(1) as not in keeping with bodily self-respect, which is the safeguard of Christian purity; and
(2) as not in reality directed against sensual indulgence, the prevention of which is the proper end of rules of abstinence. These two objections are thrown into a single terse, energetic negative clause, obscure, like so much in this chapter, from its brevity and want of connecting particles. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 the phrase, "in honour," occurs in a similar connection: "That each one of you know how to 'gain possession of his own vessel" (i.e. "to become master of his body:" see Wordsworth and Alford on the passage; also Meyer's reference on Romans 1:24) "in sanctification and honor" (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 for the apostle's teaching respecting the dignity of the human body; also Philippians 3:19-21). The contempt of Alexandrine theosophists for physical nature was fatal to morality, undermining the basis on which rests the government of the body as the "vessel" and vesture of the spiritual life. Their principles took effect, first, in a morbid and unnatural asceticism; then, by a sure reaction, and with equal consistency, in unrestrained and shocking licence. See, for the latter result, the Epistles to the seven Churches of Asia (Romans 2. and 3.); in the Pastoral Epistles, the two opposite effects are both signalized. The rendering "value" given by Lightfoot and the Revisers seems to us misleading; τιμὴ means "value" only in the sense of "price," as in 1 Corinthians 6:20, and this surely is not their meaning. Πλησμονὴ has been taken in a milder sense by the Greek commentators, Luther, and others: "satisfaction" "(legitimate) gratification." So the apostle is made to charge the false teachers with "not honouring the body, so as to grant the flesh its due gratification." But this rendering confounds the "body" and the "flesh," here contrasted, and gives πλησμονὴ a meaning without lexical warrant (see Meyer and Lightfoot). And the sentiment it expresses errs on the anti-ascetic side, and comes into collision with Romans 13:14 and Galatians 5:16. Πλησμονή, in the LXX and in Philo, as in earlier Greek, denotes "physical repletion," and is associated with drunkenness and sensual excess generally. Hence we cannot admit the interpretation of Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, who make the "flesh" here the sinful principle generally, and understand "surfeiting" figuratively, supposing the apostle to mean, that the ascetic rules in question, while they dishonour the body, tend to gratify the carnal mind." This gives an idea true in itself, and agreeing with the sense of "flesh" in vers. 11, 18, but out of place here, while it strains the meaning of πλησμονή (see Lightfoot's exhaustive argument). The preposition πρὸς does not help us, meaning "for" or "against," according to its connection. We combine Lightfoot's interpretation of πρὸς πλησμονὴν τῆς σαρκὸς with Wordsworth's and Alford's of οὐκ ἐν τιμῇ τινί. The saying of Philippians 3:19 ("whose god is their belly, and their glory in their shame") contains the same opposition of "honour" to "fleshly indulgence" as that supposed here, possibly suggested by the phrase, "surfeiting of dishonor" (πλησμονὴ ἀτιμίας), of the LXX in Habakkuk 2:16. Here, then, the apostle lays hold of the root principle of the false teachers' whole scheme of morality, its hostility to the body as a material organism. Such a treatment, he declares, dishonours the body, while it fails, and for this very reason, to prevent that feeding of the flesh, the fostering of sensual appetency and habit, in which lies our real peril and dishonour in regard to this vessel of our earthly life. Here we have a suitable starting-point for the exhortations of the next chapter, where the apostle, in vers. 1-4, shows the true path of deliverance from sensual sin, and in vers. 5-7 sets forth the Christian asceticism - "unsparing treatment" of the flesh indeed! The line of teaching adopted by the errorists may be illustrated by Philo's doctrine in his third book of the 'Allegories of the Sacred Law,' § 22: "'God saw that Er was wicked;' for he knows that this leathern burden of ours, the body - for Er, being interpreted, is leathern - is evil and always plotting against the soul; and it is ever under the power of death, indeed actually dead [comp. Romans 8:10]. Yet this all do not see, but only God, and those he loves. For when the mind [νοῦς comp. note, ver. 18] becomes engaged in sublime contemplations and is initiated into the mysteries of the Lord [note, Colossians 1:26], it judges the body to be evil and hostile;" again ('On the Change of Names,' § 4): "Pale and wasted, and reduced to skeletons as it were, are the men devoted to instruction, having transferred to the powers of the soul their bodily vigour also, so that they have become, as we might say, dissolved into a single form of being, that of pure soul made bodiless by force of thought [διανοία: see Colossians 1:21, note]. In them the earthly is destroyed and overwhelmed, when reason [νοῦς: ver. 18], pervading them wholly, has see its choice on being well pleasing to God." The writer has attempted an elucidation of this verse in the Expositor, first series, vol. 12. pp. 289-303.