MAY THE GOD OF PEACE HIMSELF SANCTIFY YOU ENTIRELY: Autos de o theos
tes eirenes hagiasai (3SAAO) humas holoteleis: (Romans
15:5,13,33; 16:20; 1Corinthians 14:33; 2Corinthians 5:19; Philippians
4:9; 2Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 13:20; 1Peter 5:10) (1Th 3:13;
4:3; Leviticus 20:8,26; Ezekiel 37:28; John 17:19; Acts 20:32; 26:18;
1Corinthians 1:2; Hebrews 2:11; 1Peter 1:2; Jude 1:1)
marks a transition from the previous commands to a short but
spiritually rich prayer (pray this prayer for your family members,
your church members [by name], you pastor and elders [individually and
by name]). And this prayer to God for sanctification is a fitting
conclusion to the preceding exhortations to holiness, for it is only
by His enablement they will be fully realized. God Alone is the Source
of genuine sanctification, which makes this prayerful appeal to Him
James Denney introduces this
section with the comment that...
THESE verses open with a contrast
to what precedes, which is more strongly brought out in the original
than in the translation. The Apostle has drawn the likeness of a
Christian church, as a Christian church ought to be, waiting for the
coming of the Lord; he has appealed to the Thessalonians to make this
picture their standard, and to aim at Christian holiness; and
conscious of the futility of such advice, as long as it stands alone
and addresses itself to man’s unaided efforts, he turns here
instinctively to prayer: “The God of peace Himself” — working in
independence of your exertions and my exhortations — “sanctify you
Notice the comprehensiveness of the
Apostle’s prayer in this place. It is conveyed in three separate words
— wholly, entire, and without blame . It is intensified by what has,
at least, the look of an enumeration of the parts or elements of which
man’s nature consists — “your spirit and soul and body.” It is raised
to its highest power when the sanctity for which he prays is set in
the searching light of the Last Judgment — in the day of our Lord
Jesus Christ. (Classic Commentary
for their full selection of highly recommended resources)
Frame explains it as...
if Paul had said: “I have exhorted
you to ethical consecration and to the things that make for peace, but
God himself is the only power that can make the exhortation
effective.” (Frame, J. E. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. New York: C. Scribner's
Calvin writes that...
Having given various injunctions,
he now proceeds to prayer. And unquestionably doctrine is disseminated
in vain, unless God implant it in our minds... Paul, accordingly,
knowing that all doctrine is useless until God engraves it, as it
were, with his own finger upon our hearts, beseeches God that he would
sanctify the Thessalonians.
Matthew Henry observes
He prays that they may be wholly
sanctified, that is, more perfectly, for the best are sanctified but
in part while in this world; and therefore we should pray for and
press towards complete sanctification.
(autos) In the Greek sentence this pronoun is first for
emphasis. Paul's emphasis is that it is God Who sanctifies us
("Himself sanctify you"),
accomplishing His work in us. We are to cooperate with His work as
just emphasized by a series of exhortations and commandments beginning
in 1Thessalonians 4. But ultimately Paul wants to make it clear that
sanctification is God’s work in us. Our part and God's part is clearly
seen in Paul's exhortation to the Philippians to...
salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in you,
both to will (give you the desire to obey) and to work (energizing
that desire) for His good pleasure. (See notes
Hiebert writes that as the God of Peace it is His "prerogative
it is to bestow the well-known Christian peace upon those who have
been reconciled to Him through Christ."
God of Peace - a frequent phrase in the NT...
Romans 15:33 (note)
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
And the God of peace will soon
crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
(note) The things
you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these
things; and the God of peace shall be with you.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your
spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:20 (note)
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd
of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our
Vincent comments that this
phrase God of peace means...
God Who is the Source and Giver of
peace. Peace, in the Pauline sense, is not mere calm or
tranquility. It is always conceived as based upon reconciliation with
God. God is the God of peace only to those who have ceased to
be at war with Him, and are at one with Him (see notes
God’s peace is not sentimental but moral. Hence the God of peace
is the Sanctifier. Peace is habitually used, both in the Old
and New Testaments, in connection with the Messianic salvation. The
Messiah himself will be Peace (Micah 5:5 "And this One will
be our peace..."). Peace is associated with righteousness
as a Messianic blessing (Ps 72:7 In his days may the
righteous flourish, And abundance of peace till the moon is no more;
Ps 85:10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.). Peace,
founded in reconciliation with God, is the theme of the gospel (Acts
10:36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching
peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)). The gospel
is the gospel of peace (see notes
Christ is the Giver of peace (John 14:27 Peace I leave with
you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.; John
16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may
have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I
have overcome the world.).
Other titles of God which exhibit a
similar construction are as follows. Notice that God is the Source of
each of these spiritual blessings!
God is the...
• God of glory, Acts 7:2
• God of patience, Ro 15:5
• God of hope, Ro 15:13
• God of all comfort, 2Corinthians 1:3, cp. Ro 15:4
• God of love, 2Corinthians 13:11
• God of all grace, 1Pe 5:10
We see that the anticipation of
Christ's imminent return for His beloved Bride, prompts (or should
prompt) in her an attitude of expectancy and actions commensurate with
that mindset. Remember that right actions always emanate from right
attitudes. Paul's point is that the Bridegroom really is coming
quickly and this certainty should marinate our minds and cause us work
out our salvation in fear and trembling, purify ourselves for He is
holy, cleansing ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit
and perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord or the awe of what it
will be like when we truly do see Him face to face!
John has this meeting in
mind when he gently exhorts believers...
And now, little children, abide in
Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink
away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is
righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is
born of Him. (1John 2:28-29)
Guzik comments that...
The idea behind the word
sanctify is “to set apart” - to make something different and
distinct, breaking old associations and forming a new association. For
example, a dress is a dress; but a wedding dress is sanctified - set
apart for a special, glorious purpose. God wants us to be set apart to
In all that he told the Christian
to do in 1Thessalonians 4:1 through 1Th 5:22, he never
intended that they do them in their own power. More
Christians are defeated on account of self-reliance than on account of
Satanic attack. (1 Thessalonians 5
Morris agrees with Guzik
The way in which he effects the
transition... indicates that it is only in the power of the God on
whom he calls that his exhortations can be brought to fruition. ‘I
have been urging you to do certain things, but it is only in God’s
strength that you will be able to do them. (Morris, Leon. The Epistles
of Paul to the Thessalonians. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.
Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957)
Calvin writes that...
under the term sanctification
is included the entire renovation of the man. The Thessalonians, it is
true, had been in part renewed, but Paul desires that God would
perfect what is remaining. From this we infer, that we must, during
our whole life, make progress in the pursuit of holiness.
Frame commenting on sanctify
you renders it...
“Consecrate you throughout,”
“through and through” (Luther). The note of consecration already
struck (1Th 3:13-note
and 1Th 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8- notes
4:8) is heard again. As
in those passages so here consecration includes not only religion,
devotion to God, but conduct, ethical soundness. (Ibid)
Elwell writes that...
The concern of Paul in 1
Thessalonians 4:1-5:22 has been that the lives of his readers be
sanctified more and more. It is fitting, therefore, that he should in
the end pray once again for their complete sanctification (Gk.
holoteles, found only here in the NT, means “entirely,”
“completely”). Sanctification is a process which begins with
conversion and will be completed only when “perfection comes” (1 Cor.
13:10). (Elwell, W. A.. Vol. 3: Evangelical Commentary on the Bible.
Baker Book House)
[see word study] = holy, set
apart) means to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person
or thing (in the OT altars, days, priests, etc were set apart) the
opposite of koinos, which means profane or common.
Hiebert adds that...
The primary meaning of sanctify is
"to set apart, to consecrate," but it also carries the thought of the
resultant holiness of character in the consecrated. The note of
holiness was already sounded in 1Thes 3:13 and 4:3-8. (Hiebert,
D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Sanctify is in the
which usually speaks of a point in time, but which in this context
according to Vine speaks...
not an act begun and accomplished
in a moment, but a “process seen in perspective,” and so contemplated
as a complete act. This is the case also with the word “keep,”
in 1Ti 6:14 (that you keep the commandment without
stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ),
where a momentary act is out of the question. These passages are
complementary one to the other, here the divine side is presented,
there the human, the action in each terminating only with the coming
of the Lord, cp. Php 1:6
Since those addressed were already saints, i.e., “sanctified ones”
(see note on “saints,” 1Th 3:13
and 2Th 2:13), the apostle must be understood here to desire for
them the continuous and complete realization of this calling, that by
His power they might be enabled to live consistently with the fact
that every part of their complex being belonged to God, cp. Ep 5:25,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Hiebert agrees with Vine
Some insist that the aorist here
points to the crisis experience of entire sanctification," but it is
generally accepted that the action is best viewed as constative
(An aorist tense verb that, along with other contextual features,
presents the action simply, in summary, or as a whole. Also called
complexive, comprehensive, global, historical, punctiliar, simple or
summary), a process of sanctification occurring during this
present life and viewed as consummated at the return of Christ. Even
those who insist upon the meaning of an initial crisis experience
stress that it must be followed by a continuing process of
sanctification. The completion of that process is in view here. (Hiebert,
D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Wuest writes that hagiazo
does not mean...
merely “to set apart,” but in the
case of the pagan word, “to set apart for the gods,” and in the case
of the Christian word “to set apart for God.” The worshipper of the
pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the
religious ceremonies connected with its worship. The Greek temple at
Corinth housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the
worship of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness of the Greek
worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful.
The believer in the Lord Jesus is
set apart for God by the Holy Spirit, out of the First Adam with the
latter’s sin and condemnation, into the Last Adam with the latter’s
righteousness and life (cf 1Cor 15:22,45). Thus, the worshipper of the
God of the Bible partakes of the character of the God for Whom he is
set apart. This is
an act of God performed at the moment a sinner puts his faith in the
Lord Jesus (1Cor 1:2). The work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded
saint, in which He sets the believer apart for God in his experience,
by eliminating sin from his life and producing His fruit (cf notes
Galatians 5:22; 23),
a process which goes on constantly throughout the believer’s life, is
5:23). When our Lord
sanctifies Himself, He sets Himself apart for God as the Sacrifice for
sin (John 17:19; He 10:7-note).
When man sanctifies God, “the word
denotes that manner of treatment on the part of man which corresponds
with the holiness of God, and which springs from faith, trust, and
fear” (see 1Pe 3:15-note)”
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Vine adds that...
A number of things are "sanctified"
in the NT - (a) the gold adorning the Temple and of the gift
laid on the altar, Matt. 23:17, 19; (b) food, 1Ti 4:5;
(c) the unbelieving spouse of a believer, 1Co 7:14; (d)
the ceremonial cleansing of the Israelites, Heb 9:13; (e) the
Father’s Name, Luke 11:2; (f) the consecration of the Son by
the Father, Jn 10:36; (g) the Lord Jesus devoting Himself to
the redemption of His people, Jn 17:19; (h) the setting apart
of the believer for God, Acts 20:32; cf. Ro 15:16; (i) the
effect on the believer of the Death of Christ, Heb 10:10, said of
God, and He 2:11; 13:12, said of the Lord Jesus; (j) the
separation of the believer from the world in his behavior— by the
Father through the Word, Jn 17:17, 19; (k) the believer who
turns away from such things as dishonor God and His gospel, 2Ti
2:21; (l) the acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ, 1Pe
“Since every believer is sanctified
in Christ Jesus, 1Cor 1:2, cf. Heb 10:10, a common NT designation
of all believers is ‘saints,’ hagioi, i.e., ‘sanctified’ or
‘holy ones.’ Thus sainthood, or sanctification, is not an attainment,
it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in
which they begin their course as Christians, Col 3:12; Heb 3:1.” (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Richards makes an
interesting point noting that...
A basic distinction must be made
between the OT and the NT doctrines of holiness. In the OT, the holy
is that which is set apart from the common so that it is isolated for
God's service. In the NT, holiness is a dynamic process. The holy is
actually the common, infused now by God's Spirit and transformed for
his service. Thus, our sanctification has to do with God's
transformation of us into persons whose actions in daily life are
expressions of the Lord. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
primarily conveys the idea of separation from and consecration to the
service of deity in secular Greek but to God Almighty in the Biblical
context. Believers are to separate themselves from profane things and
dedicate themselves wholly to their Holy God. As alluded to in the
notes on the verses that use hagiazo, there are 3 aspects of
(1) Past (positional)
Sanctification - This refers to the time of our initial salvation,
which was wrought by the atoning work of Christ, at which time we were
clothed with His righteousness, we were given a new nature and we were
freed from the power of sin and death. This a one time event, never to
(2) Present (progressive,
experiential) Sanctification - This aspect of sanctification
proceeds from past sanctification and deals with present Christian
living. It is the process in which believers are working out their
salvation by the Spirit’s power, who sets us more and more apart from
the world and more and more conformed to the image of Christ. This is
the aspect to which Paul's prayer in 1Thes 5:23 relates.
(3) Future (ultimate,
Sanctification - Glorification when God makes believers free of
even the desire of sin, free of the fallen flesh nature, and joined
with our transformed, glorified bodies for all eternity.
MacArthur writes that...
The Puritan Thomas Watson stated it
[Sanctification] is a
principle of grace savingly wrought, whereby the heart becomes holy,
and is made after God’s own heart. A sanctified person bears not only
God’s name, but His image” (Body of Divinity [reprint; Grand Rapids:
Baker, 1979], 167).
In all of Paul’s epistles, whenever
he moves from doctrinal exposition to practical exhortation (Ed note:
E.g., doctrine in Ephesians 1-3; duty in Ephesians 4-6), he has this
aspect of sanctification in mind (Experiential sanctification). His
passionate prayer for the Thessalonians and for all believers was that
through experiential sanctification God would progressively conform
them to holiness. (MacArthur,
John: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Moody Press
There are 28 uses of hagiazo
in the NT...
Matthew 6:9 (note)
"Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who art in heaven,
Comment: When we pray
hallowed be we are asking God to make His Name holy, a Name that
people will treat as holy and not as profane. We are saying "Treat
Thy Name as holy", the idea being that the
Father would secure before the whole world in a final and decisive way
the holiness appropriate to His Name, to which human beings will
respond with praise and adoration. In fact, in Ezekiel God promises to
answer this prayer declaring "I will vindicate the holiness of My
great Name which has been profaned among the nations, which you
[unfaithful Israel] have profaned in their midst. Then the nations
[Gentiles] will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD,
"when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. [Ezekiel
36:23] The psalmist Solomon prays "And blessed be His glorious Name
forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and
Amen." [Ps 72:19]
Matthew 23:17 "You fools and
blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that
sanctified the gold?
Matthew 23:19 "You blind
men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that
sanctifies the offering?
Luke 11:2 And He said to
them, "When you pray, say: 'Father,
Thy name. Thy kingdom come.
John 10:36 do you say of
Him, whom the Father sanctified (set apart for a specific task)
and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said,
'I am the Son of God '?
John 17:17 "Sanctify
in the truth; Thy word is truth.
John 17:19 "And for their
sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be
sanctified in truth.
Acts 20:32 "And now I
commend (entrust to the care of God and His word, to deposit for
safekeeping!) you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able
to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who
are sanctified. (perfect
Acts 26:18 to open their
eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the
dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness
of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified
tense) by faith
Romans 15:16 (note)
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a
priest the gospel of God, that my offering of the Gentiles might
become acceptable, sanctified (perfect
tense) by the
here refers to the moment these
Gentile sinners were set apart and made saints - the moment of
salvation (so called "positional sanctification") with
pointing to the permanence of their position in Christ (which should
give you assurance regarding eternal security).
Denney explains that “The
offering which Paul conceives himself as presenting to God is the
Gentile Church, and the priestly function in the exercise of which
this offering is made is the preaching of the gospel.” (Nicoll, W
Robertson, Editor: Expositors Greek Testament)
MacArthur writes that "In
faithful fulfillment of his unique apostolic calling, Paul’s supreme
offering to God was a multitude of Gentiles, who by virtue of the Holy
Spirit’s power had been sanctified and thus made acceptable for
fellowship with the Father. Like Paul, every believer who is
instrumental in winning a soul to Jesus Christ presents that convert,
whether Jew or Gentile, as a priestly offering to the Lord." (MacArthur,
J: Romans 9-16. Chicago: Moody Press
1 Corinthians 1:2 to the
church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been
Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
Comment: John MacArthur
explains that "They were saints because they had been
set apart from sin, made holy in Christ Jesus. According to Scripture,
every true believer in Jesus Christ—whether faithful or unfaithful,
well known or unknown, leader or follower—is a set apart person, a
holy person, a saint. In the biblical sense, the most obscure believer
today is just as much a saint as the apostle Paul. This is the
believer’s position in Christ. Holiness, in that positional
sense (Ed note:
Synonymous with "positional sanctification"), is not a matter of good
works, of holy living. As Christians we should live holy lives, but
holy living does not make us holy. To the extent our living is holy,
it is because, in Christ, we already are holy and have the counsel and
power of His Holy Spirit. We are holy because the Sanctifier (the One
who makes holy) has already sanctified us in response to our trust in
Him (Heb. 2:11). Christ’s work, not our own, makes us holy. We are
“saints by calling.” That refers to the efficacious call of God to
salvation (1 Cor 1:24, 26). (MacArthur,
J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such
were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified
tense), but you
were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit
of our God.
Comment: To be sanctified
is to be made holy inwardly and to be able, in the Spirit’s power, to
live a righteous life outwardly. Before a person is saved he has no
holy nature and no capacity for holy living. But in Christ we are
given a new nature and can live out the new kind of life. Sin’s total
domination is broken and is replaced by a life of holiness. By their
fleshly sinfulness the Corinthians were interrupting that divine work.
1 Corinthians 7:14 For the
unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband;
for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.
Comment: Wuest notes
that "In the case where the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the
believing husband, and the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the
believing wife, it “clearly cannot signify the sanctification in its
fulness which the NT divine and saving work produces; for a personal
faith is required in the object of it, which is in this case denied.
Still it is unmistakably intimated that by virtue of the marriage
union, the unbelieving side in its measure participates in the saving
work and fellowship with God experienced by the believing side"
MacArthur adds that "In
God’s eyes a home is set apart for Himself when the husband, wife, or,
by implication, any other family member, is a Christian. Such a home
is not Christian in the full sense, but it is immeasurably superior to
one that is totally unbelieving. Even if the Christian is ridiculed
and persecuted, unbelievers in the family are blessed because of that
believer. One Christian in a home graces the entire home. God’s
indwelling that believer and all the blessings and graces that flow
into the believer’s life from heaven will spill over to enrich all who
are near." (Ibid)
Ephesians 5:26 (note)
that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing
of water with the word,
1Thessalonians 5:23 (note) Now
may the God of peace Himself sanctify (optative
entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete,
without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:5 (For
everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if
it is received with gratitude) for it (everything created by God)
is sanctified (present
tense) by means
of the word of God and prayer.
Comment: BKC explains
that "All the seemingly “ordinary” things of life can then become
extraordinary as they are consecrated (hagiazo)
by the Word of God and prayer (Ed note: in context especially
gratitude or thanksgiving). In the light of the Scriptures a Christian
recognizes God’s good hand behind the things provided, and offers
thanksgiving to the Lord. In this way the ordinary things so easily
taken for granted (some of which are forbidden by errorists) become
sanctified (set apart from common things) as occasions for worship and
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985.
2 Timothy 2:21 (note)
Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a
vessel for honor, sanctified (perfect
tense), useful to
the Master, prepared for every good work.
Hebrews 2:11 (note)
For both He who sanctifies (present
tense) and those
who are sanctified (present
tense) are all
from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them
Comment: "He Who
sanctifies" is the Lord Jesus Christ. "Those who are sanctified"
which could be paraphrased "those who are continually being set apart
from the world and to God" which describes our present state of
progressive sanctification ("present tense salvation" -- see the
Three Tenses of Salvation)
which describes our daily being conformed to the image of God's Son,
which will culminate in our being "like Him" (1 John 3:2-3)
Hebrews 9:13 (note)
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkling those who have been defiled (made "common" or unclean,
violating the state required for ritual holiness), sanctify for
the cleansing (purifying, making ritually cleansed and acceptable to
offer worship in the setting of the Tabernacle) of the flesh
Comment: In the OT the
worshippers were "set apart" from whatever ritually defiled them by
the blood of animals, which effected only an "external" cleansing, not
an internal one (contrast this effect with that brought about by the
blood of Christ in
Hebrews 10:10 (note)
By this will we have been sanctified (perfect
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Comment: Here the writer's
pictures a past
completed event with present ongoing effect/result. Note also that
sanctified is in the
indicating we are being acted upon by an outside force [God and His
will] Who takes a sinner and sets them apart as a same person.
Furthermore note that the
shows in the
strongest way the permanent and continuous state of salvation into
which the believer is brought and in which he lives, which is
especially significant if you wrestle with the issue of eternal
security - even the verb tense underscores the truth of "eternal
Hebrews 10:14 (note)
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are
Comment: This verse can be
amplified as follows - "Those who are continually (present
= subject acted upon by outside
source, ie, the sanctifying work of the Spirit) set apart
from the world and unto God".
Here the reference is to ongoing
sanctification or so-called "progressive sanctification" (= "present
tense salvation") which is a continuous process in this life and is
terminated only when we are glorified ("future tense salvation") in
eternity future in heaven. (See also the
Three Tenses of Salvation)
Hebrews 10:29 (note)
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has
trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the
blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has
insulted the Spirit of grace?
Comment: Wuest writes
that "The words “by which he was sanctified” in connection with
the identity of the person who committed this sin (trampling under
foot...), might trouble the reader when he remembers that the
historical background and analysis of the book show that that person
is an unsaved person. But the difficulty disappears when we remember
that the writer is addressing himself to the professing Christian
church, made up of saved and unsaved, and that the idea here is, “by
which he professed to be sanctified.”
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Hebrews 13:12 (note)
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through
His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
1 Peter 3:15 (note)
Christ as Lord in your hearts (quoting from Isaiah 8:13), always being
ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account
for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence
Comment: Instead of worrying
or being afraid, the readers are commanded to set Christ apart as Lord
in their heart. The idea is that instead of fear, affirm Jesus is Lord
and submit to (and trust) His control, instruction and guidance. Set
Christ apart from all others as the sole object of their reverence and
obedience, even in the face of unjust suffering. He will give courage,
boldness and fortitude that we might be able to weather the storm.
Revelation 22:11 (note)
"Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is
filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still
practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still
From the preceding passages we
learn several truths about hagiazo or sanctifying... In Romans 15:16
the Spirit produces an initial sanctification or so-called
positional sanctification (which equates with the moment of
salvation). Other passages also speak of our initial salvation as the
time at which we were sanctified or set apart from the world
and unto God (Acts 20:32, 26:18, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11). In John
17:17 Jesus teaches that the Word of truth is the agent by which
believers are sanctified (here speaking of ongoing sanctification once
we are saved). In Hebrews 10 we see these two aspects of
sanctification - past tense salvation or initial salvation where by
God's "will we have been sanctified" (Hebrews
10:10) and present tense
salvation or experiential (progressive) sanctification.
There are 144 uses of
hagiazo in the
(Ge 2:3; Ex 13:2, 12;
19:14, 22f; 20:8, 11; 28:38, 41; 29:1, 20, 27, 33, 36f, 43f; 30:29f;
31:13; 40:8ff, 13; Lev. 6:18, 27; 8:10, 12, 15, 30; 10:3; 11:44; 16:4,
19; 20:3, 8; 21:8, 12, 15, 23; 22:2f, 9, 16, 32; 25:10f; 27:14ff, 22;
Num. 3:13; 5:9f; 6:11f; 7:1; 8:17; 16:16, 37f; 18:8f, 29; 20:12f;
27:14; Deut. 5:12, 15; 15:19; 22:9; 32:51; 33:3; Jos. 7:13; Jdg. 17:3;
1 Sam. 7:1, 16; 16:5; 21:5; 2 Sam. 8:11; 11:4; 1 Ki. 8:8, 64; 9:3, 7;
2 Ki. 10:20; 12:18; 1 Chr. 18:11; 23:13; 26:26ff; 2 Chr. 2:4; 5:11;
7:7, 16, 20; 26:18; 29:33; 30:8; 31:6; 35:3; Ezr. 3:5; Neh. 3:1;
12:47; 13:22; Ps. 46:4; Prov. 20:25; Isa. 8:13; 10:17; 13:3; 29:23;
49:7; Jer. 1:5; 17:22, 24, 27; 51:27f; Ezek. 20:12, 20, 41; 28:22, 25;
36:23; 37:28; 38:16, 23; 39:27; 44:19, 24; 46:20; 48:11; Dan. 4:22;
12:7, 10; Joel 1:14; 2:15f; 3:9; Amos 2:12; Zeph. 1:7; Hag. 2:12) Hagiazo is repeatedly used
to express the entire
dedication and consecration of persons (including an entire
nation, Israel), things (altar, etc), times (days, etc) to God.
Genesis 2:3 Then God blessed
the seventh day and sanctified (Hebrew = qadash = set apart;
Lxx = hagiazo) it, because in it He rested from all His work which God
had created and made.
Exodus 13:2 "Sanctify
(Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx = hagiazo) to Me every first-born,
the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of
man and beast; it belongs to Me."
Exodus 29:1 Now this is what you shall do to
them to consecrate (Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx =
hagiazo) them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and
two rams without blemish
Exodus 40:13 And you shall put the holy garments
on Aaron and anoint him and consecrate (Hebrew = qadash = set
apart; Lxx = hagiazo) him, that he may minister as a priest to Me.
Leviticus 11:44 'For I am
the LORD your God. Consecrate (Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx
= hagiazo) yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy. And
you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things
that swarm on the earth.
Leviticus 22:2, 3 Tell Aaron and his sons to be
careful with the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, which they
dedicate (Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx = hagiazo) to Me, so as not to profane My holy name; I am
the LORD. Say to them, 'If any man among all your descendants
throughout your generations approaches the holy gifts which the sons
of Israel dedicate (Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx = hagiazo)
to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off
from before Me. I am the LORD.
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I
formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I
consecrated (Hebrew = qadash = set apart; Lxx = hagiazo) you; I
have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
MacArthur comments that this
prayer is for their sanctification explaining that...
Sanctification is the ongoing
spiritual process by which God increasingly sets believers apart from
sin and moves them toward holiness. The apostle’s entreaty for the
Thessalonians parallels and reiterates the theme and form of his
earlier prayer for their spiritual growth (see notes
from hólos = all, the whole, complete + télos = end,
consummation) is used only here in the NT and means complete to the end, i.e. absolutely perfect,
wholly complete, completely-entirely!
something complete in all its parts, with no part wanting or unsound.
implies entirety and also the idea of completion. Paul asks God that
nothing in these saints would escape the sanctifying power (of His
Word and His Spirit). Paul is praying that God would sanctify these
saints "through and
Hiebert adds that the basic
idea of holoteles...
is "wholly attaining the end,
reaching the intended goal," hence has the force of no part being left
unreached. The prayer is that the divine sanctification may extend to
every part of their being, leaving no area untouched by the pervasive
power of divine holiness. It is tragically true that "many are
satisfied with a partial Christianity; some parts of their life are
still worldly" (Lenski) (Hiebert,
D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Denney writes that our...
inward life, in all its aspects, is
to be sanctified through and through. All our powers of thought and
imagination are to be consecrated; unholy thoughts are to be banished;
lawless, roving imaginings, suppressed. All our inventiveness is to be
used in God’s service. All our affections are to be holy. Our heart’s
desire is not to settle on anything from which it would shrink in the
day of the Lord Jesus. The fire which He came to cast on the earth
must be kindled in our souls, and blaze there till it has burned up
all that is unworthy of His love. Our consciences must be disciplined
by His word and Spirit, till all the aberrations due to pride and
passion and the law of the world have been reduced to nothing, and as
face answers face in the glass, so our judgment and our will answer
AND MAY YOUR SPIRIT AND
SOUL AND BODY BE PRESERVED COMPLETE
AND WITHOUT BLAME AT THE
COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST:
humon to pneuma kai e psuche kai to soma amemptos en te parousia tou
kuriou hemon Iesou Christou teretheie. (3SAPO): (Hebrews
4:12) (1Thes 3:13; 1Corinthians 1:8,9; Ephesians 5:26,27; Philippians
1:6,10; 2:15,16; Colossians 1:22; Jude 1:24)
Hiebert observes that...
The prayer that they may be wholly
sanctified is now carried forward with the petition that they may be
preserved in all parts of their being until the return of Christ.
Sanctification and preservation go together. (Ibid)
Regarding the phrase
your spirit and soul and body
Hiebert explains that...
All three areas (spirit, soul and
body) stand in need of the sanctifying and keeping (preserving) power
of God. It is a prayer that is applicable only to believers. The three
terms are arranged in the order of merit, the highest first. The
enumeration begins with that which is highest and purest in man and
ends with the outward and material part of man. The divine
sanctification begins with the inner and spiritual and reaches down to
the outward and material. The precise implication of this threefold
enumeration for the essential cure of man has been much debated.
The sanctifying work of God
includes not only the immaterial part of the believer (spirit and
soul), but also the body.
rightly observes that...
true sanctification reaches to the
whole man - spirit, soul, and body. (Matthew Poole's Commentary on the
(pneuma) describes the immaterial part of the human personality
in contrast outward and visible aspects of physical flesh and body
from psucho = to
breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the
breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature.
However the discerning reader must understand that psuche is
one of those Greek words that can have several meanings, the exact
nuance being determined by the context. It follows that one cannot
simply select of the three main meanings of psuche and insert it in a
given passage for it may not be appropriate to the given context. The
meaning of psuche is also contingent upon whether one is a
dichotomist or trichotomist. (Click an excellent article on
in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; see also ISBE
(See word study on
lexicon makes the point that...
It is often impossible to draw hard
and fast lines in the use of this multivalent word. Generally it is
used in reference to dematerialized existence or being... Without
psuche a being, whether human or animal, consists merely of flesh and
bones and without functioning capability. Speculations and views
respecting the fortunes of psuche and its relation to the body find
varied expression in our literature. (Arndt,
W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature)
(soma) describes an organized whole made up of parts and
members and generally describes any material body, in this case the
MacArthur comments that...
In view of the prevailing
Greek culture, it is significant that Paul included the body in
his benediction. That culture—influenced by a philosophical dualism
which taught that man’s spirit is inherently good and his body
inherently evil—held the body in low esteem. That philosophy
provided a convenient rationale for dismissing as inconsequential
whatever immoral physical behavior people might have engaged in...If
sanctification is to be complete, it will extend to every part of the
believer, especially the body, which thinks, feels, and acts in
response to the holiness of the inner person. (Ibid)
Ryrie for feels that
spirit and soul and
body should not be understood as defining the parts of man, but
as representing the whole man.
Nevertheless as alluded to earlier,
this passage has been the subject of considerable debate over the
question "Is man a trichotomous (three part) or dichotomous (two part)
Hiebert writes that...
All agree at man in his essential
nature is both material and nonmaterial. The body is the
outward, material part of man, the instrument through which the inner
life expresses itself. It is an essential part of man as created by
God (Genesis 2:7), and in the biblical view man is incomplete without
a body. Our salvation will not be completed until we receive our
glorified bodies at Christ's return (Heb 11:40-note;
Php 3:20, 21-note).
Spirit and soul relate to
the nonmaterial part of man. The Bible at times speaks of man as a
bipartite being, referred to as composed of "body and spirit"
(James 2:26-note; 2Cor. 7:1-note) or of "body and soul" (Matt. 10:28).
But here, as in several other places (e.g., He 4:12
man is viewed as tripartite. This raises the thorny problem of what is
meant here by spirit and soul. Both terms are used with
various shades of meaning in the Scriptures...
The common suggestion that these terms are simply a rhetorical piling
up of words for emphasis is rejected by Ellicott with the remark that
such a position is "plainly to set aside all sound rules of scriptural
Bible students who accept the accuracy of Scripture have always
believed that a distinction between the two terms was intended here.
If there is no difference between them it is difficult to see how the
Spirit of God can distinguish them, as in He 4:12
That there is a distinction between soul and spirit is
clear from Paul's use of the adjectives psuchikos (soulish) and
pneumatikos (spiritual) in 1Corinthians 2:14, 15 and 1Cor 15:44.
The spirit is the highest and most distinctive part of man. It
is the life principle imparted to man by God Who is Spirit, enabling
him to know and communicate with God. But with the fall, man as a
spiritual being was separated from God and spiritual death resulted.
The impartation of a new spiritual nature in the new birth is
necessary so that man can again have direct communion with God.
The soul may be viewed as the self-conscious life of man, the
seat of personality. The self-conscious personality reaches out in two
directions. In its relation to the world, the soul is entirely
dependent upon the body for its information and responses. Through his
spirit, man reaches up to the spiritual world, Godward. The fallen man
has an awareness of the reality of God and the spiritual world, but in
his unregenerate condition he had no direct communion with God. Thus,
the unregenerated man can only understand a religion of the senses.
With the new birth, he is brought into direct relation with God
through the renewed spirit, enabling him to worship God in spirit and
however, suggests that it is very difficult to distinguish between
spirit and soul. Scriptural usage indicates an overlapping
of functions. Nor need we try to keep them in watertight compartments.
Students of Scripture are not agreed as to whether the distinction
between spirit and soul in our passage is substantial or functional.
Trichotomists hold to the former, dichotomists to the
We agree with those who, like Marshall, conclude that this triple
designation, most naturally understood, presents a trichotomous view
of human nature, "taking it in the sense that Paul here distinguishes
three aspects of the Christian's personality, his life in relationship
with God through the 'spiritual' part of his nature, his human
personality, or 'soul,' and the human body through which he acts and
expresses himself. (Ibid)
Guzik writes that the
trichotomist view has...
some merit, but also has problems.
One might say that Mark 12:30 divides man’s nature into four parts
(heart, soul, mind, and strength), and that 1Corinthians 7:34 divides
man’s nature into two parts (body and spirit). In some passages the
terms soul and spirit seem to be synonymous, other times they seem to
be distinct and hard to define precisely. It seems that there are
indeed these three different aspects to the human person, yet the
specific meaning of spirit or soul must be determined by the context.
Vincent comments that...
It is useless to attempt to
draw from these words a technical, psychological statement of a
threefold division of the human personality. If Paul recognised any
such technical division, it was more probably twofold; the body or
material part, and the immaterial part with its higher and lower sides
(1 Thessalonians 5)
John MacArthur feels that
the view of man as trichotomous cannot be Scripturally
substantiated writing that...
No Scripture text ascribes
different, distinct substance and functions to the spirit and
soul. Trichotomists nevertheless usually propose that spirit
is man’s Godward consciousness and soul is his earthward
consciousness; however, neither the Greek usage of spirit
(pneuma) nor of soul (psuche) sustains that proposition. The
nonmaterial part of man does have myriad capacities to respond to God,
Satan, and the world’s many stimuli, but it is untenable to
arbitrarily separate the spirit from the soul. The two terms are used
interchangeably in Scripture (cf. Heb 6:19; 10:39; 1Peter 2:11; 2Peter 2:8). Spirit and soul are familiar and common
synonyms that Paul used to emphasize the depth and scope of
sanctification. Some suggest that an acceptable translation of this
portion of Paul’s prayer could be, “May your spirit, even soul and
body,” in which case “spirit” would refer to the whole person, and
“soul and body” to the person’s nonmaterial and material parts.
References from Paul’s other epistles provide clear evidence that he
was a dichotomist (Ro 8:10; 1Cor. 2:11; 5:3, 5; 7:34; 2Cor. 7:1;
Gal. 6:18; Col. 2:5; 2Ti 4:22).
Some claim Hebrews 4:12, “For the
word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints
and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the
heart,” supports a trichotomist view of man’s essence because it
suggests splitting soul and spirit. But a careful look at the verse’s
language refutes that contention. The writer did not say the sword of
the Word penetrates a person’s inner being and separates his soul from
his spirit. He said only that the sword cuts open the soul and the
spirit of the person. He used a second metaphorical expression
“piercing … both joints and marrow” to further depict the deep
penetration God’s Word makes into the inner person. This verse poses
no special difficulty for the dichotomist position. (MacArthur,
John: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Moody Press
Milligan adds that...
‘your spirit and your soul and your
body,’ but this triple subject must not be pressed as if it contained
a psychological definition of human nature. St Paul ‘is not writing a
treatise on the soul, but pouring forth, from the fulness of his
heart, a prayer for his converts’ (Jowett), and consequently all
appeals to the verse in support of a Pauline system of Trichotomy as
against the Dichotomy found elsewhere in his Epistles are beside the
mark. At the same time it will not do to regard the three subjects as
of ‘mere rhetorical significance’ (de Wette): they are
evidently chosen in accordance with the general O.T. view of the
constitution of man to emphasize a sanctification which shall extend
to man’s whole being, whether on its immortal, its personal, or its
bodily side... (St. Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians. 1908)
from teros - a guard or warden)
means to keep an eye on, keep
something in view, to attend carefully, or to watch over it. It conveys the sense of
protecting, watching over and guarding
something which is in one’s possession. To watch as one would some
precious thing. It means to observe attentively, to keep watch over
and to retain in custody.