“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“
Since the preceding 16 exhortations require God to make them possible, Paul invokes God’s help toward that end. Without God’s work on our behalf, it is tough to live up to these directions.
Paul concludes this section on sanctification with a prayer. Verse 23 is Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians.
With the word “now,” Paul shifts into his conclusion to the book. Paul prays that God will enable the Thessalonians to fulfill the imperatives of the previous section. By adding up the 16 exhortations like a string of numbers, he draws the sum of sanctification. God finishes what He starts. God never embarks upon a job He does not finish. God takes different courses of action based on the response of the believer.
may the God of peace
God, characterized by peace, will sanctify and preserve the Thessalonians. Paul presents God as the God of peace because He puts everything in order. Nothing goes without His notice. Only God can impart peace to the soul. As long as He ensures that spiritual harmony and tranquility prevail, there will be no discord in the believer’s life. Thus, God works an overall progressive holiness in our lives that will find its ultimate completion at the coming of Christ, where we will receive ultimate sanctification.
God made His peace with us initially by sending His Son to die on the cross (Romans 5:1). He is in the process of making peace with us daily as we depend on Him to overcome sin in our lives. He will ultimately make His peace with us by eradicating any sin in our lives in the eternal state.
“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Romans 16:20).
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
The word “Himself” is emphatic in Greek and indicates that God will have to do this, not us. No one else can do this for us either. This does not imply that we have no part in sanctification. God sets us apart when we come to Christ in terms of our position with Him. Then He enables us to become more and more like the Lord Jesus. Finally, He will completely sanctify us at the coming of Christ.
Sanctification is not only the will of God but also His work.
Sanctification is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4,7). Sanctification is also the work of God (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 21:8; Ezekiel 37:28; John 17:19).
God’s commands are one thing, but His enablement is something else. Understanding the principles of God is one thing but the power to live them out is another. We do not find that power in ourselves but in God Himself. God is the singular source for our sanctification because He does it “wholly.” God is the God of peace because God puts all things in order.