17 “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches. 18Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”
Paul now turns to illustrations of keeping stability in marriage, if at all possible.
But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk.
This verse qualifies the right of divorce discussed in verse fifteen. Believers are to remain in the marital situation in which God previously put them before salvation. (Obviously, if this includes immorality, the Christian should leave or change the situation.) The Christian is to live his life in God’s appointed place. Believers are to “walk” or continue in a pattern established before becoming Christians – “Stay in your socioeconomic status.” God calls us to live the Christian life in a social context.
And so I ordain in all the churches.
The principle of staying in the context where a person becomes a Christian is not true only for the Corinthian church but for all churches. There were no exceptions to this principle. God wants believers in all kinds of situations so they can share their faith. Regeneration, not reformation, is the way to reach people.
Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised.
Paul illustrates the principle of saying in the context where one came to Christ by noting the difference between Jew and Gentile. A Jewish Christian should not try to become like a Gentile. A person does not have to change bodily marks to live the Christian life. Circumcision was the sign of being a Jew. Salvation does not change our nationality or physical situation. A ritual adds nothing to the dynamics of the Christian life.
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.
Circumcision was a mark indicating one was a Jew. Circumcision is nothing in relation to God because God is not a God of form but reality. Circumcision neither makes a person a Christian nor has any relation to the Christian life. “Keeping the commandments of God” is fulfilling the will of God. The word “keep” means to guard the will of God. The will of God is vital in God’s economy, so we need to guard it. The word “commandments” means behests, instructions, charge, precepts. These are the principles whereby we live the Christian life.
Galatians 6:15, or in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
Paul again emphasizes the principle of staying in the situation where one became a Christian. The “same calling” is the station where one became a Christian. The believer is to identify his or her God-assigned station in life and live in it.
God calls each believer to bloom, where He plants us in a particular and special place.
God assigns each person a place in life. Conversion to Christ need not mean a change in our social setting. Our circumstance is no accident because God sovereignly places us in our situation. God can meet us where we are. No matter what the unbeliever decides to do, the believer is to keep to his calling. This may include the adverse circumstance of staying married to a non-Christian. The idea is to be a Christian where you are. That is the best place to share our faith. God can transcend our social setting.
Discontent with one’s situation is a lack of trust in God’s divine design for us. Some want to change their marital status because they are miserable in their marriage. The principle of this passage is that a believer should willingly accept his God-appointed station in life and live that life before the Lord.