Monday, November 9

The Red Letters

Scripture: Job 35-36, 1 Corinthians 7-8

1 Corinthians 7:10 But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:12 Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.

1 Corinthians 7:25 Now regarding your question about the young women who are not yet married. I do not have a command from the Lord for them. But the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted, and I will share it with you.

1 Corinthians 7:40 But in my opinion it would be better for her to stay single, and I think I am giving you counsel from God’s Spirit when I say this.


Paul wrote commands/advice about marriage and singleness.  He made a distinction between his own opinions and a clear command from the Lord Jesus.  “I have a command from the Lord.”  Or, “I don’t have a command from the Lord.”  When lacking that, Paul believed that “the Lord in his mercy has given me wisdom that can be trusted,” or “counsel from God’s Spirit.”  

I am not discounting Paul’s advice.  He claims it was inspired, and we believe it to be so. 

But Paul himself made this distinction.  Paul speaks as a Spirit-inspired man; Jesus speaks as the unique Son of God—God in the flesh.  When we have a command from Jesus, we obey—as His disciples, we do what He says.  Without a clear command from Jesus, we need wisdom from the Spirit.  And like Paul, we must be willing to made this distinction between the words of Jesus and our own opinions, even when we believe they are Spirit-given wisdom.


This is another reason why the gospels are so important, and why we’re reading them all twice in our new 2021 Bible reading plan.  We need to know and obey “the red letters”—the words of Jesus.  We are disciples who do what He says.  And we make disciples by “teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.”  (Matthew 28:20)

When we have “a command from the Lord,” that settles it for us!  Pay attention to the red letters!

Prayer: Help us know and obey the words of Jesus above all else!