1 Thessalonians 5:23
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Explanation and Commentary of 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Sanctification means both being set apart, and also being made holy. Both uses of the word relate to one another. God sanctifies us or sets us apart when he regenerates us and makes a home in us, moving us to “call on the name of the Lord” (Ro 10:13). God makes us holy all at once at our conversion, but also by process over the course of our lives.
There are several ways that the Bible uses to refer to this process besides sanctification. Some of them are: being made holy, becoming like Christ, growing in godliness, growing in maturity, growing spiritually, mortifying or killing the flesh, or killing sin in the flesh, being transformed, and renewing the mind. It is a cooperative effort.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 Thessalonians 5:23
#1 “May God himself,”
Sanctification is God’s work to do in us, but it is our work to respond to him, abide in him, and walk with him. We surrender to God, yielding to the Holy Spirit, becoming sanctified.
#2 “the God of peace,”
He is, first of all, THE God. There is no other (1 Tim 2:5). And he is a God of peace. “He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Col 1:20). Christ’s sacrifice worked to reconcile us to God and with others.
#3 “sanctify you through and through.”
God doesn’t just want a part of us. He desires to have all of us. He will not stop transforming us until there is nothing that has not conformed to his image. It is progressive. As long as we live in this age in our flesh we are called to grow “more and more” loving (Phil 1:9), and we are to be transformed as we present ourselves to God (Ro 12:1-2).
#4 “May your whole spirit, soul,”
There is some disagreement among theologians over whether there is a difference between the spirit and the soul. If there is it might be that the soul is the personality, sometimes referred to as the heart. The spirit is the part unique to humans among all living creatures. God regenerates the spirit to make a home in a person.
#5 “and body…”
Christianity is often treated as a disembodied religion. Some of the Greeks believed the body was evil and the soul was good. In that case, the only thing to do was free the soul from the evil confines of the body. But this is not biblical. The whole body will rise again. We will have physical bodies in the New Heavens and the New Earth (1 Cor 15:51). They will be glorified, but really and truly physical. Jesus could be touched and felt after his resurrection (Jn 20:27), and he even ate fish (Lk 24:42-43). We must engage our bodies in our walk with God and our life in Christ. We must “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice (Ro 12:1).
#6 “…be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are made blameless at our salvation. The goal is to be kept blameless and so prove that our salvation was real (1 Jn 2:19).
Bible Study on 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Expert Overview of 1 Thessalonians
Biblical Translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:23
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.