A BIBLICAL STUDY OF THE WORD "CHASTE"
"&ldots;teach the young women&ldots;to be discreet, chaste&ldots;"
The Holy Word of God instructs the older women to teach the young women a number of things. As the Lord wills, this is one of a series of lessons covering the eight virtues listed in Titus, chapter 2, which the Lord instructs that young women are to be taught.
This particular discussion is a study of the word "chaste", which is listed in the passage. This word is often misunderstood, as are many words are in our King James Bible. But praise God, the scriptures always explain themselves and the student of the scriptures can find the meaning to any given word within the scriptures themselves, in our Authorized 1611 King James Version of the Bible.
God has told us, the "aged women", to teach the young women to be chaste. He, therefore, would not leave us in the dark as to what the word means. Through my study of this word, I have felt the need to try to convey the importance of "chasteness" in our godless society, in which most people today seek to please themselves, rather than our precious Lord and Saviour. Notice that these are some of the signs of the last days, in the following passage from II Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:1-5:
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
We see in the passage that we should seek to please God rather than ourselves. This is why I think a study of this word is very relevant for todays world.
We can see that God has listed "chaste" as one of the most important virtues to teach the younger women. Evidently God has placed a high priority on "chasteness", and so why do we rarely hear it discussed? Why is the concept so foreign in our society? I hope and pray this study will be an eye opener for many women, who are seeking to serve their Lord and Saviour.
While this study is by no means complete, I have chosen to give a lot of detail of the study of the word itself, rather than simply my own thoughts on the matter. Hopefully the Bible student will thus use this as a guide to pursue her own study.
A. The Word, "Chaste"
In the scriptures, there are only three verses that have the word, "chaste" in them. However, there is much in Gods Holy Word that supports the meanings of this word. These are the three verses:
"To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:5
"I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:2
"While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." 1 Pet. 3:2
We find the American Heritage Dictionary gives the following meanings to the word:
chaste (ch³st) adj. chast·er, chast·est. 1. Morally pure in thought or conduct; decent and modest. 2.a. Not having experienced sexual intercourse; virginal. b. Abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse. c. Abstaining from sexual intercourse; celibate. --chaste"ly adv. --chaste"ness n.
These dictionary meanings do support the meanings given to the Word in the Scriptures. The first mention in the scriptures, of the word, "chaste", is found in the above copied verse, II Corinthians 11:2. It is easy to see in the verse that chaste has to do with "virginal" qualities. A virgin can be defined therefore, as, "chaste, pure, and clean from defilement". These synonyms are supported in the scriptures, as we will see later in this study.
In the American Heritage Thesaurus we find the following synonyms for "chaste". I have given verses for study to accompany half of the list:
1 Pure and unsullied. (adj.):
pure notice: Phil. 4:8, II Tim. 4:12, I Tim. 5:22, I John 3:3, I Tim. 5:1-2
undefiled notice: Psalms 119:1
clear notice: II Cor. 7:11
modest notice I Timothy 2:9
virtuous notice: Proverbs 31: 10, Ruth 3:11, Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:29
unclean (antonym) notice: I Thessalonians 4:1-7, (verse 7 - "uncleanness")
simple notice Romans 16:19: "For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil". (May we thus say, "&ldots;chaste, or pure, concerning evil"? I believe so.)
These words are also synonyms taken from the same Thesaurus:
clean maidenly uncorrupted unspoiled untainted immaculate incorrupt decent celibate good innocent incorrupt sinless vestal virgin virginal uncontaminated filthy (antonym)
2. (adj.) Not having experienced sexual intercourse:
virginal celibate maidenly pure undefiled virgin
B. "Modest", a Synonym
Because one of the synonyms of "chaste" is "modest", I Timothy 2:9-10 will be included as an important verse in this study.
The verse in I Timothy speaks of modest dress:
1 Timothy 2:9-10:
9. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10. "But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
We find in Websters Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary, 1926, the following for the word, "modest". (Modern dictionaries have changed the meaning of the word.)
mod·est adj. 1. Restrained by a sense of propriety; not forward or bold; not presumptuous or arrogant; not boastful; unobtrusive; in a somewhat stronger sense, retiring; bashful; diffident; as, the youth is too modest to sound his own praises. 2. Free from anything suggestive of sexual impurity; free from indecency; showing such reserve or decorum as is associated with a chaste mind. 3. Moderate; not excessive or extreme; not extravagant; as, a modest computation. Syn. - Reserved, unobtrusive, diffident, bashful, coy, shy, decent, becoming, chaste, virtuous. --mod"est·ly adv.
To further explain the passage in I Timothy 2: 9, we see that women are told to dress with "shamefacedness". Upon looking in the dictionary again, the following meaning was given for this word:
shame·faced adj. 1. Indicative of shame; ashamed. 2. Extremely modest or shy; bashful. --shame"fac"ed·ly adv. --shame"fac"ed·ness n.
Putting this together, it appears that shamefacedness means being ashamed to be anything but pure, chaste, and modest, or embarrassed to be otherwise. Notice the synonyms given in the dictionary for "shamefaced":
discomposed discomfited embarrassed humiliated mortified red-faced ashamed shamefaced
We should thus be able to say that shamefaced also means to be humiliated to be anything other than pure, chaste and modest; possibly even mortified to be anything else!
Dear young women, I remember a day when all young women were truly "mortified" to be anything other than pure, and chaste, and modestly dressed. The fifties were not the way they are usually pictured on your television set. Women and girls not only dressed modestly, or chastely, but also acted in very chaste and modest ways. I was a very young girl during the fifties, but I remember even during the sixties, that only the "far-out" and "hippy" type dressed in ways that are inappropriate for a Christian. Today it is the norm. In fact, it is so bad, that the schools are beginning to implement dress codes for their students. It is too bad that the public school system has to dictate moral behavior, when it should come first from the parents.
C. "Hagnos", the Word in the Original Greek
To further study the word, "chaste", it is interesting to note from VINES EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY that the same word that has been translated "chaste" in the three verses in our King James Bible, has also been translated in other verses, as "pure", "holy", and "clear".
The word "chaste" in the Greek is "hagnos". To quote Vines:
hagnos ^53^ signifies (a) "pure from every fault, immaculate," (b) "pure from carnality, modest," &ldots;
"Hagnos" is translated "clear" in 2 Corinthians 7:11; "pure" in Philippians 4:8, 1 Timothy 5:22, James 3:17, and 1 John 3:3; and "chaste" in 1 Peter 3:2, 2 Cor. 11:2, and Titus 2:5.
Also note this excerpt from Vines:
Compare hagnos, with hagios, "holy, as being free from admixture of evil"; hosios, "holy, as being free from defilement"; eilikrines, "pure, as being tested," lit., "judged by the sunlight", katharos, "pure, as being cleansed."
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
D. "Pure", another Synonym for the Word, "Chaste"
Because the Lord Himself has used "pure" as a synonym for "chaste", we will look at what the American Heritage Dictionary has to say about this word, as well as some verses in which it is used.
pure (pyr) adj. pur·er, pur·est. 1. Having a homogeneous or uniform composition; not mixed. 2. Free from adulterants or impurities. 3. Free of dirt, defilement, or pollution. 4. Free of foreign elements. 5. Containing nothing inappropriate or extraneous. 6. Complete; utter. 7. Having no faults; sinless. 8. Chaste; virgin. 9. Of unmixed blood or ancestry. 10. Genetics. Produced by self-fertilization or continual inbreeding; homozygous. 11. Music. Free from discordant qualities. 12. Linguistics. Articulated with a single unchanging speech sound; monophthongal. 13. Theoretical. 14. Philosophy. Free of empirical elements. --pure"ly adv. --pure"ness n.
For the purposes of this study, take note especially of the meanings, numbers 7 and 8: "7. Having no faults; sinless. 8. Chaste; virgin.
This is evidently some of the meaning the Lord intended in the following verses:
"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." 1 Timothy 5:22
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
"Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; "The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity." 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Note in the following verse, that there are two ways of being pure. While the verse speaks of Israel in the future, there is still much to be learned from its content. One of the ways of being pure is spiritual; i.e., we have been made pure spiritually. God has applied the righteousness of Christ to our account, so that, spiritually, we are as if we have never sinned. The other is practically. We are to live out in our lives a picture of what we are inside. Thus we are to seek to live a "pure" life.
"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." I John 3:3
E. "Virtue" and "Virtuous", More Synonyms
As we look at the last synonyms of the word, "chaste" that have been chosen for this study, we find the following meanings for the words, "virtue", and "virtuous" in the American Heritage Dictionary:
vir·tue n. 1.a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness. b. An example or kind of moral excellence. 2. Chastity, especially in a girl or woman. 3. A particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial quality; advantage&ldots; etc.
vir·tu·ous adj. 1. Having or showing virtue, especially moral excellence. 2. Possessing or characterized by chastity; pure. --vir"tu·ous·ly adv. --vir"tu·ous·ness n.
For me, the dictionary meanings of these two words shed much light on this study. "Moral excellence", "chastity", and "purity" are emphasized again and again.
The Bible has much to say about these two words, "virtue" and "virtuous". For most Bible believing women, the first verse to come to mind is Proverbs 31:10, where the Lord says:
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31:10
This virtuous woman who is so rare is priceless. No amount of money can buy her for her price is so far above the most precious jewels. God, himself, puts this high price on such a woman.
Another verse that we should include in our study is found in the book of Ruth. Boaz speaks highly of Ruth and says to her:
"And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman." Ruth 3:11
My point in using this verse is to stress the important point, that the whole city knew that Ruth was a virtuous woman. So, we can conclude that "virtuous", and "chaste", and "modest" are something that others will notice about us. Ladies, does your whole world notice that you are virtuous, chaste, and modest? Do your children, your neighbors, friends, and even mere observers, notice this about you? We must realize, therefore, that the physical impression we give to others is very important. We must always make sure that we dress in a virtuous way, talk only in virtuous ways, live a virtuous life, and in every way give the impression of being a virtuous woman.
The Bible also states that the virtuous woman is a "crown" to her husband. We must all ask ourselves, "Do we cause our husbands to be glorified, to be "crowned" in the eyes of others?" This virtuous woman does.
"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones." Proverbs 12:4
Notice the word, "ashamed" as showing what a woman who is not virtuous produces in her husband. (Or in the other men in her life!) Can we see the connection with the word, "shamefaced" of I Timothy 2:9? I believe we can.
Ladies with all of this study in view, should we strive for anything else, but to be like the priceless woman of Proverbs 31, that God so highly favors? This should include the way we dress, the things we say, the way we live, the things we honor and the things we abhor.
"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Romans 12:9
In fact, the passage in I Peter 3 shows that the way we conduct our whole lives should be "chaste". The verse says,
1 Peter 3:1-6:
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6. Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
The rest of the chapter shows more of what this "chaste conversation" is, concluding with,
1 Peter 3:16-17:
16. Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
F. "Chaste" Must Be Taught
This principle must be taught to our daughters also, else we will lose the next generation to the godlessness of the world. Every Christian mothers duty is to teach "chasteness" to her daughters, and also to require of them a life that exemplifies this virtue. Mothers should start early to teach the principles of "chasteness" and later, hopefully following with a word study from the scriptures when the child is ready.
Daughters should be taught to be the kind of woman that a godly man would want to marry.
Sons must also be taught what to honor and what not to honor in women. They should also be taught what kind of woman is pleasing to the Lord, and therefore which woman they should seek as a future lifelong companion.
Perhaps as they grow and are able to understand, and mature enough to handle it, a mother should teach her sons the word, "chaste", and its meaning.
"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
G. "Chaste" Begins in the Mind
Again, noticing in Philippians 4:8, we are told to only think on things that are pure and virtuous.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Phil 4:8
For a woman to be a truly virtuous woman, it must first begin in her mind. We must all have our minds renewed by the Word of God, and "put on" the mind of Christ, to be like this woman. This begins with study and prayer. The Word of God fills our minds with the will of God, and without it we can never know His will for our lives.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" Philippians 2:5
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" Colossians 3:10
We should also be careful of what goes into our minds, because, what goes in eventually comes out! This includes the television shows we view, also music, movies, etc.
In conclusion, I pray that we all keep the word, "chaste" in our minds and hearts and seek to live holy lives, lives that are pleasing to our wonderful Saviour and Lord.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Romans 12:1
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31:10
Sincerely with prayer,