1 Corinthians 7:8-9
7:8 To the unmarried and widows I say that it is best for them to remain as I am.
7:9 But if they do not have self-control, let them get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire. 1
1 Corinthians 7:26-27
7:26 Because of the impending crisis I think it best for you to remain as you are.
7:27 The one bound to a wife should not seek divorce. The one released from a wife should not seek marriage. 2
1 Corinthians 7:34-35
7:34 and he is divided. An unmarried woman 3 or a virgin 4 is concerned about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world, how to please her husband.
7:35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place a limitation on you, but so that without distraction you may give notable and constant service to the Lord.
1 tn Grk “than to burn,” a figure of speech referring to unfulfilled sexual passion.
2 tn Grk “should not seek a wife.”
3 sn In context the unmarried woman would probably refer specifically to a widow, who was no longer married, as opposed to the virgin, who had never been married.
4 tc There are three viable variant readings at this point in the text. (1) The reading ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄγαμος καὶ ἡ παρθένος (Jh gunh Jh agamo" kai Jh parqeno", “the unmarried woman and the virgin”) is represented by ancient and important mss, as well as some significant versions (Ì15 B 104 365 1505 pc vg co). (2) The reading ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄγαμος καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἡ ἄγαμος (“the unmarried woman and the unmarried virgin”) is also found in ancient and important mss (Ì46 א A 33 1739 1881 pc). (3) The reading ἡ γυνὴ καὶ ἡ παρθένος ἡ ἄγαμος (“the woman and the unmarried virgin”) is found in Western mss (D F G) and the majority of Byzantine cursives. Based upon external evidence, the first and second readings are the strongest; the readings both reach deep into the second century with strong testimony from mss of the Alexandrian texttype. Internal evidence seems equally balanced: Scribes may have wanted to add ἡ ἄγαμος to παρθένος for stylistic reasons, but they might also have wanted to remove it because it sounded redundant. Because Paul’s meaning is not quite clear, a decision on the proper textual reading is difficult. On the whole scribes tended to add to the text, not take from it. Thus the first reading should be favored as original, but this decision should be regarded as less than certain.
tn Grk “The unmarried woman and the virgin.” The identity of the “virgin” here is a matter of interpretation (see note on “people who have never married” in v. 25 for discussion), which has in fact contributed to textual variation at this point in the text (see the text critical note above). As far as the translation is concerned, one must determine if one group of women or two are in view. It is possible that Paul means to refer to only one class of women here, namely unmarried virgins, but the use of the adjective ἡ ἄγαμος (Jh agamo", “unmarried”) with “woman” and not “virgin” precludes that interpretation; in addition, the use of the article with both “woman” and “virgin” implies that two distinct groups are in view. If two groups are in view, English would more naturally use the conjunction “or” to indicate the distinction. Thus the translation “An unmarried woman or a virgin” has been used to make clear that two groups are in view.