|Other Ancient Sources|
II Clement 7: And should we not all be able to obtain the crown, let us at least come near to it. We must remember (lit., know) that he who strives in the corruptible contest, if he be found acting unfairly (lit., if he be found corrupting), is taken away and scourged, and cast forth from the lists. What then think ye? If one does anything unseemly in the incorruptible contest, what shall he have to bear? For of those who do not preserve the seal [unbroken], [the Scripture] saith, “Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh.” (Is. 66:24)
Tertullian, Against the Valentinians VI: There are many things which deserve refutation in such a way as to have no gravity expended on them. Vain and silly topics are met with especial fitness by laughter. Even the truth may indulge in ridicule, because it is jubilant; it may play with its enemies, because it is fearless (in the Latin, secura). Only we must take care that its laughter be not unseemly, and so itself be laughed at; but wherever its mirth is decent, there it is a duty to indulge it.
Clementine Homilies I.28: The will of God has been kept in obscurity in many ways. In the first place, there is evil instruction, wicked association, terrible society, unseemly discourses, wrongful prejudice. Thereby is error, then fearlessness, unbelief, fornication, covetousness, vainglory; and ten thousand other such evils, filling the world as a quantity of smoke fills a house.
III.14: For among the many things that [a false prophet] speaks, a few come to pass, and then he is believed to have the Spirit, although he speaks the first things last, and the last first; speaks of past events as future, and future as already past; and also without sequence; or things borrowed from others and altered, and some that are lessened, unformed, foolish, ambiguous, unseemly, obscure, proclaiming all unconscientiousness.
IV.16: And for an excuse to abusers of themselves with mankind, [Jupiter] carries away Ganymedes. And as a helper of adulterers in their adultery, he is often found an adulterer. And to those who wish to commit incest with sisters, he sets the example in his intercourse with his sisters Hera and Demeter, and the heavenly Aphrodite, whom some call Dodona. And to those who wish to commit incest with their daughters, there is a wicked example from his story, in his committing incest with Persephone. But in myriads of instances he acted impiously, that by reason of his excessive wickedness the fable of his being a god might be received by impious men.
Origen, Commentary on Matthew, XIV.19: Now, He who is the Christ may have taken the synagogue to wife and cohabited with her, but it may be that afterwards she found not favour in His sight; and the reason of her not having found favour in His sight was, that there was found in her an unseemly thing; for what was more unseemly than the circumstance that, when it was proposed to them to release one at the feast, they asked for the release of Barabbas the robber, and the condemnation of Jesus? (Mt. 27:21) And what was more unseemly than the fact, that they all said in His case, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” and “Away with such a fellow from the earth”? (John 19:15) And can this be freed from the charge of unseemliness, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children”? (Mt. 27:25) Wherefore, when He was avenged, Jerusalem was compassed with armies, and its desolation was near, (Lk. 21:20) and their house was taken away from it, and “the daughter of Zion was left as a booth in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a besieged city.” (Is. 1:8)
XIV.21: And if one should dare, using a Scripture which is in circulation in the church, but not acknowledged by all to be divine, ... the passage might be taken from The Shepherd [of Hermas], concerning some who as soon as they believe are put in subjection to Michael (Her. Sim. 8:3), but falling away from him from love of pleasure, are put in subjection to the angel of luxury (Her. Sim. 6:2), then to the angel of punishment (Her. Sim. 6:3), and after this to the angel of repentance; for you observe that the wife or soul who has once been given to luxury no longer returns to the first ruler, but also besides suffering punishment, is put in subjection to one inferior to Michael; for the angel of penitence is inferior to him. We must therefore take heed lest there be found in us any unseemly thing, and we should not find favour in the eyes of our husband Christ, or of the angel who has been set over us. For if we do not take heed, perhaps we also shall receive the bill of divorcement, and either be bereft of our guardian, or go to another man.
Origen, Against Celsus VII.49: But even in regard to those who, either from deficiency or knowledge or want of inclination, or from not having Jesus to lead them to a rational view of religion, have not gone into these deep questions, we find that they believe in the Most High God, and in His Only-begotten Son, the Word and God, and that they often exhibit in their character a high degree of gravity, of purity, and integrity; while those who call themselves wise have despised these virtues, and have wallowed in the filth of sodomy, in lawless lust, “men with men working that which is unseemly.” (Rom. 1:27)
Hippolytus, On the Psalms: For this reason, even up to our day, though they see the boundaries (of their country), and go round about them, they stand afar off. And therefore have they no longer king or high priest or prophet, nor even scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees among them. ... But again, “Scatter them,” he says, “by Thy power” (Ps. 59:11) which word has also come to pass. For they are scattered throughout the whole earth, in servitude everywhere, and engaging in the lowest and most servile occupations, and doing any unseemly work for hunger’s sake.
Clementine Recognitions II.53: Because [Adam] did eat in violation of the commandment, and discovered what is good, and learned for the sake of honour to cover his nakedness (for he perceived it to be unseemly to stand naked before his Creator), he condemns to death him who had learned to do honour to God, and curses the serpent who had shown him these things.
X.35: When Niceta had thus spoken, Aquila answered: “Whoever he was that was the author and inventor of these things, he seems to me to have been very impious, since he covered over those things which seem to be pleasant and seemly, and made the ritual of his superstition to consist in base and shameful observances, since those things which are written according to the letter are manifestly unseemly and base; and the whole observance of their religion consists in these."
X.43: And therefore both young and old ought to be very earnest about their conversion and repentance, and to be taken up with the adornment of their souls for the future with the worthiest ornaments, such as the doctrines of truth, the grace of chastity, the splendour of righteousness, the fairness of piety, and all other things with which it becomes a reasonable mind to be adorned. Then, besides, they should break off from unseemly and unbelieving companions, and keep company with the faithful, and frequent those assemblies in which subjects are handled relating to chastity, righteousness and piety.
Love does not behave gracelessly.
It is a significant fact that in Greek
the word for grace and the word for charm
are the same word.
There is a kind of Christianity which takes a delight in being blunt and almost brutal.
There is strength in it but there is no winsomeness.
Lightfoot of Durham said of Arthur F. Sim,
one of his students,
"Let him go where he will, his face will be a sermon in itself." There is a graciousness in Christian love
which never forgets that courtesy and tact and politeness
may possibly be regarded as lesser virtues but they are lovely things.
Barnes' Notes on the N.T.: Doth not behave itself unseemly, \~ouk aschmonei\~. This word occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:36. It means, to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming in the circumstances and relations of life in which we are placed. It prompts to the due respect for superiors, producing veneration and respect for their opinions; and it prompts to a proper regard for inferiors, not despising their rank, their poverty, their dress, their dwellings, their pleasures, their views of happiness; it prompts to the due observance of all the relations of life, as those of a husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister, son, daughter, and produces a proper conduct and deportment in all these relations. The proper idea of the phrase is, that it prompts to all that is fit and becoming in life; and would save from all that is unfit and unbecoming. There may be included in the word also the idea that it would prevent anything that would be a violation of decency or delicacy. It is well known that the Cynics were in the habit of setting at defiance all the usual ideas of decency; and indeed this was, and is, commonly done in the temples of idolatry and pollution everywhere. Love would prevent this, because it teaches to promote the happiness of all, and of course to avoid everything that would offend purity of taste and mar enjoyment. In the same way it prompts to the fit discharge of all the relative duties, because it leads to the desire to promote the happiness of all. And in the same manner it would lead a man to avoid profane and indecent language, improper allusions, double meanings and innuendoes, coarse told vulgar expressions, because such things pain the ear and offend the heart of purity and delicacy. There is much that is indecent and unseemly still in society that would be corrected by Christian love. What a change would be produced, if, under the influence of that love, nothing should be said or done in the various relations of life but what would be seemly, fit, and decent! And what a happy influence would the prevalence of this love have on the intercourse of mankind!
BT Internet: ajschmonew, behave improperly
"The adjective ajschmwn occurs in the NT only at 12:23, where Paul alludes to 'unpresentable' parts of the body, i.e., those which good taste and public respect expect to be clothed. In all three contexts the contrast defines the opposition between on one side courtesy, good taste, good public 'manners', and 'propriety', and on the other side thoughtless pursuit of the immediate wishes of the self regardless of the conventions and courtesies of interpersonal life. Thus 'Agape is not ill mannered' (Spicq). Love does not act in ways which are 'contrary to the requirements of propriety and good order, committed by some ill-mannered members' (Hering)." --Thistleton
John Calvin: Doth not behave itself unseemly Erasmus renders it “Is not disdainful;” but as he quotes no author in support of this interpretation, I have preferred to retain its proper and usual signification. I explain it, however, in this way — that love does not exult in a foolish ostentation, or does not bluster, but observes moderation and propriety. And in this manner, he again reproves the Corinthians indirectly, because they shamefully set at naught all propriety by an unseemly haughtiness.
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 33: "Doth not behave itself unseemly." "Nay, why," saith he, "do I say, she 'is not puffed up,' when she is so far from that feeling, that in suffering the most shameful things for him whom she loves, she doth not even count the thing an unseemliness?" Again, he did not say, "she suffereth unseemliness but beareth the shame nobly," but, "she doth not even entertain any sense at all of the shame." For if the lovers of money endure all manner of reproaches for the sake of that sordid traffic of theirs, and far from hiding their faces, do even exult in it: much more he that hath this praiseworthy love will refuse nothing whatsoever for the safety's sake of those whom he loves: nay, nor will any thing that he can suffer shame him.
And that we may not fetch our example from any thing base, let us examine this same statement in its application to Christ, and then we shall see the force of what hath been said. For our Lord Jesus Christ was both spit upon and beaten with rods by pitiful slaves; and not only did He not count it an unseemliness, but He even exulted and called the thing glory; and bringing in a robber and murderer with Himself before the rest into paradise, and discoursing with a harlot, and this when the standers-by all accused Him, He counted not the thing to he disgraceful, but both allowed her to kiss His feet, and to bedew His body with her tears, and to wipe them away with her hair, and this amid a company of spectators who were foes and enemies; "for love doeth nothing unseemly."
Therefore also fathers, though they be the first of philosophers and orators, are not ashamed to lisp with their children; and none of those who see them find fault with them, but the thing is esteemed so good and right as to be even worthy of prayer. And again, should they become vicious, the parents keep on correcting, caring for them, abridging the reproaches they incur, and are not ashamed. For love "cloth nothing unseemly," but as it were with certain golden wings covereth up all the offences of the beloved.
Adam Clarke: Verse 5. (6.) Doth not behave itself unseemly] ouk aschmonei, from a, negative, and schma, figure, mein; love never acts out of its place or character; observes due decorum and good manners; is never rude, bearish, or brutish; and is ever willing to become all things to all men, that it may please them for their good to edification. No ill-bred man, or what is termed rude or unmannerly, is a Christian. A man may have a natural bluntness, or be a clown, and yet there be nothing boorish or hoggish in his manner. I must apologize for using such words; they best express the evil against which I wish both powerfully and successfully to declaim. I never wish to meet with those who affect to be called "blunt, honest men;" who feel themselves above all the forms of respect and civility, and care not how many they put to pain, or how many they displease. But let me not be misunderstood; I do not contend for ridiculous ceremonies, and hollow compliments; there is surely a medium: and a sensible Christian man will not be long at a loss to find it out. Even that people who profess to be above all worldly forms, and are generally stiff enough, yet are rarely found to be rude, uncivil, or ill-bred.
The fifth ingredient is a somewhat strange one to find in this summum bonum: Courtesy. This is Love in society, Love in relation to etiquette. "Love does not behave itself unseemly."
Geneva Notes: It is not insolent, or reproachful.
John Gill's Exposition of the Bible: Doth not behave itself unseemly -- By using either unbecoming words, or doing indecent actions; for a man unprincipled with this grace will be careful that no filthy and corrupt communication proceed out of his mouth, which may offend pious ears; and that he uses no ridiculous and ludicrous gestures, which may expose himself and grieve the saints; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, "neither does it commit that which is shameful": such an one will not do a little mean despicable action, in reproaching one, or flattering another, in order to gain a point, to procure some worldly advantage, or an interest in the friendship and affection of another. Some understand it in this sense, that one endued with this grace thinks nothing unseemly and unbecoming him, however mean it may appear, in which he can be serviceable to men, and promote the honour of religion and interest of Christ; though it be by making coats and garments for the poor, as Dorcas did; or by washing the feet of the saints, in imitation of his Lord and master: or "is not ambitious", as the Vulgate Latin version reads; of honour and applause, and of being in the highest form, but is lowly, meek and humble.
John W. Gregson: Love is always courteous and polite; it is never rough, brusque or brutal.
Matthew Henry: Charity is careful not to pass the bounds of decency; ouk aschemonei--it behaveth not unseemly; it does nothing indecorous, nothing that in the common account of men is base or vile. It does nothing out of place or time; but behaves towards all men as becomes their rank and ours, with reverence and respect to superiors, with kindness and condescension to inferiors, with courtesy and good-will towards all men. It is not for breaking order, confounding ranks bringing all men on a level; but for keeping up the distinction God has made between men, and acting decently in its own station, and minding its own business, without taking upon it to mend, or censure, or despise, the conduct of others. Charity will do nothing that misbecomes it.
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown: not . . . unseemly -- is not uncourteous, or inattentive to civility and propriety.
BW Johnson: Does not behave itself unseemly. Discourteously and in a way to shock good manners or morals.
J. H. Jowett: In this Corinthian Church every envious man was wanting to exhibit his own gift. They all wanted to be at the front, and their behaviour became unseemly. “Unseemly,” or, as the word literally means, mis-shapen; their behaviour became shapeless, ugly; it had no form, no comeliness. It ignored all the claims of civility and grace. Well, I think we shall all feel that this unseemliness of behaviour is not unknown among us to-day. There is a great deal of the behaviour, even of Christians, which is shapeless and ugly. We are called by our Master to see to it that our behaviour is graceful and comely. They who ascend into the hill of the Lord have not only to have a pure heart, but clean hands. Their behaviour is to be as graceful as their principles are true. I think we might all give a little more concern to this—that we might emphasize the clean hands as well as the pure heart, the seemly behaviour as well as the secret life. There are some men who even make their bluntness a boast, and others find defences for them in the excuse that “they mean well.” That is not enough. We have not only to mean well, but to seem well. The demand is for a pure heart and for clean hands. No man has a right to be blunt in his speech and shapeless and ugly in his behaviour, whatever may be the worth and rectitude of his meaning. A good picture can be greatly helped by good mounting. And so it is in the Christian life—behaviour is the mounting of character, and we are called upon to have the character good and the behaviour seemly. But when the unseemly behaviour arises from envy, when pride makes us self-assertive, when our lust for praise leads us to trample upon others that we may display ourselves, when this makes our behaviour unseemly, there is only one remedy. We must get our hearts filled with love, the cleansing love which we may find at the Cross, and then all the unseemly behaviour will cease. “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.”
Steve Lewis Does not act unbecomingly (aschemoneo) = to act in an inappropriate or unseemly manner. This is the verb form of the same word Paul had used in 1 Cor 12:23 to describe the less presentable members of the body which we keep covered from view. Here this verb means that we are to treat others with appropriate deference and to behave in ways that will not offend another person's sense of decency and propriety.
Mark Heber Miller: (Love) does not behave indecently. The Greek is OUK ASCHEMONEI and is variously rendered: KJV: not behave itself unseemly; MOF: never rude; BER: unmannerly; NAS: unbecomingly; WMS: not act with rudeness. The word is rare and other forms are elsewhere rendered as shameless, indecent, unseemly, or dishonorably. (1 Corinthians 7:36; 12:23; Romans 1:27; Revelation 16:15) It is most often associated with sexual matters, including homosexuality.
In English the word "love" is most often associated with romantic, even sexual, feelings towards another. One thing true AGAPE is not is an emotion motivated by actions which violate God’s law. Thus, this kind of "love" will never be found among the immoral or those seeking to take sexual disadvantage of another. Indeed, one may see the word "scheme" within the Greek.
Other translators lean toward the idea of bad manners or rudeness. Certainly, AGAPE love can never be characterized by those with ill-manners or rude social behavior. Rather, a Christian possessed of this kind of love will be seen to be well-mannered and polite in social matters. Never would a Christian man (or woman) take advantage of their spiritual position in the Church to scheme indecency toward a fellow worshipper.
C. L. Parker: 6. Love does not behave itself rudely, unbecomingly, or disgracefully. Love never behaves indecently, or unbecomingly. “Aschemonei,” is the present active indicative of “askemoneo,” to behave in an unbecoming, indecent, or shameful manner that is open to censure. It is only used here and in 1Cor 7v36, where it speaks of a virgin being shamefully hindered from marriage by a father or prospective husband. The adverb for “decently,” is “euschemonos,” Paul uses it to state that all should be done decently and in order (“taxis”) in the Church. 1Cor.14v40. The present tense shows that Christians who have “agape” love always refuse to act in a disorderly and unbecoming manner.
Christians can experience strong workings of the Holy Spirit and be in perfect order in God's eyes, when men are critical of their response to God's power. Acts.2v13-16. Lk.19v37-40. See also. Heb.5v7. Neh.12v43. 8v6,12. Ps.47v1. 98v4. 126v2. 149v3. 150.v4. Dan.8v18-26. 10v8,11,15,17. Rev.1v7. etc. However, we must realise that what is “seemly conduct” in the secret place of prayer, can be “unseemly conduct” in a meeting of Christians, or when the unconverted are present. Paul informs us in 1Cor.14v17-25., that continual and loud speaking in tongues is undesirable even in gatherings, which are composed entirely of believers; and are totally wrong when the unconverted and unlearned are present. We should show restraint in speaking in tongues, shaking, laughing, and anything else that causes consternation in people. We make some allowance for immaturity in young Christians, or young converts, but “unruly” Christians must be gently but firmly warned and controlled. 1Thes.5v14. 2Tim.4v2. Titus.2v15. However, we must beware of “unseemly discipline,” for by being harsh and graceless, we can permanently injure people, destroy Christian fellowship, and bring churches into spiritual bondage.
The Holy Spirit is a perfect Gentleman, He will not cause us to get into a frenzy, or act in a way that produces concern, fear, stress and distraction in the saints, and disgust in the outsider. Sadly, every revival always brings its quota of excess and fanaticism. However, the dangers of a powerless, sub-normal, formal Christianity are far worse. Wise leadership, good teaching, and mature example can lead Christians from “unseemly conduct,” into the green pastures of a fruitful manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Robertson's Word Pictures: Doth not behave itself unseemly (ouk aschemonei). Old verb from aschemwn. In N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 7:36. Not indecent.
The Theologian: The Internet Journal for Integrated Theology: Ouk aschemonei refers to behaviour "in defiance of social and moral standards," often sexual, but verbal coarseness and generally indecent or crude behaviour is also ruled out, since it is guaranteed to tear down others rather than build them up.
Bill Turner: Love does not behave itself rudely, unbecomingly. or disgracefully.
Love never behaves indecently, or unbecomingly. "Aschemonei" is the present active indicative of "askemoneo," to behave in an unbecoming, indecent, or shameful manner that is open to censure. It is only used here and in 1Cor.7v36., where it speaks of a virgin being shamefully hindered from marriage by a father or prospective husband. The adverb for "decently," is "euschemonos," Paul uses it to state that all should be done decently and in order ("taxis") in the Church. 1Cor.14v40. The present tense shows that Christians who have "agape" love always refuse to act in a disorderly and unbecoming manner.
Christians can experience strong workings of the Holy Spirit and be in perfect order in God's eyes, when men are critical of their response to God's power. Acts.2v13-16. Lk.19v37-40. See also. Heb.5v7. Neh.12v43. 8v6,12. Ps.47v1. 98v4. 126v2. 149v3. 150.v4. Dan.8v18-26. 10v8,11,15,17. Rev.1v7. etc. However, we must realise that what is "seemly conduct" in the secret place of prayer, can be "unseemly conduct" in a meeting of Christians, or when the unconverted are present. Paul informs us in 1Cor.14v17-25., that continual and loud speaking in tongues is undesirable even in gatherings which are composed entirely of believers; and is completely wrong when the unconverted and unlearned are present. We should show restraint in speaking in tongues, shaking, laughing, and anything else that causes consternation in people. We make some allowance for immaturity in young Christians or young converts, but "unruly" Christians are to be gently but firmly warned and controlled. 1Thes.5v14. 2Tim.4v2. Titus.2v15. However, let us beware of any "unseemly discipline," for by being harsh and graceless we can permanently injure people, destroy Christian fellowship, and bring churches into spiritual bondage.
The Holy Spirit is a perfect Gentleman, He will not cause us to get into a frenzy, or act in a way that produces concern, fear, friction, stress and distraction in the saints, and disgust in the outsider. Sadly, every revival always brings its quota of excess and fanaticism. However, the dangers of a powerless, sub-normal, formal Christianity are far worse. Wise leadership, good teaching, and mature example can lead Christians from "unseemly conduct" into the green pastures of a fruitful manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Wesley's Explanatory Notes: It doth not behave indecently - Is not rude, or willingly offensive, to any. It renders to all their due - Suitable to time, person, and all other circumstances.
Wesley, Sermon 22: "It doth not behave itself unseemly:" It is not rude, or willingly offensive to any. It "renders to all their due; fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour;" courtesy, civility, humanity to all the world; in their several degrees "honouring all men." A late writer defines good breeding, nay, the highest degree of it, politeness, "A continual desire to please, appearing in all the behaviour." But if so, there is none so well-bred as a Christian, a lover of all mankind. For he cannot but desire to "please all men for their good to edification:" And this desire cannot be hid; it will necessarily appear in all his intercourse with men. For his "love is without dissimulation:" It will appear in all his actions and conversation; yea, and will constrain him, though without guile, "to become all things to all men, if by any means he may save some."
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