Most of us who are serious about Bible study know that reading from more that one translation is a good thing, especially if we’re going to be teaching or preaching. Today’s reading is an excellent example of why this is a good idea.
The translation we’re using this week is the Good News Translation. Chapter 4, verses 4 and 5 in the GNT reads like this: “Each of you should know how to live with your wife in a holy and honorable way, 5not with a lustful desire, like the heathen who do not know God.”
As I read that, it seemed just a little “off” to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with living “with your wife in a holy and honorable way”, but tying this thought with “not with a lustful desire, like the heathen” just didn’t sit right with me, because sexual desire between a husband and wife is a gift from God. I decided that I should look at how other translations rendered this passage.
Here are some examples of verse 4:
The English Standard Version says: that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
The NIV says: that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
And for good measure, the KJV says: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
So the ESV and the NIV agree on the translation the “body”. But as you heard, the KJV said “possess his vessel”. None of the three referred to the “wife”.
So I read this verse in several other translations: the NASB, Young’s Literal Translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, New Living Translation. All of them agreed on the “body”.
The God’s Word translation, and Contemporary English Version used “wife” in one way or another.
So what to do? How should this verse be properly translated? We need to go to the original language. Thankfully, we don’t need to take a complete course in Greek, which is the language used in the New Testament. The first thing I do is consult what is called an Interlinear New Testament.
An interlinear NT has the complete text of the NT, with the greek words appearing either directly above or below the english words, so you can see which exact greek word is used. That’s the first step.
The next step, if you don’t know greek, is to use either a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or Young’s Analytical Concordance. Today, I used Young’s. Both Young’s and Strong’s use the KJV, so I looked up the word “vessel”.
I found that there are two greek words used in the NT that are translated into the english word “vessel”. One of them is used only twice, in the book of Matthew. In this case, the word means “vessel, or utensil”. The other greek word is used eighteen times and it means “vessel, utensil or instrument”, and this is the word in our reading today.
In my opinion, the thought that Paul wanted to convey to us is this: our bodies are the vessel or instrument that contains our souls, and we should not allow our vessels to be controlled by lust, as those who do not know God do.
There is no mention of husbands or wives in the original language, and I therefor do not think that it should be included in the text of the verse. Now, in the defense of the so called translations that do include it, the argument can be made that Paul implied the thought of husbands and or wives, because sexual desire is only proper in the context of marriage. Since he was teaching against what the KJV refers to as fornication, or what we would today call sexual immorality, he would be saying that sexual desire should only be for your husband or your wife.
If you don’t have an interlinear Bible and a Strong’s or Young’s, I highly recommend you add them to your library. I’ll have Amazon links on the show notes page at 303.lifespringmedia.com. These are affiliate links, so if you use them, you’ll be helping to support the show. I’ll also have a link there where you can buy a Kindle copy of *my* book “Webb’s Easy Bible Names Pronunciation Guide”. You’ll never mispronounce a Bible name again when you have this in your library. And since you’re listening to this podcast, you are about to hear something that I have never publicly announced anywhere.
My friend, Brad Rhodes, whom I have interviewed before on the Lifespring! show, is creating an Android app for the book, so you’ll be able to hear the pronunciation of the names as well as see the pronunciations. It’s almost ready, so be listening for the announcement. If you want to be sure you don’t miss the announcement, be sure you sign up on the email list over at easybiblenamesguide.com. I’ll send an announcement to that list when the app is ready. And as a bonus, when you sign up for the list, you’ll be able to download the entire first chapter, every name that begins with the letter “A”. Such a deal, right?
Amazon Links Mentioned in the Show