Monday, February 12, 2018

1 Thessalonians 4 Commentary

    1: For the rest then brethren we beseech you and exhort in [the] Lord Jesus even as [you] received from us how you should walk and please God [in] that [you] should abound more 2: For you know what charges we gave you through the Lord Jesus 3: For this is the will of God even your purity that you should abstain from porneia 4: Each of you should know how to possess your [own] vessels[1] in purity and honor 5: Not in passion of lust even as the nations which know not of God 6: That none go beyond and defraud the brethren in any matter because the avenger is the Lord concerning all these thing as we also forewarned you and testified 7: For God has not called us to uncleanness but to holiness 8: He therefore that despises despises not man but God who has also given to us his holy Spirit 9: But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another 10: And indeed you do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia[2] but we beseech you brethren that you increase more and more 11: And strive to be quiet and be busy with your own business and work with your own hands as we charged you 12: That you walk honestly toward them that are without the unsaved and have need [of] nothing 13: But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren concerning them which are asleep that you sorrow not even as others who have no hope 14: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so them also which sleep[3] in Jesus will God bring with him 15: For this we say to you by the word of the Lord[4] that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep 16: For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout of command with the voice [of the] archangel and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first 17: Then we the living who remain together with them shall be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in [the] air and thus always with [the] Lord we shall be 18: So encourage one another with these words.

[1] This verse is an example of how extensively misogyny and gender-biased-English-translation-theology has been integrated into English Bible translations, and through these,  into the very warp and woof of Christian thought and life. 
   1 Thessalonians 4:4, is written in gender neutral terms and should be translated as such. Yet, with few exceptions, in virtually every Bible, the verse appears to be speaking to men only, by saying, “Every one of you possess his own vessel…” 
   The word (in verse four), almost universally translated as “his,” is a gender neutral word. It should always be translated as “your,” because the verse is speaking to both women and men—to all Christians equally, regardless of sex. 
 The word (in verse four), almost universally translated as “his,” is a gender neutral word. It should always be translated as “your,” [in this verse] because the verse is speaking both women and men—to all Christians, equally, regardless of sex. God has no double-standard when it comes to sexual purity and morality, but apparently, Bible translators and commentators do. And they have generally misapplied this verse, misleading God’s people to generally understand that it speaks to men only. This misunderstanding has, in turn, caused much consternation among men, who, apparently have been so stymied by the plain sense of the words, “Each of you possess your vessels in purity…,” that they have gone to ridiculous lengths to interpret it in a way that men could not only live with, but also have a possible excuse when they fail to obey it.
No interpretation of any verse in the New Testament, illustrates the low esteem in which women have traditionally been held, nor the lengths to which Bible translators and commentators have been willing to go in order to objectify women, nor the depths to which men have been willing to sink in order to excuse immoral behavior.
Despite it being a well known fact, that having a wife is no deterrent to a man hell-bent on immorality, respected and honored commentators suggest that 1 Thessalonians 4:4, speaks to a need for men to “procure” wives, so that the wives may “contribute” to the “usefulness” [of the husband] and “satisfy,” his sexual passions. Though the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:4, clearly speaks to all Christians—including women—instructing all Believers to possess the vessels of their bodies in holiness and purity, lexicons do not reflect this. No more than a surface perusal of popular resources, brings the shocking revelation that men simply refuse to take the admonition for what it clearly is, and can only see see it through the lens of a double-sided moral standard.
In expanded and more explanative terms, 1 Thessalonians 4;4 clearly says: “Without excuse, control yourself! Do not let your lust and porneia rule you. Whether you married or not, whether you are a woman or a man, keep yourselves pure!”
   Yet, despite the simplicity and self explanatory nature of this verse [verified within context of the entire passage], there appears to have been such a desperation among [the all-male body] of commentators and most Bible translators, concerning such an admonition, that they obviously began casting about in their minds how this could actually be accomplished in a way they could live with, and they seem to have come to an early consensus.
   It is a sad fact, almost universally acknowledged, that historically, men have been held to lower standards of morality and accountability than women. And a mere surface perusal of respected and much used Bible lexicons and commentaries on 1 Thessalonians 4:4, illustrates how perfectly this double-standard has been accepted as the norm. Probably the most popular is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, where James Strong spells out the androcentric bent of both himself and his peers, when he defines the word, skeuos (G4632 can be translated as a vessel or, metaphorically, a body).
He makes the unusual claim, that the word, vessel, can also be translated as wife?!
Strong’s G4632 reads as follows: …“a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively [specially, a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband].”
With one stroke of his pen, James Strong, one of Christianity’s most respected scholars, reduced women to little more than objects, whose only purpose for existence, is to contribute to the usefulness of men. H. H. Halley, thought highly enough of Strong’s alternative definition, that he alluded to it in his own publication, Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Can things get any worse? Yes. When we look at the word “possess,” as used in verse four [G2932], the lexicon suggests that the words “possess your vessels,” could alternatively read “Marry a wife.”  Another alternative given for the the entire verse, reads: “to procure for himself his own vessel (i. e. for the satisfaction of the sexual passion;” 
Why, has no one challenged these hateful and evil interpretations until now? This writer challenges them and refutes them, and calls them out as being from the evil one, from the seed of the serpent who is perpetually at enmity with the seed of the woman.
Men of God, stand up. Speak out. Reject doctrines that give men “a pass” on immorality, and allows for blame to shifted for this reason or that reason, and reduces your God-given equal counterparts to mere objects created for your “use’’ and sexual “satisfaction.” Reject this destructive paradigm and publicly renounce it.
   Women of God, stand up. Speak out. You are not objects to be used. 1 Thessalonians 4:4, is not speaking of marriage, but even within the context of marriage, you were not created to satisfy lust and porneia. As far as usefulness goes, with the help of the holy Spirit, both men and women are capable enough of finding ways to be useful to God, on their own, without reducing the status of their equal counter-parts to that of mere servants.
Do the alternative interpretations of 1 Thessalonians 4:4 make you angry? They should. And it is a righteous anger, indeed.
People of God, stand up. Speak out!   

[2] Alexander the Great was from Macedon[ia]. Neighboring countries include Greece and Albania.
[3] The doctrine of Soul Sleep is not taught in scripture. It is merely an interpretation which cannot be substantiated by the term used to describe the righteous dead, who are usually referred to as sleeping because of the hope of the resurrection. The term, only refers to their bodies which are sleeping in death. It does not refer to their souls, which never lose consciousness but go immediately to either Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom, *B.C.) or to be with the Lord (in Heaven, *A.D.). *Changing the term B.C. (“Before Christ) to B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) doesn’t change the amazing fact that God himself, divided time when he came to earth as a man. The time-line of history testifies to the historic fact of, and the amazing impact of, the life and death of Jesus Christ.  

[4] Paul was open about the fact that everything he said, was not, “Thus saith the LORD.” Some things he wrote were simply good advice according as he felt led by the Holy Spirit. Some things, he felt he had permission to say, but admitted that it was not Holy Writ. It is important to understand, that prior to the Third century, A.D. (or thereabouts), there was no single volume, called “the Bible,” such as we know it today. God’s people, in both the Old and New Covenants, had writings, that they considered Holy, but there was no hard and set consensus on what the so-called ”canon of scripture” consisted of. Even today, there is a division on the canon of scripture between Protestants, Jews, and Catholics. Most protestants reject the Apocrypha. Jews reject the New Testament. We do know, that Jesus himself confirmed, the Torah [the terms, Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, and the Law, all refer to the same thing—the Torah]. Jesus referenced the prophets, and the Psalms. He quoted from the Septuagint (LXX). He confirmed that the entire book of Isaiah was written by the same man (later the Dead Sea Scrolls added to the confirmation we already had from Jesus). All of these things, together, composed the scriptures of the early Church, and were rather quickly augmented by the writings of Peter, John, Paul, Jude, and James. Eventually also, by Matthew, John Mark, and Luke the physician (the book of Acts was also a writing of Luke). The early Church compared the writings of their New Covenant leaders to the sacred writings of the Old Covenant to find out if the things they were being was true, according to the scriptures they already had. This was in obedience to the Word of the LORD, through Isaiah, where the prophet instructed God’s people to compare anything they are told with what had already been written Isaiah 8:19-20. Any so called, “New Light” that did not align with the Law (towrah) and the testimonies (confirmations of the towrah), was no light at all, and should be rejected. That still holds true, today, as the entire volume of the book (the sum total of all scripture—whether written under the Old Covenant or the New, whether included in our “canon” or not), all of the towrah spoke of, and predicted the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. All Bible Prophecy revolves around the same Psalm 40:7, Hebrews 10:7, Hebrews 10:1, Revelation 19:10.
Post a Comment