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1 Thessalonians 4:4

ESV that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
NIV that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
NASB that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
CSB that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
NLT Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor —
KJV That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

What does 1 Thessalonians 4:4 mean?

In this passage, Paul is reminding the Thessalonian Christians about the importance of holiness. The prior verse specifically mentioned maintaining sexual purity. In the Hellenistic (Greek) culture, this was no small task (1 Thessalonians 4:5). Here, Paul continues that theme by summoning his readers to practice self-discipline.

Controlling one's body is an important way to deny inappropriate sexual passions, and to honor God. It is a discipline that properly regards the body as dedicated to God as an honorable part of one's being. In Romans 12:1 Paul underscores the importance of offering one's body to God "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God."

In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul even says "but I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." He did not mean by "disqualified" that he would lose his salvation. He meant being disqualified from receiving a reward in heaven, just as a runner who failed to abide by the rules would be disqualified from receiving a prize at the end of the race. As an aspiring athlete practices self-discipline to prepare his body for competition, believers need to practice self-discipline to finish the Christian race well (Hebrews 12:2).
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