The text:

6.) τουτο δε λεγω κατα συγγνωμεν ου κατ῾ επιταγην.
7.) θελω δε παντας ανθρωπους ειναι ὡς και εμαυτον. αλλα παντα εχει ιδιον χαρισμα εκ θεου. ὁ μεν ουτως, ὁ δε ουτως.
8.) λεγω δε τοις αγαμοις και ταις χηραις, καλον αυτοις εαν μεινωσιν ως καγω.

A rough translation:
6.) I’m saying this as a concession, and not as a command.
7.) I’d like for all to be as I am. However, all have their own gift from God. One has this gift, another that.
8.) To the widows and widowers I say: it is good for them to remain as I am.

Some notes:
6.) I’m thinking τουτο (this) refers to the instruction in 2/3-5, though I’m not sure.
7.) I’ve translated θελω very lightly as “I would like.” I think Paul is speaking rather lightly here, on the level of wish or preference. He’s quick to point out that not everyone has the gift that he does.
8.) The question here is precisely the meaning of αγαμοις. Most literally, it means unmarried. But in light of the rest of the passage, I think he’s speaking specifically to widowers, especially since χηρα seems to refer only to women. If that’s the case, then it might support the hypothesis that Paul himself was a widower, though pushing beyond singleness as the meaning of the “as I am” statements needs to be done carefully.

Meditating on the “gift of celibacy” is something that we Protestants should probably do more of. What does Paul mean when he speaks of singleness as a gift? What does it mean for a wife or husband to a gift? It’s a worthy line of thought methinks.

~alex

Advertisements