tem'-per-ans; tem'-per-at (egkrateia), (egkrates, nephalios, sophron): the American Standard Revised Version departs from the King James Version and the English Revised Version by translating egkrateia "self-control" (Ac 24:25; Ga 5:23; 2Pe 1:6; 1Co 9:25), following the English Revised Version margin in several of these passages. This meaning is in accordance with classical usage, Plato applying it to "mastery" not only of self, but of any object denoted by a genitive following. Septuagint applies it to the possession "of strongholds" (2 Macc 8:30; 10:15), "of a position" (2 Macc 10:17), "of the city" (2 Macc 13:13), "of wisdom" (Sirach 6:27). The reflexive meaning of "self-mastery," "self-restraint," is equally well established in the classics and Septuagint. Thus, in the verbal form, it is found in Ge 43:31, for the self-restraint exercised by Joseph in the presence of his brethren, when they appeared before him as suppliants, and in 1Sa 13:12, where Saul professes that he "forced" himself to do what was contrary to his desire. For patristic use of the term, see illustrations in Suicer's Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus, I, 1000 ff. Clement of Alexandria: "Not abstaining from all things, but using continently such things as one has judged should be used"; "such things as do not seem beyond right reason." Basil: "To avoid excess on both sides, so as neither by luxury to be confused, nor, by becoming sickly, to be disabled from doing what has been commanded." Chrysostom (on 1Ti 1:8) applies it to "one mastering passion of tongue, hand and unbridled eyes." Ellicott and Eadie (on Ga 5:23) quote Diogenes Laertius to the effect that the word refers to "control over the stronger passions." In 1 Cor 9:25, Paul illustrates it by the training of an athlete, whose regimen is not only described in the Ars Poetica of Horace (412 ff), and in Epictetus (quoted in Alford on this passage), but can be learned of the many devotees and admirers of similar pursuits today.
The principle involved is that of the concentration of all man's powers and capabilities upon the one end of doing God's will, in and through whatever calling God appoints, and the renunciation of everything either wholly or to whatever degree necessary, however innocent or useful it may be in its proper place, that interferes with one's highest efficiency in this calling (1Co 10:31). Not limited to abstinence, it is rather the power and decision to abstain with reference to some fixed end, and the use of the impulses of physical, as servants for the moral, life. It does not refer to any one class of objects that meets us, but to all; to what concerns speech and judgment, as well as to what appeals to sense. It is properly an inner spiritual virtue, working into the outward life, incapable of being counterfeited or replaced by any abstinence limited to that which is external (Augsburg Confession, Articles XXVI, XXVII). When its absence, however, is referred to as sin, the negative is generally more prominent than the positive side of temperance. The reference in Ac 24:25 is to chastity, and in 1Co 7:9, as the context shows, to the inner side of chastity. In 1 Tim 3:2,11; Tit 2:2, the word nephalios has its original meaning as the opposite to "drunken" (see SOBRIETY ; DRINK, STRONG). See also the treatises on ethics by Luthardt (both the Compendium and the History), Martensen, Koestlin and Haring on temperance, asceticism, continence.
H. E. Jacobs