14 “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband;
Continuing his argument against divorcing a non-believing spouse, Paul argues that staying with the unbelieving partner “sanctifies” that partner. The word “sanctify” simply means set apart. By marrying a Christian, the non-Christian and their family have a set-apart or special exposure to the Christian life and the possibility of becoming a Christian. There is a blessing by being married to a believer. There is also a great opportunity for the children to come to Christ.
otherwise your children would be unclean,
If there was a divorce and the children went with the unbelieving partner, then they would not have exposure to the Christian or the gospel. This phrase does not refer to baptism of babies but to an opportunity for children to hear the gospel message if they have at least one parent who knows Christ. These children are in a place of privilege. The word “unclean” carries the idea that children of non-Christians will be defiled by not being exposed to the gospel.
but now they are holy.
Remaining married to a non-Christian allows the children to be set apart (“holy”) unto an exposure to the gospel and the Christian life. They are not made morally holy but are set apart to an opportunity to be exposed to Christianity.
A new dynamic works in the life of a non-Christian married to a Christian.
Far from the idea that the Christian married to a non-Christian will be defiled, the non-Christian has a great opportunity to become a Christian. The Christian imbues the non-Christian with the fragrance of Christ (2 Co 2:15). Also, children of mixed marriages have much greater opportunity to come to Christ if the Christian remains with the non-Christian. Timothy came to Christ even though his father was not a Christian. His believing mother influenced him to come to Christ.