GEORGE L. FAULL
DOES PAUL REPUDIATE HIS INSPIRATION IN:
I Corinthians 7:6 - Paul says he speaks by Permission, not commandment. "But I speak this by permission, [and] not of commandment." II Corinthians 8:8, "I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love."
I Corinthians 7:10 - Paul stressed, "I command, yet not I, but the Lord."
I Corinthians 7:12 - Paul declares, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord."
I Corinthians 7:25 - He only gives his judgment: "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."
I Corinthians 7:26 - He only supposes: "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful."
I Corinthians 7:40 - He only thinks he has the Spirit of God: "But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God."
These passages should not be used to teach that Paul is not giving a divine revelation. He is not contrasting the words of an apostle of Christ and he as an individual. How do I know?
First, one should remember that it was Paul who has taught us that: "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." II Timothy 3:16. It is not men who are said to be inspired! It is "all Scripture" that is said to be "God breathed!" Paul was the writer of Scripture, for Peter says in II Peter 3:15-16, "15 And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
Peter also informs us that the men of God who wrote, did not do so of their own will, not did it originate from them, but God. He says they were borne along by the Holy Spirit as they spoke. II Peter 1:20-21, "20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost."
Therefore, we affirm that these passages of Scripture are inspired and originated from God. This is not the wisdom which man's wisdom teaches, but that which the Holy Spirit teaches. I Corinthians 2:13, "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
Second, Paul absolutely affirms that the things he writes are the commandments of the Lord. I Corinthians 14:37, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." The Corinthians were claiming that they had the gifts of the Spirit and were spiritual. He tells them to prove it by affirming His Word. This is why I Corinthians 7:40 states: "But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God." Perhaps some of those at Corinth had claimed to have offered advice through the Spirit and he corrects their teaching by reminding them that "he too speaks by the Spirit."
Third, when he states that "it is not by commandment -but by permission," or that "the rest, speak I, not the Lord," he is not saying that his view may differ from the Lord's. He is reminding his reader that the Lord Jesus did not reveal, while he was on earth, what He was now going to reveal through Paul. While on earth, Jesus revealed His will about divorce, but He did not reveal that which a Christian with an unbelieving partner should do. Paul was left to reveal that information by God's Spirit. Rather than say, "Paul gives his uninspired opinion in these passages," we are to see that these inspired Scriptures reveal God's will on this subject.
Fourth, he affirms that God has shown him the mercy of being a trustworthy person. Paul often speaks about the fact that Christ had saved him and made him an apostle. He speaks as one who knows he was a sinner, but has obtained mercy and so faithfully reveals as an apostle what God gave to him about the subject.
Fifth, Paul has said that he "spoke by permission, not commandment." When he did so, he uses the word "sun-gnome," which means "joint opinion" or "fellow-feeling." He shares God's view though God had not yet revealed His commandment to men. He was in "joint opinion" with God who now revealed by him that it was good to remain single, but that it was better to marry than burn with passion.
Conclusion: In these verses Paul is merely stating that God is revealing further truths about marriage and divorce. it is ironic that a Church that gloated over a man living in incest would be concerned about who should marry, who could divorce, and what to do with an unbelieving spouse! Since some at Corinth were puffed-up with gifts, all kinds of advice may have been advocated. Paul affirms that there were somethings the Lord had not revealed while He was on earth. He would give the "joint opinion: of what was allowable. Christ, as Head of the Church, and Paul, His apostle, says it is allowable to marry rather than burn. He would also give his counsel as an apostle, namely that "in present distress, it is good not to marry, but if you do, you do not sin."
However, some things were absolutely commanded by the Lord and His apostle, namely, "that the wife was not to depart from her husband or the husband from the wife, and if they did so, they must not marry another. The Christian with an unbelieving spouse must not leave their partner, but should the partner leave, they were not under bondage to save the marriage by leaving Christ. So, we have what is allowed, advisable and authoritative, or to put it another way, what is conceded, counseled and commanded by the Spirit-filled apostle. Jesus led His apostles into all Truth. The apostle Paul was no exception.