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Closing Prayer and Final Instructions
1 Thess. 5:23-28


This is the last part of this short but very informative epistle. In almost all the chapter, the second coming of Christ is mentioned. So, we are instructed to live a holy life in preparation for the Lord’s coming. They all require Christ’s help to make them possible. Without God’s work on our behalf, it is tough to live up to these directions.

I. Closing Prayer:
A. That they be sanctified (1 Thess. 5:23a).
1. Sanctification means to be set apart for special service. The word “sanctify”, “holy” and “saint” are translated from the same word.
2. In relation to the Christian, sanctification or holiness refers to being set apart to God from sin.
3. There is positional sanctification (Heb. 10:10); we have once and for all been set apart for God. There is also practical sanctification (2 Cor. 7:1). This is Christian growth, putting away sin and putting on godliness (Rom. 6:19,22; 1 Thess. 4:3-4; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). This present process of sanctification never ends in this life (1 Jn. 1:8-10). The Christian must resist sin until he is taken from this world at death or at the return of Christ. All of this will end in perfect sanctification (1 Jn. 3:2), when we see Christ and become eternally like Him. In this sense, the Christian can say, “I am being sanctified by God’s power.”
4. Paul speaks of the whole spirit and soul and body. Salvation involves our whole being. It covers every area of our life.

Illustration 1: To be Set Apart for Holy Use
To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity (1 Thess. 4:7) and being such, we are called to do good works (Eph. 2:10).
Christians are to sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). God sanctified Israel as His own special nation (Ezek. 37:28). People can be sanctified (Ex. 19:10,14) and so can a mountain (Ex. 19:23), the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:3), the tabernacle (Ex. 20:39), and every created thing is sanctified through the Word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4:4).
Sanctification follows (See Justification). In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life.
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B. That they be preserved blameless (1 Thess. 5:23b)
1. The word “preserved” means to watch over, keep. The Lord will watch over our entire spirit, soul and body, the complete person. God will guard our blamelessness even up to and including the point of the coming of Christ. He is the one who keeps us save
2. A “blameless” person is someone against whom no one can lay a charge. The Lord will preserve us in such a way that no one can lay a charge against us. The Christian in this sense is without fault, innocent.
C. God’s faithfulness (1 Thess. 5:24)
1. God’s character ensures us that He can be counted by us to answer this prayer. God will faithfully complete His work. God is faithful to His promises so He is faithful to those people who put their trust in Him. The Greek puts emphasis on the word “faithful.” God’s faithfulness to His sanctifying work stands on His integrity. God is reliable and trustworthy when it comes to finishing what He started.

II. Final Instructions (1 Thess. 5: 25)
A. Pray for Us
1. Paul pleads for the Thessalonians to pray for him. Paul clearly understood the importance of prayer in the ministry. He knew he could not go into ministry, without the help of God. The word “pray” is in the present tense indicating continued prayer. No one can do God’s work without prayer. Those who want prayer and who pray understand that they are not sufficient in themselves to do God’s work. They know they must depend on God to do it.
2. The “us” here is the gospel team of Paul, Silas and Timothy that came to Thessalonica (1:1). Paul closes this letter as he began with an emphasis on prayer. He says in effect, “I prayed for you so you pray for me. We will pray for each other.”

Illustration 2: A Prayer Life Costs
British writer Samuel Chadwick had this to say: “To pray as God would have us pray is the greatest achievement on earth. Such a prayer life costs. It takes time. All praying saints have spent hours every day in prayer….In these days, there is no time to pray; but without time, and a lot of it, we shall never learn to pray.” – H.G.B.
Our Daily Bread, November 17

B. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. (1 Thess. 5:26)
1. The “holy kiss” in the first century was a physical token of welcome or farewell kiss, a token of brotherhood in Christ (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12).
2. The term “holy” guards against anything untoward in the kiss. In the Mid-East, the kiss was
a form of greeting and took place between members of the same sex. They kissed on the
cheek, not the mouth.
3. Paul uses the term “holy kiss” to distinguish it from improper familiarity that results in scandal to the name of Christ. In the synagogues, which also practiced this, the women and men sat in separate sections, and the men kissed the men and the women kissed the women
4. The “holy kiss” in Western culture is more like a handshake or hug. Church members do not kiss the same way lovers kiss each other or family members kiss each other. The biblical kiss signifies personal affection, not romantic passion.
C. Read the Scriptures (1 Thess. 5:27)
1. The word “charge” literally means to put under (or bind by) an oath, to adjure. Paul demands or commands that the leadership at Thessalonica take an oath that First Thessalonians be read in the public assembly. This is stronger than a suggestion or exhortation. The phrase “by the Lord” indicates that Paul gets his authority to put them under an oath from the Lord.
2. That this epistle be read Paul wants the leaders at Thessalonica to read First Thessalonians publicly thus acknowledging its place in the Bible. Most people in the early church did not read. They got their Bible from public reading. Most likely, this was more than just reading the text. It involved explanation and exposition of the text. (Neh. 8:5-8)
3. Paul’s command to read the Bible publicly indicates that the Word of God was central to local church worship.

Illustration 3: Read with Tongue
A man in Kansas City was severely injured in an explosion. Evangelist Robert L. Sumner tells about him in his book The Wonders of the Word of God. The victim’s face was badly disfigured, and he lost his eyesight as well as both hands. He was just a new Christian, and one of his greatest disappointments was that he could no longer read the Bible. Then he heard about a lady in England who read Braille with her lips. Hoping to do the same, he sent for some books of the Bible in Braille. Much to his dismay, however, he discovered that the nerve endings in his lips had been destroyed by the explosion. One day, as he brought one of the Braille pages to his lips, his tongue happened to touch a few of the raised characters and he could feel them. Like a flash he thought, I can read the Bible using my tongue. At the time Robert Sumner wrote his book, the man had “read” through the entire Bible four times.
The Wonders of the Word of God, by Robert L. Sumner.

III. Benediction (1 Thess. 5:28)
A. Paul referred to God’s grace in each of his benedictions. The grace of God was Paul’s great delight (1 Thess. 1:1). He identified it as the grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him Christians have all. Obviously, the grace of God is always with His children, but Paul’s concern was that his readers experience and enjoy this grace. All that one has in Christ is due to His grace.

IV. Conclusion:
Paul’s prayer was for the Thessalonians to live a holy live (sanctified), and that they will be preserved and blameless. He urged them to pray for him and his team, that they read his Epistle publicly, that they greet each other with handshake or a hug to show brotherly love. Will you do it too?

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