1 Corinthians 7:12-13 – But to others I am saying, not my Lord, if there is a brother who has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to stay with him, let him not leave her. And whichever wife has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to stay with her, let her not leave her husband.
This text explains the situation Paul addresses between spouses of differing levels of faith. While typically evaluated in light of divorce, this passage actually has more to do with forgiveness than divorce. How can this be?
As usual, the issue goes back to the original language. In the Greek, the word used here for leaving or not leaving a spouse is the same root word used for forgiveness. Here are some other examples of how this word is used to demonstrate leaving something or someone.
Matthew 4:20 – Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 13:36 – Then he left the crowds and went into the house.
Matthew 22:22 – When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
Mark 1:31 – And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
All of these instances of leaving something or someone are using the same root word for forgiveness. This helps understand how the concept of forgiveness was understood by the culture. To forgive means to leave or turn away from an offense. In one sense, it could be said that to forgive someone is to divorce yourself from the offense.
What offense do you need to be divorced from in order to demonstrate forgiveness to that individual? When looked at from this perspective, forgiveness can become more clearly understood and readily applied.
Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
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