A Change of Status: An Examination of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

Social conditions are an inevitable part of the human condition. Wherever people coexist in a society, that social order contains people who live under different social conditions. Some people have a stronger or higher social standing than others. For example, the wealthy have a higher social standing than others who have a lesser financial standing. In some societies, a particular ethnicity could have a higher social standing than other ethnicities. Other factors such as gender and family background can determine one’s social standing. A functioning society will have people of various social standings. Regardless of one’s social standing, an ethic exists in many cultures that a person should have the opportunity to improve their social standing.

The text in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 poses a challenge to the idea that one should improve his or her social standing. A surface reading of this text could lead to the conclusion that a person should remain in their place in society without seeking opportunities for improvement. The researcher’s position is that this text does not teach that one has to remain in a certain social condition without seeking improvement. This study will seek to show through an exegetical study of the text in 1 Cor. 7:17-24 and related passages that biblical teachings do not preclude changes in social standing.

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