Very important reading in the Old Testament today. First Kings Chapter 12 depicts the dividing of Israel into 2 kingdoms. Solomon grew content and unrighteous in his fame and fortune. He married or had as concubines’ one thousand women. Worse yet, he worshiped their gods, made sacrifices to them and built temples for them. God was not happy so he takes the kingdom away from Solomon. However, because God had promised David that he would perpetually have decedents on the thrown in Jerusalem he divides Israel in two. The southern kingdom is the tribes of Benjamin and Judah and contains the holy city of Jerusalem. The northern kingdom is Israel and made up of the remaining ten tribes. This is a key fact to understanding a large section of the Old Testament. From this point forward when it refers to Israel they are referring to the north, which does not have the temple. When it says Judah, they are referring to the south were Jerusalem and the temple are located. This will be the case until after the exile into and return from Babylon.
Paul continues on today expounding on the rules for marriage and sexual relations. He makes two statements that are particularly interesting.
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.
In the context of the passage Paul is clearly talking about celibacy. He plainly states that he wishes that all were in this same state. Then he says if a person cannot exercise self-control they should marry. Thus celibacy is a preferred Biblical approved state. Paul is of course an Apostle and a Priest. Thus, this is one of, but not the only, verses that help to establish the discipline of priestly celibacy. It also establishes what should be the norm for Christians in society – chastity until marriage.