(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 to uncleanness, but unto holiness. (8) He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 4:4-8, KJV).
This article is a follow up to my previous one, "BIBLICAL MARRIAGE: It's A Clean Thing." As I Focus now on 1 Thessalonians 4:4-8, it can be observed that the Apostle Paul continues his theme from 4:3 regarding "sanctification" (cleanliness), which he incites each member of the Thessalonica church to adamantly secure and protect, through the abstinence from fornication.
In 4:3, Paul placed emphasis on abstaining from every possible kind of disordered sexual intimacy (fornication) in the flesh, because any act of fornication is contrary to that which makes a Biblical marriage and defiles a Christian's new birth sanctification against God's will.
In 4:4 He continues his admonishment of "abstinence" by specifying a remedial requirement expected of Christian men. The requirement is that men have knowledge as to the Godly way of joining their self to a woman, making a Biblical marriage, which avoids fornication. It is similar to what he stated in 1 Corinthians 7:2 "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
Paul states that every man should have the knowledge (that which they received by his instruction and commandments while he was with them - vs. 1&2) as to what the will of God is when it comes to a Christian man's sexual intimacy with a woman.
Once again through Scripture, insight is given to us by the Apostle as to the makings of a true Biblical marriage.
The words "possess" and "vessel" means acquire and wife respectively. He speaks to men regarding the acquisition (marriage by sexual intimacy) of a wife in a legitimate God-approved connection. It goes with verse three in abstaining from fornication, where both the man and the woman must be Biblically free to be sexually intimate with the other. For this is the only way, as Paul had taught and commanded them, for a man to acquire his wife in "sanctification and honor" – a one and only marriage that is clean and honorable before God. Every Christian man and woman capable of sexual intimacy must have that knowledge.
For no man through a fornicated sexual connection with a woman ever acquires her as his wife before God cleanly and honorably. It can only occur between a man and a woman who are Biblically qualified to "know" one another in a sexually intimate way, regardless of vows, a civil document, a covenant, commitments, or any other such thing.
It is as the writer of the book of Hebrews said in 13:4, "[Biblical] Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled [clean], but whoremongers and adulterers [all who are unclean and dishonorable before God] God will judge."
Since I referenced this verse from the book of Hebrews, bear with me, while I point out an important matter concerning it.
I am deeply concerned by the rewording of this verse in a number of revised versions, particularly. By them rewording it as they do, true Biblical marriage and its distinction is obscured.
The changes they make cause the true meaning of the verse to be erroneous and incorrect. In their rewording, they add words that have no business being inserted. The reason they reword it as they do is because they have no understanding of Biblical marriage, only secular marriage. Therefore, they make it read according to their understanding.
Let me illustrate. Here are some of the ways to which it is reworded in their revisionary styles, different from the KJV, which states "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled...:"
1. "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure..." (NIV)
2. "Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage... (NLT)
3. "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled..." (NASB)
4. "Let marriage be held every way in honour, and the bed be undefiled..." (DBT)
5. "Let marriage be had in honour, and let the bed be undefiled..." (ERV)
In these few examples above, by them adding and changing the words as they do causes God's Word to insinuate that marriage is something that all men are to consider honoring and the bed kept from being defiled.
However, in this verse of Scripture, that is not what is being proclaimed. In no way does it allude to anything that men are to honor or keep, but, rather, Biblical marriage IS honorable in and of itself and the bed IS undefiled, because it is a marriage that is Biblical. It is a statement of fact of what is, not an instruction on how men ought to view marriage.
What is being insinuated in Hebrews 13:4, contrary to the inference of these revisionists, is that Biblical marriage is always honorable. When it exists, it is always that way and the bed is always undefiled. If it doesn't exist, it is not marriage, but fornication, in which fornication is dishonorable, defiles the bed, and brings judgment. It speaks nothing about it being honored and kept by men. There is a huge difference between declaring something to be honorable, as opposed to instructing men to have honor for something.
They do the same thing with the bed. It's a statement of fact that it is undefiled, because of the honorableness of marriage, not that it should be kept a certain way.
Biblical marriage is fulfilled by Christian men, and, then, the honor of it speaks to God. It is honorable before Him "in all." Therefore, because it is honorable before God, it is to be celebrated and rejoiced over by men. When the writer of the Hebrews said "marriage is honorable" that is exactly what he meant.
The status of the bed is based upon what is being done sexually in the bed and whether it is in the confines of a Biblical marriage or not. Within Biblical marriage (not secular marriage) all that is done sexually is honorable and undefiled. Any other way is dishonorable and defiled.
Also, The Almighty can perfectly distinguish which bed is defiled or undefiled. In His omnipresence and omniscience, He knows whether those involved are qualified or not to be sexually intimate. However, men may not be privy to that knowledge. If the intimacy is unqualified, no civil document, vow, or pretended covenant will make it qualified.
The revisionist's wording does not reveal the distinction of a pure joining of two people through their sexual intimacy, as does the KJV, within the word "marriage." In the context of this verse, the writer is addressing one specific thing - what marriage is and what marriage isn't, not how men should view it or "let" it.
The revisionists apply the wording as they do, because they don't understand what the words in the text "in all" actually mean.
I'm going to be blunt here and put each segment of Hebrews 13:4 in the context that I believe everyone in this culture will understand. Everything that is spoken in this verse, from beginning to end, is SEX, SEX, and SEX; nothing else.
Allow me to describe what this verse is really saying and you'll see what I mean: "Marriage [A man and woman legitimately joined as one flesh, through their qualifying sexual intimacy] is honorable in all [all sexually intimate activities that they engage in with one another, naturally, mutually agreeable, in a loving, caring, and satisfying manner are honorable before God], and the bed undefiled [where ever they lie together and whatever they do to one another in a sexually intimate way is clean and approved of God]: but whoremongers [those who have been sexually intimate in an unqualified state, i.e. homosexuality and bestiality] and adulterers [unqualified sexual intimacy between a male and female] God will judge [defiled beds, not within the God-accepted confines of Biblical marriage, because their sexual intimacies are unapproved, unclean, and dishonorable, which are only worthy of judgment]." There you have it!
When one understands true Biblical marriage, one can read this verse as the KJV Bible says it along with understanding to its meaning. When one doesn't comprehend, they revise it to mean something else, which produces the wrong instruction, which can cause many to believe their sexual intimacies are approved of God when, in fact, they are not. Secular marital concepts produce that mindset.
Applying secular concepts to the text offers opportunity for so-called Christian homosexuals and adulterers to falsely assume under the pretense of vows of commitment, so-called monogamy, and civil statutes that they can have a true marriage before God and it should be honored by men.
Before God, marriage does not exist with homosexuals or unqualified heterosexuals. Hebrews 13:4 makes that exceedingly clear as the KJV states it. And for the Christian, God's grace doesn't alter any of it. What is - is.
The revisionist's assumption, thinking they know when in fact they actually don't, causes this verse, like many others, to be wrongly defined and out of context with every other Scripture that speaks of marriage and its violation.
So, we see that all of what is mentioned in Hebrews 13:4 is about sexual intimacy and what it produces (marriage or fornication), which will determine whether it is "honorable" or not, and whether the "bed is undefiled" or not before God. It is what Paul was conveying to the Thessalonians in verse four admonishing Christian men their "need to know how to possess [acquire] their vessel [wife, body] in sanctification and honor."
In 4:5 of our Thessalonians' text, Paul revealed the carnal mentality that the ungodly exercised in their sexual connections, which he warned the Christian against. It was "the Lust of concupiscence" (carnal affections inclined toward what is forbidden).
Listen closely here! Paul definitively differentiates between the Christian and non-Christian by declaring that believers who knew God should have an insight to something the ungodly ("Gentiles") did not have, because they "know not God." What insight or knowledge do you suppose Paul was alluding to, which we Christians should have, yet unbelievers don't have?
That should be an easy answer when analyzing it in the correct context of these verses as I have taught it. It is Biblical marriage. It's all that I have endeavored through my book and these articles on this blog to teach and implore to all that will hear the truth and receive knowledge. That truth and knowledge is, there is secular marriage and there is "MARRIAGE: A Christian Exclusive" - "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.'
Even though one can defraud their brother in a number of ways, the inference here in 4:6 is regarding one's sexual intimacy. It is a warning not to transgress and take advantage of a brother/sister in Christ when being sexual intimate. In other words, if you do not qualify to make a marriage, then, do not hide this fact from the other and bring fornication upon them, whether having committed fornication while single, or while married. Do not pass your uncleanness onto them.
Also, do not encourage or entice another into having a sexually fornicated engagement.
See what Paul "forewarned" and "testified" to the Thessalonians about such deeds: He stated that God will be an avenger (punisher) "of all such." For God is aware of all our secrets.
See my comments in my previous article "Biblical Marriage: It's A Clean Thing" regarding Paul's comment in 4:7. Sanctification, holiness is the essence of being a Christian – God's will.
To the Christian who is joined to Christ, marriage is a high and sacred calling in itself within the creation of God, as a reflection and the glory of Christ to His church. When married Biblically, it is clean and honorable to the Lord, with no judgment deserving.
Now, lastly, there is a lot to expound on in 4:8. However, I will limit my comments. In my book, I give an example of this verse in the O.T.
The Apostle declares that to disregard God's design for men and women regarding your sexual intimacy and be unclean in it, is to have contempt for that holy way of God. Not contempt toward man, because man did not create it, as is so with secular marriage, but contempt toward God, the architect of His perfect and holy joining of two into one flesh from creation.
As a true born again Christian who has been given His Holy Spirit, it is imperative to keep your body pure, where we understand the Holy Spirit resides. To defile your body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost; the body of Christ, is dishonorable and destructive indeed.
Note: If at any time you read my articles or book and you need clarification, by all means, write to me on my website. I will be happy to give further Biblical instruction as needed.