Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
When Paul wrote verses 12 through 22 of chapter five, he had much on his heart that he still wanted to say to the new believers in Thessalonica. He had many things that he yet wanted to teach them. However, because he did not have the time to write further, he listed many different items together in these verses: honoring the leading ones, being at peace, admonishing the disorderly, consoling the fainthearted, upholding the weak, being longsuffering toward all, not rendering evil for evil, always rejoicing, praying unceasingly, giving thanks in everything, not quenching the Spirit, not despising prophecies, proving all things, holding fast what is good, abstaining from every form of evil. Actually, nearly every item requires a full chapter to be developed adequately.
In verse 23 Paul goes on to say, “And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “And” conjoins the blessing of God’s sanctifying of our entire being, given in this verse, with the charge of our abstaining from every kind of evil, given in the preceding verse. On the one hand, we abstain from every form of evil; on the other hand, God sanctifies us wholly. We cooperate with God for a holy living.
According to verses 16 through 22, we should rejoice, pray, give thanks, not quench the Spirit, not despise prophecies, prove all things, hold fast what is good, and abstain from every form of evil. If we take care of these things, the God of peace will sanctify us wholly. Here we see the matter of the believers’ cooperation with the divine operation. In verses 12 through 22 we have the believers’ cooperation in living a spiritual and separated life. In verses 23 and 24 we have God’s operation in sanctifying and preserving the believers.
If we would live a holy life for the church life, we must cooperate with God’s operation. God is now dwelling in us. The indwelling Triune God is operating within us all the time. This is the reason we should not quench the Spirit. Actually, the Spirit is the processed Triune God. The inward burning of the Spirit is the operation of the Triune God within us, an operation with which we need to cooperate. We cooperate by taking care of all the matters covered in verses 12 through 22. On our side, we need to cooperate. On God’s side, God is operating within us. The God of peace Himself will sanctify us wholly. The Triune God indwells, and we are the ones indwelt by Him. Hence, there must be two sides: God’s side and our side. He operates, and we cooperate with His operation.
In verse 23 Paul expresses his wish, his desire, that the God of peace would sanctify us wholly. Actually, this is the apostle’s prayer. Paul prays that the God of peace Himself sanctify us wholly. We may also say that the first part of verse 23 is Paul’s blessing, that he blesses the believers with a word concerning the God of peace sanctifying them.
In the second part of this verse Paul says, “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete.” In the first part of the verse, concerning God’s sanctifying us, it is God who takes the initiative. But in the second part of the verse, concerning our spirit, soul, and body being preserved, we are the ones who should somehow take the initiative.
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