by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7 June 7, 2015 Dayton, Texas
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].
1901 ASV Translation:
23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at thecoming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
I. The Preservation is Described as "Blameless".
A. The term "blameless" must be understood properly.
1. It cannot mean that the person being "preserved" is "perfect in holiness".
a. The New Testament presents our "perfection" as a "hope" to be realized only "when we see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). Even Paul acknowledged that he "had not attained", or "was already perfect" (Philippians 3:12) while having already claimed in the preceding context that he was "blameless" in the righteousness of the Law as a persecutor of the Church (Philippians 3:6). Clearly, this claim was not one of "perfect moral holiness". It was, rather, a claim that he "practiced" the dictates of the Law that included sacrifices for sins and transgressions. Thus, far from being a claim to be "perfect", he was only claiming that he took advantage of the offerings and sacrifices on a regular basis so that no one could accuse him of not walking "legally".
b. It, therefore, must have some meaning associated with God's "telic" (from the term "telos" in the verse) intentions and "klarotic" (from the term "klaros" also in this verse) perspective in His workings within His people.
2. It must have its meaning in the reality of God's plans to prepare each of the heirs of the Kingdom for their eternal position of service within that Kingdom.
3. Thus, we do not have a promise of "attaining moral perfection" in this present setting, but we do have a "calling" that will be pursued by the Faithful Father.
B. Paul's description is significant: being divinely prepared for eternal service in the Kingdom of God is no small commitment on God's part as we can easily see from the state of affairs of the Church in this present time.
II. Both Sanctification and Preservation Are Ultimately God's Business.
A. As soon as he finishes with his "benedictory wishes" (that God would sanctify and preserve), Paul declares that God is faithful to accomplish what for which He has summoned us.
B. The first issue: faithfulness.
1. Paul refers to this issue with God in both 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
2. The issue of "faithfulness" is strictly defined by the words of God as an issue of doing what He has promised to do.
a. This raises the issue of the question of the recipients of the promise(s). Clearly, not all of the promises of God are addressed to all of the human beings that have come into being.
b. It also raises the issue of whether a "promise" stands if it is not "believed" by the person to whom it was made.
1) On one side of the issue is the promise made to Abraham regarding Isaac and the fact that Sarah did not conceive until she "believed" (Hebrews 11:11). This was problematic in the sense that Abraham did believe, but he did not receive the outcome of his faith until his wife came to faith. Since Abraham believed, God was committed by His own integrity to fulfill His word to him, but that meant that He had to work things around so that Sarah would believe Him also, if she was to receive strength to conceive by faith.
2) On the other hand, there is the claim of many that the Gospel can be proclaimed to all as a "promise" from God, but not all are saved. Thus, "unbelief" keeps "promises" from being fulfilled. This is tacitly admitted by Paul in Romans 3:3 where he asks this very question and answers it. Those who do not believe do not receive what is promised; only those who believe, receive. Romans 11:20, combined with Hebrews 11:6, makes it as clear as possible that God does not have any internal compulsion to act beneficently in the face of unbelief. This does not mean He willnot act so, but it does mean He is not compelled to act so.
c. And, finally, it brings Paul's reference to God's faithfulness to the connecting link: He Who is calling.
1) The faithfulness of God is to the purposes involved in His "calling" of His people. Paul was "called" to a specific function and God was faithful to him in the daily outworking of his activities involved in that function (2 Timothy 1:9).
2) In 2:12 God's "calling" was to His Kingdom and glory; issues involved in the statements of 5:23.
3) In 4:7 the "call" is more specific: not to uncleanness but to holiness. If God is "faithful" to this "call", why are so many "believers" practicing uncleanness? One reason: they are not "believing". I do not mean by this that they are unjustified; I mean that they are not "believing" the promises of God regarding their summons to holiness. God delivers those who depend upon Him from temptations to uncleanness; those who do not so depend find themselves snared as was David with Bathsheba.
III. Paul's Purpose In Declaring God "Faithful".
A. Because the life-experience of a person is rooted in what he/she loves/believes, there are real consequences to choices made with "loves" and "beliefs" as the drivers of those choices.
B. Clearly Paul is attempting to get the Thessalonians to "believe" in the "believability" of God: He is trustworthy.