The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible1 Corinthians 7:14
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…
That is, "by the believing wife"; as the Vulgate Latin and Syriac
versions read, and so it is read in some copies; and likewise in the
next clause the same is read,
by the believing husband;
this is a reason given by the apostle why
they should live together. This cannot be understood of internal
sanctification, which is never the case; an unbeliever cannot be
sanctified by a believer in this sense, for such a sanctification is
only by the Spirit of God; nor external sanctification, or an outward
reformation, which though the unbelieving yoke fellow may sometimes be
a means of, yet not always; and besides, the usefulness of one to
another in such a relation, in a spiritual sense, urged as a reason for
living together, in (1 Corinthians 7:16) nor merely of the holiness of
marriage, as it is an institution of God, which is equally the same in
unbelievers as believers, or between a believer and an unbeliever, as
between two believers; but of the very act of marriage, which, in the
language of the Jews, is expressed by being "sanctified"; instances
almost without number might be given of the use of the word (vdq) , in
this sense, out of the Misnic, Talmudic, and Rabbinic writings; take
the following one instead of a thousand that might be produced F19.
``The man (vdqm) , "sanctifies", or espouses a wife by himself,
or by his messenger; the woman (vdqtm) , "is sanctified", or
espoused by herself, or by her messenger. The man (vdqm) ,
"sanctifies", or espouses his daughter, when she is a
young woman, by himself or by his messenger; if anyone
says to a woman, (yvdqth) , "be thou sanctified", or espoused
to me by this date (the fruit of the palm tree,) (yvdqth) ,
"be thou sanctified", or espoused to me by this (any other
thing); if there is anyone of these things the value of a
farthing, (tvdwqm) , "she is sanctified", or espoused, and if
not she is not (tvdwqm) , "sanctified", or "espoused"; if he
says, by this, and by this, and by this, if there is the
value of a farthing in them all, (tvdwqm) , "she is
sanctified", or espoused; but if not, she is not (tvdwqm) ,
"sanctified", or espoused; if she eats one after another,
she is not (tvdwqm) , "sanctified", or espoused, unless there
is one of them the value of a farthing;''
in which short passage, the word which is used to "sanctify", or be
"sanctified", in the Hebrew language, is used to espouse, or be
espoused no less than "ten" times. So the Jews F20 interpret the word
"sanctified", in (Job 1:5) he espoused to them wives; in the Misna,
the oral law of the Jews, there is a whole treatise of (Nyvwdyq)
"sanctifications" F21, or espousals; and in the Gemara or Talmud F23 is
another, full of the disputes of the doctors on this subject.
Maimonides has also written a treatise of women and wives F24, out of
which might be produced almost innumerable instances in proof of the
observation; and such as can read, and have leisure to read the said
tracts, may satisfy themselves to their heart's content. Let it be
further observed; that the preposition (en) , which is in most
versions rendered "by", should be rendered "in" or "to" or "unto", as it
is in the next verse, and in many other places; see (Matthew 17:12) (Mark 9:13)
(Colossians 1:23) (1 Thessalonians 4:7) (2 Peter 1:5-7) if it be rendered in the former way,
"in", it denotes the near union which by marriage the man and woman are
brought into; if in the latter, it designs the object to which the man
or woman is espoused, and the true sense and even the right rendering
of the passage is this: "for the unbelieving husband is espoused to the
wife, and the unbelieving wife is espoused to the husband"; they are
duly, rightly, and legally espoused to each other; and therefore ought
not, notwithstanding their different sentiments of religion, to
separate from one another; otherwise, if this is not the case, if they
are not truly married to one another, this consequence must necessarily
follow; that the children born in such a state of cohabitation, where
the marriage is not valid, must be spurious, and not legitimate, and
which is the sense of the following words:
else were your children unclean, but now are they holy;
that is, if
the marriage contracted between them in their state of infidelity was
not valid, and, since the conversion of one of them, can never be
thought to be good; then the children begotten and born, either when
both were infidels, or since one of them was converted, must be
unlawfully begotten, be base born, and not a genuine legitimate
offspring; and departure upon such a foot would be declaring to all the
world that their children were illegitimate; which would have been a
sad case indeed, and contains in it another reason why they ought to
keep together; whereas, as the apostle has put it, the children are
holy in the same sense as their parents are; that as they are
sanctified, or lawfully espoused together, so the children born of them
were in a civil and legal sense holy, that is, legitimate; wherefore to
support the validity of their marriage, and for the credit of their
children, it was absolutely necessary they should abide with one
another. The learned Dr. Lightfoot says, that the words "unclean" and
"holy" denote not children unlawfully begotten, and lawfully begotten;
but Heathenism and Christianism; and thinks the apostle alludes to the
distinction often made by the Jews, of the children of proselytes being
born in "holiness", or out of it, that is, either before they became
proselytes or after; but it should be observed, that though the word
"holiness" is used for Judaism, yet not for Christianity; and besides,
the marriages of Heathens were not looked upon as marriages by the
Jews, and particularly such mixed ones as of a Jew and Gentile, they
were not to be reckoned marriages; for so they say F25,
``he that espouses a Gentile woman, or a servant,
(Nyvwdyq Nnya) , "they are not espousals"; but lo, he is
after the espousals as he was before the espousals; and so a
Gentile, or a servant, that espouses a daughter of Israel,
(Nyvwdyq Nhyvwdyq Nya) , "those espousals are no espousals";''
nor do they allow children begotten of such persons to be legitimate.
This learned writer himself owns such a tradition, and which he cites
``that a son begotten in uncleanness is a son in all
respects, and in general is reckoned as an Israelite,
though he is a bastard, (wnb wnya hywgh Nm Nbh) , "but a
son begotten on a Gentile woman is not his son";''
all which are just the reverse of what the apostle is here observing;
and who, it must be remarked, is speaking of the same sort of holiness
of children as of parents, which cannot be understood of Christianity,
because one of the parents in each is supposed to be an Heathen. The
sense I have given of this passage, is agreeable to the mind of several
interpreters, ancient and modern, as Jerom, Ambrose, Erasmus,
Camerarius, Musculus… which last writer makes this ingenuous
confession; formerly, says he, I have abused this place against the
Anabaptists, thinking the meaning was, that the children were holy for
the parents' faith; which though true, the present place makes nothing
for the purpose: and I hope, that, upon reading this, everyone that
has abused it to such a purpose will make the like acknowledgment; I am
sure they ought.
F19 Misn. Kiddushin, c. 2. sect. 1.
F20 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 152. 1.
F21 Massech. Kiddushin.
F23 T. Bab. & Hieros. Kiddushin.
F24 Hilch Ishot. c. 3. & 4. & 5. & 6. & 7. & 8. & 9.
F25 Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 4. sect. 15.
F26 Maimon. Hilch. Issure Bia, c. 12. sect. 7. Vid. Ib. Hilch.
Nechalat, c. 2. sect. 12.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 7:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=1co&chapter=007&verse=014>. 1999.