1 Corinthians 7:17-24 says, “But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.”

This portion is a parenthesis in this chapter.  In verses 1-9, Paul writes about the single and the married life.  In verses 10-16, he writes about separation and divorce.  In verses 25-40, he contrasts the married and the unmarried life.  In verses 17-24, Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers, and us, that when someone becomes a Christian, they should not to seek to change their condition or calling in life, but to remain in that situation in which they were when they became Christians, and show the excellence of their life in Christ in that particular calling.  Perhaps, as is the case in verses 10-16, two unsaved people marry and then one of them accepts the Lord and becomes saved.  Once he becomes saved, he should not leave his unsaved wife because he realizes that a saved person should not be married to an unsaved person.  2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  In this verse, we see the Lord does not want believers ‘yoked together’ with unbelievers, such as in marriage.  But if a person becomes saved after marriage, that is no reason to leave their spouse.  There seemed to be a notion at that time which prevailed among the Jews.  They thought that by embracing Christianity, the true religion, that it would dissolve all the relationships which had existed in the past.

Verses 18-19 deal with racial issues.  If a Jew becomes saved, he doesn’t have to deny his Jewish heritage and try to live the life of a Gentile.  Likewise, if a Gentile gets saved, he should not try to accept all the Jewish practices, as if he was a Jew.  Of course, a Jewish man could not be physically uncircumcised, but a Gentile might become circumcised in trying to abide by the Jewish law.  In Galatians 5:1-4, Paul warns the Gentiles about adopting parts of the Jews religion.  He wrote in verse 2 that “if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.”

Verse 20 states the main principle of this portion, “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”  That simply means that he should remain in the same occupation, the same relationship, and the same station of life.  That does not change when a person becomes a Child of God.  That also goes for the servant, or slave, or the freeman.  If a slave, he was now a freeman in Christ.  If a freeman, he was now a servant of Christ.  These verses do not justify slavery, but it simply points out that the station in life does not change because a person puts his faith in Christ.

We find in verse 23, a most precious truth, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”  The price that bought us was the precious blood of the Lamb of God.  We learn in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  What does it mean that we should not be the servants of man?  The thought is that we, as Christians, should never think of ourselves as ‘merely’ the servants of man.  Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for YE SERVE THE LORD CHRIST.”  (189.9)