Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: "Blameless in holiness" includes "sanctification of the body".
Introduction: In Paul's wrap-up of chapter three, he focused upon the Lord Jesus and His commitment to bring us to "blameless holiness". Then, when he began chapter four, he continued this theme by exhorting the Thessalonians to a commitment to an ever growing focus upon "the" will of the Father, which he summarized in a single word followed by an explanatory phrase. The single word is "sanctification" and the explanatory phrase is "that you abstain from sexual immorality".
This study is going to be a consideration of what Paul had in mind.
November 2, 2014
- I. The Reason For the Turn Toward Things Sexual.
- A. Is to be found in the issue of a "blameless holiness".
- 1. The idea is that the whole of a person's being is involved.
- 2. There cannot be any area of one's attitudes, thinking, believing, loving, or doing that can be ignored.
- B. Is to be found in the prior context.
- 1. In all of the preceding chapters Paul had one consuming focus: how the Thessalonians were standing up to the persecution from their own countrymen in the face of their enthusiastic proclamation of the gospel.
- a. This focus came to a head in chapter three when Timothy arrived in Corinth with the "gospel" of the Thessalonians' steadfastness.
- b. With his report in mind, Paul seems to have shifted focus from the "outer" issues of circumstance to the "inner" issues of the Thessalonians' commitment to sexual pleasure.
- 2. This flow of thought indicates that the idea of a "blameless holiness" had taken hold of the Thessalonians at the levels of their souls and spirits, but that there might be a "blind spot" at the level of the body.
- C. Is to be found in the conclusion of the letter in 5:23 where Paul pointedly brings these issues together.
- D. Is to be found in the dominance that sexual pleasure has in the realm of the body.
- 1. The body is noted for two realities: its aversion to pain and its desire for pleasure.
- 2. There are few pleasures, if any, that are more extraordinary than sexual pleasure when it is unattended by guilt.
- E. Is to be found in Romans 1:22-29 where God turns people over to the lusts of their bodies.
- II. The Specifics of Paul's Focus.
- A. First is the issue of "possessing one's vessel".
- 1. The idea of "possessing" is two-fold.
- a. The first part is that of whether, in fact, the "vessel" belongs to the person (the word has sometimes to do with "acquisition" -- buying or otherwise obtaining).
- b. The second part is that of whether the "obtained", or "owned" "vessel" is serving its intended purpose (the word is sometimes used to indicate the purpose for which a thing is obtained).
- c. Thus, "possessing" actually means "taking ownership for a specific reason".
- 2. The idea of the "vessel" is someone's "body" in view of sexual expression.
- a. Many interpreters think it is a man's wife.
- b. A more likely interpretation is a man's own body.
- B. Second is the issue of "sanctification" and "honor".
- 1. The root idea of sanctification is "whole separation from/to" as indicated in 1:9.
- a. This idea fits Paul's focus of attention on what a "separated" body looks like in actual behavior.
- b. This idea fits Paul's use of "possessing one's vessel" in terms of the issue of "purpose".
- 1) 1 Corinthians 6:15 identifies the "body" as "the members of Christ" -- indicating a dedicated purpose.
- 2) 1 Corinthians 6:18 identifies sexual misconduct as "sinning against one's own body".
- 2. The root idea of "honor" is the "respect" or "esteem" given to someone/something that is considered to be of high value.
- a. In this context, the "body" is considered the instrument of God in need of further sanctification because there are many idols and many promises of God that need to be set against one another.
- b. In order to put an emphasis upon this process, the "body" needs to be held in "honor" as something worthy of our effort.