1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 25 Brothers, pray for us also. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Today’s reading takes us to the end of Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica. As in his other letters, Paul voices words of prayer, encouragement and instruction to the church.
The passage begins in verse 23 with a petition from Paul, asking God to sanctify the people completely. Even in this short verse, we are reminded that our progressive sanctification (becoming more holy, more like Jesus) is a result of both God’s grace and our conscious effort (see 1 Thess. 4:2).
Verse 24 reminds us of the character of our sanctifying, heavenly Father. He is faithful, and He will carry us to completion. What a wonderful reminder of His grace and steadfastness. Even on our emptiest, weakest days, we can remember that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion (Phil. 1:6). As the old hymn “Rock of Ages” describes it: “Be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.” Our God saves until the end!
In verse 25, Paul asks the people of Thessalonica to pray for him, Silas and Timothy, who are together writing this letter (1 Thess. 1:1). In verse 26, he asks them to be unified, part of a new family, symbolized by the holy kiss. He charges them in verse 27 to read the letter to all the people in the church, and he ends with a prayer of blessing for them.
We need to pay particular attention to Paul’s charge to read the letter to all of the brothers. In the original language, the statement “I charge you” would have been read as a strong, emphatic command for the people to read the letter aloud. Paul wanted everyone in the church to hear this letter, for he knew his letter would help to unify the people. He also knew that as they heard the letter, it would unite them with him and his apostolic teaching.
Paul’s command for the Thessalonians still applies directly to us as we read this letter in our churches and Bible studies, demonstrating that we are unified together under the authority of God’s Word. Together as a family in Christ, we submit ourselves to the Spirit-inspired Word, and as we are instructed by it, we are progressively sanctified.
This is why our church emphasizes the importance of focusing on God’s Word – the “F” in our LIFE groups. When we come together as a group, we all share the Word of God in common. As we study it together, it sharpens us, and God uses it in His gracious process of sanctification. The reading of God’s Word, individually and corporately, shapes us more into the likeness of Christ. As we devote ourselves to the study of God’s Word in community, we will see our faith and our love for others grow (2 Thess. 1:3). God had graciously given us His word to do this work in our lives.
 (Beale 2003)
- Re-read this section of Scripture. Underline or highlight words or phrases that encourage you.
- Look back at your life over the past year. How have you seen God at work in shaping you to become more like Jesus? What steps have you taken to grow in your walk with Christ?
- How are you studying Scripture in community with other believers? If you aren’t a part of a LIFE group or Focus Study, consider joining a group at your campus.