The Greek word rendered “virginity” at 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 literally means “virgin.” For this reason the thought has been advanced that Paul was talking about a father’s or guardian’s duty toward a marriageable daughter. Thus The Jerusalem Bible reads: “If there is anyone who feels that it would not be fair to his daughter to let her grow too old for marriage, and that he should do something about it, he is free to do as he likes; he is not sinning if there is a marriage.” Another view is that this text pertains to a man’s deciding to marry the girl to whom he is engaged. An American Translation states: “If a man thinks he is not acting properly toward the girl to whom he is engaged, if his passions are too strong, and that is what ought to be done, let him do as he pleases; it is no sin; let them be married.”
The context, however, suggests that the reference is not to a virgin girl but to a person’s own virginity. Commentator Matthew Henry observed: “I think the apostle is here continuing his former discourse, and advising unmarried persons, who are at their own disposal, what to do; the man’s virgin being meant of his virginity.” (A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. VI, p. 1036) Since the Greek word par·theʹnos can include single men, the rendering “virginity,” as found in the translations by J. B. Rotherham and J. N. Darby as well as in the New World Translation, is appropriate and seems to fit the context best.
Even as Israel’s high priest could take only a virgin as his wife (Lev. 21:10, 13, 14; compare Ezekiel 44:22), so the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, must have only a “virgin” as his spiritual “bride” in heaven. (Rev. 21:9; Heb. 7:26; compare Ephesians 5:25-30.) Hence, the apostle Paul was deeply concerned about the purity of the Corinthian congregation, desiring to present it “as a chaste virgin to the Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2-6) The bride of Christ is evidently composed of 144,000 spirit-anointed persons who individually maintain their ‘virginity’ by remaining separate from the world and by keeping themselves morally and doctrinally pure.—Rev. 14:1, 4; compare 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:15-20; James 4:4; 2 John 8-11.
CITIES, PLACES AND PEOPLES
Often the term “virgin” is used in connection with cities, places or peoples. Reference is made to the “virgin” or “virgin daughter” of “my people” (Jer. 14:17), of Israel (Jer. 31:4, 21; Amos 5:2), Judah (Lam. 1:15), Zion (2 Ki. 19:21; Lam. 2:13), Egypt (Jer. 46:11), Babylon (Isa. 47:1) and Sidon (Isa. 23:12). The sense of this figurative use appears to be that the various peoples or locations thus referred to either had not been seized and ravished by foreign conquerors or at one time enjoyed an unsubdued state like a virgin.
While the Hebrew word bethu·lahʹ means “virgin,” another term (ʽal·mahʹ) appears at Isaiah 7:14: “Look! The maiden [ʽal·mahʹ] herself will actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.” The word ʽal·mahʹ means “maiden” and can apply to a non-virgin or a virgin. It is applied to the “maiden” Rebekah before marriage when she was also called a “virgin” (bethu·lahʹ). (Gen. 24:16, 43) Under divine inspiration, Matthew employed the Greek word par·theʹnos (“virgin”) when showing that Isaiah 7:14 found final fulfillment in connection with the virgin birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Both Matthew and Luke state clearly that Jesus’ mother Mary was then a virgin who became pregnant through the operation of God’s holy spirit.—Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35.
A sight or scene presented to a person’s mind by day or night, usually through other than ordinary means, and sometimes while the recipient was in a trance or was dreaming. (Acts 10:3; Gen. 46:2) It is often difficult to establish a clear demarcation between visions and dreams described in the Bible, and at times they are combined.
When a person received a vision from God during waking hours, it appears that the impression was made upon the conscious mind. The vision could later be recalled and described or recorded by the recipient, in his own words. Some persons, such as Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, also had nocturnal visions, or ‘visions of the night.’ These seem to have been impressed upon the subconscious mind while the recipient slept.
Apparently God’s spirit at times superimposed on the mind a picture of God’s purpose or a vision while a person was in a trance, a state of deep concentration or a sleeplike condition. The Greek word rendered “trance” in the Christian Scriptures is ekʹsta·sis (from which the English word “ecstasy” is derived). Defined literally as a putting away or displacement, it carries the figurative idea of “a throwing of the mind out of its normal state.” An individual in a trance would be oblivious to his literal surroundings and would be receptive to a vision.—Acts 22:17, 18.
ASSURANCES OF DIVINE FAVOR
Certain visions from God revealed to Jehovah’s servants how he was dealing with them and gave them assurance of divine favor. The word of Jehovah came to Abram (Abraham) in a vision and the patriarch was assured: “Do not fear, Abram. I am a shield for you. Your reward will be very great.” (Gen. 15:1) Thereafter, Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham. (Gen. 15:2-21) Some years later, God talked to Jacob in visions of the night, telling him not to be afraid to go down to Egypt, for God would constitute him a great nation there and would eventually bring him up from that land.—Gen. 46:1-4; compare 2 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Chronicles 17:1-15.
DIRECTION IN SERVING THE DIVINE PURPOSE
Some visions from God gave the recipients direction in the doing of Jehovah’s will. After the glorified Jesus Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus, Saul, though temporarily blinded, had a vision in which he saw a man named Ananias lay his hands upon him so that he might recover sight. Also by means of a vision, Ananias was directed to the very house where Saul was in Damascus.—Acts 9:1-19.
In Caesarea in 36 C.E., the devout Gentile Cornelius received a vision in which an angel told him to send to Joppa for Simon Peter. (Acts 10:1-8) At Joppa, Peter fell into a trance and had a vision in which he saw descending from heaven a vessel containing various unclean creatures. By this means the apostle was taught that he should not consider defiled the things God had cleansed. This prepared Peter to initiate the work of preaching the good news to Gentiles.—Acts 10:9-23; 11:5-12.
Divine direction in the preaching work was also given to Paul by means of visions. At Troas, during Paul’s second missionary tour, at night the apostle had a vision of a Macedonian man who entreated: “Step over into Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:8-12) Later, due to a reassuring vision by night in which the Lord spoke to him, the apostle remained in Corinth for a year and six months, teaching the word of God.—Acts 18:8-11.
Some visions from God were prophetic, or were given to enable the recipient to interpret prophecies communicated in visions and dreams. The prophet Daniel “had understanding in all sorts of visions and dreams.” (Dan. 1:17) It was in a “night vision” that God revealed to Daniel the content and meaning of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about an immense image pictorial of world powers.—Dan. 2:19, 28; compare Daniel 4:5, 10, 13, 20-22.