Thessalonians - Glorification by Faith in Christ

By E. S. (Emanuel Sprankel) Young



V. The Lord's Day and the Unbelieving World, 5:1-28

The last letter written by the Apostle Paul gives warning to all of the danger of misapplying the truth of God and being guilty of wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. All who will listen and take God at His Word are in no danger of being misled. God had spoken in the previous chapters concerning the resurrection of the righteous dead and the translation of the living saints upon the earth at the same time, the living and the dead, being forever with the Lord. He closes the chapter with this expression, “Comfort one another with these words.” In this chapter the Apostles make clear to the Church concerning Scripture that had been given before that ought not to be confused with the revelation contained in the previous chapter.

1. THE DAY OF THE LORD, 5:1-11

The Apostle in these verses emphasizes the fact that there was no need for instruction in that which the Scripture had so fully set forth before. He gives a number of reasons for this in the following verses.

Ver. 1. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written unto you.

The Christians were in the light and by remaining there, they would be able to lead others into it. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. The Word of God contained the necessary information concerning the plan of God for the future, in which is sufficient revelation for the Church of God, the Body of Christ, that she should not be taken unawares at any time. However, she must exercise watchfulness and be armed with faith, love, and hope, knowing that God has not appointed her unto wrath but that God will bring about in due time all the blessings promised her in His word. Paul here is speaking by inspiration guided by the Holy Spirit in this information about what the Word of God contained concerning the blessings for the Christian Church and what it contained concerning the day of the Lord or the Lord's Day, soon to come forth upon all as a thief in the night. He gives a number.of reasons why no additional information is needed upon this important subject.

(1) First reason, 2-6.

Ver. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

This is the day when the Lord is revealed from Heaven, the day of His visible manifestation. It is the time when judgment will be executed upon the world. The day of the Lord of which the Apostle now writes is fully revealed by the prophets and for that reason the Apostle says, “Ye brethren know perfectly.” That was not true concerning the coming of the Lord, for His saints as made known to us through revelation by the Apostle Paul in the former paragraph. This was a new revelation not revealed in the Old Testament. The Day of the Lord will begin with the removal of the Church and the ending of man's day or man's judgment as presented in 1 Corinthians (4:3). Man's judgment now prevails everywhere. This is the time when man is working out things according to his own judgment and it is the time marked by the absence of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the day in which man is speaking and God is silent. Man is having his time of authority and God is holding His peace. God has spoken. He had His say. He last spoke when man murdered His blessed Son, whom He gave to redeem man. God now leaves man to himself either to obey or to disobey. Man plans to regenerate the world. He puts forth civilization and reformation to be substituted for that which God says man needs, which is regeneration. Man believes that through the education of the physical and intellectual he can reach the very best there is for man to enjoy. We see his schemes for education and reform which the world has ample time to test. Now in this age of grace God, having made such wonderful provisions to redeem and save man, is sitting in the Heaven silent but as the Scripture says, laughs at those who tread beneath their feet His methods and words. They are under His wrath and He laughs at their man-made efforts for improvement. In this age of wordliness and modernism, God is silent but he tests His people's faithfulness. The Son of God's last words, were “Ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Man's day will end. The rapture of the Church as described in the fourth chapter will bring an end to man's judgment or man's day.

The Lord's Day. There are many passages of Scripture that set forth what is meant here by the Apostle (Isa. 2:12-20; Joel 2-3; Zeph, 1:14-18; Zech. 14:1-9). Jesus in the Four Gospels speaks frequently of that day as, “The day when the Son of Man cometh.” That is, in His own glorious manifestation. That which precedes this day is also made known by the prophets of the Old Testament. Then the Lord Himself gave us words to confirm what the prophets had said, “And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars—and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25-27). Judgment is in store for the world when that day comes. The Bible speaks of judgment and tribulation which are the forerunners of the Lord's day. The professing church is almost silent concerning the coming of this day, but the voice of God still speaks; however, the cry of the world saying “Peace and safety” has such an influence upon the professing Christian world even, that she almost ceases to believe or even to listen to the Lord's voice.

“So cometh as a thief in the night.” The thief makes his appearance at a time when he is least expected. He comes in the stillness of the night when all are asleep. Just because certain things did not happen immediately we begin to lose faith in the thing that God says and question whether it will ever happen. This was true in the Early Church when some began to doubt the Word of God and began saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). People are asking the same question in this advanced age of education and civilization, in this age when we have so clearly and emphatically set forth in God's revealed book the things concerning the rapture of the Church ~ and the Day of the Lord. By perverting the Scriptures, the Church is in confusion and many are brought into a false hope and false optimism. No matter what God says and has done, yet humanity believes in peace and safety to be brought about by an unregenerate world. Just as the thief comes during the time when people are asleep and unprepared so in a similar manner, Christ will find an unprepared world not expecting a fulfilment of the teaching of the Word of God and the coming of the Day of the Lord.

Ver. 3. When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.

This tells us that when the unbelieving world shall have gained such an influence and cry for peace and safety, deceiving us through belief of internal rest and external security, God. all the time is saying, “Sudden destruction cometh upon them.” The Scripture says, at such times there is the greatest danger. It is the time when they are most off their guard, that the crisis approaches. God has clearly revealed unto His children that such a crisis should not come upon them unawares.

“As travail upon a woman with child.” This figure is perfectly consistent with what the Apostle has said before, that the times and seasons were not just definitely known, but sure to come to pass. As labor cometh upon a woman suddenly, so sudden destruction comes upon the unregenerate world which shall not escape.

Ver. 4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

The brethren, the disciples of Christ, are not among those who are crying peace and safety. The Apostle's words here are encouragement to those who know the Scripture and believe that God is able to do what he says. The Church is in sucha position by Divine right that she need not fear that day coming upon her as a thief. If the Church were in darkness as the world is then there might be reason to fear. By darkness is meant not merely ignorance concerning the teaching of the Word but moral depravity which comes through remaining under the power of sin. The redeemed Children who are in the Body of Christ and have Christ as their Head need not be surprised at the coming of the Lord's Day, because they are not in darkness, but in the light.

Ver. 5. For ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness.

This tells the Christian the class to which he belongs. If we are among the children of the day then we are among those who are able to see because we are in the light and the thing that we can see need not surprise us when it comes. The day being a period of light is opposite to that which is darkness and night.

Ver. 6. So then let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.

We are the children of the light and of the day. We are in Christ who is light. We have been instructed in His Word. Therefore, we are enlightened and able to have our eyes opened so we can watch and be sober, and need not be unprepared for the Lord's day. Before this day comes the Lord will have already come for His saints. The world and those who are Christians only in name, and make a hollow profession, will be overtaken by this day of the Lord, and God's true children, the praying people, will have been removed by the Lord into glory. It will be a time when the world will join hands with professing believers and will take a final plunge into apostasy and iniquity. This is all confirmed by the Word of God. Then there will be judgment upon judgment from above poured out. Tribulation and judgment will be the forerunners of His visible manifestation. The times and the seasons referred to as the Apostle Paul says, do not concern those who are the Lord's.

Jesus had told His disciples before he left them on the Mount of Olives that it was not for them to know the times and the seasons (Acts 1:7), or when the time of the Gentiles will end, but to wait and watch for Him, “who will come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Christians, during this age of grace, are instructed to ' wait and watch that when the bridegroom comes they may be prepared. We must not confuse the coming of the Lord for His saints and the coming of the Lord with His saints to take vengeance upon all those who know not God. The world has rejected her King and will be judged because she believed that through the man of sin she would secure her salvation. It is the power of this man of sin that deceives those who are under them and makes them cry, “Peace and safety.”

(2). The second reason, 7-8.

Ver. 7. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.

The night is the season in which sleep and drunkenness usually occur while the day is the season of watchfulness, sobriety and work. The heathen and Jewish people generally considered it a very disgraceful thing for a man to be seen drunken in the daytime. The unbelieving Jews accused the believers on the day of Pentecost of being filled with new wine. Peter answers this charge by saying, “We are not drunken as you suppose, seeing that this is but the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15). The Christian, being no longer in darkness but a child of the light and of the day, and therefore, being wide awake, so that he is walking with the Lord when the Lord's day approaches, cannot be overtaken by that day. This is the promise of companionship to those who have joined the Lord as He goes forth in judgment upon the world during this period of darkness into which the world has been brought.

Ver. 8. But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

We are in the light. We are admonished to put on a breastplate of faith and love. Every doubt lurking about the Christian's heart ought to be removed. We are not only called to serve but we are also called to fight the good fight of faith, that by this faith and love we need never be surprised by the things which happen when we have our security through faith in Christ. We must not only be in possession of the whole armor in order to be able to stand secure, but we must be armed so that we may be able to conquer. The soldier must have protection for his heart and his head. This is what faith and love is to the Christian. Faith enables us to endure and see Him who is invisible; love excites us to diligence and activity, and makes us bear our troubles and difficulties pleasantly; hope helps us to anticipate the great end, the glory that we know shall be revealed in due time and which we shall “obtain if we faint not.” The Apostle speaks of those who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. They are not among those who watch and are sober. They walk in the way of the world, enjoy its lusts and pleasures; but the believer having on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation is always able to advance against the enemy.

(3). The third reason, 9-10.

Ver. 9. For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The human family is divided into two classes. We are either going to receive the judgment of God because of disobedience to His Word or through obedience to His Word He will set over to our account His righteousness and we will receive His own justification. Paul says, “God appoints us not unto wrath.” Persons who are of the light and of the day, we are already told, are appointed by God before the foundation of the world. Those who are appointed to wrath are so because of the final rejection of Christ and His Gospel. Because the Jews rejected God's Son and put Him to death, He appointed them unto wrath, and elected the Gentiles and appointed them to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is, however, by an individual acceptance, whether Jew or Gentile, that righteousness is obtained. A remnant of the Jews who continued faithful even in the dispersion and under a government of the Gentile world, became the favored of Israel while the Jewish nation, because of disobedience, has been set aside through a period of time, but at the close of this age of grace after completion of the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ and the return of the saints into glory, God will again deal with the unfaithful Jewish nation.

Ver. 10. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

It was Christ's obedience unto death, even the death of the cross that has set aside the course of the law and opened the way that God could justify the believer. Just through the death of one person is it made possible that all may come in peace and fellowship unto God. Here we have wonderful assurance given us that we are delivered from the wrath to come and promised the privilege of sharing the eternal glory with Him who died to save us. The Apostle further emphasizes the unity and fellowship of believers with Christ the Head whether awake or sleep. Paul again refers to things that were not understood among the Thessalonians. He is talking about those who had died and those who are living; so, at the coming of the Lord the rapture of the saints, there will be really no difference between those who are alive and those who are asleep. Those who have died will come forth and those who live will be translated and be forever with the Lord and live together with Him.

Ver. 11. Wherefore exhort (comfort) one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.

We shall be able to comfort one another and be a blessing to one another if we realize that we are permitted to live together with him in glory. All will share in the blessings of the Lord at his coming. The Apostle Paul in closing the former chapter, speaking about the blessings that the dead and the living shal! receive when Christ comes, closes with the same words as he does in this paragraph, “Comfort one another with these words.” Here he says “Comfort yourselves together.” Edify one another, or build each other up. It was a favorite figure with the Apostle to compare the Christian Church and each individual believer to a building, “And edify one another, even as also ye do.” Instructions were surely necessary to give to the living concerning those taken away by death, because the Thessalonian saints were ignorant as to just what would take place at death as the Church is now wonderfully ignorant because it has neglected the instruction given by the Lord Jesus. Some philosophers and even the Pharisees believed that no one died, death being merely life in another form, which seems to be the popular belief of the world. Many who hold this view set aside the seriousness of life and really deny the teaching of the Word of God and the necessity of resurrection. The Epicureans and Sadducees believed that death was death and everyone died eternally as there was no hereafter. This of course denied the doctrine of the resurrection altogether. This was the view held in the world and by many in the professing church, and so no wonder they were ignorant in the Early Church and needed the instruction given by the Apostle. After all, everything depends upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If we believe that He arose, then there is another great truth, that we believe, and it is built upon this great foundation. It is the belief in the hope of the resurrection and the coming of the Lord Jesus.


  • Why not write concerning times and seasons? What was it that they knew perfectly? What was meant by “Day of the Lord?”

    Note: Instruction was necessary as to those who had been taken away by death. The Thessalonian saints were ignorant as to what takes place after death. This information concerning what is to happen on the other side of the grave and of those who are still living when Christ comes is made clear by God Himself in His Word as presented in the last chapter that we studied. It tells all that is to take place before the beginning of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is a period of time beginning after the rapture of the saints. This is the day when the Lord will be revealed from Heaven; the day of His visible manifestation. It is the day when judgment will be executed upon the earth. This is the day of the Lord of which the Apostle now writes which is fully revealed in the prophetic teaching, reference of which is given in the former verses. Jesus Himself, frequently spoke concerning that day as “the Day when the Son of Man cometh.”

  • What does God's Word say about peace and safety, and who Says it?

  • Who are the children of the light and why?

  • Give the three reasons why no instructions were needed concerning the day of the Lord.

  • For what has God appointed us?

  • What two classes are mentioned in Ver. 10?

  • Who are to be comforted together?


With this verse commences a new paragraph. The Apostle mentions a number of very important things appreciated and necessary in a Church that has reached the stage of spirituality as is manifested by these Thessalonian Saints. He speaks about the care and fellowship that ought to be shown towards those who labor in that which brings about greatest spirituality.

Ver. 12. But we beseech you, brethren, to know (acknowledge) them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.

The members of the Church are to appreciate and esteem those who have organized the Church and have been appointed Overseers among them. Although the Church of Thessalonica had been. so recently founded there were those who had been given the oversight of it. These persons were appointed to be ~ over them in the Lord. This is the sphere in which they were set over the Church. They were ordained to administer, not only in sacred things, but also to be under Him, Christ, who is the builder of the Church. Paul here states very clearly that the bishop of the church is one who receives his orders from the Chief Bishop, Jesus Christ. We have been instructed that Christ is the Head of the Church and the members are the Body of Christ, so the true Bishop, knowing his standing in Christ and his true relation to all the members of the Body, can have but one aim which is to increase and perfect the Body of Christ.

Ver. 13. And to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

Christian ministers who preach the whole truth and labor in word and doctrine are worthy of the very best from the Church. The Apostle commands them to be esteemed in love. Men delight to serve those whom they love and it necessarily follows that the message bearers for Christ should have such care that they want neither necessaries nor conveniences of life. The Apostle says this ought to be done for their work's sake. Those who sacrifice and work are worthy of the admonition given by the Apostle. The indolent, from this message, have no claim upon the Church. This charge is given on account of the importance of the work (Heb. 13:17) and the earnest and laborious manner in which it was performed (Phil. 1:22, 2:30).

“Be at peace among yourselves.” This is a new exhortation entirely independent of the other just given. This is addressed to the members of the Church in general. Since the foes of peace are trying every heart such an exhortation was necessary even though there were no serious disagreements at the time. It is very important for the Church to have well in heart the truth presented in the foregoing Scripture, as to what God teaches concerning the living and the dead at the coming of Christ for His own. We know that we are therefore not to concern ourselves about times and seasons because when the day of the Lord comes, which is God's judgment day during the period of tribulation, the saints are with the Lord in glory. It is very important for the Church to know her privilege as to His coming and to be with the Lord during the period of extreme suffering and tribulation. This is what God teaches us through the Holy Spirit. Knowing the plan that God has for us, we will be wonderfully inspired as members of the Body of Christ in conquering the foe of our hearts and helping to establish peace among the people of God.

Ver. 14. And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all men.

Those who are out of rank and disorderly are to be admonished. They do not fully know the word of Truth and are not sufficiently acquainted with the Founder of the truth to know the pleasure there is in fully following His instructions. There are always those in the church who are faint-hearted, who have not the courage to do even what they know is right. They become agitated because of the faith of their deceased friends, or they do not sufficiently comprehend the grace of God and the power to set them fully free from sin. They are not to be reprimanded, but exhorted and comforted. There are those who need stronger faith and spiritual power to carry them forward unto victory. We have here the unruly, the feeble, and the weak, who will exercise our patience and try our temper. Patience is not only constantly to be cultivated but the Apostle shows us wherein it is to be exercised. The Christian life is compared to a warfare. Soldiers are trained in order to have the army united in making advancement against the foe, so the Christian must be trained that there may be a union among the strong and weak so that every advancement against the foe may result in victory. Christ who is the Captain knows just where to place the weak and strong in His army in order to accomplish the best results.

Ver. 15. See that none render unto any one, evil for evil, but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all.

Every temper contrary to love is contrary to Christianity. “Recompense to no man evil for evil” (Rom. 12:17). The Spirit of Christ and His Church is just the reverse of that which is in the world. Christ taught and practiced this while on earth and recommends that those who are His practice the same. We are taught to pursue only that which is good. This will promote the welfare of our brethren and neighbors, no matter to what nation they may belong. The Apostle goes further in his instruction than that of doing good to the members of the household or the members of the church, he emphasizes the truth that it is to the human race in general.

Ver. 16. Rejoice always (evermore).

We are informed in the previous verse that we are not to render evil for evil but to do good for evil. Now this verse tells us that we are to rejoice in doing good to those who do us evil. Christ says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). This command by the Master has always been found one among the most difficult to be obeyed. It can only be obeyed by those who have the spirit of Christ and understand the right position to the Christ or Head, with Christ's ”˜own spirit or new nature in them as members of His Body.

Ver. 17. Pray without ceasing.

The Christian is instructed here to make prayer continuous in his life. It means that in particular matters we are just to pray on until we succeed in the object of our request. Devotion is the best food of our souls which preserveth their life and health, repairs their strength and vigor, and if we long abstain from it, our souls will starve and pine away. Saints delight to talk to the Head of the Church. The men whom God used as agents to deliver His oracles were found much in prayer. The Psalmist prayed evening, morning, and noon (Ps. 119:164). Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10). The followers of Christ, the members of His Body, living in a _ world of sin and iniquity, with the tempter in their midst all the time trying to pervert the Word of God, must be watchful and prayerful Christians.

Ver. 18. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.

The Apostle tells us here that we are to be so related to God through Jesus Christ that no matter what may happen, while dwelling in this body of flesh, whether in joy or in sorrow, we will always be in a spirit of thanksgiving. The Apostle encouraged the Romans by calling their attention to the unfailing purpose of God through the Gospel, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17), Thanksgiving must be universal in its sphere. In Christ Jesus, God revealed His will and made it effectual. God's mercies all reach us through the channel of this mediator.

In the last three verses we have three universal exhortations. It is natural that we should sometimes pray and rejoice and give thanks, but certainly it does not come naturally to us to be always doing these things, and after giving us these three universal exhortations, Paul says it is, “The will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.” The Christian is to be in perpetual rejoicing (Ver. 17), ceaselessly praying (Ver. 18), universal thanksgiving (Ver. 18). Those who exercise these three universal exhortations are in a position to understand the further exhortations in this paragraph.

Ver. 19. Quench not the Spirit.

There has always been a tendency in the Christian Church to limit spiritual utterance. We are told that it is possible to resist the utterances of the Spirit. God: strives with men who may yet resist all his importunity (Acts 10:22). We may be guilty of insulting the Spirit of grace as believers. “The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). We are taught by the author that the Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), and, therefore, has the authority and power of Heaven back of him. We are not only sealed but sealed to the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). Paul in writing his last message to his Spiritual son Timothy, says, “Stir up the gift that is within you.” The Holy Spirit dwelling in our bodies which are his temples will use our hearts and our lips to testify of a crucified Christ who died to save all who would believe in Him. Many utterances of the Master are unheard by the world and the church because people are guilty of quenching the Spirit.

Ver. 20. Despise not prophesyings.

These were special manifestations of the spirit. We have more in these different Epistles written to the churches than simply the teaching of the Word of God through prophetic utterances. In these Churches there was also the presence of miracles. This was all for the purpose of promoting union and power in the Church. Too many place a very low value on these important manifestations of God's power in the Early Church. Those who cannot feel and experience this power manifested in the Early Church are little used to bring about anything to show God's power in the period of the Church in which they live. There are Spiritual utterances in psalms and hymns for edification and exhortation and comfort to the believer, through which conviction may also be brought to the hearts of unbelievers. In all periods of the Church, there have been those who despised prophecy and the supernatural power of God and thus are among those who are guilty of perverting the truth and instead of giving strength are the cause of destroying faith in the prophecies of God.

Ver. 21. Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.

The Christian ought to be sufficiently familiar with the Word of God that he would be able to put to test all things by that Word. It is the Christian's duty at all times to be in a position to hear those who speak in the Spirit, and know that it is by the Spirit in order that faith and love might be increasing. In the study of these Epistles, we learn that the author had considerable trouble with prophets and teachers who professed to be of God and yet were not. When Paul says, “Prove all things” he knows that there is sufficient material given us in God's word by which to prove and test all those who are untrue to the teaching of the Master. It is not that we are to reject prophesying but we are to test by a due spiritual discernment, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are raving wolves.” True doctrine is according to Godliness. We are instructed to hold fast that which is good. Christians must examine the ground of their faith. ”˜When you listen to those speaking by Spiritual gifts your faith is made stronger in the Word of God, your love grows for soul winning and you feel that you are making some advancement in holiness and usefulness; then you have ground to believe that the person speaking is in possession of the new nature of Christ, and really under the influence and power of the Spirit of God that is not quenched.

Ver. 22. Abstain from every form (appearance) of evil.

We have been speaking of different forms of evil, practical and doctrinal. We are instructed here to abstain from every one of them. Many of these evils are not easily detected and Satan is able to so disguise error in a way that it is difficult to detect even by the believer unless he is conscious and in possession of the three universal exhortations presented in this paragraph. The danger is great, the enemy is awful in his power and malignity. We are to shun and hate all that comes from him. Whatever conflicts with the Word of God is evil, let it seem ever so obvious.


  • What three kinds of labor are spoken of in Ver. 12?

  • Give reasons for esteeming them very highly in love?

  • What exercises of the Christian's patience and endurance are presented in Ver. 14?

  • Can the Christian who is possessed with the Spirit of Christ render evil for evil?

  • How may the Christian be always happy?

  • When is he to pray?

  • Is it easier to quench the Spirit or to give the Spirit right of way?

  • What is prophesying and how can one despise it?

  • Explain the meaning of, “Hold fast that which is good.”

3. CONCLUSION, 5:23-28

(1) Prayer for the Sanctification and Preservation of the Thessalonian Saints, 5:23-24

Here we have a prayer concluding this portion of the letter as we have a prayer in closing a former part (3:11-13).

Ver. 23. And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the prayer offered by the Apostle for these and all saints that they may enjoy what is here expressed at the coming of the Lord. The whole man is to be transformed, glorified, immortalized and be preserved entire, and presented faultless in the Father's presence with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24). The Apostle prays for this to happen at a specific and definite time. The prayer will not receive its full and eternal answer for all who are Christ's until the appointed time. The man of God here learns that the body is also included with his soul and spirit in sanctification. It is the instrument in which he lives and the Holy Spirit dwells and is to exercise in righteousness. The body, at the time of the resurrection, will be changed from mortality to immortality. The individual life of man is to be wholly sanctified. The Spirit is the higher aspect of life. The order is from the lower to the higher. Soul and spirit are words used interchangeably and yet are not equivalent when used in the same connection. Paul prays for the preservation of the saints and perfection at the coming of Christ for His body. God is the only one who can keep us. Jesus prays to the Father, “Keep them” (John 17). He not only asks the father to keep us from falling, but that we may be kept orderly before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. The saints are kept by his power through faith in salvation (1 Pet. 1:5). The Apostle has called our attention to the coming of the Lord in every chapter in this Epistle. A very definite and minute description is given in the fourth chapter concerning His coming and the blessings enjoyed by those who had died and those who were then living on the earth,

Ver. 24. Faithful is He that calleth you, who will also do it.

God's faithfulness is our guarantee. We know that He is not only faithful, but He has the ability and power to perform that which he has promised to all those whom He called. He is faithful to His oath, His promise, and His covenant. He is faithful in the calling of His son, so He is faithful to all those who are in fellowship with His son. Whom he calls he justifies and glorifies. If He gives grace, He gives glory. These verses are very important lessons to the faithful follower of Christ. We are to be obedient and look to God and trust in His grace. It is God who giveth holiness. We are instructed here to pray for entire sanctification, body, soul, and spirit, All are God's; glorify Him in all.

(2). Three Closing Injunctions, 5:25-28

A. The Apostle Asks an Interest in the Prayers of the Thessalonians, 5:25

Ver. 25. Brethren, pray for us.

His request is proof of the Apostle's deep humility. At this time he is at Corinth preaching the Gospel, meeting opposition on every hand, and the Church at Thessalonica that he had founded and to whom he is writing this letter is also meeting with opposition from the heathen and Jews; realizing thus the need of God's guidance and power he asks the disciples that they might remember him as they commune with God in prayer. He was very anxious that the work that the Lord had given him might be successful, and that the Word of the Lord might have free course and be glorified. This is a usual request by the Apostle in all of his letters. He asks an interest in his behalf in the prayers of the disciples. Ministers, Sunday-school workers and laity all need each others prayers. Prayer is a duty which Christians owe to each other.

B. Exhortations for Christians to Salute Each Other, 5:26

Ver. 26. Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss.

The kiss, a general mark of salutation, was to be hallowed by the expression of brotherly love and of common joy in the Lord. Paul speaks of this four times and Peter once. The practice was universal in ancient times. It was associated with the holy communion. Eastern customs spring from Western customs. The salutation ought to express one's affection, and

equality among the disciples of the church. Christianity purifies and elevates worldly courtesy. This was the common Eastern form of salutation associated with religion.

C. Solemn Charge Concerning the Reading of the Epistle, 5:27-28

Ver. 27. I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the brethren.

This is the first letter written by the Apostle to any Church. He writes this letter and gives them specific direction how to use it. He recognizes the right of all the brethren to read it and be instructed by it. His own instruction is by the Lord and so the instruction contained in this letter to the Churches is also by the Lord. This no doubt is the reason for this exhortation because the epistle contained the words of the Lord and just the instruction needed by the Church. This Epistle was not only read at Thessalonica but became a general Epistle for all the Churches and is now numbered with the Church Epistles for specific instruction.

Ver. 28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen,

The letter begins with grace and closes with grace. The Christian life begins with the grace of Christ, continues with the grace of Christ, and closes with the grace of Christ. Here the Epistle closes by asking that the grace of our Lofd Jesus Christ might be continued with all the saints. Christ is a living Saviour and he is Divine. He is the divine Head of the Body, the Church. We look to Him all the time for continued blessing, not because of any merits from our good works, but only according to the evidence of the merit that He had and is willing for us to enjoy as ours.


  • Explain the meaning of “sanctify wholly.”

  • In what way was the body to be sanctified?

  • What special thing does Paul mention in his prayer? How are all saints to appear at Christ's coming?

  • How often is Christ's coming mentioned in this letter and in what connection?

    • (1) The coming of Christ as the believer's expectation, 1:1-10.

    • (2) The coming of Christ as the believer's reward, 2:1-19,

    • (3) The coming of Christ as the believer's sanctification, 3:1-13.

    • (4) The coming of Christ as the believer's translation, 4:1-17.

    • (5) The coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord, 5:1-28.

  • The Holy Spirit presents in the first chapter, a model Church; in the second, the model servant; in the third, the model brother; in the fourth, the model walk; in the fifth, entire sanctification.

  • Why did Paul ask that the Thessalonians might pray for him?

  • Why urge that the letter be read unto all the holy brethren?