Don't stay where you arePaul the Apostle told people in the Corinthian churches (yes, churches plural)* that “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.” 1 Corinthians 7:17 

In other words, if you’re an ice cream scooper or a hamburger flipper and you receive Christ as your Lord & Savior (become a Christian), then you should, from that point on, keep scooping and flipping because that’s where God wants you.

John Gill has said:  

People should stay in their proper sphere of usefulness, and the station in which he (God) would have him be, and the place he would have him fill up, and the business he must do in life; so let him act, and as the Lord hath called everyone; which is to be understood of that particular station of life, and those circumstances of it, in which men are providentially placed by God, or are found in when he calls them by his grace; as whether married or unmarried; whether joined to a believer or an unbeliever; whether circumcised or uncircumcised; whether bond or free; a servant or a master; and so may refer to what follows, as well as to what goes before…

Is the most common interpretation of this verse starting to make you angry?  It seems like this translation is a form of abusive control.  Beyond that, on the surface anyway, it seems  directly contrary to “ministry.”  What do I mean?  Well, no one is a pastor when they get saved, although I do know of one.  In fact, if this is true, then no one can be in a christian profession of any sort.  Unless, of course, they just happen to get saved while being the worship leader of a mega church or something similar.

To my missional friends, you should gladly accept this interpretation because it reaffirms the idea of “being a missionary right where you are.”  To my friends who translate the Great Commission as “as you go,” this will only strengthen your case because it affirms reaching others while going about your everyday God-given normal life.  To my Organic church friends, this supports gathering naturally “as life happens.” But, for my missionary friends, myself included, this means we’ll have to leave the field and go back to whatever situation we were in before.

*The word “churches”  in (1 Corinthians 7:17) in the plural form establishes and justifies the existence  of many local assemblies (called out ones assembling, congregating, and sending) within the greater context of the universal Church.  1 Corinthians 1:2


Surely this verse can’t mean what most say it means.  Can it?  What do you think? 

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    1. 1 Cor 7:12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord . . .

      1 Cor 7:17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you . . .

      1 Cor 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

    2. I first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit when I was eight years old, but didn’t come to Christ until I was in my teens. I didn’t have a job, nor was I married (obviously), I couldn’t yet drive a car and my parents provided for me. Obviously I couldn’t stay in the state I was in when the Lord called me, so that isn’t the meaning of this passage. That would be nonsense.

      And we certainly wouldn’t tell people who are employed in sinful practices in order to make a living to remain in their station of life.

      I think the passage is cautioning against trying to make certain perceived (or maybe even imagined) wrongs “right” by undoing them once we come to Christ. Are you married? Don’t divorce. Are you married to an unbeliever? Stay with him or her – don’t leave! In other words, you may have made a mess of your life before coming to Christ, but don’t make a bigger mess now by trying to sort everything out yourself. Repent – turn from your sin. Flee to the cross. Aside from that, God is able to introduce any changes that are needed (as we well know!), so submit the situation to him. And change will come.

      Because all things are possible with God.

    3. No, it wouldn’t work too well for a stripper or a mobster or a drug dealer would it?

      I have the feeling this was written in answer to an inquiry as to whether or not these people should shut down everything and go try to be super-Christians doing what Paul did as a travelling evangelist, and win the world for Christ.

      I can’t prove this of course, but that’s the feeling I get when I read this. That he was just trying to calm them down, and get them to focus on loving their neighbor, and spreading the gospel where they were before worrying about trying to “save the world”.

    4. RIGHT NOW, every follower of Christ is uniquely designed, empowered, experienced & SENT to joyfully reveal God’s heart and His Kingdom to those around us. Matthew 10:7, Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:18-20, John 20:21, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 3:10 ……IAM-SENT

    5. I’ve thought the passage means new converts should make any life-changes gradually as the Holy Spirit directs rather than instantly because your preacher/mentor says it is mandatory. It surely doesn’t mean you’re stuck in your dead-end job for life when you believe.
      I have often thought it was sad that the missionaries to Africa, for example, demanded that converts give up extra wives even though it was accepted in their culture. Does Scripture in fact demand monogamy of everyone? Imagine how the patriarchs got by living in sin! Even “the husband of one wife” in the New Testament seems to have been a specific requirement of elders…not a blanket rule. How does abandoning the second wife “because I’m a Christian” square with showing the love of God? (Not arguing for polygamy…just wondering about respect for other cultures and confusing the Gospel with our particular cultural background).

    6. I agree with Tom’s thought that emphasizes the leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of the new believer. I would add the following thoughts:

      “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.”

      This is not a mandate to remain static. The “as you go”, “as you are going” crowd (of which I am one) would have to see this as a mandate to not remain static since God did not create us to avoid growth. If you are in a business field, continue with all ambition (as long as it does not contradict a Christ centered life). If the Lord quickens your heart toward the mission fields, then go will all your might until He closes the door or pulls on the reigns.

      The operative sense in Scripture for believers is freedom, not bondage. The Law drives us to the Cross and then Grace releases us to switch on the afterburners. As an interpretive principle, this frees us from seeking specific freedom to do this or that. God, the creator of logic, is the founder of the maxim “silence implies consent” which is what I find it very helpful that Paul added this phrase:

      “This is my rule for all the churches.”

      This is not just another teaching that we cannot be lone ranger Christians. This is a statement to church leader and laity alike to extend such liberty to everyone within the body.

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