EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 11-Jan-2009


by John McOwen


By special request, I have developed a message to bring today regarding the single life. I talked to a few people some weeks ago and they requested this. So, I will endeavor to study what the Scriptures have to say about being single, and that means of course not being married, and in particular for adults. But that can go for anyone who is single and young, as well. 

But if you find yourself in the single state today I want you to listen up, because I definitely have some great encouragement from the Scriptures. God’s Word is full of lessons and guidance on all aspects of life, this one in particular. As you know, we have talked about marriage in many different studies in the past, and children, one particular study was titled “Obedience to Parents,” I received a lot of good feedback from those studies. But, how about dealing with the single people?  I agree, you are right, so lets talk about being single, what the Scriptures say about being single, what we can learn about the single life, and how the Bible encourages us and teach us.

 So, I am going to start with a question. What is a very common emotion or state of mind for those who are adults and who find themselves single?  What do you often hear from people? How do they come across when they talk about being single?  Loneliness, that is a good one Sally, loneliness, discontent, and sometimes sadness over that particular state, which is very common in a lot of people that you know.  Think about the people that you know who are single, a lot of times there will be discontentment or lonely feelings. Lester, you are right, and very often a blessing, which we will look at.  I told you before that if you find yourself in that state, be encouraged from what the Scriptures have to say, because we are going to look at them this morning. 

But why are people lonely or discontented? There are so many people that way because it is a wrong feeling to have.  What brings that emotion? And I think the Scriptures tell us why.  So, let us identify that first, to understand it, not to castigate it, but to recognize it, and then to help alleviate some of the negative feelings that you may have if you find yourself single today and desiring to be married, but you are not.  Genesis 2:18 tells us pretty clearly, that after God created Adam, He said:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; …

So immediately, God is defining right from the beginning of creation that it is not necessarily good to be alone. 

… I will make him an help meet for him.

I will make a help meet for him, or fit for him, and then He of course created Eve with a rib from Adam.  So, it is understandable that it is not good to be alone, God said, that I recognize that, and you should recognize that, it is OK.  That is why most people are married, that is why the majority of adults around the world are married.  But also the Scriptures teach us in Ecclesiastes 4, let us look at two other passages to identify why people feel lonely or discontented sometimes when they are single.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10:

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Remember four years ago I had a broken leg, I am single, and it was not easy getting around.  I just used a real surface meaning here.  You see how much easier it can be when you have two people, when one falls the other can help him up.  That is just an earthly example, there is much more being taught here but you understand what that means.  It is a lot easier when you have someone else who can assist when you are perhaps not at your best.  Verse 11:

Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

And that earthly example of course, is the human body heat. What is the temperature of our bodies?  Does anyone know?  98.6° right, and right now this room may be just 70°, so your body temperature is a lot hotter and warmer than this room, and when you fill a room with people do you ever wonder why it gets so hot?  You have all that body heat emanating from human bodies, and the closer you are together it heats things up, but obviously if you are alone and it is winter time and you do not have good heat in your home you are going to be a little cold, unless you have a down comforter.  But the Scriptures teach us here that there are a lot of advantages to having two people together. 

What about Proverbs 18:22, about being married?  Real quick that verse says:

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, …

So the Bible does tell us here that it is “a good thing” to find a wife.  Again, it is not good for man to be alone, and here in Proverbs we see it is good if you have found a wife, that it is “a good thing.”  So we see how advantageous it can be if you are married.  Are you left to be discontented then if you are single?  No. What does Philippians 4:11 say?  What did Paul say under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Philippians 4?

… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

So obviously if you find yourself in the single state today, God is telling you to learn to be content with that.  So that is what we are going to study today, being content and even fulfilled in the single life.  I want to encourage you again that the Bible gives you the prescription to be content with that state.  Now, I am not saying that you may not feel lonely at times, or you may not feel unfulfilled perhaps, but I am saying that when you find yourself in that state of mind, go to these verses in the Bible, go to the Scriptures to get encouragement, to learn to not only be content with your situation, but to grow in it, and to enjoy it, and to live it to the full.  Here is how you can do it.  1 Corinthians 7 is that great chapter on being single, and there is so much in this chapter, but I am going to point out five definitive statements that God makes in this chapter alone, five of them about the blessings and advantages of being single.  That is right, you heard me right, the blessings and advantages of being single.  Now you might say wait a minute, you just talked about the advantages of being married, because the Bible talked about, it is not good to be alone, and if you find a wife, that is a good thing you found.  Well, the Bible says that also in the single life that there can be many, many great things that you can do, and that is what you have to find for yourself, if you find yourself sad today or discontented or lonely about being single.  In 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, Paul says here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

For I would that all men were even as I myself. …

And he is referring to the fact that he was not married.

… 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. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Now what did verse 8 say?  It is good for them to abide as I. So Paul is saying that, we read in Genesis 2:18, that it is not good for a man to be alone. But now we are seeing in the Bible that God is saying that it is good for you to abide if you are single or widowed, it is actually good.  Well, then obviously, we are starting to see some positive statements about that as well, lets dig in further. Verse 25 same chapter, #2, there are five definitive statements, statement #2:

Now concerning virgins …

Again that is referring to someone who has not been married.

… I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, …

Or necessity would be a good translation there:

I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

A second positive statement about it being good is if you are a virgin.  So we are starting to build a case here for the positive benefits that are going to be available to you if you are single.  So we see them here, that is #2.  I said there were five in this chapter. Let us go on to #3, verse 32, 1 Corinthians 7.  Now we are going to get some details as to why it is good.  We heard two definitive statements as to, it is good, now we are going to learn why.  So listen up if you are single, really listen up.  Verse 32:

But I would have you without carefulness. …

In other words without anxiety:

 … He that is unmarried …

Listen up now, if you are not married, here is what you can do, here is why it is good:

… He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please …


… the Lord:

The Lord!  So that is a blessing.  What a gift you have if you are single, that you can “please the Lord,” you can care for His things more readily, just to give you a little more explanation there.  Not that if you are married you cannot care for the things of the Lord, but if you are single you can more readily care for the things of the Lord.  It says in verse 33, to contrast the married person:

But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

That is not a negative statement, it is simply a reality when you are married, those are the things that come with the family.  You have a lot of things you have to do and that is good, you are supposed to do that.  But verses 34-35 says:

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. …

In other words, a wife, a woman who is married versus a virgin, a woman who is not married. 

The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy …

Listen up girls:

… both in body and in spirit: …


… 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.

There it is, that is the understanding here, it is without distraction.  It does not mean that when you are married you cannot serve the Lord, but you have other distractions, and obviously normal, that is what comes with a family with children, with a spouse, when you have to please one another and be interested in meeting the other’s needs, and filling the other person up with everything.  That has to be a huge focus for you, the spouse has to be the number one person and pleasure in your whole life, it has to be.  But when you are single you have the opportunity “without distraction” to serve the Lord.  So there is why it is called good. 

So we saw three statements so far in 1 Corinthians 7 about being single.  Two of them said it is good, the third one we just read explained why it is good.  So if you are single today, begin to understand if you do not already, that this is what you are to be about. Put your life into focus as to what the purpose is, and you will find a lot more fulfillment, a lot less loneliness and discontent that we identified earlier, that sometimes comes with being single.

Let us look at the fourth statement in this chapter, verse 37:

Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

This is like the father who is fine with his daughter who is unmarried, he keeps her. 

So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; …

In other words, if you are a Dad, you give your daughter in marriage, that is good, that is well, but in verse 38:

… but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Wow! We did not think that was going to be the case when we read Genesis earlier.  But all of a sudden now we are seeing an advantage of being single and remaining single.  That is what you have to latch onto if you are single today and if you feel anxiety, or discontent, or loneliness, latch onto that, it is true, it is real.  How is it better?  Look at verse 39:

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; …

What does that insinuate or state very positively and emphatically?  Lester? That is right, she cannot break that bond.  So therefore, once you are married, you cannot get out of it, you are not supposed to get out of it.  So what do more than 50% of the people in North America do today who are married?  Sadly they break that covenant and they divorce, so it is a majority of the married people today that get divorced, but the Bible is telling us here that, you have to remember when you are married, that is it for life:

… but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

But here is what Paul says in verse 40:

But she is happier if she so abide, …

In other words, if she stays single as a widow:

… after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

There you have it, Paul is telling us that, it is a huge blessing to being single, and if you become widowed, it is a blessing to stay single as a widow as opposed to getting remarried.  You can get remarried, but only in the Lord, it is OK, but there are huge blessings and advantages. Remember in verse 38, it says, it is better. So you want to latch onto those verses if you are single today, and you feel lonely or discontented, because they are blessings that you can be about doing these things.  For instance, we talked about the fact that you can be attending to the Lord’s things “without distraction.”  But what was the other insinuation about the marriage bond being for life?  That you do not have the issues that comes with that if you remain single.  Sometimes you might think, “Woe is me,” I always want something I do not have.  Isn’t that a common human desire, a disposition? 

When you are married, you want to be single sometimes, and sometimes when you are single, you wish you were married for the companionship.  But what happens a lot in marriages?  It is not easy, a lot of times there are fighting, disagreements, and bickering. But when you are not married you do not have that challenge, so be thankful and grateful.  That is a great challenge to overcome in a marriage, and that is a blessed state to be in when you are married, and you have a beautiful union between two people.  But when you are not married, again, you do not have that challenge and that is what is insinuated in verse 39, it is for life.  Have you ever heard that for better or for worse, in plenty and in want as long as we both shall live?  That is a lot of years if you get married when you are 25, and you stay married for life, it is a lot of years with a lot of challenges that come your way.

Yes, Lester? Well, I am just saying what a lot of times a Justice of the Peace or a Minister will say when they officiate a marriage, they will say in the final commitment, “For better or for worse, in plenty and in want as long as you both shall live.”  In other words, meaning that if life is great, and things are wonderful, or not so good, and you loose your job, or you loose your health, and your spouse is going to have to be there for you, and love you unconditionally, no matter what.  So you better be ready for that, and if you are not, you should not be here ready to take your vows.  In other words, that is what that means.  Well, the better would be when things are wonderful, and it is easy to be married and stay in love.  The worse is when it is tough, and challenging, for whatever the reasons may be. 

But what happened to Solomon when he was married to the wrong people, the wrong women?  In 1 Kings 11, listen to what happened there, because you may find yourself married but to an unbeliever, or you may be an unbeliever and your spouse may be a believer, someone who is saved.  That is difficult and challenging.  1 Kings 11:1-4:

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;

Were these Israelites?  Were they of the children of God?  No.

Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely …

What will happen?  If you marry and are unequally yoked?  In other words:

… surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

And here is what happened:

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

See a lot of difficulties come when you are unequally yoked.  Again, if you are single, be thankful you are not in that situation, because that could very easily happen and it happens to a lot to people.

So you have to be thankful when you are single, for what you do have, not what you do not have, that is the key, disposition. 

The other area is to seek fulfillment in the single life that you find yourself in, because the Bible says in Philippians 4, whatsoever state I am in I have learned to be content.  So learning to be content is, I have to find ways to be fulfilled in the state I am in.  Have you ever seen, or heard, or watched, a documentary on people in prison?  And some guys can be extremely excited and happy and fulfilled, and you wonder how is that possible?  They have a life sentence, and almost every time you see a show like that, inevitably that person has a Bible, and they have a deep faith in God, and they have found a way to become fulfilled in the state that they are in, in that position in that jail.

Well, if you are single, it is even easier, obviously, and you have to find fulfillment.  What are some things you can do if you are single, if you seek that companionship, but you do not have it with a spouse?  Well how about friends?  You can spend a lot of time with friends, more than a married person could, because a married person has duties with their spouse and family that they must attend to.  But, when you are single, you have more free time to spend with friends and to develop friendships.  What does the Bible say in Proverbs 18:24?

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: …

The more friends you have the more duties, the more things you have to do to feed that friendship.  Friendships typically do not exist on their own without being fed and nurtured.  That means time, talking to people on the phone, visiting with people, helping people, spending time with them.  Now that is easy to do if you are single, seek that out.   There are a lot of people that are looking for friendship and closeness with someone else.  It is a great thing to do. 

Now what else can happen if you are single?  Typically, you may have more resources to share.  Acts 20:35. And in that verse we read, as the Apostles recall the words of the Lord Jesus:

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

A lot of times when you are single you can be about giving.  You have more time to give, and sometimes you may have resources as well to share.  It is a blessing.  Get interested in being fulfilled in doing that.  It is a great way to live your life if you find yourself in that position. 

How about a common complaint or feeling that single women often have that God has put in the female?  The desire to have children, that is pretty plain and clear, and a lot of times women will get married just for that reason, they want to have children.  I know people who have done that and are looking to do that today, that is their main purpose.  It is the wrong reason to get married by the way, in case you did not know that.  But if you are single, and you are female, and you have this desire to have children, that may cause you loneliness or discontentment. But what can you do? 

There are so many outlets and opportunities with family, friends, and people here in the fellowship, who have lots of children, who would love to have a surrogate aunt in the family. You can get interested in adopting, as much as your time and your interest in the children’s lives that you find around you.  It is a great way to get fulfillment in being engaged with children, because you have the opportunity to give of your time. You are more available to utilize your resources, or whatever the case may be.  So you can do that and find incredible fulfillment in getting interested in other families’ lives.  What saved women who is married with children, would not love to have another woman or girl who is single, be interested in helping out babysitting, once in a while, or whatever, there are so many things you can do.  Do not discount the fulfillment and joy you can find in that.  It is definitely available, and a lot of people do not avail themselves of that opportunity. 

As we wind down the last part of this study, let us look at some examples in the Bible of single people and what blessings came to them.  If you find yourself single today, and you are a little discontented, there are a lot of people in the Bible you can point to that did a lot of wonderful things, or had great things happen to them because of their state, and you can look at that and get encouragement.  How about Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?  In Daniel 1:3-6 we read:

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, …

Anyone want to define the word eunuchs for me so we understand what we are reading?  Eunuch, what does that mean?  A eunuch is someone who is castrated, in other words, it is a male who was not able to have relations with a female, hence he had no desire either for that.  So, here we have Daniel and the children of Israel that were brought in, they were eunuchs:

… and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:

In other words, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and Daniel, there are four, they were single, and they were captives in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon.  What happened?  Did they pine away and have pity parties for themselves?  No, they got busy with these things that we just read about here, and they were interested in these things, and they studied, and they had great knowledge in understanding science, and God gave them the ability for these things. But look what happened to them in verses 17-20:

As for these four children, …

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:

…God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

Now listen to this:

And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

Ten times better.  So you see, they received great blessings because they did the things that were available to them with joy, and gladness, and with great prayer.  Remember, we have read in other places in Daniel how these three men were God fearing, and God prospered them in their life and in what they were doing.  They were not looking at what they did not have, they were looking at what was in front of them, and they asked God’s blessing, and God used them mightily, especially Daniel, obviously in so many things. And he was recognized and appreciated in the province and elevated because of what he did.

Let us turn to the New Testament and look at another example.  How about Paul?  Was Paul single or married?  He was single.  Let us go to 2 Timothy 4.  The best way to summarize Paul’s life as a single man is to look at what he said right before he was ready to die.  And in 2 Timothy 4, he is speaking to younger Timothy, giving him a charge. And we read in verse 5, where he says to Timothy:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Was Paul an evangelist?  He was probably the best missionary on record, in the Bible without question.  He was more diligent than anyone else in using his life for Christ.  There are a lot of you who do that same thing today in your missionary work.  Not only going on track trips, but just in the local area, constantly sharing the Gospel with everyone you meet, on the street corners, at different functions that are out in the city. And there are people like you that do a lot that Paul did, so take encouragement here. He says to Timothy in verses 6-8:

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Now, here is the blessing that comes with that:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

What is Paul saying here?  It was tough work, it was a fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith. But what happened at the end of it?  In verse 8, a crown of righteousness was laid up for him.  Was he pining away because he was single and not married?  No. He got busy doing the things of the Lord without distraction as stated in 1 Corinthians 7, that we read.  And here he did this. And did he miss out on anything because he was not married?  No. Because what did Jesus say when He was questioned about the angels of heaven being married?  Remember the story about the woman who had seven husbands and they all died, and she never had children with any of them? And the Pharisees asked Him, Lord, whose wife shall she be in heaven?  Which of the seven?  And what did Jesus say?  Let us look at Matthew 22 and see what Jesus said there.  Matthew 22:29-30:

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

So there is not going to be marriage in heaven, the new heaven and the new earth.  So do not worry about it if you are not married today, because what you are doing today and living today, is more closely aligned to how it is in heaven.  The angels in heaven do not marry, so take encouragement.  Do the things that Paul did, and the crown of righteousness that is laid up for you in the end will be amazing, because you will have eternal life if you keep the faith and if you have indeed been saved of God. 

There is one more example I want to give before closing with the ultimate example. There was a female who was single in the Bible, and we can take a lesson from what she did with her singleness, and that is Anna in Luke 2.  Let us go to Luke 2.  She may not be as well known, but let us read two verses and see what she did.  Luke 2:36-37, this is around the birth of Christ. This chapter is dealing with Jesus’ birth.  In verse 36 we read:

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age,

So she was very old:

… and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

In other words, lets say, she was married at 20. How long did she live with her husband? How old was she when her husband died?  27. In other words, she lived with her husband seven years from her virginity.  So, lets just say she was 27 when her husband died, lets take an example, she may have been older or a little younger but around that:

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, …

84 years, and so now she has been living single for 84 years after her husband’s death, and never remarried.  And here is what she did:

… which departed not from the temple, but served God


… with fastings and prayers night and day.

Look at that warrior for God, serving Him with fastings and prayers.  Think about praying night and day.  You do not have the other distractions perhaps that come with a family, so you have more opportunity to do that.  That is what she did.  She was praying for the people around her, and those in her neighborhood and for God’s Kingdom, night and day.  And you know, the interesting thing is that the Bible tells us in one other spot about a widow to do the same exact thing.  Let us look at 1 Timothy 5, this is very interesting that we see the same thing spoken of here in 1 Timothy 5:3-6:

Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Now listen to this verse, verse 5:

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

See, the same thing. 

But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

So we are seeing two references in the Bible where a widow woman is very busy praying.  If you find yourself in that situation today get excited about what you can do.  Do you think there is something less about praying than there is about being on the corner witnessing?  Do not!  Everyone has their role. Whatever your role is, if you find yourself available and able to do this as a widow woman, do it, and take heart in that, and find fulfillment in doing that, because the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.  So do not discount the power in that and the joy of doing that. 

In closing, who is the ultimate example in the Bible of being single?  Jesus Christ.  Now this is hard to pick a passage or even a verse that summarizes His life, but I think I have one that seals it for me, and summarizes His life the best way possible.  Try this exercise this afternoon or this evening. If you had to pick one Bible verse in the Old Testament or New Testament that summarizes Jesus Christ’s life what would it be?  That is a tough exercise because there is so much, the whole Bible is about Him, so how do you pick one verse?  I am going to leave you with this one verse in John 15, and I did not pick the book of John because that is my name too, but it just really is appropriate here.  John 15:13 summarizes His life as a single person and how He ministered.  Here it is summarized what He did, His whole life was about this.  Verse 13:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

That is what Jesus Christ did, He was the friend of publicans and sinners, and He laid down His life, not just His physical life at the end of it, but His whole life was about ministering to others.  The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many.  So, you see, if you are single, you can be doing the same thing, giving your life for your friends, and friends who you do not even know, strangers on the street, or in school, or wherever they are, you can give your life by being available to share the truth of the Gospel with them, and to give your life as far as putting other people first, and just being about serving others.  You can find incredible joy, and I will say this whether you are married or single, there is no greater joy in life, none, than getting lit up, filled up by serving and loving someone else.  It does not even compare to receiving love, which can feel great, but by giving it to somebody who really appreciates it, nothing can compare to the joy of that. 

So I encourage you today, if you are single, take heart and encouragement, and find great joy in remembering that Jesus Christ led the way as an example, He gave His life for others.  Do the same thing, and I guarantee you, you will have very, very few times if ever you will feel lonely or discontented with that state.

May God give each of us the strength to follow His Word and find that fulfillment.