4. The Command and Blessing of Holy Sex (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (32:21)

Up to now, Paul has been praising the Thessalonian church and sharing how very much he loves them. But here we have a transition. Paul comes to the meat of the letter.

Aiming at a God-Pleasing Life (4:1-2)

"1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.
2 For you know what instructions[116] we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus." (4:1-2)

1 Thessalonians contains three items in the category of "how to live"[117] -- basic Christian ethics and lifestyle. In this lesson we'll see Paul's teachings on:

  1. Sexual behavior (4:3-8)
  2. Brotherly love (4:9-10)
  3. Work rather than dependence (4:11-12)

Notice the goal of these instructions: to please God.[118] What a radical idea! Our world lives to please others and to please oneself, or to be a "good person" or a "good citizen." Non-believers set their own standards -- or more commonly adapt to the standards of the culture around them. They keep up with the "speed of traffic," even if it is over the speed limit. But the Christian -- one who loves Christ -- patterns his or her life around what kind of behavior delights God.

You sometimes hear a negative slant on this -- "my Catholic guilt." But that's wrong. Christianity is love-based, not guilt-based. For religious people who don't know God, all they're left with are rules. But to those of us who know and love God, our desire is to please him in all that we do.

Notice that Paul isn't just sharing ethics. He speaks with the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.

Q1. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-2) What is the difference between (1) conducting our lives by rules and (2) conducting our lives trying to please our God? Which is stronger? Rule-keeping or love? On whose authority does Paul bring these commands?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1227

Sexual Immorality in the Greco-Roman World

The first of these lifestyle instructions or commandments relates to sexuality. Before we look at them, it's important to understand the context of Paul's world -- especially the Greco-Roman world outside of Judea and Galilee. For these pagans, sex in marriage only was a very strange notion indeed. Various forms of extramarital union were tolerated. Some were even encouraged.

Demosthenes, considered to be the greatest orator of ancient Greece (384-322 BC), once said famously,

"We have mistresses for pleasure, concubines to care for our daily body's needs, and wives to bear us legitimate children and to be faithful guardians of our households."[119]

These are the categories.

  1. Mistress. As well as sex, she might provide intellectual companionship.
  2. Concubine. Sex was common with one's household slaves, as they were considered the owner's property to do with whatever he wished.
  3. Harlot. Prostitutes were available for casual sex. For example, archeologists have uncovered brothels in the ancient city of Pompey.
  4. Wife. Rather than being a man's sole sexual partner, the wife's function was to manage his household and be the mother of his legitimate children and heirs.

Furthermore, there was no body of public opinion to discourage sexual immorality,  though excesses might be made fun of in the same way you'd joke about a notorious glutton or drunkard. A number of popular religions in the Mediterranean area involved ritual sex with temple prostitutes. In Thessalonica there was the cult of the Cabiri of Samothrace.[120] Ephesus was known for its Temple of Artemis. Corinth was famous for its temple of Aphrodite and notorious for its loose sexual morals.

Paul's converts at Thessalonica have probably been Christians for less than a year. Timothy has reported to Paul that sexual immorality is still going on, so Paul hits it hard in this letter. Bruce notes, "When the gospel was introduced into pagan society, it was necessary to emphasize the complete breach with accepted mores in this area, demanded by the new life in Christ."[121]  As Paul writes to the Corinthians church a few years later, Christians must, "Shun fornication!" (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Holy and Honorable Sex (4:3-8)

In thoroughly immoral Thessalonica, the Christian lifestyle stands out. Paul writes to the Thessalonians:

"3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit." (4:3-8)

Notice four things about this passage:

  1. God is in favor of sex -- after all, he invented it;
  2. God's will and a relationship with God are very much involved with our sexuality (verse 3a, 4b, 7a-8);
  3. Sanctification and holiness are a high priority (verse 3a, 4b, 7b); and
  4. God judges sexual immorality severely as rebellion against Him (verse 6b).

Many Greeks held a strict dualism between body and spirit. What was done in the body had no relationship to one's spirit, thus immoral sex didn't affect one's spiritual life. Not so in Christian teaching! Let's examine this passage in detail.

Sexual Immorality (4:3)

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality." (4:3)

Paul commands the believers to "avoid" (NIV), "abstain from" (NRSV, KJV) sexual immorality.[122]  This phrase is similar to Acts 15:20, 29, in the letter from the Jerusalem Council that Silas had been charged to carry to the Gentile churches.

 "Sexual immorality" (NIV), "fornication" (NRSV, KJV) is porneia, "unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication."[123] Bruce observes, "While porneia means primarily traffic in harlots (pornai), it may denote any form of illicit sexual relationship."[124] Homosexuality would also be included in this term. While we're defining terms, "chastity" in English is, "abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse." However, it's basic sense does not mean refraining from sexual intercourse within marriage. "Fornication," (the KJV translation of porneia) means in English, "consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other."[125] It usually refers to unmarried persons. Adultery, on the other hand, refers to extramarital affairs of individuals who are married.

I once had a couple in my church who were itching to get married. The man, a sincere new Christian, told me that he didn't see anything in the Bible that said having sex with your fiancee before marriage was sinful. He didn't read carefully -- maybe because he didn't want to. That command is here in 1 Thessalonians 4 and elsewhere in the New Testament, such as in 1 Corinthians 7.

Sanctification and Holiness

Paul isn't condemning sex. But he commands that sexual intercourse be practiced strictly in marriage, as is God's revealed will.

"3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified (hagiasmos): that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy (hagiasmos) and honorable...." (4:3-4)

The noun translated "sanctified/sanctification" is hagiasmos, "personal dedication to the interests of the deity, holiness, consecration, sanctification."[126] It is used in the New Testament in a moral sense for a process or, more often (as in 4:3), its result, that is, the state of being made holy. This process is also known as "sanctification."

The concept of holiness begins in the Old Testament. From earliest times, God had commanded, "Be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45b). Holiness is not an option.

"You are to be holy (qādô sh) to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." (Leviticus 20:26)

The basic meaning of the Hebrew root qadosh seems to be "to divide, to cut, to separate." So the underlying concept of holiness is to separate for His exclusive use God's own people and possessions from the common and secular.[127] In the Old Testament, for example, the priests were dedicated to the Lord. So were priests' garments, the tabernacle, and the sacrifices to be offered, such as the showbread and animal sacrifices. The high priest wore a gold plate on his turban bearing the words "Holy to the Lord" (Exodus 39:30). Sometimes spoils of war were also dedicated to the Lord.

God's people in both the Old and New Testaments are called "saints" or "holy ones" (Hebrew qādôsh or ḥāsîd; Greek hagios).

In the New Testament, the idea of holiness or sanctification has two aspects:

1. We are holy positionally.[128] We are holy because we are "in Christ," because we are part of Christ.

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." (Ephesians 1:4-6)

In this sense, sanctification and justification are closely aligned in a number of New Testament verses that refer to Christ's finished work on the cross.[129] 

2. We are becoming holy experientially.[130] We are being changed day-by-day into Christ's likeness as we focus on Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). We are to strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14). This is an ongoing process of perfection that works out in our experience as we yield to the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is the product of this sanctification process. This second sense of holiness and sanctification is clear in a number of other New Testament passages.[131] In 1 Thessalonians, we see this second sense especially. Here are two other passages in this letter that use the concept.

"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy (hagiōsynē) in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones (hagios)." (3:13)

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified (hagiasmos): that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy (hagiasmos) and honorable...." (4:3-4)

 "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify (hagiazō) you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (5:23-24)

Q2. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4) What does it mean to be "sanctified"? In what sense are we "holy" now? In what sense are we in the process of becoming "holy"? What does holiness have to do with our sexuality?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1228

Controlling Ourselves Sexually (4:4-5)

God desires us to live holy lives. This is not tangential to sexuality, but very much involves our personal sexuality. Paul commands:

"3 It is God's will ... that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." (4:3-5)

Verse 4 is especially hard to render accurately in English, because the key Greek word can be interpreted two ways. Here are two representative translations:

"Every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." (KJV, NASB)

"Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable." (NIV, NRSV)

Let's consider the arguments for each translation.

1. Possess his vessel, that is, his wife. The verb ktaomai means "to gain possession of, procure for oneself, acquire, get."[132] Indeed, the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament (about 200 BC) uses this word for acquiring a wife in Ruth 4:10 and in the Apocryphal book of Sirach 36:29.

The noun translated "vessel" (KJV), "body" (NIV, NRSV) is skeuos, first, "thing, object," then, "a container of any kind, jar," and here, "a human being exercising a function, instrument, vessel."[133] To interpret this phrase as acquiring or possessing one's own wife follows Rabbinical usage, and was adopted by Church Fathers Theodore of Mopsuestia and Augustine.[134] However, in 1 Peter 3:7, both husband and wife are considered vessels, the wife being the "weaker" one.

2. Control one's body, specifically, one's sexual organs. The other option is to interpret skeuos in its common sense as "vessel, tool, implement, instrument."[135] That seems to be the Hebraic use in 1 Samuel 21:5, where the high priest asks David, "Have the men kept themselves from women?" and he answers, "The young men's vessels are holy." Church Fathers Tertullian and Chrysostom both interpreted skeuos, "vessel," as referring to one's own body.  In fact, skeuos, was recognized euphemism in ancient Greek for the genital organs of both males and females.[136] Wanamaker argues that the Thessalonians wouldn't have understood a Rabbinical reference to "vessel" as wife; if Paul intended to mean "wife" for these readers, he would have used gunē, "woman, wife." Without a Jewish background, they would have taken skeuos as referring to sexual organs. In this case, the verb ktaomai, has the nuance, "to gain control or mastery," and could apply equally to men or women.

Taking "vessel" as a euphemism for sexual organs makes the most sense to me. But, however, you take it, Paul is pretty clear: we are commanded to keep our sexual urges under control, so that our sexual lives are conducted with "holiness (hagiasmos) and honor[137]" (4:4b, NRSV). This is the second of three references to holiness in this passage.

Paul contrasts "holiness and honor" with "not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." "Passionate lust" (NIV), "lustful passion" (NRSV) or "the lust of concupiscence[138]" (KJV) consists of two words in Greek: pathos, "experience of strong desire, passion,"[139] and epithymia, "a desire for something forbidden or simply inordinate, craving, lust," here, of sexual desire.[140] Certainly, sexual intercourse involves physical passion -- God made us this way. But that passion needs to be under control and channeled exclusively towards our spouse. A river flow can be powerful, especially when it is contained by banks on both sides to protect from flood. As Solomon wrote with erotic imagery a thousand years before Paul:

"May your fountain[141] be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer --
may her breasts satisfy[142] you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?
 For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD,
and he examines all his paths." (Proverbs 5:18-21)

The "passionate lust like the heathen,[143] who do not know God," is selfish -- satisfying one's own sexual needs only. It isn't faithful. It doesn't care about the consequences. It involves only animalistic satisfaction, not the sexual bonding of committed love between a husband and wife.

Q3. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) Are humans actually capable of controlling their sexual urges? If so, why are so many people seemingly out of control? Why is it important to control ourselves sexually within marriage? What happens when sexuality does not have any boundaries? What happens to marriages, to children, to our spirits, to our bodies?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1229

Wronging or Taking Advantage of a Brother (4:6a)

"... and that in this matter[144] no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him." (4:6a)

Paul is probably referring to sexual cheating or adultery within the Christian community here, since he uses the term "brother."[145] To sleep with another man's wife or fiance would be to "wrong him" or trespass against him.[146] It also involves cheating, doing something behind one's back.[147] If a man were to have sex with an unmarried woman in the Christian community, in a sense he would be cheating her future husband.

Severe Punishment for Sexual Immorality (4:6b-8)

I've heard people say that sexual sins are no worse than any other kind of sins. And in a sense, any transgression against God's law makes one a lawbreaker, whether for a minor or major offence (James 2:10-11). But this argument is used only by those who seek to minimize their sin -- not by God-fearing believers who desire to please God.

In this passage Paul, Christ's apostle, pronounces terrible punishments for sexual sins in particular.

"The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit." (4:6b-8)

Paul told the Colossian church that because of sexual immorality and adultery, "the wrath of God is coming" (Colossians 3:6).

There can be a high degree of self-deception and self-rationalization that a person uses to excuses him- or herself so as to continue in sexual sins. To members of other churches struggling with the same temptations, Paul is adamant:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 5:6)

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived...." (1 Corinthians 6:9a)

"I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:21b)

Sexual sin was a "big deal" for new Christians in the immoral cities of the first century, just as it is a "big deal" for Christians today.

We can read such verses, realize our sins, and be overcome with fear of damnation. That isn't God's desire at all. Praise God, there is forgiveness for sins. As Paul told the Corinthians, some of whom had been fornicators, adulterers, and homosexual offenders:

"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11)

If we adopt a sinful, debauched lifestyle, we are only kidding ourselves about the reality of our Christian faith. Of course, we are not saved by "acting holy." Rather, we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. But if we are saved, we will desire to be holy, and our lives will gradually become more and more like Christ. In our passage, Paul warns us:

"The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you." (4:6b)

Paul states this commandment with all certainty. Then he declares that God will act as the avenger, the one who punishes breaches of this kind. [148] He reminds them that he has both said this to them before,[149] and when he did so he had told them in no uncertain terms -- he solemnly warned[150] them -- concerning a holy Christian lifestyle and the punishment for breaching it. They are fully responsible for knowing the serious penalty for sexual sins.

Notice Paul's return to the theme of holiness as he concludes this section -- the third of three times he uses this theme in this passage:

"For God did not call us to be impure,[151] but to live a holy life."[152] (4:7)

Sex is to be holy because we -- and our bodies -- belong to the Lord. He told the Corinthian church:

"The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." (1 Corinthians 6:13)

This requires careful vigilance and self-discipline, especially for people new-from-the-world who are accustomed to practicing sexual immorality. Oswald Chambers observes.

"If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will resist and defy the life of the Son of God in us and will produce continual turmoil. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves physically, morally, or mentally. We excuse ourselves by saying, 'Well, I wasn't taught to be disciplined when I was a child.' Then discipline yourself now! If you don't, you will ruin your entire personal life for God."[153]

Paul concludes this passage with an extremely strong exhortation.

"He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 4:8)

Paul is not talking about a slip-up in a one-time moment of weakness. He is talking about people who resist his teaching as if it were merely one man's opinion. Since Paul speaks for God, to disregard Paul's teaching constitutes rebellion[154] against God himself.

Is God against sex? Of course not! Is God against sexual fun in marriage. No. But unbridled sex outside of marriage is incompatible with holy living!

Q4. (1 Thessalonians 4:6-8) Why do you think Paul mentions such severe punishments for sexual immorality? Are these punishments more severe than for other sins? What effect should these warnings have on Christians?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1230

Love for the Brothers (4:9-10)

Now Paul turns to his second point in writing the Thessalonians -- love.

"9 About brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." (4:9-10)

Paul refers to two aspects of love in verse 9, both familial love and "agapē love." "Brotherly love" (NIV, KJV), "love for the brothers and sisters" (NRSV) is philadelphia, "love of a brother/sister," the love of those who are related by blood. In the New Testament it refers to love for brothers and sisters in the Christian community who are related by the blood of Christ.[155]

The second kind of love in this verse is "agapē love." The Greeks have several words for love.

  1. Erōs, or erotic love, is often a selfish sort of love, concern for one who can do something for me.
  2. Philos, friendship, family love, is mainly concerned with those closest to us.
  3. Stergō love (which does not appear in the New Testament) is often used for the love and affection between parents and children.
  4. "Agapē love," expressed by the verb agapaō, means "to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love."[156] This is a relatively  rare word in Greek, one that Paul essentially defines for the Christian community, a love that is unselfish, caring about the concerns of another person. That is why Paul is sure that "you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another" (4:9b). Unselfish love is rare unless God enables us. "We love because God first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

The Thessalonian church is a loving church. They are known throughout the region for their love for believers. But that doesn't mean that they don't have some growing to do.

I just completed a watercolor painting class at a local community college. The instructor patiently encouraged each student, even though that student's artistic ability had a long way to go before he could be considered competent. The teacher found something good to say about the piece and complemented that. Then she gently encouraged the student in how to improve for the next attempt.

That's what we're seeing here -- otherwise Paul wouldn't have mentioned love at all. They are doing well in loving each other, but they still have a ways to go. That is why Paul writes:

"Yet we urge[157] you, brothers, to do so more and more." (1 Thessalonians 4:10b)

  "You're doing great," he says, "now keep up the good work." When a child is learning to swing, he or she still needs the parent to push the swing once in a while to keep the momentum going.

Work with Your Own Hands (4:11-12)

The third and final concern Paul writes the Thessalonians about is the idleness that he has observed among them. As we'll see in Lesson 9, there are people in the Christian community who go around from one member to another asking to be fed when they should be working to support themselves. So he says,

"11 Make it your ambition[158] to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (4:11-12)

 Paul urges the Thessalonians to live a "quiet" life, that is, a life characterized by peace and orderliness[159] -- not out of the proper order of working for a living. As we will see in 2 Thessalonians 3:11, the lazy members were also being "busybodies." So here, Paul tells them to "mind your own business" (NIV), "mind your own affairs" (NRSV), "do your own business" (KJV).[160]

Outsiders aren't impressed when they see lazy Christians sponging off whomever they can. Rather than being lazy, believers must "win the respect" (NIV), "behave properly" (NRSV), "walk honestly" (KJV).[161] Chronic dependency[162] of those who can work is a bad testimony about the transforming power of Jesus Christ.

We'll consider the matter of idleness vs. hard work more thoroughly when we examine 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 in Lesson 9.

So far, Paul has addressed the church's problems with sexual immorality, love, and chronic dependency. In the next lesson we'll consider Paul's response to this church's misunderstanding about Christ's coming.

Prayer

Father, we live in a world that treats sexual immorality as normal and desirable -- as did the world in Paul's day. We need your strength to resist temptation and discipline ourselves. Help us to please you in our sexuality. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Key Verses

"3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)

[116] "Instructions" (NIV, NRSV), "commandments" (KJV) is parangelia, "an announcement respecting something that must be done, order, command, precept, advice, exhortation" (BDAG 760). The word translated "authority" (NIV) is not in the Greek text, but implied. "Parangelia was often used for either a military command or for a civil order, for example, by a court or by magistrates" (Stott, p. 78).

[117] "Live" (NIV, NRSV), "walk" (KJV) is peripateō, "to conduct one's life, comport oneself, behave, live as habit of conduct" (BDAG 803, 2a).

[118] "Please" is areskō, "to give pleasure/satisfaction, please, accommodate" (BDAG 129, 2a).

[119] Demosthenes, Against Neaera 122.

[120] This section draws heavily on the insights of FF Bruce, 1&2 Thessalonians, p. 82.

[121] Bruce, 1&2 Thessalonians, p. 82.

[122] The verb is apechomai, "to avoid contact with or use of something, keep away, abstain, refrain from" (BDAG 103, 5).

[123] Porneia, BDAG 854, 1. "Porneia ... and its cognates as used by Paul denote any kind of illegitimate --extramarital and unnatural --sexual intercourse or relationship" (David F. Wright, "Sexuality, Sexual Ethics," DPL, pp. 871-875).

[124] Bruce, 1&2 Thessalonians, p. 82.

[125] Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

[126] Hagiasmos, BDAG 10.

[127] Otto Procksch, hagios, ktl., TDNT 1:88-97, 100-115, especially, p. 89. Qādash, TWOT #1990a.

[128] White calls this aspect of sanctification, "status conferred" (R.E.O. White, "Sanctification," in Walter A. Elwell (editor), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker, 1984), pp. 969-971.

[129] 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11; Ephesians 5:25-26; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:1-2; Hebrews 2:11; 9:13-14; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12.

[130] White calls this aspect of sanctification, "process pursued." Rudolph Bultmann proposed that the imperative (ethical command) proceeds out of the indicative (statement of theological truth), with the idea that Christians should "become what they are" (cited in Stanley E. Porter, "Holiness, Sanctification," DPL, p. 401).

[131] Philippians 3:12; Romans 6:19, 22; 8:29-30; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 John 3:1-3, etc.

[132] Ktaomai, BDAG 572, 1.

[133] Skeuos, BDAG 927, 3.

[134] In Maurer's study of skeuos, he concludes that "the underlying phrases, 'to use as a vessel,' 'to make one's vessel,' etc. are to be regarded as established euphemisms for sexual intercourse." For 1 Thessalonians 4:4 Maurer sees it likely that any bilingual Jew would interpret this as "hold his wife" (that is, "live with his wife") in holiness and honor. Paul doesn't show any acquaintance with the idea of the body as the container of the soul or the individual ego (Christian Maurer, skeuos, TDNT 7:361-362, 365-367, especially p. 362).

[135] Wanamaker, 1&2 Thessalonians, pp. 152-153. Wanamaker argues that "wife"wouldn't likely be the meaning of skeuos, since the context is sexual immorality.

[136] Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940), p. 1607, which cites Antistius Grammaticus 4.243 and Aelian, De Natura Animalium.17.11. It means the same as = aidoion ("privy parts, pudenda, both of men and women").

[137] "Honor" istimē, "manifestation of esteem, honor, reverence." If our passage refers to a female member of the household, then this connotation is "the showing of honor, reverence, or respect." If it refers to one's body, then the connotation is as a state of being, "respectability" (BDAG 1005, 2a or c).

[138] The English word "concupiscence" means "strong desire, especially sexual desire." (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

[139] Pathos, BDAG 748, 2.

[140] Epithymia, BDAG 372, 2.

[141] "Fountain" is māqô r, a euphemism for the womb, both as "a fountain of blood, but also as the fountain from which children issue" (Leonard J. Coppes, māqô r, TWOT #2004a).

[142] "Satisfy" isrāwâ, "be satiated, have one's fill," also used of adulterous sexual intercourse (Proverbs 7:18).

[143] "Heathen" (NIV), "Gentiles" (NRSV, KJV) is ethnos (from which we get our word "ethnic"), "nation, people," herein the sense of "foreigners, unbelievers" (BDAG 277, 2b).

[144] "Matter" is pragma, "matter or concern of any kind, thing, matter, affair," here, probably as a euphemism for an " (illicit sexual) affair" (BDAG 859, 3).

[145] "Brother" (NIV, KJV), "brother or sister" (NRSV) is adelphos, "brother." In the plural it can refer to both males and females. Here is refers to "a person viewed as a brother in terms of a close affinity, brother, fellow member, member, associate" (BDAG 19, 2a).

[146] "Wrong" (NIV, NRSV), "go beyond" (KJV) is hyperbainō, here used in a moral sense "to transgress by going beyond proper limits in behavior, trespass, sin" (BDAG 1032, 2).

[147] "Take advantage of" (NIV), "exploit" (NRSV), "defraud" (KJV) is pleonekteō. The basic meaning is "to have more, or a greater part or share" (Thayer 516). Here, it connotes "to take advantage of, exploit, outwit, defraud, cheat someone" (BDAG 824, 1a).

[148] "Will punish" (NIV), " is an avenger" (NRSV, KJV) is ekdikos, "pertaining to justice being done so as to rectify wrong done to another, punishing." Here it is used as a substantive, "one who punishes" (BDAG 303).

[149] Proepō or prolegō, "to say something in advance of an event, tell beforehand/in advance" (BDAG 872, 1).

[150] "Warned" (NIV), "solemnly warned" (NRSV), "testified" (KJV) is diamartyromai, "to make a solemn declaration about the truth of something, testify of, bear witness to" (originally under oath), generally, to state something in such a way that the auditor is to be impressed with its seriousness. Perhaps even to the level of, "to exhort with authority in matters of extraordinary importance," frequently with reference to higher powers and/or suggestion of peril, solemnly urge, exhort, warn" (BDAG 233, 1 and 2).

[151] "Impure" (NIV), "impurity" (NRSV), "uncleanness" (KJV) is akatharsia, "unclean," here used figuratively, "a state of moral corruption, immorality, vileness," especially of sexual sins (BDAG 34, 2).

[152] "To live a holy life" (NIV), "in holiness" (NRSV, KJV) is hagiasmos, which we saw in 4:1.

[153] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (first published in 1927), reading for December 10th.

[154] "Rejects" (NIV, NRSV), "despiseth" (KJV) is atheteō, "to reject something as invalid, declare invalid, nullify, ignore," and directed toward God, "to reject by not recognizing something or someone, reject, not recognize, disallow" (BDAG 24, 2).

[155] Philadelphia, BDAG 1055.

[156] Agapaō, BDAG 5, 1aα.

[157]"Urge" (NIV, NRSV), "beseech" (KJV) is parakaleō, "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage" (BDAG 765, 2).

[158] "Make it your ambition" (NIV), "aspire" (NRSV), "study" (KJV) is philotimeomai, "have as one's ambition, consider it an honor, aspire,"with focus on idea of rendering service (BDAG 1059). The verb also appears in Romans 15:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:9. A compound verb, literally, "to be fond of honor," but when followed by an infinitive, "to be ambitious, to strive earnestly, make it one's aim" (Thayer 655, a).

[159] "Lead a quiet life" (NIV), "live quietly" (NRSV), "be quiet" (KJV) is hēsychazō, "to live a quiet life or refrain from disturbing activity, be peaceable/orderly" (BDAG 440, 2).

[160] This phrase translates several words. The verb here is prassō, "do, accomplish" (BDAG 860, 1a), and the adjective idios, "pertaining to a person, through substitution for a pronoun, "own" (BDAG 467, 3a).

[161] The phrase is made up of two words, the verb paripateō, "walk, conduct oneself" and the adverb euschēmonōs, "pertaining to being proper in behavior, decently, becomingly" (BDAG 414, 1),"in a seemly manner" (Thayer, p. 262).

[162] "Be dependent" (NIV, NRSV), "that ye may have lack of nothing" (KJV) uses the verb the verb "to have" with the noun chreia, "that which should happen or be supplied because it is needed, need, what should be" (BDAG 1088, 1).

[163] "Fall asleep," of course, is a common Bible metaphor for physical death (Matthew 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Corinthians 7:39; 11:30; 15:6, 20, 51; 2 Peter 3:4).

[164] "Grieve" (NIV, NRSV), "sorrow" (KJV) is lypeō, "be sad, be distressed, grieve" (BDAG 604, 2b).


Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies,why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
FirstLast
E-mail
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text