Early Christianity_Reading an Apostolic Letter_Acts 15

Self-Control in Scripture

Of course, it is God himself, who exercises absolute self-control. He has Isaiah the prophet writes, “Jehovah will go forth like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant.” (Isa. 42:13-14) Jehovah had been long-suffering toward his people, the Israelites for 900 years, exercising great self-control, as they were faithful, unfaithful, faithful, and unfaithful century after century. During the dozens of unfaith periods, they worshiped false gods, carried on in disgusting sexual misconduct, and sacrificed their own children to false gods, and so on. Jehovah does not allow his undeserved kindness to be abused forever, so he used the Babylonian kingdom to conquer Judah and Jerusalem, taking the Israelites captive. The Babylonians abused the Israelites in excess, and their time was running out as well. Seventy years after the destruction of Jerusalem, Jehovah used the Medo-Persian Empire to conquer Babylon, and free his people, to return to Israel. Yes, think of a parent that punishes her child, as it is loving self-control if she does not give in early. Why? Because he needs to learn the lesson, which could not be fully realized until an adequate time has passed. Jehovah is all-wise, loving, and patient, as he has allowed pain and suffering to continue to ones that he loves dearly for thousands of years.[1]

Then, Scripture gives us Jesus Christ, who as a human, was not like Adam and Eve, as he never had a moment where he lacked self-control. He never lost control of his mental powers, or his ability to reason perfectly, or his emotions, and never did he speak or act impulsively, recklessly, or thoughtlessly. The apostle Peter thirty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, said, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Pet. 2:23) Yes, Jesus set the example of being able to exercise self-control, especially in trying times. Now, let us turn our attention to Bible characters that demonstrated self-control. Let us look at Noah.

Noah Did as God Commanded

Genesis 6:13-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. 14 Make for yourself an ark … 22 And Noah did according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.

Hebrews 11:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

2 Peter 2:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a proclaimer of righteousness, and seven others when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly;

The Subjection of Sarah

Sarah was a model of submissiveness or subjection.[2] Aside from the quality of loyalty, we find examples of those within Scripture that values headship, as well as love for God, who has proven to be great integrity keepers. We can recall from the above that Eve, who did not look to her husband, and Adam, who rejected God and his law. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, on the other hand, proved to be very loyal, as she valued the headship of both her husband and God because she cultivated a great love for them. She demonstrated self-control decade after decade, waiting to have a son.

1 Peter 3:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For in the same way formerly the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being subject to their own husbandsjust as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any terror.

Hebrews 11:10-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 for he was looking for the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive,[3] even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man who was as good as dead in these things, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number and as innumerable as the sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land.[4] 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a home territory of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that territory from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better territory, that is, a heavenly one.[5] Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Moses did As God Commanded

Then, we can turn our attention to a man that lived some 430 years after Abraham crossed over into the land of Canaan. Moses a man, who had very little confidence in himself, because he has a speech impediment, literally took on the Pharaoh of Egypt, in a showdown of who was greater, the Pharaoh God, or Jehovah God. Having his brother Aaron as his spokesperson with him, as well as the backing of Jehovah God Himself, Moses faced down Pharaoh repeatedly, coming off victorious each time. Pharaoh’s heart grew hard each time rebuffing the Almighty God’s spokesperson, putting, even more, pressure on the Israelites along the way, who in turn took their anger out on Moses. However, Moses was steadfast in following the direction he had received from God, which ended up in their Exodus from Egypt, and deliverance into the Promised Land. Moses demonstrated self-control for forty years while the Israelites wandered.

Exodus 7:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

So Moses and Aaron did what Jehovah had commanded them; they did just so.

Exodus 12:50-51 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

50 Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that same day Jehovah brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their hosts.[6]

[1] Why has God Permitted Wickedness and Suffering?

[2] It should be noted that biblical submissiveness or subjection are not a case of the female being viewed as inferiors, less than the man.

[3] Lit power into throwing down of seed

[4] Lit on the earth; the Greek (ges) literally means “earth, land, region, humanity,” and it is the context that determines our word choice. The Greek here means the surface of the earth as the habitation of humanity. (BDAG) Dods and Lane, take it in reference to the land of Canaan. (Dods, “Hebrews,” 357; Lane, Hebrews 9–13, 357) See vs 16 note

[5] The patriarchs were not looking for any spiritual, heavenly resurrection

[6] Or their multitudes; Lit armies