1 Corinthians 7:29-31 I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
This is the epistle reading selection for the third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, which is next scheduled to be read aloud in universal "catholic" churches on January 24, 2021. This is a short selection from Paul's letters, only being three verses. It clearly presents the paradox true Christians experience (and have for the length of time since Jesus ascended and returned in Spirit form to inhabit true Followers).
Anyone who has ever read a dozen or so of my posts here has seen me write about self-sacrifice being the only way for the soul Spirit of Jesus to be born into one's ordinary soul, inside one's fleshy body. That self-sacrifice means the reduction of the ego to nothing of value, which is what makes one become a willing servant of God. It means one has to lower one's brain in subjection to the Lord and become His obedient servant. In old fashioned ways of thinking [a lost way of life acceptance, which is why this is so hard to fathom these days], subjection to God is the equivalent to the submission of a wife to her husband. A soul in a fleshy body [regardless of human gender, because souls do not have gender] marries with God, such that His Holy Spirit penetrates the soul inside a physical body. This is divine possession, which can only take place after one's ego has died.
Saul had a big ego. Saul had a position of power and influence, as a Jew with Roman citizenship that was free to hunt down and punish severely anyone who was a follower of some guy named Jesus. Saul had an Epiphany. Saul died of that self-ego. Saul was resurrected as Jesus Christ, who changed his name to Paul, a word that means "small, very little, restrained." [Abarim-publications]
Paul [or Saul] never knew Jesus physically. He was never a follower of Jesus, as one of his disciples. He was a follower of the Temple of Jerusalem, most likely as a member of the Pharisee sect. Paul [as Saul] thought in his Big Brain that he was most devout and supremely religious. Paul [as Saul] thought he was doing God a favor by hunting down Christians and having them tortured. Therefore, Paul [as Saul] is vastly important as a model for all humanity after Jesus ascended, as the prototypical Christian, which means anyone who sits in a church pew listing to an sermon and following rituals, anyone who presents sermons and performs rituals in churches, and anyone else who has little-to-nothing to do with churches in the world since the Romans tore down the Temple of Jerusalem is a model of Saul, not Paul.
To become a true Christian means a transformation of self, a transfiguration of soul, and a metamorphosis in the way a human body of flesh becomes completely submissive to the Mind of Christ and the resurrections of Jesus, so two souls exist in one body. Again, because a soul has no gender designation, because souls have no need for reproductive organs [only fleshy bodies need those], a paradox is created that is a body of flesh becoming the wife of God [even in manly mans] and a neuter soul becoming the Son of God [even in womanly womans]. If there is no Christ within a soul-body lifeform, then there is no Christian present.
Certainly, this is not typically an immediate change, from one state of being to one completely new. In Saul's case, he was caused to go blind. He stayed blind for three days. He had to be blessed by a man who had become a true Christian, who talked with God because of that change within himself - just as Jesus talked to God the Father. The disciples that followed Jesus around for three years had to wait for Jesus to ascend to heaven, before they suddenly were reborn in his name on Pentecost Sunday. This means there can be a period of confirmation in this process, kind of like that of a squire, before one is tapped with Excalibur and knighted.
If this concept is foreign, then the words of Paul in this reading selection will fly well over your heads [where Big Brains lie]. Paul wrote to true Christians [those he came in contact with and God's Holy Spirit within Paul, so they too were completely changed], encouraging them to keep the faith and pass it on - an Apostle thing to do. Therefore, Paul wrote to those true Christians in Corinth, reminding them that sainthood means a continued existence of sacrifice on the earthly plane, as sacrifice here allows a soul to ascend into heaven, where none of the normal worldly practices are normal anymore.
When the above translation says, "brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short," Paul simply wrote "adelphoi," which states only "brothers." The addition of "sisters" is because most Christians who sit in churches are women, so the ones who run the churches don't want them to feel left out. Certainly, Paul wrote to both men and women true Christians, but he was not addressing them by their sex organs. He was addressing them by their Holy Spirit designation - as all being Sons of God. Thus, they were all "brothers."
Still, Paul wrote that "the appointed time has grown short," which is a statement about the amount of life a true Christian has left in him or her, before one's soul is released from a body of flesh [death] and the Day of Reckoning comes. Here, the Greek word "kairos" has been translated as "appointed time," but a better viable translation would be "opportunity." For all who had not yet been fully committed to being a wife of God - still virgins awaiting their bridegroom - as those disciples of those resurrected as Jesus Christ, still in training, the time between now and a known death, assured to come eventually, is that "appointed time" human beings dread. However, death to a true Christian is an "opportunity" to not fail God one more time, and be reincarnated in this world of pains.
When Paul then wrote "from now on" that is a statement to make the most of one's "opportunity" in whatever life one has remaining. His words of encouragement were saying, once you commit your soul to the Lord there is no going back to being a virgin again. The time remaining after becoming Jesus Christ reborn means constantly doing the Will of the Father, because self-ego has become blinded and died.
Paul then wrote a series of statements that are relative to that death of the old and the changes into the new. First he wrote, "let even those who have wives be as though they had none." Those who have wives are male human beings. In that ancient world, no matter how harsh the outside world was on a man, there was always the wife that all one's frustrations could be taken out on. Paul was saying, a Saint no longer has anyone below that can be treated as a servant or a slave. A true Christian has to see oneself as the lowest form of life there is. ALL true Christians are the wives of God, meaning ALL are equally expected to keep their eyes bowed down. ALL are expected to answer any question posed to him or her by God with words like, "You know Lord," "Here I am, choose me," and "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Similar to that flip-flop from some sense of superiority over others, to one of becoming the lowest of the low, Paul wrote: "those who mourn as though they were not mourning." To receive the Holy Spirit within one's soul means to stop worrying about death coming. As one grows older, entering into the twilight of life, when death is felt stronger and stronger each year, with people close to one more frequently meeting death and departing this world, mourning becomes an act of selfishness. To mourn the dead does their souls no good. Mourning is only for self-benefit. Even when mourning becomes a reflection of the dread one has that the world will once again thrash one about, causing more pain and agony, that is merely some perverse desire to live longer and enjoy life on earth more. Paul is saying to true Christians, realize there is no pain or suffering that the world can heap upon one's body of flesh that will be any more than a fleeting whisper of illusion, once heaven's eternity is gained.
When this aspect of self-pity is said to be denied, Paul then wrote: "those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing." That becomes a statement that being happy because something good has come into one's life, something that can be measured in worldly gains, anything received in the material realm is nothing to find happiness for. God does not reward His servants by letting them win the lottery or get a promotion at work that means more money and benefits. All of that celebration is selfish. Still, God may find it appropriate in one's spiritual development to receive more than one needs; but that is not to be a time of rejoicing, because one having more than one needs is simply God giving to one so one can help many, as a servant of God. Nothing received in this physical world is worthy of celebrating, as receipt of the Holy Spirit is not of this world.
Paul then advised: "those who buy as though they had no possessions." This goes along with the receipt of worldly things, such that money is the measure that allows one to buy things. To read this as if Paul said "those who spend like poor people having money for the first time" is wrong. It must be read as Paul telling true Christians that there is nothing in the world that will go along with one's soul to heaven. The only "possession" one has it one's soul, as the body will be left behind, along with anything and everything bought over one's lifetime in the flesh. When this reality is understood, then one does not go making deals with the devil, where things bought come with the price of one's soul - one's only possession. Therefore, those who buy as though they had no possessions are those who are the wives of God and their souls have already been given freely to the Lord, leaving them with nothing they possess, thus no buying power.
Paul then ends this string of statements designed for true Christians to grasp, writing "those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it." When one has freely promised one's soul to God Almighty, then one is committed to serving God on earth, until one leaves all physical parts behind and goes to be one with God. The only dealings one has in the world, during the remaining time one's soul has on the earthly plane, are those God commands. The Greek word translated as "deal with the world" focuses on "chrōmenoi," which means "uses." The word translated as "no dealing with it" is "katachrōmenoi," meaning "using it as their own." Seeing this, one realizes "dealing with the world" is all about what uses what. Paul is telling true Christians that they will no longer allow themselves to be used by the world, because they no longer have use for what it offers.
Finally, Paul wrote to the true Christians in Corinth, telling them "the present form of this world is passing away." The key word written there is "paragei," which means "is passing away." The Greek root word, "paragó," is metaphor for "death." This means that the "present" state of being a true Christian knows is the "passing away" of the self-ego, as one has died of self-will and only does the Will of the Father. There can be no other way.
As a short reading from Paul on the middle Sunday in the season recognized as the ordinary time between the Epiphany and the coming sacrifice of Lent, this is preparing one for the ultimate sacrifice of self that is one's personal wilderness experience, when one is tested for one's true level of commitment to God. An Epiphany leads one to subject oneself to that extreme test of faith, and survival cannot be found by a soul alone, because Satan's lures will force the body to drag the soul back into the world of sin. One can only survive a wilderness test by being married to God's Holy Spirit and having been changed from whatever name one went by to being "in the name of Jesus Christ." An Epiphany is realizing changes must come and they can only come with God's help. God helps His wives, so marriage means a change of name is a mandatory self-sacrifice that must be made.
R. T. Tippett