When you and I hear the word sober, we automatically think of alcohol intake, self-restraint, and a popular twelve-step program.
But surprisingly, this word in our King James Bible has little to do with our glasses of wine and more to do with our state of mind.
Welcome to my KJV Bible Word Study Series!
I love the King James Version Bible. I believe it is the most accurate and beautiful translation we can read.
But there are some antiquated words, and words that have changed their meanings over time, that might send us scrambling for the nearest dictionary or concordance.
In this series, I take words that we may be unfamiliar with outside the Bible setting or that may be confusing to our modern-day English sensibilities, and expound upon their original meaning within the context of the verse.
By using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, it is my hope to bring clarity to, and broaden our understanding of, many beloved and obscure KJV Bible passages.
Sober—#G3524: from G3525; (figuratively) circumspect
#G3525: to abstain from wine (keep sober), (figuratively) be discreet, watch
#G4993: from #G4998; to be of sound mind, moderate; be in [your] right mind
#G4994: from #G4998; to make of sound mind (figuratively) to discipline or correct: teach (or train) to be sober
#G4998: from the base of #G4982 and that of #G5424; safe (sound) in mind, self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion); discreet, temperate.
Soberly—#G4993 (see above)
#G4996: adverb from #G4998; with sound mind, i. e. moderately
Soberness—#G4997: from #G4998; soundness of mind, i.e. (literally) sanity or (figuratively) self-control
Sobriety—#G4997 (see above)
Sober Minded— #G4993 (see above)
From The Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Circumspect: careful to consider all circumstances and consequences; prudent (cautious, discreet)
Temperate: not extreme or excessive
[Underlining and words in bold are added for emphasis to Bible verses throughout this study.]
After an intensive study of the book of Titus, my husband remarked to me one day that the word sober used four times in chapters 1 and 2 had FOUR separate meanings!
For a bishop must be . . . a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober¹, just, holy, temperate. Titus 1:7-8
That the aged men be sober², grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. Titus 2:2
That they [the aged women] teach the young women to be sober³, to love thir husbands, to love their children. Titus 2:4
Young men likewise exhort to be sober⁴ minded. Titus 2:6
Yes, all the above verses use the same word sober, but look at the variations:
- sound of mind: safe, stable, self-controlled
- vigilant: staying watchful and alert to danger or trouble; cautious and careful before acting, judging, or deciding
- wise: having or showing good [that which is morally true] judgment
- discreet: careful about what one says or does; moderate [emotionally neither hot or cold]
Door number three is carved with this notice on its solid wooden finish: Older women teach the younger women to be wise.
With all the emotional baggage, hormonal ups and downs, and little ones (not to mention a dear husband) always needing something, the stress takes its toll, and wisdom in speech and actions is not a spontaneous occurrence for us women.
But with God’s Spirit and the training and guidance of godly older women who have “been there, done that”, we learn to leave emotionalism at the door and can cross the threshold as sober-minded women.
As Christians, our minds are the staging point for every battle we face.
But as we bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and not allow our flitting and fickle emotions to dominate, we can stop our fears, wants, and daily frustrations from dictating a negative and faithless response.
For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
God has given us power over all evil and His love to overcome it. He has given us disciplined minds so we can judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24) and not be tossed to and fro by the winds of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).
Sobriety is a state of mind.
We sober-minded Christians choose to heed the many warnings in the Bible and stay alert to spiritual dangers.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8
We watch, as faithful night guards; for we know our enemy is cunning and waits in the dark for those who willingly nod into spiritual sleep.
Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8
The Bible is clear we are not to live a lifestyle of drunkenness—because how can we be watchful of world events and alert to spiritual dangers if we are desensitized?—but there are more damaging ways we become drunk than by imbibing alcohol.
We can be staggering drunk on our emotions, our desires, self-righteous behavior, complacency, and the seductive offerings of this age.
But the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Titus 2:11-12
The call to live soberly is a call for righteous thinking whether we drink or not. It is a call to be wise virgins prepared for the return of her Bridegroom and to say “no” to that which could hinder our vigilant walk.
It is a call to be watchful of world affairs (from the least biased sources we can find) so nothing deceives us and leaves us unprepared like the ten foolish virgins—lackadaisical believers shut out of the kingdom (Matthew 25:5-13).
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh,
. . . Lest coming suddently he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Mark 13:33-37
As we watch and pray, we train our minds to become wise. We take our calling seriously and view ourselves and others with godly sanity in a desperately insane world.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:2-3
Being sober-minded is the conscious decision to acknowledge God’s truth and His wisdom above our own.
It is being level-headed and even-tempered amidst the chaos of our everyday lives (which can be a monumental task, I know).
It is being aware of evil masquerading as angels of light or anything else that could quench God’s Spirit that upholds our minds.
Being sober-minded is having a safe and sound mind (#G4998 sōphrōn; sōzō, “to save”, phrēn, “the mind”) that is AWAKE and speaks forth words of truth and soberness (#G4997 sōphrosynē “sanity”).
We live in sobering times, dear Christian. But never fear. God has given us Hope.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13
But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Peter 4:7
I love a good word study, don’t you? I hope you’ve gleaned, along with me, some additional insight into the rich words used in the KJV Bible.
Join me next time as I showcase another word we can learn the in-depth meaning behind together.
If you would like to read more posts in this series, please check out my KJV Bible Studies page.
Abiding in the Vine,
The post “Sober: KJV Bible Word Study Series” was first published on Desert Rain.