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The Time is Short

But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short.
-1 Cor. 7:29a

This past year, it has been hitting me hard, that time is limited.  Time is something that if we squander, it is gone for good, and we only get so much of it.  When you lose time, you cannot get it back.

I found the verse that says, "time is short", in 1 Corinthians 7.  The context is pretty much, marriage and singleness, in Corinth, in the first century.  We have to ask why Paul said this, before we know what it might mean for us.  

We could ask if Paul though the second coming of Christ would come soon.  If he did, there is nothing wrong with that, because Jesus warned all Christians to be ready, because he will come when we do not expect him (Matt. 24:44).  Are we in congruence with Jesus' warning and then Paul's admonition?

"Time is short", is a Biblical idea, that the Old Testament teaches.  Our length of life is like a vapor, wrote the Psalmist (Ps. 39:5).  So, Paul is on solid ground to remind us that time is short.

His statement is made in the context of instructions about singleness and marriage.  Paul's advice to singles is to be whole wholeheartedly devoted to Christ.  Paul's advice to married people is the same: wholehearted devotion to Christ, because the time is short:
But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage.
-1 Cor. 7:29
Paul is not telling married people to neglect their spouses and families, but encouraging us that we need to be living with an eternal perspective.  This is what Don Williams wrote in his book, Paul and Women:
The shortness of the appointed time, tells us that the church lives in a time that bears the quality of the end within it because of the death and resurrection of Christ. In other words, the time (kairos - "season") is short (present tense verb), not because Paul has a date set for Christ's return, but because in Christ the final events of the end times have begun.  Christ's death resolves the question of our position on the Day of Judgement (Romans 8:1).  His his resurrection begins the general resurrection of the dead, He is the "first fruits" of those who have slept (1 Corinthians  15:20).  Thus we live in a time of "distress" (1 Cor. 7:26) and a time that reveals the end or goal of God's purpose (7:29).  It has grown very short (literally it is "of the nature of being wrapped up"), because Jesus has come inaugurating the goal of God's salvation towards which all history heretofore has moved. (1)
Eternal perspective means more of God in your life.  If a man or woman, in Christ, who are married, would focus more on the Lord, their marriage will be better.  It is a win-win.  Your walk with God is better if you focus more on God, rather than wasting time, and your marriage will be better.  The lesson here is to focus more on God, like the single person is even more able to do, rather than wasting time.

The context of Paul's statement about what else we should not set our focus on, helps to clarify what he means:
But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage.Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
-1 Cor. 7:29-31
Hans Kung's reflection on these verses is this:
Paul is speaking of a superior freedom in living, a wholly committed freedom... which through its commitment to God maintains an ultimate independence in the world.(2)
The super-spiritual people of Corinth actually rejected marriage, while Paul affirmed it.(3)  The marriage covenant is ordained by God and we have a higher responsibility to our spouse than we do to any other relationships, except for to God.

What 1 Cor. 7:9 means is that we need an eternal perspective and a God first, kingdom first perspective because the time that remains is very short.

The photo above if from Brittany Reveiz
1. Williams, Don; The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church, p. 59
2. Kung, Hans; The Church, p.159
3. Brauch, Manfred; The hard sayings of Paul, p. 124


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