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I THESSALONIANS (19)
I Thessalonians 5:23-28
Victor M. Eskew
A. Paul has addressed some vital matters in his first epistle to the Thessalonians.
1. He has shown appreciation for their obedience to the gospel.
2. He has reminded them of his ministry among them.
3. He encouraged them in their afflictions.
4. He corrected their misunderstandings about the dead in Christ at the Second Coming.
5. He commanded them in several areas of responsibility.
B. In I Thessalonians 5:23-28, we reach “The Conclusion” of Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians. We have divided this conclusion into five sections.
I. INVOCATION (I Thess. 5:23-24)
A. The word “invoke” means “to call upon deity with an earnest desire.”
B. Paul has two desires that he wishes upon the Thessalonians.
1. Sanctification (I Thess. 5:23a)
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…
a. The God of peace
1) God is known by many titles: Almighty God, holy God
2) Here, Paul refers to God as “the God of peace.” Six times God is referred to in this manner in the New Testament.
3) His nature is peace. He is the author of peace. He provides the regulations that will establish peace between all men.
a) Strong (37): purify, consecrate
b) Thayer: separate from profane things, cleanse, purify, dedicate to God, free from sin, renewing of the soul
2) God is a holy God who desire for His people to be holy.
3) It is possible for God’s children to get caught up in sin. Thus, the need for constant sanctification.
4) Sanctification is not a mysterious process. It is done by the Word of God (John 17:17).
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
a) Strong (3651): complete to the end, that is, absolutely perfect.
b) Thayer: perfect, complete in all respects
2) God wants every element of man sanctified. He does not want one part left in the service of Satan.
2. Preservation (I Thess. 5:23b)
…and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
a. Man is a three-fold being consisting of spirit and soul and body.
b. All of these work in harmony with each other in the service of God.
c. NOTE: If one part is tainted, all parts are impacted.
d. Thus, Paul prays for all three to be “preserved blameless.”
- Strong (5083): to watch, guard, keep an eye upon, to prevent from escaping
- Thayer: to attend carefully, take care of, guard
- Strong (274): faultlessly
- Thayer: blameless, so there is no cause for censure
- Example: A faithful man is not sinlessly perfect, but there is no fault one can find in him. He cannot be censured for being evil.
2) Blameless is the condition that enables us to pass through heaven’s gate.
a) Paul knew this state of being can come to an end due to sin.
b) He desired for God to watch and guard His children.
c) Jesus made a similar statement in His model prayer (Matt. 6:13a).
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
e. He wanted the Thessalonians to be preserved blameless unto the coming of Jesus.
1) The Second Coming is not a fallacy, but a reality.
2) When Jesus comes, then, comes the Judgment (II Tim. 4:1).
I charge there therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing and his kingdom.
C. Conviction (I Thess. 5:24)
Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
1. Paul’s two desires for the saints are based upon a deep conviction that he had. He believed that God would both sanctify and preserve these Christians.
2. Paul did not doubt Gods’ ability at all.
3. This sounds like the doctrine of “once-saved, always-saved.” They key, however is to remember that God will never do things contrary to man’s free will.
a. If a man wants to leave God, God will not force him to stay.
b. If a person wants to live in sin, God will not make him cease from his sin.
c. NOTE: The Christian and God work hand-in-hand with one another.
1) The Christians strives for faithfulness.
2) God sanctifies and preserves.
II. SUPPLICATION (I Thess. 5:25)
Brethren, pray for us.
A. Paul was a man of prayer.
1. He himself prayed earnestly.
2. He also asked others to pray for him.
B. Paul was a man of humility and dependency on god.
1. He knew that his strength, abilities, and wisdom were not enough.
2. He needed to solicit the help of God for him to accomplish his tasks and his mission in life.
C. Paul was a man of trust.
1. He trusted others to prayer for him.
2. He trusted God to answer those prayers on his behalf.
III. AFFECTION (I Thess. 5:26)
Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
A. The church is the family of God.
1. As the family of God, there should be love and affection, recognition and reception shown to one another.
2. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to display these things by greeting one another with a holy kiss.
B. Let’s discuss the greeting first.
1. This is the important element of the verse.
a. Strong (782): to enfold in the arms
b. Thayer: to salute, to welcome
3. It involves a warm reception when we see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. Don’t skip the words “all the brethren.”
a. Every Christian needs to seek one another out.
b. We may have to get out of our comfort zones and fight against our personalities to make certain we greet everyone.
C. Next, let’s look at the holy kiss.
1. First, the word “holy” describes the kiss. It distinguishes it from the sensual kiss.
2. A kiss on the cheek was a common greeting in the Middle East, and, it still is.
3. If we wanted to greet each other this way, we could.
4. The Bible also authorizes “the right hand” of fellowship (Gal. 2:9).
5. This act is much like the prayer positions found in the Bible.
a. Prayer is the important thing, not the posture.
b. The greeting is the important thing, not the type of greeting.
IV. DISTRIBUTION (I Thess. 5:27)
I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
A. Paul wanted this epistle to be read to all the brethren in the church at Thessalonica.
B. There may have been several reasons for this.
1. He wanted the church to know that he personally had written because he had not been able to visit.
2. He wanted them to hear his teachings directly about the dead in Christ.
3. He wanted the church to hear his teachings directly about the need to be sanctified.
4. To hear the letter itself, makes the teaching of the apostle much more personal.
C. NOTE: “All the holy brethren” could also involve all the brethren throughout the regions around Thessalonica. It might also involve all those who were passing through this prominent city.
V. ASSERTION (I Thess. 5:28)
The grace of Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
A. Grace is God’s divine favor and help provided to man.
B. This grace provides us with
1. Strength under trying circumstances.
2. Forgiveness when we have sinned.
3. Motivation to continue to move forward in faithfulness.
A. The epistle concludes with the single word, “Amen.”
B. Amen means “so be it” or “may it be fulfilled” when it stands at the end of a work.
C. The letter comes to a close, but the application of the message begins after the letter has been read.
1. The church was responsible for adhering to the divine demands of the epistle.
2. As James said: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only… (James 1:22).