by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 January 17, 2016 Humble, Texas
13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose youfrom the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit andbelief of the truth:
14 whereunto he called you through ourgospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.
I. Salvation is "In (By) Sanctification of [the] Spirit".
A. Peter uses this same exact phraseology in 1 Peter 1:2 ("...elect...through sanctification of the Spirit...).
1. There is, apparently, a pretty significant connection between being chosen by God unto salvation and the holiness/sanctification that is connected to "Spirit". Peter's echo of Paul's terminology pretty much insists upon this connection.
2. The grammar is not as straightforward as it could be: the use of "en" and the absence of the definite article before the word "spirit" open several doors of possibility in terms of meaning.
a. The "en" is one of the more imprecise prepositions in the Greek language so that the lexicographers say that, depending upon several factors, it can be translated into English by the words "in, on, at, by, or with".
b. Additionally the absence of the definite article before the word "spirit" does two things: first, it makes the identity of "which" spirit is in view a bit ambiguous; and simultaneously it puts a strong emphasis upon the issue of "spirit" as opposed to "soul" and "body" (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for the distinctives involved).
1) In that preceding text (1 Thessalonians 5:23), at issue is the "sanctification" of "spirit", "soul", and "body" to which "the God of the Peace" has committed Himself. The anartharous "spirit" in our current text at least opens the possibility that Paul has the human "spirit" in mind by reason of the preceding context.
2) And in another preceding text (1 Thessalonians 4:8), "sanctification" (translated "holiness" by the AV in 4:7) is deliberately tied to God's gift to us of "His Holy Spirit". God's "calling" is "unto sanctification" and any who would despise the implications of that call are in direct conflict with God's Holy Spirit. Thus, the anartharous use of "spirit" in our current text may well be an emphatic reference to God's Holy Spirit.
c. Neither Paul, nor Peter, give a definitive answer to how we are to take their words. However, since there are two concepts introduced by Paul's "en" ("sanctification" and "faith"), it is at least likely that he was addressing the God/human elements that bring about salvation: God's work of bringing us to "sanctification" and man's response of "faith".
1) The grammar is the same: an anartharous noun in the dative (sanctification and faith) followed by another anartharous noun in the genitive (spirit and truth).
2) The most literal translation would, then, be "en" sanctification of spirit and faith of truth. This leaves it up to us to determine how to understand the phrases within the boundaries of grammatical possibility. Since the two concepts involved ("sanctification" and "faith") are generally split in terms of "who" is in view (God, in respect to our sanctification; and man, in respect to faith), it is more than likely that Paul is dealing with the two issues involved in salvation: God's and man's.
B. God's "choice" from the beginning unto salvation is put into historical "play" by "Spirit", which I assume to be His Spirit.
1. The term translated "sanctification" is used 10 times in the New Testament and is translated "sanctification" five times and "holiness" five times. It derives from a verb that is used in 26 texts of the New Testament. The basic idea seems to be "to make one clean from uncleanness", but it also carries the idea of "giving something a special status" so that that "status" becomes "defining". We are "The Sanctified", those given the "status" of being the justified children of the God of gods. Additionally, "sanctification" has, apparently, more to do with being placed into a defining relationship than it has to do with actual moral purity. "The Sanctified" are not necessarily "significantly moral", but they are, necessarily, related to God through Jesus Christ as the Second Adam. In other words, the issue is the relationship sustained with Jesus Christ which, then, by extension results in Justification and the degree of moral purity that such a status confers upon them.
2. Salvation becomes a reality when we are "justified" by God and placed into the same kind of "connection" with Christ that we have with Adam so that we are considered actors alongside with them. In Adam, we sinned; in Christ, we acted perfectly righteously.
3. The idea is that the Spirit moves into our history and brings us to salvation by deliberately doing all that is required for us to be identified with Christ. He is the great persuader who "convicts" us unto "faith in the Gospel". The God "chose us from the beginning and The Spirit brings that choice to fruition in human history.
C. This "sanctification of [the] Spirit" is the basis of salvation and is, rightfully, fully focused upon God's side of the picture.
II. Salvation is "In (By) Faith of Truth".
A. This is the methodology of salvation that involves the attitudes and understanding of human beings. It is the "human" side of the salvation issue along the lines of Hebrews 11:6 where "without faith it is impossible to please God".
B. At issue is the second most fundamental reality of any real relationship: mutual trust. Without "faith" no relationship goes anywhere.
1. Heavily involved in this "faith" requirement is the first most fundamental reality of any real relationship: mutual love. Without "love" to drive it, "faith" is worthless.
2. But also heavily involved in this "faith" requirement is the content of faith: it must be "true". Delusional faith; misguided faith; selfish faith -- none of these have any benefit whatsoever unto "salvation".
C. When "faith" is our focus, we must ask how it is that a human being who just naturally considers God to be an enemy ever comes to "love" (value) Him enough to want to "believe" Him.
1. Thus, "salvation" is first "through the sanctification process that the Spirit produces".
2. Then, once the "love" and "faith" issues are in place, the human being so "sanctified" by the Spirit is ready to hear the Gospel and believe it and be saved.