband. And likewise the husband hath not power over his own body; but it is, as it were, the property of the wife, their engagements being mutual; so that, on every occasion, conscience obliges them to remain appropriated to each other. “The right of the wife to her husband’s body, being here represented as precisely the same with the husband’s right to her body, it excludes the husband from simultaneous polygamy; otherwise the right of the husband to his wife’s body would not exclude her from being married to another, during her husband’s lifetime. Besides, the direction, (1 Corinthians 7:2,) let every woman have her own husband, plainly leads to the same conclusion. The right of the wife to her husband’s body is a perfect right, being founded on the ends of marriage, namely, the procreation of children, their proper education, and the prevention of fornication. But these ends would, in a great measure, be frustrated, if the wife had not an exclusive right to her husband’s person.” — Macknight.

7:1-9 The apostle tells the Corinthians that it was good, in that juncture of time, for Christians to keep themselves single. Yet he says that marriage, and the comforts of that state, are settled by Divine wisdom. Though none may break the law of God, yet that perfect rule leaves men at liberty to serve him in the way most suited to their powers and circumstances, of which others often are very unfit judges. All must determine for themselves, seeking counsel from God how they ought to act.Let the husband ... - "Let them not imagine that there is any virtue in bring separate from each other, as if they were in a state of celibacy" - "Doddridge." They are bound to each other; in every way they are to evince kindness, and to seek to promote the happiness and purity of each other. There is a great deal of delicacy used here by Paul, and his expression is removed as far as possible from the grossness of pagan writers. His meaning is plain; but instead of using a word to express it which would be indelicate and offensive, he uses one which is not indelicate in the slightest degree. The word which he uses εὔνοιαν eunoian," benevolence") denotes kindness, good-will, affection of mind. And by the use of the word "due" ὀφειλομένην opheilomenēn, he reminds them of the sacredness of their vow, and of the fact that in person, property, and in every respect, they belong to each other. It was necessary to give this direction, for the contrary might have been regarded as proper by many who would have supposed there was special virtue and merit in living separate from each other; as facts have shown that many have imbibed such an idea - and it was not possible to give the rule with more delicacy than Paul has done. Many mss., however, instead of "due benevolence," read ὀφειλὴν opheilēn, "a debt, or that which is owed;" and this reading has been adopted by Griesbach in the text. Homer, with a delicacy not unlike the apostle Paul, uses the word φιλότητα filotēta, "friendship," to express the same idea. 3, 4. The duty of cohabitation on the part of the married.

due benevolence—The oldest manuscripts read simply, "her due"; that is, the conjugal cohabitation due by the marriage contract (compare 1Co 7:4).

The word translated due benevolence, signifieth due goodwill or kindness, but from 1 Corinthians 7:5, it appeareth what the apostle meaneth: Moses, Exodus 21:10, calleth it, the duty of marriage; both of them using a modest term in expressing the conjugal act, as we shall observe the Scripture always doing, when there is occasion to mention what men of profane hearts are ready to make a scoff at. The apostle maketh this the mutual duty both of husband and wife, under due circumstances, therefore useth the word render, which implieth the thing required to be an act of justice.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence,.... The Syriac version renders it, , "due love"; and so the Arabic; and may include all the offices of love, tenderness, humanity, care, provision, and protection, which are to be performed by the husband to his wife; though it seems chiefly, if not solely, here to respect what is called, Exodus 21:10 "her marriage duty", as distinct from food and raiment to be allowed her; and what is meant by it the Jewish doctors will tell us: one says (t), it is , "the use of the marriage bed"; and, says another (u), , "it is to lie with her", according to the way of all the earth. And so the phrase here, "due benevolence", is an euphemism, and designs the act of coition; which as it is an act of love and affection, a sign of mutual benevolence, so of justice; it is a due debt from divine ordination, and the matrimonial contract. The Jewish doctors have fixed and settled various canons (w) concerning the performance, of this conjugal debt: and the apostle may not be altogether without some view to the rules and customs which obtained in his own nation.

And, likewise also the wife unto the husband; she is not to refuse the use of the bed when required, unless there is some just impediment, otherwise she comes under the name of a "rebellious wife"; concerning whom, and her punishment, the Jews (x) give the following rules:

"a woman that restrains her husband from the use of the bed, is called rebellious; and when they ask her why she rebels, if she says, because it is loathsome to me, and I cannot lie with him; then they oblige him to put her away directly, without her dowry; and she may not take any thing of her husband's, not even her shoe strings, nor her hair lace; but what her husband did not give her she may take, and go away: and if she rebels against her husband, on purpose to afflict him, and she does to him so or so, and despises him, they send to her from the sanhedrim, and say to her, know thou, that if thou continuest in thy rebellion, thou shalt not prosper? and after that they publish her in the synagogues and schools four weeks, one after another, and say, such an one has rebelled against her husband; and after the publication, they send and say to her, if thou continuest in thy rebellion, thou wilt lose thy dowry; and they appoint her twelve months, and she has no sustenance from her husband all that time; and she goes out at the end of twelve months without her dowry, and returns everything that is her husband's.''

This account, with a little variation, is also given by Maimonides (y).

(t) Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, praecept. neg. 81. Sol. Jarchi in Exodus 21.10. (u) Maimon. Hilch. Isbot, c. 12. sect. 2. Vid. Aben Ezra in Exodus 21.10. (w) Vid. Misn. Cetubot, c. 5. sect. 6. & Mikvaot, c. 8. sect. 3.((x) Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 81. (y) Hilch. Ishot, c. 14. sect. 8, 9, 10. Vid. Misn. Cetubot, c. 5. sect. 7. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

{2} Let the husband render unto the wife {c} due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

(2) Secondly, he shows that the parties married must with singular affection entirely love one another.

(c) The word due contains all types of benevolence, though he speaks more of one sort than of the other, in that which follows.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4. The occasion for this injunction, which otherwise might very well have been dispensed with, must have been given by the statement in the letter from Corinth of scruples having arisen on the point. See on 1 Corinthians 7:1.

τὴν ὀφειλήν] the due in the matter (Romans 13:7), i.e. according to the context, as euphemistically expressed, the debitum tori.[1071] See 1 Corinthians 7:4. The word does not occur at all in Greek writers; see Lobeck, a[1072] Phryn. p. 90. Nor does it in the LXX. and the Apocrypha.

ἡ γυνὴ τοῦ ἰδίου σώμ. κ.τ.λ[1073]] Explanatory of 1 Corinthians 7:3. The wife has no power over her own body, namely, as regards cohabitation, but the husband has that power; likewise (ὁμοίως) also, on the other hand, the converse holds, so that “neutri liceat alteri conjugale debitum poscenti denegare,” Estius. Corresponding statements of the Rabbins may be seen in Selden, uxor. Hebr. iii. 6, 7.

Bengel says happily respecting ἰδίου, that it forms with ΟὐΚ ἘΞΟΥΣΙΆΖΕΙ, an elegans paradoxon.

[1071] If we adopted the common reading τὴν ὀφειλομ. εὔνοιαν, we should not take it, with Grotius, al., in the same sense as given above, but generally, with Calvin and others, as benevolentiam. For the expression for that special idea is not εὔνοια (not even in Philo, de Abr. p. 384), but φιλότης (Homer), μίξις, συνουσία. The author of the gloss, therefore, must either have misunderstood τὴν ὀφειλήν, or, understanding it rightly, have used a wrong expression to explain it. The reading ὀφειλομένην τιμήν in Chrysostom points to the former alternative.

[1072] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[1073] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 7:3-4. Within the bonds of wedlock, “the due” should be yielded (1 Corinthians 7:3) by each for the satisfaction and according to the rights of the other (1 Corinthians 7:4). This dictum defends marital intercourse against rigorists, as that of 1 Corinthians 7:1 commends celibacy against sensualists. The word ὀφειλὴ guards, both positively and negatively, the κοίτη ἀμίαντος (Hebrews 13:4); what is due to one alone must be given to one alone (τῇ γυναικί, τῷ ἀνδρί). The gloss of the T.R., as old as the Syriac Version, is a piece of mistaken delicacy.—The precise repetition of ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ corrects the onesidedness of common sentiment and of public law,—both Greek and Jewish: she is as much the mistress of his person, as he the master of hers.—ἐξουσιάζω (= ἐξουσίαν ἔχω) implies moral power, authority (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:12). τοῦ ἰδίουοὐκ ἐξουσιάζει, “elegans paradoxon” (Bg[1008])—his (her) own is not his (her) own.

[1008] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

3. due benevolence] The better supported reading is what is due, the debt.

1 Corinthians 7:3. Ὀφειλὴν, what is due [due benevolence, Engl. Vers.]) This is explained in the next verse. Gataker shows, that the same duty was called by the Greeks χάριν, by the poets φιλότητα. The reading of this passage, due benevolence, ὀφειλομένην εὒνοιαν, is a spurious paraphrase.[56] [ὀφειλὴν is the native (genuine) and simple reading.—Not. crit.]

[56] Ὀφειλὴν is the reading of ABCDG Vulg. fg Memph. Orig. Cypr. Ὀφειλομένην εὐνοίαν of Rec. Text is the reading of both the Syriac Versions, but of none other of the oldest authorities.—ED.

Verse 3. - Due benevolence. An euphemistic and needless modification by the copyists of the pure and simple expression of St. Paul, which, as shown by the best manuscripts, is "her due" - debitum tori. St. Paul is evidently entering on these subjects, not out of any love for them; but because all kinds of extreme views - immoral indifference and over scrupulous asceticism - had claimed dominance among the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 7:3
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