1 Thessalonians 4:4
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

New Living Translation
Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor--

English Standard Version
that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Berean Study Bible
each of you must know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Berean Literal Bible
each of you to know how to win mastery over his own vessel in holiness and honor,

New American Standard Bible
that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

King James Bible
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor,

International Standard Version
Each of you must know how to control his own body in a holy and honorable manner,

NET Bible
that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor,

New Heart English Bible
that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And that each one of you know to possess his vessel in holiness and in honor,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Each of you should know that finding a husband or wife for yourself is to be done in a holy and honorable way,

New American Standard 1977
that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Jubilee Bible 2000
that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honesty,

King James 2000 Bible
That every one of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor;

American King James Version
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;

American Standard Version
that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Douay-Rheims Bible
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour:

Darby Bible Translation
that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour,

English Revised Version
that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honour,

Webster's Bible Translation
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;

Weymouth New Testament
that each man among you shall know how to procure a wife who shall be his own in purity and honour;

World English Bible
that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Young's Literal Translation
that each of you know his own vessel to possess in sanctification and honour,
Study Bible
Living to Please God
3For it is God’s will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality; 4each of you must know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God;…
Cross References
1 Samuel 21:5
David answered the priest and said to him, "Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?"

Romans 1:24
Therefore God gave them up in the desires of their hearts to impurity for the dishonoring of their bodies with one another.

1 Corinthians 7:2
But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:9
But if they cannot control themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

2 Corinthians 4:7
Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us.

1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Treasury of Scripture

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;

should.

Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh…

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you …

1 Corinthians 6:15,18-20 Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I …

his.

1 Samuel 21:5 And David answered the priest, and said to him, Of a truth women …

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel …

Romans 9:21-23 Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make …

2 Timothy 2:20,21 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, …

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving …

honour.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are …

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators …

(4) Should know.--The clause is simply parallel to the last, and, with it, explains the word "sanctification." The Bulgarian Father, Theophylact, says pointedly in reference to the word "to know" or "understand," "He indicates that chastity is a matter that requires self-discipline and study." (Comp. Ephesians 5:17.)

To possess his vessel.--The word rendered "to possess" should rather be translated, to procure, win, gain possession of. The word "vessel" here has been interpreted in two ways: (1) "his wife;" (2) "his body." In favour of (1) it is argued that (while "gaining possession of one's own body" is unintelligible), "acquiring a wife of one's own" is an ordinary Greek expression; that in this context, "a vessel," or "instrument," is an expressive and natural metaphor; that the word was familiar to Hebrew speakers in that sense (e.g., Ahasuerus says of Vashti, in one of the Targums, "My vessel which I use is neither Median nor Persian, but Chaldee"); that St. Peter (1Peter 3:7) uses the word of the wife. But it may be answered that this interpretation does not suit our context; first, because it would be laying an emphatic and binding veto upon celibacy, if "each one" is "to acquire a wife of his own;" secondly, because of the verb "to know," it certainly being no part of a religious man's duty "to know how to procure a wife;" thirdly, because the Greek cannot be translated "a vessel (or wife) of his own," but "his own vessel" (or wife)--literally, the vessel of himself--and to speak of "procuring" the wife who is already one's own seems unmeaning. Furthermore, although the quotations from the Targums are certainly to the point, that from St. Peter distinctly points the other way, inasmuch as the wife is called "the weaker vessel of the two," evidently meaning that the husband is also "a vessel." Thus we are driven to suppose that (2) the "vessel" is the man's own self. This usage also is well supported. In 1Samuel 21:5, it is used in precisely this sense, and in the same context, as well as in 1Peter 3:7. The passages, however, usually quoted in support of this interpretation from 2Corinthians 4:7, Philo, Barnabas, Lucretius, &c, do not seem quite parallel; for there the word signifies a "vessel," in the sense of a receptacle for containing something; here it is rather "an instrument" or "implement "for doing something. Hence it approaches more nearly to the use in such phrases as Acts 9:15, "a vessel of choice," or even (though the Greek word is different) to Romans 6:13. "The vessel of himself" (the "himself" being in the Greek strongly emphasised) means, not "the vessel which is his own," but "the vessel or instrument which consists of himself." Thus the body, which of course is chiefly meant here, is not dissociated from the man's personality, as in the fanciful Platonism of Philo, but almost identified with it: the Incarnation has taught us the true dignity of the body. Thus it becomes easy to understand what is meant by "knowing how to gain possession of" such an instrument as the body with its many faculties, rescuing it from its vile prostitution, and wielding it wisely for its proper uses. So the same Greek verb is used, and mistranslated in our version, in Luke 21:19, "In your patience possess ye your souls."

In sanctification and honour.--The circumstances in which--almost the means by which--the man may acquire and keep this skilful power over his instrument:--"in a course of self-purification and of self-reverence." The reverence due to the instrument is brought out in a passage of St. Peter evidently modelled upon this (1Peter 3:7). (Comp. also 2Timothy 2:21, "an instrument for honourable purposes, and to be honourably treated, consecrated, and handy for its owner's use.")

Verse 4. - That every one of you should know how to possess. The word here rendered "possess" rather signifies "acquire." The R.V. renders the clause, "that each one of you know how to possess himself of;" hence it admits of the translation, "to obtain the mastery over." His vessel. This word has given rise to a diversity of interpretation. Especially two meanings have been given to it. By some it is supposed to be a figurative expression for "wife," in which sense the word is used, though rarely, by Hebrew writers. Peter speaks of the wife "as the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). This is the meaning adopted by Augustine, Schott, Do Wette, Koch, Hofmann, Lünemann, Riggenbach; and, among English expositors, by Alford, Jowett, Ellicott, and Eadie. This meaning is, however, to be rejected as unusual and strange, and unsuitable to what follows in the next verse. The other meaning - "one's own body" - is more appropriate. Thus Paul says, "We have this treasure," namely, the gospel, "in earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7; comp. also 1 Samuel 21:5). The body may well be compared to a vessel, as it contains the soul. This meaning is adopted by Chrysostom, Calvin, Grotius, Bengel, Olshausen, Meyer; and, among English expositors, by Macknight, Conybeare, Bishop Alexander, Wordsworth, and Yaughan. In sanctification and honor. What the apostle here requires is that every one should obtain the mastery over his own body, and that whereas, as Gentiles, they had yielded their members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, they should now, as Christians, yield their members servants to righteousness unto holiness (Romans 6:19). That everyone of you should know how to possess his vessel,.... By which may be meant, either a man's wife, or his body, and it is not very easy to determine which, for the Jews call both by this name. Sometimes they call (p) a woman which the gloss says is a "vessel" unfinished. It is reported (q), that when R. Eleazar died, Rabbenu Hakkadosh would have married his widow, and she would not, because she was , "a vessel of holiness", greater than he. Moreover, it is said (r), that

"he that forces (a young woman) must drink "in his own vessel" how drink in his own vessel? though she be lame, though she be blind, and though she is stricken with ulcers.''

The commentators (s) on the passage add,

"in the vessel which he has chosen; that is to say, whether he will or not, he must marry her;''

see Proverbs 5:15. And again, they sometimes call a man's wife his tent: hence that saving (t),

"wtva ala wlha Nya "there is no tent but his wife", as it is said, Deuteronomy 5:30, go, say to them, get you into your tents again.''

And certain it is, that the woman is called the "weaker vessel" in 1 Peter 3:7, between which passage and this there seems to be some agreement. The same metaphor of a "vessel" is made use of in both; and as there, honour to be given to the weaker vessel, so here, a man's vessel is to be possessed in honour; and as there, husbands are to dwell with their wives according to knowledge so here, knowledge is required to a man's possessing his vessel aright. Now for a man to possess his vessel in this sense, is to enjoy his wife, and to use that power he has over her in a becoming manner; see 1 Corinthians 7:4, and which is here directed to "in sanctification and honour"; that is, in a chaste and honourable way; for marriage is honourable when the bed is kept undefiled; and which may be defiled, not only by taking another into it, and which is not possessing the wife in sanctification and honour, it is the reverse, for it is a breaking through the rules of chastity and honour; but it may even be defiled with a man's own wife, by using her in an unnatural way, or by any unlawful copulation with her; for so to do is to use her in an unholy, unchaste, wicked, and dishonourable manner; whereas possessing of her according to the order and course of nature, is by the Jews, in agreement with the apostle, called (u), , "a man's sanctifying himself", and is chaste, and honourable. And it may be observed, that the Jews use the same phrase concerning conjugal embraces as the apostle does here. One of their canons runs thus (w):

"though a man's wife is free for him at all times, it is fit and proper for a disciple of a wise man to use himself "in", or "to sanctification".''

When these thing's are observed, this sense of the words will not appear so despicable as it is thought by some. The body is indeed called a "vessel"; see 2 Corinthians 4:7, because in it the soul is contained, and the soul makes use of it, and its members, as instruments, for the performance of various actions; and, with Jewish writers, we read of , "the vessel of his body" (x); so then, for a man to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, is to keep under his body and bring it into subjection, and preserve it in purity and chastity; as the eyes from unchaste looks, the tongue from unchaste words, and the other members from unchaste actions; and to use it in an honourable way, not in fornication, adultery, and sodomy; for, by fornication, a man sins against his own body; and by adultery he gets a wound, and a dishonour, and a reproach that will not be wiped away; and by sodomy, and such like unnatural lusts, men dishonour their own bodies between themselves: particularly by "his vessel", as Gataker thinks, may be meant the "membrum virile", or the genital parts, which, by an euphemism, may he so called; see 1 Samuel 21:5

(p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol 22. 2.((q) Juchasin, fol. 48. 2. Shalsheleth Hakkabala, fol. 23. 1.((r) Misna Cetubot, c. 3. sect. 4, 5. (s) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. (t) T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 7. 2. & 15. 2.((u) Maimon. in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 7. sect. 4. (w) Maimon. Hilch Deyot, c. 5. sect. 4. (x) Caphtor, fol. 57. 2.4. know—by moral self-control.

how to possess his vessel—rather as Greek, "how to acquire (get for himself) his own vessel," that is, that each should have his own wife so as to avoid fornication (1Th 4:3; 1Co 7:2). The emphatical position of "his own" in the Greek, and the use of "vessel" for wife, in 1Pe 3:7, and in common Jewish phraseology, and the correct translation "acquire," all justify this rendering.

in sanctification—(Ro 6:19; 1Co 6:15, 18). Thus, "his own" stands in opposition to dishonoring his brother by lusting after his wife (1Th 4:6).

honour—(Heb 13:4) contrasted with "dishonor their own bodies" (Ro 1:24).4:1-8 To abide in the faith of the gospel is not enough, we must abound in the work of faith. The rule according to which all ought to walk and act, is the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification, in the renewal of their souls under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and attention to appointed duties, constituted the will of God respecting them. In aspiring after this renewal of the soul unto holiness, strict restraint must be put upon the appetites and senses of the body, and on the thoughts and inclinations of the will, which lead to wrong uses of them. The Lord calls none into his family to live unholy lives, but that they may be taught and enabled to walk before him in holiness. Some make light of the precepts of holiness, because they hear them from men; but they are God's commands, and to break them is to despise God.
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