Micah Garman - CPO# 248
Dr. Burke - Greek Exegesis II
Sexual Purity: A Call to Holiness
The world in which Christians live today is very similar to the world that Paul taught, lived, and traveled in. Christians are surrounded by and struggle with the issue of sexual purity that believers struggled with in Paul’s day. Sexual immorality is a result of a much larger problem: the refusal of God’s call to be holy. The pagan Gentiles during the New Testament had a skewed picture of moral issues, including sexuality. F. F. Bruce provides a unique look into Greek culture and morality when he quotes Demosthenes who lived during this time period: “We keep mistresses for pleasure, concubines for our day-today bodily needs, but we have wives to produce legitimate children and serve as guardians of our homes.”1 Paul concentrates on these issues in regards to holiness in his first letter to the Thessalonians because believers needed to know how to instruct converts from paganism. The purpose of this paper is to cover these issues of sexual purity and holiness brought up by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. Also, this paper will cover the significant grammatical, syntactical and theological aspects within 1 Thess 4:3-8. Finally, this paper will conclude with a modern day application of these verses written by Paul to the church in Thessalonica.
F. F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians,ed. David A. Hubbard, et. al., (WBC 45; Waco: Word Books, 1982), 87.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORICAL INFORMATION
Thessalonica was located in a strategic location at “the northernmost point of the Thermaic Gulf, while sitting astraddle the Egnatian Way.”2 According to Luke in Acts 17:6, the government at Thessalonica was run by “politarchs” at the time of Paul. Thessalonica was also very cosmopolitan, like Corinth, and contained many different religions and immigrants; including Jews. The founding of the church in Thessalonica is mentioned in Acts 17:1-9 and Paul, with Silas and Timothy, taught a congregation there for a while before being led out at night to escape. Paul’s admonishes the Thessalonian believers within his letter for being mature in their faith; which insinuates that the church was much established for some time. However mature the believers in Thessalonica were, in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Paul turns to the first of two matters where the Thessalonians “faith” was “deficient” in 3:10 and he uses these verses to instruct them in how they should be “blameless” for Christ’s second coming (3:12-13). Paul might be addressing problems that Timothy had reported back to him after he had to leave, but it is probably better understood as reinforcement in what they already knew, and a warning to not fall into pagan practices. Paul covers one of two behavioral issues of how the believers in Thessalonica were to live in relationship with the secular world and with each other in 1 Thess 4:3-8 (the other is in 4:9-12).
The opening clause in v. 3 serves as the heading or thesis for all of vv. 3-8. Paul gives a general exhortation to the Thessalonians in v. 1-2 and then proceeds to give specific behavioral instructions in vv. 3-8 as exemplified in the following chart:
Gordon Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
A. This is the will of God (that you be holy) – Thesis/heading 1. Vv. 3-6, Details
a. abstain from sexual immorality (v. 3)
b. each one knowing how to control their own body in holiness, not lust (vv. 4-5)
c. no one overstepping boundaries and cheating his brother or sister in this matter (v. 6a)
2. v. 7, Explanation
a. explaining the terms of God’s will
3. v. 8, Conclusion
a. indicates how disobedience on this matter is related to that will3 TRANSLATION OF 1 THESSALONIANS 4:3-8
4:3 For this is God’s will: your sanctification, that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality, 4:4 that each of you know how to control his...
Bibliography: Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellshaft, 2008.
Beale, G. K. 1-2 Thessalonians. IVPNTC. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Fee, Gordon. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. NICNT. Grand Rapids:
Fredrickson, David. “Passionless Sex in 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5.” Word & World 23. 2003.
Furnish, Victor Paul. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. ANTC. Nashville: Abingdon, 2007.
Kubo, Sakae. “1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.” Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon. Grand Rapids:
Malherbe, Abraham J. The Letter to the Thessalonians. ABC. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
TNTC. Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1984.
NIGNC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.
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