In 1 Corinthians 7:14, what does the word "sanctified" mean? Does it mean "saved"? Can an unbelieving spouse be saved through the believing spouse? --Jeanette (Phoenix)

I believe Paul is simply urging a believing spouse not to hasten separation from an unbelieving one too quickly because this compromises the unbeliever's chances of becoming a Christian.

Whether the "sanctification" implies potential salvation or special setting apart unto the plan of God must be determined from the context of 1 Corinthians.

To answer your question directly: Yes, an unbelieving spouse can be saved through the believing spouse. And yes, assuming the believing spouse is patient and does not break off the relationship. He/she can be saved -- but he/she isn't saved yet.

Another view on this passage is as follows. Whereas a spouse in a mixed marriage might be tempted to give up entirely, Paul is not only emphasizing the special opportunity that can come from patient endurance. He is also saying that your children are "clean." This means that they are not illegitimate in the sight of God.

Our interpretation of this passage should certainly not lead us to give up on marriages even when one of the partners is not following Christ.

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.