1 Peter 3:7.
Two things are very clear from this scripture: that husbands and wives are contemplated as praying together; and, secondly, that the exhortations addressed to husbands are given with the object that such prayers should not be hindered. It shows what great importance the Holy Spirit attaches to the habit of prayer here supposed. The exhortation is very simple: husbands are to dwell with their wives "according to knowledge"; that is, in the recollection of the fact as knowing that the wife is the weaker vessel, and accordingly, with all tender consideration and care, to maintain the practice of giving honour to her as such; and, secondly, they are to remember that, in the circle of grace, husbands and wives are on equality, "as being heirs together of the grace of life." Keeping these things in mind, and being governed by them in their conduct and demeanor, would tend to preserve that spirit of harmony and fellowship in the marriage relationship, without which praying together would become impossible. The slightest friction, or even absence of tenderness between husband and wife, may very readily become an effectual obstacle to fellowship in prayer. Hence it is said "that your prayers be not hindered." The question however is put, Does it mean that wives, in such prayers, are to be the mouthpiece of their common wants as well as the husbands? No certain answer to this question could be given, in our judgment, from this scripture, nor have we any precise directions on this head in any other epistle. Nevertheless, with the instructions given as to the relative place of the man and the woman before God in 1 Cor. 11:1-15, and also as to the relation of the husband to the wife in Eph. 5:23, 24, there will not be much difficulty in discerning what is the Lord's mind on the subject.
1 Corinthians 7:20-24.
The mind of the Spirit being so fully expressed in this scripture, very little is needed in the way of exposition or application. Liberty is distinctly given to the believer, who when called was a slave, to accept emancipation; although, if the opportunity of freedom be not presented, he is not to make his condition a matter of concern or anxiety. If a slave, he is the Lord's freeman; and if free, he is Christ's slave. Every position in life, whatever its character, should be viewed in relation to Christ, so that "bought with a price," and therefore, belonging to Him who paid it, the believer, whether a bondman or otherwise, will ever regard Christ as his Master and Lord. The apostle could thus remind Christian slaves, "Ye serve the Lord Christ." (Col. 3:24.) The conclusion consequently is, "Let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." In applying this principle, we understand it to mean that as long as we can go on in our calling with God; that is, as long as we can maintain a good conscience before Him in our daily duties, it would not be according to His mind to seek to change it. (Compare Heb. 13:5, 6.) To ascertain the cause of the irksomeness of any calling, and the motive for desiring another, would enable us to comprehend without difficulty whether we were in conflict with the spirit of these instructions. It would also greatly help to remind ourselves that our position, calling, and circumstances have been ordered for us by divine wisdom, and hence to seek to alter these, unless in the exceptional case in which it is impossible for us to abide therein with God, is to arrange for ourselves, if not to act in self-will. The realisation of our entire dependence, and consequent waiting on God, is the antidote to all restlessness, as well as the cure for the desire "to better our circumstances."
1 Corinthians 14:26.
Attention to the context of this scripture, as in many other cases, will speedily remove all doubt as to the correct interpretation. It has been contended that every one of the brethren, in being gathered together, should come prepared with a psalm or a doctrine, etc., so that each should contribute, as the Lord might lead and give the opportunity, to the edification of the saints. Is this the meaning of the language employed by the apostle? In the first place, the fact that "an interpretation" is included in the list (v. 26) shows that the reference is not to a time before the saints were in assembly, but to the time when actually gathered together. For how could a brother receive an interpretation in his own house, for example, of something which had not yet been uttered? "A revelation" is also specified; and that certainly might be made at any time. But when we come to v. 30 we read, "If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace"; and this affords a plain proof that the assembly was the sphere of the revelations. It must be borne in mind that when the apostle wrote this epistle there were but very few New Testament Scriptures in existence. Because of this, God, in His care for His people, met their need by direct and inspired communications when they were assembled. This might be through a tongue which would need an interpretation (v. 27), or by a revelation through a prophet. (vv. 29 - 31.) We conclude therefore that the apostle in verse 26 indicates the variety of the actions of the Spirit of God in the midst of the gathered saints; that there is no foundation for the thought that each brother is to bring with him something for common edification, but that he simply means, not that every one has either a psalm or a doctrine, etc., but that every one who does receive anything from the Lord is to be governed in its communication by the directions here given. (vv. 26-33.) To maintain the contrary would open the door to all kinds of abuse, tempt to industry in preparation, tend to the ignoring of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of those gathered to His name, and lead to forgetfulness of present dependence upon the power of the Holy Ghost.
Christ is the truth, and the humble simple soul, taught of God, has it perfectly; he may not have realised it, but he has it all there - "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" in the mystery.