12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.
13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
In these verses, Paul addresses marriages in which one of the pair is saved after marriage. He is not sanctioning marriage between a believer and a non-believer.
I say this (I, not the Lord) (v.12) — There are no commands of God to quote on this subject (as there was on divorce among believers), so Paul addresses it on the basis of his apostolic authority.
In 1 Corinthians 7:12 [and also referring to vs. 25 and 40] he says, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord.” This does not deny the divine inspiration of his words. He simply means: “This is not part of the revelation I have received from the Lord.” Indeed, in v. 25 he confirms this interpretation by his statement: “Now concerning virgins, I have no commandment of the Lord …” Here the thought of inspiration does not even enter in, but rather that of “the revelation of Jesus Christ” to him.
That everything in Paul’s epistles was divinely inspired is emphasized not only in 2 Timothy 3:16, but also in 2 Peter 3:16 where “all his [Paul’s] epistles” are called “the Scriptures,” which unbelievers “wrest … to their own destruction.”
But as we have seen, it is also evident, especially from 1 Corinthians 7, that all Paul wrote is not to be included in the special revelation he received from the Lord in glory. — Stam, pg. 134.
willing (vs. 12-23) — indicated mutual consent
sanctified (v.14) = set apart — not a change of spiritual state, but that the marriage is legitimate in God’s view even though one partner is not saved
children (v.14) — again, they are seen by God as the result of a legitimate marriage
holy (v.14) = sanctified, set apart
In this verse we have a great contrast of the grace of Christianity and the rigor of Judaism. One of the ways Israel remained a holy people was in refusing to mix with the heather in marriage. Those who took heathen wives were polluted, and their children unclean. When they judged the sin they proved it by not only offering a blood sacrifice, but by putting away both children and wife (Ezra 10:3).
In the case of the Christian who was married to an unbeliever, Paul says that he does not have to put away his children — they were not unclean, but holy. — Greene, pg. 247.
In light of Greene’s quote above, it was probably because of the mix of Jewish kingdom believers and Gentile grace believers in this particular church which required this teaching from Paul.
Verse 15 covers the situation in which one partner believers after marriage and the other, non-believing partner does not want to remain married.
not bound (v.15) — to the marriage vow
called us to live in peace (v.15) — If the two can remain married without strife and hatred, they should.