Does Paul write in 1 Corinthians 7:11-15 about divorce OR separation? The original (Greek) text seems to be here quite clear, but church' interpretation still doesn't see difference:

KJV 1Co 7:11  But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.  1Co 7:12  But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.  1Co 7:13  And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.  1Co 7:14  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.  1Co 7:15  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

1 Corinthians 7:11-15 uses chorizo / choris (separation), but f.e. 1 Corinthians 7:27 uses lusis (divorce) = the same word Jesus spoke to the Jews about divorce.

  • I could be mistaken but my understanding is that the Jewish law allowed for a husband to divorce his wife - but not the other way round. If that was the case back then, verse 10 makes sense - the wife could only separate from her husbnad but in verse 11 the husband could divorce his wife.
    – Lesley
    Jul 15, 2018 at 7:52
  • 3
    Paul makes it categorically clear in I Corinthians 7:39 that a wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth. He allows of separation, 7:10,11 but urges reconciliation if it as at all possible.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 15, 2018 at 8:30
  • Stan, I edited you question. If I missed your point please just refuse the edit.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 23, 2018 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


Deuteronomy 24:1-4 outlines some guidance for divorce but this was open to significant variations in rabbinic interpretation. The rabbinical school of Hillel allowed for a wide range of acceptable reasons to end a marriage – it was more liberal than the rabbinical school of Shammai. Jesus’ restrictive rules on divorce echo those of the rabbinical school of Shammai.

Jesus made it clear that God hates divorce and it should only be granted on the grounds of adultery:

“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32). See also Matthew 19:1-8.

Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to the hard hearts of the people. Divorce is never God’s desire (Malachi 2:14-16); it is an expression of human sin. Marriage was designed to be permanent (see Mark 10:11-12). Source: New Living Translation Bible notes

Paul allows for separation in the case of abandonment by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7: 10-15) but urges reconciliation. As for 1 Corinthians 7:27, the NLT says “If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage.” That would suggest divorce, not separation.


Generally speaking, Biblically, divorce and separation seem to be the same thing. The word "απολυση - apoluo ap-ol-oo'-o:" which is the word used in the gospels for divorce broadly means a likely permanent parting by any of various way.

the Biblehub definition is given as: "to free fully," "i.e. (literally) relieve, release, dismiss (reflexively, depart), or (figuratively) let die, pardon or (specially) divorce"

In 1 Corinthians 7:11 the word "χωρισθη - chorizo kho-rid'-zo:" is used, which means "to place room between," "i.e. part; reflexively, to go away -- depart, put asunder, separate.", which seems to indicate separation with a possibility of reconciliation but, Paul also says,

"μενετω - meno men'-o:" "to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) -- abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own."

"αγαμος - agamos ag'-am-os:".

"remain unmarried", which would indicate a condition of divorce. I believe he phrased it this way because his discourse really centered around a commandment of reconciliation from him, in every instance.

"except the husband reconcile and he..."

Later in the verse we read of the husband:

"γυναικα - gune goo-nay':" "a woman; specially, a wife -- wife, woman."

"μη - me may:" "any but (that), forbear, God forbid, lack, lest, neither, never, no (wise in), none, nor, (can-)not, nothing, that not, un(-taken), without."

"αφιεναι - aphiemi af-ee'-ay-mee:" "an intensive form of eimi, to go); to send forth, in various applications (as follow) -- cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up."

"forbear; crying, forgiving (ending the need), forsaking, laying aside, leaving..."

All of these would indicate an ending of the divorce.

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