What is “chambering?”

WHAT IS “CHAMBERING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Turning to Romans 13:13, we read: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” What exactly is “chambering?”

We start by reading its context: “[11] And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. [12] The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. [13] Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. [14] But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Whatever “chambering” is, we can at least see that it is in a negative setting. It is evil, something the Christian should avoid. Verse 13 says it is a “work of darkness,” and verse 14 calls it a “lust of the flesh” (sin).

“Chambering” is one of the King James Bible’s archaic words. However, there is no need to despair or throw up our hands in confusion and defeat! If we consult an English dictionary, we learn that “chamber” is an ancient word for a private room, especially a bedroom. Sometimes, in older contexts, we come across the related term “bedchamber.” Is this the proper interpretation of Romans 13:13? Well, it is close. We need to further refine our understanding though. This is where a Greek dictionary can assist us. Koite (κοίτη) is the term underlying “chambering.” Strong’s has the following entry: “G2845 κοίτη koítē, koy’-tay; from G2749; a couch; by extension, cohabitation; by implication, the male sperm:—bed, chambering, ×conceive.” In passing, we can comment that it is connected to the Greek word meaning, “to lie outstretched.”

Not counting Romans 13:13, koite occurs precisely three times in the King James Greek New Testament text:

  • Luke 11:7: “And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed [koite] I cannot rise and give thee.” (This, of course, would simply be a parent resting with his children. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.)
  • Romans 9:10: “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived [koite] by one, even by our father Isaac;” (A sexual connection is certainly implied here—appropriate intimate relations between a husband and wife.)
  • Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed [koite] undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (This too is a sexual connection, along the lines of Romans 9:10 above. There is nothing sinful here either, as it also is confined to marriage.)

It is in the case of Romans 13:13, however, that koite carries a sinful meaning. “Chambering,” as it sits in that verse, is outside of marriage. It is not an innocent resting on a couch or bed either (as in Luke 11:7). Instead of the proper term “chambering,” we would say, informally: “shacking up,” “bed-hopping,” “living together,” “sleeping around.” Fornication, adultery, and prostitution are related here. Additionally, the idea of chambering goes beyond women. Men can be guilty of it too. Consider the slang terms “baby momma” and “baby daddy” used in contemporary English. When a woman has children for a man who is not her husband or current partner, she is his “baby momma.” Or, when a man has children with a woman who is not his wife or current partner, he is her “baby daddy.” While not tasteful examples, they are all excellent illustrations of modern-day “chambering.”

Rather than jumping around from partner to partner—moving from “bedroom to bedroom”—the lustful Christian needs to find a spouse. The Christian man is to find and marry a Christian woman; the Christian woman is to find and marry a Christian man. First Corinthians chapter 7 goes into great detail about marriage in the Dispensation of Grace. Marriage and fidelity therein are the keys to avoiding sexual sins, including “chambering!”

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”
(Romans 13:11-14).

Also see:
» What is “wantonness?”
» Does “walking in the Spirit” mean the same thing as “living in the Spirit?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?

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