Introduction: After thirty-three years of marriage, my work location
changed so that I was only home on the weekends. During the week, I
was free to eat dinner wherever I wanted, and go wherever I wanted.
No need to make a joint decision with my wife. At first it was fun.
After a while, however, I became lonely when eating out by myself.
Although I was not really alone because my adult daughter was living
with me, and I was working long hours, it gave me some idea of what
it would be like to be alone. Let’s explore what the Bible has to
say about the positive and negative aspects of being alone!

  1. Rope

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9. Why do two have “a good return for
      their work?” (Read Ecclesiastes 4:8. The context shows
      that having someone with which to share your wealth
      creates a “return” for your work.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 4:10. Is this statement only about
      emergencies? (I’ve learned that in many marriages the
      husband and wife share the same tasks. For example, they
      take turns cooking. In our marriage, my wife and I have a
      division of labor. She does some jobs and I do others. An
      extreme example is that I do not know how to cook, but I
      installed the stove and repair other appliances. I think
      my incompetence in some areas satisfies the “falling”
      reference. When it comes to cooking, I’m a failure.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 4:11-12. I was following along until we
      got to the “three” strand cord. Solomon had hundreds of
      wives. Is he suggesting polygamy is best? (We have been
      assuming that the text refers to marriage. In fact, it
      does not for it refers to a “friend” helping the fallen.)

      1. Since these verses have application outside marriage,
        what do they teach those who live alone? (Make
        friends! If you have several close friends, that is
        even better.)

  2. Marriage v. Being Single

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 7:25. Are some things included in the
      Bible not from God? (Paul tells us that what he is about
      to write is not from God. However, he says he thinks he
      has pretty good judgment.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 7:26-28. What motivates this advice?
      (“The present crisis.” This is not advice for normal

      1. What is the “present crisis?”

    3. Let’s focus on 1 Corinthians 7:28. Do you have many
      troubles in your marriage? (Thankfully, I do not. But, I
      know some who do.)

      1. If you have observed the same thing I have, what
        percentage of marriages would you say face “many

      2. What lesson should those who are single and would
        prefer to be married learn from this?

        1. Is this a lesson that is based on the “present
          crisis?” (I don’t think that is a point Paul is

      3. Can wisdom improve your odds of having fewer troubles
        in marriage? (Over the years, a number of women have
        discussed potential husbands with me. Many times I
        was sure that marrying a particular man would create
        many problems. Remaining single would be better. I
        should admit, no one who spoke to me remained single.
        They either ignored my advice or found better men.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. Is Paul right about “the time
      is short?” (If he is talking about the Second Coming of
      Jesus, and I believe he is, then he is wrong.)

      1. Paul is not just talking about marriage. He mentions
        mourning, being happy, buying things and enjoying
        things. What is the common thread for the way we view
        all of those things? (Paul says that in light of
        Jesus’ soon coming, ignore the sadness and joy of
        what is happening around you, and stay focused on the
        end of time.)

      2. What drives the overall teaching of Paul in this
        section? (This is about an emergency situation.)

        1. What is the blessing of Paul’s approach? (I’m
          sure Paul applied this advice to himself. What
          we know is that Paul wrote a great deal of the
          New Testament. Limiting his joy on earth
          greatly advanced the Kingdom of God.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 7:32-34. Paul seems to have moved to
      being “concerned,” a slightly different approach to the
      same subject. Does marriage increase your worries? (Paul
      says that a married person is concerned about their
      spouse, and not merely about pleasing God.)

      1. Do you find this is true in your life? (I recall a
        couple of instances where I thought I had a conflict
        between what God was leading me to do and what my
        wife wanted to do. On the other hand, I think my wife
        has greatly reduced the number of “concerns” in my
        life. She does many things that would otherwise
        burden me if I were single.)

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 7:35 and 1 Corinthians 7:39-40. Paul
      says that remaining single is for our own good. He also
      says that you are happier. If you are single, do you find
      this is true? Is it is an advantage to be single?

      1. Is this advice for any time? Or, is Paul still
        giving emergency advice?

      2. Notice that in 1 Corinthians 7:39-40 Paul is writing
        to someone who has been married. He writes that
        someone who was previously married would be happier
        if single. If you are in that situation, what is
        your opinion?

  3. Unyoked Marriage

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 7:12-13. Is this Paul’s opinion? (No.
      He says this is from God.)

      1. How many couples that you know do not agree when it
        comes to religious belief?

      2. How many of those disagreements arose after they were

      3. What does Paul advise when one spouse is converted to
        Christianity and the other is not? (He says to remain
        in the marriage.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 7:14. Why does Paul advise staying in
      the marriage? (The unbelieving spouse “has been

      1. What does that mean?

      2. Recall that when we were studying whether we should
        make friends with pagans, the advice in 1 Corinthians
        15:33 was that good would be corrupted by the bad.
        Why doesn’t that apply here? (This situation is much
        different. Both were pagans and one spouse decided to
        change and become a Christian. The spouse that
        changed has already shown independence and strength.)

      3. How do children play into the advice in 1 Corinthians
        7:14? (The children are benefitted by the marriage
        remaining intact.)

      4. In my family, my maternal grandmother and grandfather
        represent an unequally yoked marriage. Grandmother
        regularly attended church, while grandfather never
        did. How would you predict this would affect their
        children? (This had a big impact on my mother. She
        refused to marry my father until he became a church
        member. My mother’s brother, however, followed in
        the footsteps of my grandfather.)

        1. How far does the decision to marry an
          unbeliever reach? (It appears to me that
          generations were affected by that decision.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 7:15-16. What if the pagan decides to
      leave the marriage? Should the Christian cooperate? (Paul
      says, “yes.”)

      1. On what does Paul place a high value? (Peace. But,
        notice, this is the peace that comes from letting the
        unbeliever go. Paul does not commend peace when it is
        the Christian who wants to leave.)

        1. Why do you think Paul makes this distinction?
          (Because if the unbelieving spouse wants to
          stay, the loving Christian has a real
          opportunity to convert the unbelieving spouse.)

    4. Friend, the general approach of the Bible is to favor
      marriage. However, Paul believes that in certain
      situations being single is better and can lead to greater
      happiness. If you are alone rejoice in that. If you are
      alone, making friends will bless your life. Why not place
      yourself in the position to be blessed?

  4. Next week: Wise Words for Families.