1 Corinthians 7:12 New International Version

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Is 1 Corinthians 7:12 God-breathed? If yes, then what is the meaning of God-breathed? If not, is it contradicted by 2 Tim. 3:16?

  • 3
    This really feels more like a systematic theology question and relies heavily on varying views on inspiration - did Paul consider any of his own letters "scripture"? Closing as opinion based.
    – Steve can help
    Jul 4, 2021 at 13:34
  • There's no reason God couldn't inspire Paul to write what his own opinion was...
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 4, 2021 at 13:49
  • I have voted to re-open this as it is not systematic theology but a simple hermeneutic of the passage. All that Paul is saying is that there are some explicit instruction given by Jesus and others that he (Paul) was inspired to give and in 1 Cor 7 he gives the distinction. The fact that Paul writes something that Jesus did not give instruction about does not make it uninspired - it remains God-breathed because it was written by a prophet, Paul in this case.
    – Dottard
    Jul 4, 2021 at 21:54
  • I don't think you're really asking an exegetical question here. It seems you really want an explanation of how the doctrine of inspiration can include Paul's statement that he, not the Lord, is saying something. That's a good question, but it belongs at Christianity.SE. Alternatively you could ask why Paul said "I, not the Lord", and what makes the statement that follows noteworthy compared to the rest of 1 Corinthians. (Though that has possible already been asked.)
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 5, 2021 at 22:23
  • Very good question +1 it may be that 1 Corinthians 7:12 is as a commentary (viewpoint) from Paul regarding divorce and not the word of God. Jul 6, 2021 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


Is 1 Corinthians 7:12 God-breathed?

There is no reason to believe there is any contradiction within the scriptures.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers makes this point:

Speak I, not the Lord.—The Apostle has no word of Christ’s to quote on this point, it being one which did not arise during our Lord’s life. (See Note on 1Corinthians 7:10.)

It is to be noticed that the Apostle, in giving his own apostolic instruction on this point, does not use the word “command,” which he applied to our Lord’s teaching, but the less authoritative “speak.”

The study note for this verse in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition) also attests to this:

It seems that Paul was humbly reminding his readers that on certain questions, he was unable to quote directly from a teaching of Jesus Christ. However, Paul was able to offer his opinion as one of Christ’s apostles who was filled with holy spirit. As Jesus had promised, that spirit would guide his followers “into all the truth.” (Joh 16:13) Paul’s counsel was thus inspired of God and, like the rest of the Scriptures, provided authoritative and helpful direction for all Christians.​—2Ti 3:16.


Yes, it is God-breathed. Even Deuteronomy 24:1 is God-breathed:

If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds some indecency in her, he may write her a certificate of divorce, hand it to her, and send her away from his house.

It wasn't what God desired according to Matthew 19:8:

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

Still, Moses was inspired by God to write Deuteronomy 24:1. Similarly, Paul was inspired by God to write 1 Corinthians 7:12. Moses let men divorce their wives. Paul wanted you to keep your unbelieving wife and not to divorce her. These instances show the grace and patience of God toward man.

  • These instances show the grace and patience of God toward man. Actually Jesus says that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts” … Jul 5, 2021 at 20:49