Was Paul once married?

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The Bible does not say if Paul was married once. But there are few hints that may point to that. According to Acts 26:10, Paul voted against the saints, which some have interpreted to mean that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. And it is a fact that members of that body were required to be married (Talmud Sanhedrin 36b, Soncino ed., vol. 1, p. 229). Furthermore, it is most natural to assume that Paul, as a strict Pharisee, would not have neglected what the Jews regarded as a sacred obligation, namely marriage (Mishnah Yebamoth 6. 6, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, vol. 1, p. 411).

And Paul himself testified to the fact that he was a strict adherent to the laws “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14). Also, his detailed counsel to the married people suggests a close familiarity with problems that take place within marriage.

For these reasons, some believe that sometime before the writing of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul was married and maybe his wife passed away. It is very clear that at the time when Paul wrote his letters, he was not married. For he specifically wrote, “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). But, that Paul was previously married cannot be proven conclusively.

Paul said that he had the right to marry and have children in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?” But he announced that he had the gift of celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 . This means having a gift that makes marriage unnecessary ”For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Matt. 19: 12).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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