AND THAT NO MAN TRANSGRESS AND
DEFRAUD HIS BROTHER IN THE MATTER: to me huperbainein (PAN)
kai pleonektein (PAN) en to pragmati ton adelphon autou: (Ex
20:15,17; Lev 19:11,13; Deut 24:7; 25:13-16; Proverbs 11:1; 16:11;
20:14; Proverbs 20:23; 28:24; Isaiah 5:7; 59:4, 5, 6, 7; Jeremiah 9:4;
Ezekiel 22:13; 45:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; Amos 8:5,6; Zephaniah 3:5;
Malachi 3:5; Mark 10:19; 1Corinthians 6:7, 8, 9; Ephesians 4:28; James
5:4) (Leviticus 25:14,17; 1Samuel 12:3,4; Proverbs 22:22; Jeremiah
7:6; Micah 2:2; Zephaniah 3:1; James 2:6)
In this matter, then, no man
should do wrong to his fellow-Christian or take advantage of him. We
have told you this before, and we strongly warned you that the Lord
will punish those who do that. (GNT)
not to take advantage of or exploit
a brother in this matter, for the Lord is an avenger in all these
things, as we told you before and solemnly affirmed. (NAB)
In this matter no one should
violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because
the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you
earlier and warned you solemnly. (NET)
He wants nobody at all ever to sin
by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always
pays back sins of that sort, as we told you before emphatically. (NJB)
And this also is God’s will: that
you never cheat in this matter by taking another man’s wife because
the Lord will punish you terribly for this, as we have solemnly told
you before. (TLB)
No man transgress or defraud his
brother - Some commentaries favor this as a reference to a
Christian brother but others feel Paul is speaking of men and
women in general. Certainly the charge to never take advantage of
another person in the area of sexuality has a broad application, for
sex in any form outside of marriage is off limits.
Transgress (5233)(huperbaino from
hupér = beyond + baíno = to go)
means literally to step over or go beyond. The idea is to step over a boundary, to
break over a barrier, to go beyond prescribed limits, to exceed
the proper limits, go over
the line, go beyond the bounds, go pass the law. Clearly the idea is
to go to far.
Figuratively, as used here in the only NT use, huperbaino means
to overstep certain limits and so to to transgress or sin against. The idea is don't sin against
another person by stepping over the line and exceeding the lawful
limits. The English word transgress is means to go beyond
the limits set by moral principles, standards, laws, etc.
not overstepping the rights of and
wronging the brother.
Hiebert comments that the
verbal form of huperbaino...
literally means "to go beyond" and
carries the thought of passing over the line that divides right from
with the negative (me) has the force "that there be no going beyond."
D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Huperbaino is used 10 times
and most of these uses are with the literal meaning (1Sa 5:5; 2Sa
18:23; 22:30; Job 9:11; 14:5; 24:2; 38:11; Ps 18:29; Pr 9:18; Jer.
5:22; Micah 7:18) as for example in...
2 Samuel 18:23 "But whatever
happens," he said, "I will run." So he said to him, "Run." Then
Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain and passed up (Lxx = huperbaino
= outrun) the Cushite.
2 Samuel 22:30 (Ps 18:29)
"For by Thee I can run upon a troop; By my God I can leap over
(Lxx = huperbaino) a wall.
Micah 7:18 Who is a God like
Thee, who pardons iniquity And passes over (Lxx = huperbaino)
the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not
retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.
Vincent writes that
huperbaino is found...
Often in LXX, mostly in the literal
sense of overpassing limits. Also of overtaking, passing by,
surpassing, as in wickedness or cruelty. It is an expansion of the
preceding thought. Pursue your business as holy men: do not overreach
or defraud. It is the overstepping of the line between mine and thine.
It is used absolutely, being defined by the succeeding clause. The A V
is literal, go beyond. Rev. renders transgress. Weizsäcker and
Bornemann “ubergreife overreach.” So Rev. margin. This last is the
That no man...defraud -
Defraud means to selfishly, greedily take something for personal gain
and pleasure at someone else’s expense. Webster says that to defraud
is to get something by dishonesty or deception and stresses depriving
one of his or her rights and usually connotes a deliberate perversion
of the truth. Defraud means to take away or withhold
money, rights, property, etc., from a person by fraud (intentional
perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something
of value). That is a good picture of what happens in illicit sex for
the perpetrator is taking something away from the other person! As
with transgress, defraud includes the idea of taking
advantage of someone, here in the are of sexual sin. Whenever
believers seek to satisfy their physical desires and obtain sexual
pleasure at the expense of another individual, they have violated this
(pleonekteo from pleíon = more + écho = have <>
degrees one who wants more, person covetous of something that others
have, a defrauder for gain) literally means to have more than another
and then to take advantage of any one. To claim
more. To covet. To have more than one's due. To selfishly attempt to gain more
at all costs and by all means disregarding others and their rights.
Defraud means to selfishly and greedily take something at someone
Hiebert adds that
does not indicate the nature of the
wrong being done, but the idea of selfish and self-seeking fraud is
involved in the term. The
prohibits the continuation of such a practice. (Hiebert,
D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Don't go beyond the line that God
has drawn and take advantage of another person in the matter of sexual
See discussion of the related word pleonexia
which describes a strong desire to acquire more and more
material possessions, especially that which is forbidden. This desire
to have more is irrespective of one's need and thus describes an
insatiable selfishness. Greed is what you desire and what you desire
more of becomes your ''god'' and you end up serving that ''god.'' The
individual whose life is dominated by the desire to get things has set
up things in the place of God and that is the essence of idolatry.
Barclay writes that the Greeks defined
as “arrogant greediness,” as “the
accursed love of possessing,” as “the unlawful desire for the things
which belong to others.” It has been defined as the spirit in which a
man is always ready to sacrifice his neighbour to his own desires.
is the irresistible desire to have what we have no right to
possess. It might issue in the theft of material things; it might
issue in the spirit which tramples on other people to get its own way;
it might issue in sexual sin....(pleonexia)
is, therefore, a sin with a very wide range. If it is the desire for
money, it leads to theft. If it is the desire for prestige, it leads
to evil ambition. If it is the desire for power, it leads to sadistic
tyranny. If it is the desire for a person, it leads to sexual sin "
Greeks defined pleonekteo as “the spirit which is always reaching after more
and grabbing that to which it has no right.” It is aggressive getting.
It is not the miser’s spirit, for it aimed to get in order to spend,
so that it could live in more luxury and greater pleasure; and it
cared not over whom it took advantage so long as it could get. ) means
to take advantage of someone, usually as the result of a motivation of
greed, to exploit, exploitation.
What does that word defraud mean? It stresses depriving one of
his or her rights and usually connotes deliberate perversion of the
truth. Defraud means to selfishly, greedily take something for
personal gain and pleasure at someone else’s expense. It means to take
advantage of someone for personal gain, personal pleasure.
When someone desires their sexual
pleasure, they take advantage of someone
else to get it.
There are only 5 uses of pleonekteo in the NT...
2 Corinthians 2:11 in order
that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of
his schemes. (Vincent writes that literally pleonekteo is "in order
that we be not made gain of, or overreached, by Satan.
Rev., that no advantage may be gained over us.)
2 Corinthians 7:2 Make room
for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took
advantage of no one.
2 Corinthians 12:17
Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom
I have sent to you, have I? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent
the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he?
Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same
1Thessalonians 4:6 and that
no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the
Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you
before and solemnly warned you.
John Piper comments that...
When we sin sexually we are not
seeking the highest good of others, neither the woman or the man we
sin with, nor the person we fantasize about nor the person in the
pornography, nor the spouse or parent of any of these. It is not
Christian love that moves us in any of this. It is simply selfish
desire. But Christians are people deeply moved by love for others.
Christians love people; they don’t use them. (1Thessalonians
Morris writes that...
Adultery is an obvious violation of
the rights of another. But promiscuity before marriage represents the
robbing of the other that virginity which ought to be brought to a
marriage. The future partner of such a one has been defrauded.
Guzik observes that...
Repeatedly in Leviticus 18 - a
chapter where God instructed Israel on the matter of sexual morality -
the idea is given that one may not uncover the nakedness of another
not their spouse. The idea is that the nakedness of an individual
belongs to their spouse and no one else, and it is a violation of
God’s law to give that nakedness to anyone else, or for anyone else to
take it. (David Guzik. The Enduring Word Commentary Series)
Keener writes that...
Adultery, or “wife stealing,” as it
was often considered, was punishable by banishment under Roman law; in
some circumstances, a couple caught in the act could be killed on the
spot. Adultery seems to have been common and usually unpunished,
however; but a husband who learned that his wife was committing
adultery was required by law to divorce her or himself be prosecuted
on the charge of lenocinium—“pimping.” Palestinian Judaism could no
longer execute the Old Testament death penalty for adultery, but
Jewish people believed that what they could not execute, God would
(especially on the day of judgment). (Keener,
Craig: The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. 1994. IVP)
(adelphos from collative a = denoting unity + delphús
= womb) is literally one born from same womb and so a male having the
same father and mother as reference person.
Figuratively, adelphos is
usually used by Paul to refer
to fellow believers in Christ who are united by lineage of being in
Christ and in the family of God Who is now their Father. It is
possible however that in this present usage Paul is broadening the
term to include non-believers, an interpretation favored by Vine who
though there is no other instance
in Paul’s epistles of the use of this word of mankind in general, it
is difficult to suppose that the apostle here limited its meaning to
the Christian relationship; cp.
Matthew 7:3 (see note).
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Lightfoot supports this
broader interpretation of brothers writing that
this is a duty which extends to the
universal brotherhood of mankind, and has no reference to the special
privileges of the close brotherhood of the Gospel.
Keathley comments that ...
the brother in this verse as
most likely another person, not necessarily another Christian male.
“This seems clear from the fact that this person is a victim of
illicit sex. Sexual immorality wrongs the partner in the forbidden act
by involving him or her in behavior contrary to God’s will and
therefore under His judgment.” Ryrie agrees though he
acknowledges this is not the Apostle’s normal use of “brother.” He
writes, “Paul uses “brother” here not in the restricted sense of a
brother in Christ but in the general sense of a brother man. There is
no other instance in Paul’s writings of this use of brother.” Paul’s
point is that just as stealing is a sin against one’s neighbor, so
sexual immorality is a transgression against others. (1Thessalonians 4:1-12)
F F Bruce interprets brother
meaning probably a fellow Christian
(although the action would be equally reprobated if the victim of the
“trespass” were a pagan). (Bruce,
F F: 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word,
Incorporated. 1982 or
The matter (4229)
(pragma from prásso = to do, perform = suffix –ma
= the result of;
English = pragmatic [dealing with things in a way that is based on
practical rather than theoretical considerations: practical as opposed
to idealistic]; derivative words = pragmateia = affairs in 2 Timothy
pragmateuomai = trade, do business, put capital to work, Lk 19:13)
describes that which has been done or that which happens (a
happening), and thus a deed, a thing, an event, an occurrence or an
accomplished fact. In this meaning pragma speaks of something
in the past. When speaking of something in the present or future,
pragma means that which occurs as a result of activity -- the
thing being done or to be done (in secular Greek in the phrase "great
undertakings", "the tasks of everyday life"), matter,
In this matter - Means
in the sphere of the conduct prohibited where the definite article
(modifying "matter") makes it specific, pointing to the matter under
discussion, and therefore should not be translated generally, "in any
matter" as does the KJV. Some argue that the matter could have
one of two distinct interpretations -- sexual impurity and dishonesty
Milligan asserts that
the words are too closely
connected with what precedes and what follows (1Thes 4:7, 'uncleanness')
to admit of any such transition to a wholly new subject.
Moffatt concludes that
Paul is still dealing with the
immoralities of men, but now as a form of social dishonesty and fraud.
The metaphors are drawn from trade, perhaps as appropriate to a
In the present
context, which remains unchanged throughout v1-8, demands that
this refer to all the destructive social and spiritual implications of
illegitimate sexual activity. Solomon who ironically failed to follow
his own advice wrote the following wisdom and warning regarding sexual
6:20 My son, keep
the laws of thy father, and reject not the ordinances of
thy mother: 21
Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around
your neck. 22
When you walk about, they
will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; and
when you awake, they will talk to you.
For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is
light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life,
(Observe carefully from the prior passages what serves to protect one
from sexual indiscretion) To keep you from the evil woman (Septuagint
"married woman") , from the smooth tongue (LXX
= diabole =
slander, false accusations - cp word for devil = diabolos from dia =
between + ballo = cast - the idea is cast between, e.g., a husband and
a wife and so divide them which is what adultery does!) of the
= "strange woman" literally "a woman belonging to another").
Do not desire her beauty in your heart (not just in your eyes but in
your heart, cp Jesus' warning in Matthew 5:27, 28, 29 - see
translation = "do not
let your strong desire or lust [epithumia]
for her beauty overcome [nikao] or conquer you"), nor let her catch
(Hebrew = laqah = lay hold of, seize, snatch.
= sunarpazo from
= with speaks of an intimate association + harpazo = seize -
means to seize suddenly and violently! Note the
= be seized by a force from without! Sunarpazo was used in Acts 27:15
of a ship caught in a storm and being swept off course by a
tempestuous wind ~ think of an the effects of an adulteress!) you with
her eyelids (cp Job's solution for this danger = Job 31:1)
= "the value of a harlot"; ESV "the price of a prostitute is only a
loaf of bread") For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a
loaf of bread (reduced to poverty ~ crust of bread), and an
adulteress (Hebrew = a man's wife = a married woman) hunts
(Lxx = agreuo = is a term used for hunting or fishing and conveys idea
of catching one unaware and taking advantage of the man in an
unguarded moment! Guard your heart continually. Pr 4:23) for the
precious life (cp the trap David fell into because he did
not make a covenant with his eyes and was trapped in this unguarded
moment! see 2Sa 11:2) 27
Can a man take fire in his bosom (see Job's comment - Job
31:12), and his clothes not be burned?
Or can a man walk on hot coals, and his feet not be scorched?
So is the one who goes in to his neighbor's wife. Whoever touches
(Lxx = hapto means to fasten or cling to, to make close contact,
to kindle or set on fire! What a vivid picture of the powerful effect
of touch! You can't look and likewise you better not touch! In Greek
the idiom "touch a woman" actually means to have intercourse with her.
See hapto in Ge 20:6) her will not go unpunished.
Men do not despise a thief if he steals To satisfy himself when he is
But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold; He must give all the
substance of his house.
32 The one who commits
adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself
does it (Lxx = "procures destruction to his soul"!).
Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted
For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of
He will not accept any ransom, nor will he be content though you give
many gifts. (Proverbs 6:20-35)
The delicacy of Paul
makes him refrain from plainer terms and the context makes it clear
enough as in 2Cor 7:11.
Note Greek uses definite article so it is "the specific matter of
business" which in context is illicit sexual activity.
immorality defrauds more than just one party for it is a sin against God’s Holy Spirit (1Co 6:19), a sin
against one’s own body (1Cor 6:18) and is also a sin against other
persons. Joseph recognized this principle when tempted by Potiphar's
wife declaring to her
There is no one greater in this
house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because
you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against
God?" (Ge 39:9)
Barnes comments that the
to the reading in the margin, this
would refer to the particular matter under discussion 1Th 4:3-5 to
wit, concupiscence (strong desire, especially sexual desire), and the
meaning then would be, that no one should be guilty of illicit
intercourse with the wife of another (Ed comment: assuming "vessel in
verse 4 referred only to one's wife). --as Hammond, Whitby, Macknight,
Rosenmuller, suppose that this is a prohibition of adultery, and there
can be no doubt that it does include this. But there is no reason why
it should be confined to it. The Greek is so general that it may
prohibit all kinds of fraud, overreaching, or covetousness, and may
refer to any attempts to deprive another of his rights, whether it be
the right which he has in his property, or his rights as a husband, or
his rights in any other respect. It is a general command not to
defraud; in way to take advantage of another; in no way to deprive him
of his rights (Ed comment: but the context speaks especially of
defrauding in the area of sexual activity of any kind outside of
marriage). (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
In the previous two verses Paul’s appeal was based on the importance
of sexual purity for the sake of the Christian himself. In this verse
Paul appealed on the basis of the other person involved in the immoral
act. The brother as noted earlier could refer to any other human, not necessarily
a Christian. Sexual immorality wrongs the
partner in the forbidden act by involving him or her in behavior
contrary to God’s will and therefore under His judgment. Two or more
people practicing sex out of God’s will are calling God’s wrath down
on themselves (Heb 13:4). The initiator of the act takes advantage of
his partner in sin by fanning the fire of passion till self-control is
Sexual sin disregards God, ignoring
His holiness, spurning His will, defying His commands, rejecting His
love, flaunting His grace and mercy and in short is disobedient and
selfish. And as Hiebert notes
Any illegitimate sexual
relationship has in it the potential for social complications that
cannot be calculated in advance.
BECAUSE THE LORD IS THE AVENGER IN ALL THESE THINGS: dioti ekdikos o kurios peri panton touton kathos:
(Deuteronomy 32:35; Job 31:13,14; Psalms 94:1; 140:12; Proverbs
22:22,23; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Isaiah 1:23,24; Romans 1:18; 12:19;
Ephesians 5:6; 2Thessalonians 1:8)
(dioti from diá = for + hóti = that) means on account of
this or that, for this reason, that, simply because, for. Here Paul
passes from the behavior called for in order to be sexually pure to
the reason or motives for striving to be sexually pure.
Given the loose morals and sexual
laxity throughout the ancient world in the first century, the readers
might have been wondering "Why is this so important? After all,
everybody's behaving this way, so why shouldn't we?" This sounds very
modern doesn't it? -- Situation ethics. Relative values. Well, Paul
anticipates such a question and proceeds to give 4
reasons we should strive to cultivate sexual purity:
Lord is the Avenger - God satisfies justice by inflicting the due
punishment upon the wrongdoer. This reason appeals to the fear of the
consequences of disobedience.
(2) God has not called us to impurity
(3) God has called us in sanctification (holiness)
we reject this warning we are rejecting God!
Avenger (1558) (ekdikos from
ek = from, out + díke = justice) literally
refers to one outside of that which is lawful. One who carries out
what is right. It refers to one who
exacts a penalty from a person, an avenger, a punisher. The ekdikos
one who exacts satisfaction for a wrong by punishing the wrongdoer
or by inflicting punishment in retaliation for an injury or offense.
In secular Greek ekdikos was used for the office of an official legal
The only other Biblical use of
ekdikos is in Romans...
for it (authority) is a minister of
God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it
does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an
avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. (see
In this section Paul shoots his rifle over their heads
as if to say, brothers I'm not kidding, this is serious business.
Marshall notes that...
It is not popular with some people
who argue that if God commands Christians to return good for evil and
love to their enemies, he himself ought to follow the same principles.
The difficulty is probably that in contemporary English the words
`avenge' and 'vengeance' have taken on the sense of acting out of
personal vindictiveness, whereas in the Bible the thought is rather
that God takes the side of the victims of crime and wickedness and
secures justice for them, and that he acts as the upholder of the
moral order against those who think that they can break it with
impunity. (I. Howard Marshall. 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The New Century
Hiebert observes that in
appealing to God as avenger Paul is bringing to mind the consequences
which should stimulate a godly fear, whereas he
might have appealed to the bitter
physical, psychological, and social consequences of immorality. His
emphasis rather is eschatological, the coming judgment day. A just God
and a coming day of judgment are factors that cannot be left out of
consideration when dealing with moral practices.
The Lord is the Avenger as Paul
wrote in Romans...
Never take your own revenge,
beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written,
"VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. (see note
The writer of Hebrews says...
Let marriage be held in honor among
all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and
adulterers God will judge. (see note
Jehovah says in Deuteronomy
that taking vengeance is a prerogative that He retains for Himself
'Vengeance is Mine, and
retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their
calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.' (Deuteronomy
"If I have despised the claim of my
male or female slaves When they filed a complaint against me, What
then could I do when God arises, And when He calls me to account, what
will I answer Him? (Job 31:13,14)
David understood that the
Lord is the Avenger...
I know that the LORD will maintain
the cause of the afflicted, And justice for the poor. (Comment:
David's sin of sexual
immorality (adultery cp Lev 18:20, Deut 22:22, Pr 6:32, 1Cor 6:9,
with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah reaped the vengeance of the Jehovah
(cp Lev 20:10, 24:17). Meditate on the wages of sin in David's life in
2Samuel 12, especially the following passages...
'Why have you despised the word of
the LORD (cp Nu 15:31) by doing evil in His sight (cp 1Sa 15:19)? You
have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword (2Sa 11:15,17), have
taken his wife to be your wife (2Sa 11:27), and have killed him with
the sword of the sons of Ammon.
10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house,
because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the
Hittite to be your wife.'
11 "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from
your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and
give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad
12 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all
Israel, and under the sun. (see retribution wrought by Absalom 2Sa
13 Then David said to Nathan , "I have sinned against the LORD." (cp
1Sa 15:24, 2Sa 24:10, Ps 32:5, 51:4) And Nathan said to David, "The
LORD also has taken away your sin (Ps 32:1, 103:9, 12, Is 38:17,
43:25, Micah 7:18, 19, Zech 3:4); you shall not die. (2Samuel
Keathley notes that ...
Sexual sin will not go unpunished.
It has its immediate consequences in the personal discipline of God on
the believer who transgresses and on a society which ignores the laws
of God. The tremendous effect of this can be seen on the home and in
the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases so prevalent in our
world today. But there is also the future aspect of loss of rewards
(see 2Cor 5:9-10) for those believers who ignore God’s truth. (1Thessalonians 4:1-12)
John Piper spares no words
that the consequences of lust are
going to be worse than the consequences of nuclear war. All that
nuclear war can do is kill the body. And Jesus said, "Do not fear
those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will warn you whom to fear. Fear him who after he has killed has
power to cast into hell" (Luke 12:4, 5). In other word's God's
vengeance is much more fearful than earthly annihilation. And
according to 1 Thessalonians 4:6 God's vengeance is coming upon those
who disregard the warning against lust.
(He adds) So I have learned again
and again from first hand experience that there are many professing
Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real
life, and that nullifies the warnings of the Bible and puts the
sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of
Biblical threats. And this doctrine is comforting thousands on the way
Jesus said, if you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven.
The stakes are much higher than whether the world is blown up by a
thousand bombs. If you don't fight lust, your won't go to heaven (see
1 Peter 2:11-note,
Colossians 3:6-note; Gal. 5:21-note; 1Cor. 6:10;Hebrews
Are we not then saved by faith—by believing in Jesus Christ? We are
indeed! Those who persevere in Faith shall be saved (Matthew 24:13;
10:22; 1Cor. 15:3; Col. 1:23-note; 2Thess. 2:13). How do you lay hold on
eternal life? Paul gives the answer in 1 Ti 6:12—"Fight the good
fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life."
That leads us to our main concern
this morning—to show that the fight against lust is a battle against
unbelief. And the fight for sexual purity is the fight of faith.
The great error that I am trying to explode in these messages is the
error that says, faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness
is another thing. Faith gets you to heaven and holiness gets you
rewards. You get your justification by faith, and you get your
sanctification by works. You start the Christian life in the power of
the Spirit, you press on in the efforts of the flesh. This is the
great evangelical error of our day. The battle for obedience is
optional, they say, because only faith is necessary for salvation.
Our response: the battle for obedience is absolutely necessary for
salvation because it IS the fight of faith. The battle against lust is
absolutely necessary for salvation because it is the battle against
unbelief. Faith alone delivers from hell and the faith that delivers
from hell delivers from lust.
I hope you can see that this is a greater gospel than the other one.
It's the gospel of God's victory over sin, not just his tolerance of
sin. It is the gospel of Romans 6:14 (note)
"Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but
under grace." Almighty grace! Sovereign grace!
He breaks the power of cancelled
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for
they shall see God (see Mt 5:8-note). This is God's demand and this is God's gift. It is
all of grace. That's why the only fight we fight is the fight of
faith—the fight to rest so fully in the grace of God—to be so
satisfied with the glory of God—that temptation to sin loses its power
over us. (1Thessalonians 4:1-8: Battling Unbelief
Though these offenses are not generally punished in criminal courts
today, the Lord is the Avenger of all such ultimately dealing out just
recompense for such sins (cf. see Col 3:4; 3:5; 3:6; 3:7 notes
Regular term in the papyri for legal avenger. Modern men and women
need to remember that God is the avenger for sexual wrongs both in
this life and the next.
God is no respecter of persons. He must deal with His children when
they sin (Col 3:23; 24; 25 see notes
Col 3:23; 24; 25). A church member
criticized her pastor because he was preaching against sin in the
lives of Christians.
“After all,” she said, “sin in the
life of a believer is different from sin in the lives of unsaved
“Yes,” replied the pastor, “it is worse.”
How will God avenge sexual sin?
It could be in an unfulfilling sexual life and marriage. It could be
by bringing about a
miserable marriage or even allowing a divorce. It could be in temporal
chastening or discipline, through a sexually transmitted disease
(STD). He could avenge by bringing about negative circumstances, an absence of blessing,
a plethora of trials and trouble or even death. Sexual sin could and
most likely will result in the loss of eternal rewards in some
measure. This section of Scripture is a solemn warning indeed, given
the torrid temptations in our sex sickened society and the prevalence
of illicit sexual activity in the evangelical community!
While it is true that the Christian
is not under condemnation (note
Romans 8:1), it is also true that he is not free from the harvest of sorrow
that comes when we sow to the flesh as Paul made clear to the
believers in Galatia writing...
Do not be deceived
imperative - stop
being deceived), God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he
will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the
flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from
the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
When King David
committed adultery, he tried to cover his sin, but God chastened him
severely. Read Psalm 32:1, 2ff and Psalm 51:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
10, 11, 12, 13, 14 to see what he lost during the
time of chastening. When
David confessed his sins, God forgave him; but God did not change
the consequences. David reaped what he had sown, and it was a painful
experience for him and his family.
JUST AS WE ALSO TOLD YOU BEFORE AND SOLEMNLY WARNED YOU: kai proeipamen (1PAAI) humin kai diemarturametha (1PAMI): (Luke
12:5; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 4:17)
Told you before (4277) (proepo from
pró = before + épo = tell) in reference
to past (as in this verse) it means to have said before or to have already declared. In reference to
future it means to say beforehand, foretell, predict. Paul had not
just told them how to be saved but how to live once they were saved,
which is the essence of the great commission, where Jesus declared...
And Jesus came up and spoke to
them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on
earth. Go therefore and
make disciples (aorist
imperative = Do
this now! Don't delay!) of all the nations, baptizing (present
tense) them in
the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching (present
tense) them to
= to continually keeping their eye on His commandment so as to
watch or guard oneself that he or she fulfill them) all that I
commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the
age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
That God would judge the sin of
sexual immorality in believers was a truth that Paul had taught in his
first visit to Thessalonica.
Paul knowing that the temptation to
sexual sin was so strong warned the Gentile believers in Ephesus of
the judgment that would befall those who lived a lifestyle of lust and
But do not let immorality (porneia)
or any impurity (akatharsia)
or greed (pleonexia)
even be named
imperative with a
negative = stop an action already in progress) among you, as is proper
among saints (hagios
= holy ones! set apart ones!) and there must be no filthiness and
silly talk (contrast Spirit filled or controlled speech - see
, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of
thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or
impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance
in the kingdom of Christ and God (parallel passages 1Cor 6:9, Gal
5:21. Cp 1Ti 1:9, Hebrews 12:14
Let no one deceive
imperative with a
negative = stop an action already in progress) with empty words, for
because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of
disobedience (unbelievers = see Ephesians 2:2-note
contrast believers 1 Peter
Therefore do not be partakers with them (see Eph 5:3; 5:4; 5:5;
Solemnly warned (1263)(diamarturomai
diá = intensifies meaning conveying idea of "thoroughly" + martúromai
= witness, bear witness) means to bear witness, testify earnestly or
repeatedly, to charge as it if before witnesses, to exhort earnestly
and with authority in matters of extraordinary importance (here the
serious nature of the warning proclaimed). It carries the idea of
Diamarturomai as a
stronger form of marturomai was a warning intended to penetrate
the conscience of the readers...
piercing as far as the division of
soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the
thoughts and intentions of the heart. (see note
Calvin was probably correct
when he remarked that...
Men's dullness is such that unless
they are struck forcefully they have no sense of the divine judgment.
Paul used diamarturomai
in his parting words to the Ephesian elders declaring...
I do not consider my life of any
account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and
the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify
solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24) (Comment:
The gospel of the grace of God tells of the new power to abstain from
sexual temptation and possess our bodies in holiness and honor.)
Vine comments that...
Before he dismisses the subject the
apostle reminds his readers that the God who loved them and called
them in grace, is nonetheless the God of recompenses, who will surely
requite every defection from His laws, Jeremiah 51:56, as well as
reward all faithful obedience to them, for not the heathen but the
Christian is in view throughout the passage. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
John Piper has an interesting interpretation of this warning:
not speaking here of a fatherly swat on the behind. He is saying that
if these professing Christians continue to act as those who do not
know God or love the brothers, the Lord will condemn them along with
the unbelievers. The parallel with 2Th 1:8 is clear. There Paul says
that the Lord is going to come with his angels in flaming fire
"inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and do not obey
the gospel of our Lord Jesus." Paul repeatedly warns professing
Christians that if they live according to the flesh they will be
condemned. (Ed comment: transgress & defraud are both present tense
signifying a habitual action which adds some support to Piper's
interpretation) The reason I say "repeatedly" is not only because you
can read it again and again in his letters, because he says right here
in verse 6 that he has warned them like this before. He repeatedly
warns the same church of God's vengeance. (1Thessalonians