Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
November 2, 2014
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God;
6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God;
6 that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified.
7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.
8 Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.
- I. The Issue of The "Vessel".
- A. Uses in the New Testament.
- 1. The term for a person's "goods" that would be subject to theft (Matthew 12:29).
- 2. The term for a piece of pottery (Revelation 2:27; 18:12; Romans 9:21).
- 3. The term for a "sheet" (Acts 9:15) or a "sail" (Acts 27:17).
- 4. A metaphorical term for a "wife" as "the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7).
- 5. A metaphorical term for the physical body (2 Corinthians 4:7).
- B. Contextual issues.
- 1. Sexual immorality.
- 2. The "interpretation" that a man should know how to "possess" his "wife" ignores the reality that women can get involved in "sexual immorality" as well as men.
- C. The most likely meaning is "one's own body".
- 1. Paul is here focused upon "the lusts of the flesh" as a category that evidences a need for "sanctification".
- 2. Everyone, male and female, needs to be sanctified in respect to their bodies.
- II. The Issue of "Possessing".
- A. The term is used in seven texts in the New Testament and is translated by four different English words by the Authorized Version.
- B. A cursory reading of those texts provides us with a sense of the meaning: to bring something into the place of 'ownership unto usefulness'. The thing may already 'owned' but not useful, or the thing may need to be purchased in order to make its usefulness available.
- C. Given the uniting of the concept with the word "vessel", it seems that Paul is concerned that the Thessalonians might allow their "vessels" to be rendered "useless".
- 1. The controlling idea is "sexual misconduct"; the major problem is what that behavior does to God's purpose for the "body".
- 2. In 1 Corinthians 6 there is an extended development of the problem of the "body" being rendered useless to Christ by "fornication", a sin that is specifically "against one's own body" (6:18).
- III. The Realms of Focus.
- A. Sanctification.
- 1. The word is translated in the Authorized Version by "holiness" and "sanctification" in an equal distribution.
- 2. The word seems to be fixated upon the idea that the "sanctified" is dedicated to the "god" for the service which the "god" requires. This would fit Paul's concept that the body has a primary purpose, established by God, and it should only be used within the boundaries of that purpose.
- 3. Paul uses the term in contrast to "uncleanness" (4:7 and Romans 6:19), giving it a deliberate moral overtone, and he depends upon the metaphor of something being "unclean" to give it "meaning".
- B. Honor.
- 1. The word signals the "respect" or "esteem" given to someone/something that is considered of high value.
- 2. The idea is that the "vessel" is of great value for its purpose in God's plans and should be considered so and treated as such.
- IV. The Larger Issue.
- A. Paul moves immediately from the concept of being "stabilized in heart unto blameless holiness before God" into sexual immorality: why?
- 1. Is this the most likely way the Thessalonians will be led astray?
- 2. The earlier context made "the suffering of tribulations" the big bugaboo that threatened the progress of the believers; now it is sexual immorality. Both have overtones of a strong fixation upon physical pleasure.
- 3. The fact that the Thessalonians received a good report by Timothy to Paul indicates that Paul does not need to focus so much upon the outer circumstances, so he moves to an area of significant difficulty in the inner issues of life. A fixation upon "pleasure" is a very dangerous fixation and sexual issues are of great significance in this respect.
- B. The Thessalonians have a pretty good grasp on the issues of the soul and spirit -- as evidenced by their firm stand in the face of rejection and threat -- so Paul turns to the only "other" issue: the physical body.