Did the Apostle Paul have a wife?
Thank you for your question. Although some have speculated that Paul had a wife, because they say that he was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, I must go by the Word of God.
The Bible clearly shows that Paul did not have a wife, but could have, if he had chosen to do so.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 9:3-6, “Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?”
Paul was saying, “We could have a wife, like other apostles do, and like the Lord’s brothers do, and like Cephas (Peter) has.” We know that Peter was married from another statement in the Bible, too. Matthew 8:14 says, “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.” Peter had a mother-in-law, so he was clearly married.
Paul was saying in I Corinthians 9:3-6 that he could also have a wife, if he had so wanted one. His point was that just because he was an apostle, did not mean that he could not marry, or that he had to work an outside job besides preaching. He just did these things willingly, but was under no bondage to them. I Corinthians 9:1,2 says, “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” And then read verses 3-6 again.
I Corinthians 7:1-8 also makes it clear that Paul was not married. “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.”
Paul writes that it is better for a man to have a wife, than to go around lusting — that would be sin. And that once a husband and wife are married, they should take care to be loving one to another, lest Satan bring temptation into their lives. Then Paul finishes by saying that he is speaking all of that by permission — not by commandment. That is, he is not commanding that men and women have to get married, but just giving permission for them to do so. Because he says, “I would that all men were even as I myself.” How was he? “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.” That is, he was not married. There is no sin in getting married, but being unmarried just allowed Paul more time to serve the Lord.
I Corinthians 7:32-36 says, “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.”
The point is clear that Paul is making. When you are married, it is easy for a man to all wrapped up in making money in life to buy all sorts of things to please his wife; a nice home, a nice car, etc. The wife can fall into the same trap in life — worrying more about pleasing her husband than pleasing God. The life of being single just allows a person more time to accomplish things for God — there are less distractions. But Paul makes it clear, “But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.” There is no sin in getting married. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” There is also no sin in being single. I Corinthians 7:7 says, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”
The Scripture is clear that Paul was not married. He was single, and saw it as a means of accomplishing more for the Lord, because of fewer distractions in life. But he clearly stated that he could get married if he wanted to do so, and it would not be sin.
Marriage is a wonderful relationship that was ordained by God. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” But there is an even more important relationship — a relationship with Jesus Christ. Have you said “I do” to Christ? Have you received Him as your personal Savior? John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”