1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 | Sanctified Through & Through
12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
- Sanctified through leaders
- This is about acknowledging and appreciating leaders who labor, labouring to teach the word, labouring to pastorally care, labouring in prayer. The labor deserves acknowledgement, not just the role. Too many leaders go unacknowledged doing far more than what people see
- We all need people over us to protect and guide us, and also to admonish us (setting our minds straight). We need shaping and shepherding as people and it is the role of leaders to do so
- Leadership/pastoring is a high calling and it is right to esteem people highly who labor in this important kingdom work
- This relationship between the leader and his people needs to be at peace. The leader needs to deal gently and the people need to deal respectfully, a peaceful relationship is a fruitful relationship
14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
- Sanctified through each other
- We are also sanctified through each other as we do life as a community and body of the Lord.
- This is not just about agreeing with each other but being willing to shape each other, even admonishing/warning those who are idle/disorderly
- Sanctification can be a positive work as well (not just negative pruning), such as encouraging the fainthearted/timid and helping the weak
- Often the work of sanctification is in how we respond to evil, not that we should reciprocate it but respond with goodness and kindness instead. The reality of our sinfulness is that we may wrong each other but we shape each other by responding with goodness and kindness instead
- Paul finishes this letter by saying ‘greet each other with a holy kiss’. It’s hard to remain angry and bitter with someone when greeting them with a kiss!
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Sanctified through thankfulness
- The praying without ceasing here is nestled between always rejoicing and giving thanks in all circumstances. The pattern of ‘always, not ceasing, in all circumstances’ is the context for rejoicing, praying and thanking. So the prayer here is really about prayers of thankful rejoicing. These are the kind of prayers that we say throughout the day whilst taking joy in and thanking God for his grace and numerous blessings.
- What is more, is that this is God’s will for us, thankfulness! Paul writes to the Colossians that part of pleasing God in every way is ‘giving joyful thanks’ to him (Col 1:12). We do not often consider that simply giving thanks to God is part of his will for us, but it really is. Our thankfulness shows gratitude for the revealed kindness of God to us through the gospel, and that is God’s very desire; a people who are pleasing and thankful to him.
19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil.
- Sanctified through the Spirit
- Instead of quenching the Holy Spirit, we need to stoke the ‘fire’ of the Spirit and increase our sensitivity to Him.
- Just as we often sit round a fire and gaze at the flames, we need to allow our hearts to sit in the presence of God and gaze at the Holy Spirit, being sensitive to his promptings
- We should be a people who are eager to receive a prophecy from the Holy Spirit, but yet do so with integrity and a sharpened mind, testing everything to make sure it is good.
- The Holy Spirit sanctifies us by speaking into our lives, often through other people
- The shaping and sharpening of the Spirit helps us to abstain from every form of evil. One might ask, how on earth can we abstain from EVERY form of evil when it is everywhere, but that is the role of the Spirit as he works in our lives
23Now 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. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
- God is one who sanctifies us completely (through and through), this is not an instantaneous event but a regular process. The NIV iteration of ‘through and through’ invokes a healthy picture, of something being washed through again and again. Like dirty clothes or dishes being put through another wash cycle to really cleanse them through and through.
- This is the work of the Spirit, a continual washing process. “…He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” Titus 3:5
- ‘spirit, soul and body’ – here we get an emphasis on God’s concern for our bodies and the need for resurrection. There is not just a desire to keep our spirits and souls blameless but indeed our whole being. When we sin we often sin against our own bodies
- God is faithful, God is the one who sanctifies and he will surely do it!
25Brothers, pray for us.
26Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- Paul asks for the prayers of the Thessalonians, even apostles need the prayers of others for God to complete his sanctifying work in their lives. The greatest thing we need, apart from Christ, is prayer.
- Paul encourages them to greet each other with personal and physical affection. This is not just a cultural statement from antiquity but an encouragement to remain close and love each other. It’s difficult to hold a grudge with someone and embrace/kiss them at the same time.
- Paul is insistent that the letter is read to all the brothers to make sure everyone’s questions and concerns are met, and that no-one is left uninformed.