My comments: These notes are very helpful. First, they establish that the word for "virgin" (Gr. parthenos) can refer to a daughter or engaged girl, but does not MEAN daughter or engaged girl. It means "virgin". Whether it is applied to a daughter or engaged girl must be determined by the context. The NET rightly translates the word "virgin." Second, the words translated "past the bloom of youth" literally mean "to be past the high point." This is translated by the KJV as "past the flower of her age", leaving the interpretation to the reader. The NET notes show that the words could apply to a man, since the pronoun is not stated in the Greek, but they have translated them to apply to the virgin, I suppose because that is more natural. Third, in verse 38 the NET is going against the usual meaning of the verb "gamizo". The usual meaning is "give in marriage." Paul uses the verb for "marry" in verse 36. I think it a good question to ask: "Why would Paul use the word 'gamizo', which has the meaning of 'give in marriage', when he uses the word 'gameo' in the same context to mean 'marry', unless he wanted to mean different things?" Vine, Thayer, Strong and Abbott-Smith give only one meaning for "gamizo"—"to give in marriage." Abbott-Smith mentions the view that in this passage "gamizo" may equal "gameo", but he does not give this as his definition. Therefore the NET translates "gamizo" as "marry" in verse 38 against the literal meaning of the word because of their idea of the context.
My comments: First: In my opinion this is a commentary, not a translation. The word for "virgin" is translated "betrothed." The word alone does not mean "betrothed", as the translation note shows. The Greek word means virgin. If it refers to a betrothed woman, the context must show that. If the context shows she is engaged, then the word can still stand as "virgin" and the reader will understand that she is engaged. (See Luke 1:27 where the "virgin" is "espoused" or "engaged". Both words are used.) The translators of the ESV decided on an interpretation and then "translated" the words to fit their ideas. Second: The translators have decided that the person who has the necessity of marriage is the young man who is engaged to marry. This has caused them to translate "his" instead of "her" in verse 36. Since there is no pronoun in the Greek, this is a possible translation. The context will have to determine. Third: Without any explanatory note, the ESV says in verse 36, "if his passions are strong." This phrase is literally translated in the KJV as "if need so require," and in the NET as "if it seems necessary." The ESV has decided what the need is and therefore it has given a meaning which the words themselves do not require. Fourth: In verse 37 the ESV says, "to keep her as his betrothed." The literal translation is in the KJV: keep his virgin. It is quite a leap from that to the ESV "translation." Fifth: In verse 38 the ESV translates "gamizo" as marry instead of give in marriage, and has no note to show us why they have chosen to translate this word in this way, which is contrary to its usual usage.
My comments: First: The NASB is straightforward in putting the word "daughter" in italics. The reader can then look at the context and decide for himself whether that is the virgin under consideration. Second: The rest of the translation is very literal. The translation of "gamizo" in verse 38 is exactly what the usual meaning of the word is. This gives the reason why the word "daughter" is inserted. The virgin is the one whom the man gives in marriage or does not give in marriage.
Mike Willis comments: "This passage can be understood only by taking into account the customs of the day that gave the parent complete control over the child." (Truth Commentary, 1 Corinthians, p. 211)
African custom has been, and to a large extent still is, that the father has control over the marriage of his daughter. During our recent trip to Nigeria, a preacher told Joel and me that a Nigerian church withdrew from a man who married a woman without the permission of her parents, and the preacher who told us the story fully agreed with the action of the church.
This was clearly the accepted custom from the time of the patriarchs, and has continued until very recent times throughout most of the world.
Since this was clearly the custom when Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthian Christians, the passage has to be understood in that context. When that is done, the passage becomes crystal clear.
Because of what Paul called "the present distress" (1 Cor. 7:26), if a father was able to keep his daughter without giving her in marriage he would be doing better than if he gave her in marriage. But if he was not able to keep her, he would not be sinning by giving her permission to marry.
His problem might be either one of two. First, he may be a poor man who in the distressful situation would have a difficult time providing for his family, including a girl of marriageable age. Second, Paul said in v. 9 that it is better to marry than to burn (in passion). If the father understands that the temptation to immorality between the girl and the man is strong, it is better to let them marry.
Conclusion: 1. Since the decision to marry or not to marry was the decision of the girl's father, it is highly unlikely that Paul was writing to the fiancée of the virgin. (Note in verse 9, Paul says "let them marry." The one who would "let" them marry was the father.) 2. The normal meaning of the Greek word "gamizo" is "give in marriage." This meaning makes the most sense. The ESV and the NET have translated against the usual meaning of this word and against the custom of the times.