1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
May God Sanctify You Completely
We read in 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” Now we read at the end of the Apostle’s letter, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God’s saving us, our very regeneration, is so that we may be holy and live holy lives before Him. This is what God has always wanted for Himself: “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). And the next verse is a great comfort: “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” It reminds us of what he wrote to the Philippians: “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6). Though our regeneration is solely the work of God, our sanctification is something that, having been freed from sin, we are to have some hand in. Yet even then, we may trust that ultimately, the Holy Spirit will have the final say. He will be the one to carry our sanctification to completion. So let us rest in the assurance that as long as we are willing, He is able, for no matter how weak we are, our God is and ever shall be faithful.
Far from being arrogant as some imply, Paul often implores the prayers of those to whom he writes (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3-4; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). He of all people knew that the work he was doing would only be successful under God’s direction and blessing. Similarly, he of all believers knew the power of prayer. On other matters, the “holy kiss” was a manner of greeting in ancient times, akin to our handshake. We have no injunction from Scripture that it must be part of worship in our culture, though there is certainly no restriction. The purpose of any such greeting is to share peace with one another—to let one another know that in the body of Christ, we have been reconciled both to God and to one another and that such walls have been broken down. As we have been forgiven, we must forgive. Paul finally prays that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Peace results from the forgiveness of sins which is the result of God’s grace. May God make us gracious and forgiving people upon which such blessed peace rests.