Was the Apostle Paul Married?
By Denny Burk
It is generally agreed that the apostle Paul was an unmarried man for the duration of his ministry. Not only does Acts omit any mention of Paul having a wife, but also Paul’s own letters seem to indicate the same. Nevertheless, there is some disagreement over whether or not Paul had been married at an earlier point in his life. In this post, I will argue that Paul was in fact a widower at the time of his writing. I’ll make the case in seven points:
1. Paul puts himself in the category of being “unmarried” in 1 Corinthians 7:8.
1 Corinthians 7:8 “I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.”
A few things are clear from this verse. First, Paul addresses a group of persons who are unmarried at the time of his writing—the “unmarried” and “widows.” Second, he instructs them to remain in their unmarried state if at all possible. Third, he sets himself forth as the exemplar of remaining unmarried. The phrase “even as I am,” therefore, communicates in no uncertain terms that Paul himself was unmarried at the time of his writing.
1 Corinthians 9:5 “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?”
In context, Paul is telling the Corinthians about privileges that he has forgone for the greater progress of the gospel. He has a “right” to be paid for his ministry and to take a wife for himself as other apostles have done, but he renounces those rights: “I have used none of these things” (1 Cor 9:15). He indicates again, therefore, that he was unmarried…
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