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“GOD’S WILL . . . FOR YOU”


Sanctification in the Thessalonian Epistles

 

By

 

Wayne McCown

 

Source: Wesleyan Theological Journal

Wesley Center Online

Wesley.nnu.edu

 

Introduction

 

Several of the great biblical texts on holiness are to be found in the Thessalonian Epistles. The doctrine would be much impoverished without them. And yet these texts have been accorded little serious attention and study. A review of scholarly publications over the past two decades[1] has turned up but one article concerned with their interpretation, and that study was focused on a relatively minor point.[2] (Of course, all full-scale commentaries include some treatment of these passages.[3])

Although the Wesleyan movement does not exhibit the same general avoidance of these passages, this author has been unable to find any specialized treatment of them.[4] The reference by its scholars to the great holiness texts of the Thessalonian Epistles is generally incidental and/or supportive.[5] One senses that they are regarded as important texts, comprising part of the biblical basis for the doctrine of sanctification. However, they are seldom accorded an extended expositional treatment (except in the commentaries[6]).

Thus we proceed from the conviction that these great texts of Scripture deserve a more serious hearing. We also have an interest in the thematic development of this doctrine, as one of the major motifs of the Thessalonian correspondence. In this connection, it may be noted that one of the advantages in the study of this subject is the possession of good reports on the historical situation of these two particular letters (in Acts 16 –18 and 1 Thessalonians 1 –3). Thus we believe an exegesis which embraces contextual as well as grammatical considerations can greatly enrich our doctrinal appropriation of these great holiness texts.

Three key passages have been selected for special study: 1 Thessalonians 3:12 –13; 4:3–8; 5:23–24. The major subject of these three texts—there can be no questioning of this fact—is sanctification. A fourth text, 2 Thessalonians 2:13 –14, also speaks of sanctification in a significant affirmation concerning salvation. Moreover, no less than a half dozen other passages[7] reflect such close parallels in wording and intention top the major sanctification texts that they, too, must be accorded some place in the development of the subject.  

 

1 Thessalonians 3:12 –13  

 

1. Prayer and Sanctification. We observe, in the Thessalonian Epistles, a close relationship between prayer and sanctification. Two of the three primary texts are, informal, benedictory prayers.[8] They represent an expression of the apostle’s wish before God on behalf of his young converts (from whom he had been so untimely bereaved[9]). While he expresses thanks to God for a good report concerning them, their faith and love, he earnestly desires their further progress in the gospel unto Christian maturity. Thus he prays that he might be granted an opportunity for further ministry to them. But that he must leave in the Lord’s hands. And so he comes to the essential concern of his heart. Whether he be personally present or absent, he prays that the Lord will make their love to “increase and abound.”[10] As Klopfenstein suggests in the Wesleyan Bible Commentary, “the two verbs suggest vast area of the spirit which the Thessalonians have yet to explore and make their own.”[11] In so expressing his desire for them, Paul directs their attention to the limitless potentiality for growth and love to one another and to all men.[12] Moreover, he points to the practical realization of such agape-love in his own life and ministry as an example to them (“as we do to you”).

2. Love and Holiness. We know with Earnest Best that “. . . love and holiness are not in our context to virtues among other virtues but are umbrella words for the whole of Christian activity.”[13] Their order in Paul’s prayer also suggests that the way of holiness is marked by an increasing love. Indeed, growth in the agape-love of God leads unto holiness. And Paul looks to holiness as the grand objective of the Christian life and experience. Thus, the apostle prays for the maturation of his converts, to the end that God may establish their hearts unblamable in holiness before His presence.

On the basis of grammatical analysis alone, it is not possible to say whether or not in this instance the apostle refers to a present realization of holiness in this life. However, two contextual considerations confirm this inference as correct. In the first place, one must reckon with a parallel, in the prayer of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 –24.[14] There Paul prays not only for sanctification but preservation as “blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Moreover, in view of the personal appeal to his own life and conduct in this prayer, we are drawn to give attention to the testimonial of 1 Thessalonians 2:10 –12: “you are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers.” No doubt this was the kind of life Paul exhorted and encouraged and charged each of them to lead (see verses 11–12) “as a life worthy of God.” He also prayed for them to this end.

Paul’s choice of wording in this prayer connotes, further more, a certain steadiness[15] and uncompromising inner resolve with respect to holiness.[16] The quality of blamelessness, it may be noted, is particularly attributed to the heart. Thus Paul refers to more than a certain blamelessness of outward behavior. Holiness is an inward purity before God. It is not man’s judgment but God’s presence which is an inward purity before God. It is not man’s judgment but God’s presence which is the standard. Leon Morris’s comment is apropos: “We should be in no doubt as to the high standard that is set before us.”[17]

In the final phrase of the prayer, Paul seems to infer that only those who are so sanctified will have a share with God’s saints at the coming of our Lord. We do not wish to debate here the identification of “the saints,” whether they be angels or men.[18] The important point is that they are described as “his holy ones.” It is such as these that accompany His presence. Thus we conclude that when Paul speaks of holiness in relation to the parousia, he has in view that holiness or sanctification “without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).  

 

1 Thessalonians 4:3 –8  

 

1. Holiness vs. Immorality. Our interpretation of the preceding prayer is confirmed by the verses which follow, in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 –2 (which prepare for verses 3–8). Here Paul calls to mind and exhorts the Thessalonians to live in accordance with the instructions he had given them.[19] He beseeches them as they are doing, so to do more and more. Thus he urges them to grow, particularly in the area of love (see 3:12 and 4:10). “The emphasis is on achieving, going forward, making faster progress.”[20]

Paul’s focus and interest is, in this section, on practical instructions for the Christian life. They are under obligation, Paul affirms,[21] to live as “to please God.”[22] And what manner of life is pleasing to God? Certainly not a life characterized by immorality or uncleanness![23] Rather—Paul here makes the point so very clearly—“this is the will of God, your sanctification . . .”

Almost all the commentators recognize that in these words the apostle has set forward a general principle for living of the Christian life.[24] He points to the will of God as “the ultimate guide to, and motivation for, behaviour.”[25] Moreover, the form of the Greek word used here for sanctification implicates a process of growth.[26] And the threefold emphasis in context on the theme of abounding more and more (3:12; 4:1, 10) emphasizes this aspect of sanctification.

It is also to be noted that Paul is speaking of holiness in a very practical sense. He moves from statement of a general principle, to specific application(s) of it in the affairs of life. It is not our purpose here to debate a particular view of interpretation relative to the several difficulties posed in this paragraph.[27] Rather we call attention to the dominant thrust of the passage. Clearly Paul teaches that sanctification embraces the sexual realm of man’s experience. His conduct in these regards is to be characterized by holiness.

As Morris says, “This is true of all of life, but we must not overlook its relevance in the sphere of sexual morality.”[28] The pagan world displayed its decadence in various forms of sexual aberrations (cf. Romans 1:24 –32). But the apostle asserted, the Christian is to have no truck with such evil practices. They are incompatible with God’s will. They are incompatible with Christian sanctification. And sanctification is what God requires of us in every part of life.[29] On the interpretation of some, in verse 6, Paul himself extends the application to include other relationships in life as well.[30] Be that as it may, the words “the Lord is an avenger in all these things,” certainly do suggest a broader application of the principal illustrated.

This passage reminds us that there is a negative side to holiness. We are exhorted, by use of a strong verb, to “abstain from” immorality, passion, lust, transgression of a brother, and uncleanness. Thus, we are called to separate ourselves from all evil (see 1 Thessalonians 5:22 ). We are expected to exercise self-control over our bodies and minds, as well as the other faculties of our personality.31 And we are to conduct ourselves in all things with a view to holiness and honor, as is pleasing to God.

2. A Fourfold Appeal. The apostle supports his exhortation to holiness with a fourfold appeal.[31] Following their order of presentation in the paragraph, we note that he urges their serious attention to sanctification in consideration of (a) the will of God, (b) the judgment of God, (c) the call of God, and (d) the Spirit of God.[32]

The apostle describes sanctification as “God’s will . . . for you.” Since he does not use the article, we are not to infer that sanctification represents, as it were, the whole will of God for man. But, it is included in that which God wishes or desires in his people. “This is what God wants them to do, and there can be no higher sanction.”[33] The exhortation to abstain from porneia (i.e., fornication), in this context, implicates the idea of devotement to God, and God alone. The term “fornication,” of course, includes all sorts of uncleanness, in particular sexual impurities and license. Paul knew that in the Thessalonian context (as in ours), one of the most difficult hurdles that any pagan convert had to clear was the area of sex. The culture of the day was saturated with polygamy, adultery, homosexuality, and promiscuity. Many of the religious cults even practiced sacramental fornication as part of their worship. But Paul exhorts the Christian community in clear words (as reflected by Phillips’ paraphrase): “God’s plan is to make you holy, and that entails first of all a clean cut with sexual immorality.”

Next, Paul introduces a negative incentive to holiness of life. He forewarns his readers of God’s judgment or vengeance upon all these things. In this connection he appeals to his previous words of testimony to them (evidently, this appeal had common place in his ministry). He urges them to consider the righteousness and holiness of God himself. The Lord cannot tolerate the practice of immorality or the transgression of men against one another. These are wrongs which He will rectify by the execution of righteous judgment. Thus, no man can reckon on escaping the consequences of his evil deeds.

“For,” the apostle continues, “God has not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness.” Here the ethical quality of holiness is set forward very clearly, in the contrast with uncleanness or impurity. Let no man say that God’s calling has led him into a life of immorality and licentiousness. Rather, let him heed the exhortation in Scripture: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). God’s purpose in and for our lives is realized only when we walk in holiness[34] (i.e. “the most thorough purity”[35]). The argument here is that for a Christian not to pursue a life of holiness is for him to deny the divine purpose in saving him in the first place.[36] Commentators frequently call attention in this statement to the interchange of prepositions: from “for uncleanness,” to “in holiness.” Paul’s choice of “in” before holiness does seem intentional. Thereby he describes holiness as the sphere or atmosphere in which the believer is to live and act. So Vincent concludes: “Sanctification is the characteristic life-element of the Christian, in which he is to live.”[37] Thus sanctification is not merely a goal set before us by reason of God’s call, but a process to be implemented and realized now in our present lives in fulfillment of that call. Holiness is to be, as it were, the very atmosphere in which we live and breathe.[38]

The final appeal is important for its direct correlation between the work of sanctification in the life of the believer, and the Person and presence of the Holy Spirit.[39] By his ordering of words (in the Greek), the apostle has placed marked emphasis on the adjective “holy” as descriptive of the Spirit. Phillips has caught this intonation and translated it in a splendid fashion: “It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives us is called the Holy Spirit.” Whoever thus despises, that is, sets aside and thus disregards the divine call and injunction to holiness disregards God in his ministry to and within us[40] through the presence of His Spirit. Impurity is “more than simply a failure to keep some man-made rule. It is a sin against the living presence of God.”[41] Seen in its proper light, sin is rejection of God the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, “if the Spirit’s ministry is not rebuffed (cf. 5:19), but rather lovingly received, he will lead unerringly to the entire sanctification of the whole person (cf. 5:23–24).”[42] Through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit, God is at work to accomplish the process of sanctification in the believer’s life—as he cooperates with and responds in obedience to God’s working in his heart. Thus God not only calls but enables us to live the life of holiness.[43] With this appeal Paul brings to a climax the argument of the paragraph. His main point has been to demonstrate the utter incompatibility of a life of impurity and sin with a life which conforms to God’s will for His people. “Paul’s words are strong: the rejection of God’s will is the rejection of God.”[44] And—let it be stated again: God’s will . . . for you, is sanctification.  

 

1 Thessalonians 5:23 –24  

 

1. Sanctified Wholly. Again, we enter the context of prayer.[45] In this case there are two distinct petitions followed by a note of confident assurance. The first petition is for sanctification; the second, for preservation. The accompanying assurance acclaims the faithfulness of God for the realization of both in the life of believers.

We discern significance in the prayer’s description of the Lord as “the God of peace” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ). As a translation of the Hebrew shalom, “peace” connotes complete personal and spiritual prosperity of well-being. As such, the word is nearly synonymous with salvation and encompasses all the blessings associated with it. Thus the petition may be read as follows: “May the God of salvation and wholeness sanctify you wholly . . .”[46] The word here translated “wholly” is a double compound and signifies, as John Wesley has observed, both “wholly and perfectly; every part and all that concerns you; all that is of or about you.”[47] It specifically refers to that which is total or complete in a qualitative sense.[48] Morris agrees with this interpretation, affirming the word brings out the thought of reaching one’s proper end, the end for which one was made.[49] Thus the petition is for the consummation of God’s saving work in the life of the believer. In this connection, it is to be noted that God’s call and purpose embrace the complete sanctification of every Christian (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14).[50]

2. Preserved Blameless. In this instance, the apostle goes on to speak of sanctification in a further dimension.[51] He now speaks of the blameless preservation of the entire person—spirit, soul, and body—at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not our purpose here to debate the question of man’s trichotomous constitution.[52] The stress of the passage clearly is directed to encompass every part of man’s nature.[53] It represents Paul’s way of insisting that the whole man, and not some part only, is to be entirely set apart to God. Morris calls attention to the interesting sacrificial associations of the added qualifier “the whole” (or “entire” in this second position as well. In the Greek Old Testament (and elsewhere), it was used as descriptive of both the stones of the alter and the victims which were offered. Thus, its usage here may suggest the entire surrender or consecration of a man to God involved in sanctification.[54]

On the other hand, the emphasis in this text is on God’s faithfulness to accomplish this sanctifying work in the believer. The whole being of man, now referred to in a quantitative sense,[55] is to be made holy. “The cleansing is to reach into every part of a man’s nature: his affections, his will, his imagination, the spring of his motive life. His body is included as the body of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and as the vehicle and instrument of personal life (cf. Romans 6:12 –13, 19).”[56] Thus Paul emphasizes the comprehensive reach of sanctification. As Robertson has stated: the adjective translated “whole” means “complete in all its parts. . . . There is to be no deficiency in any part.”[57]

Entire sanctification, however, is not to be deferred until the Lord’s coming, as this passage makes clear.[58] For Paul proceeds to speak of preservation[59]—as blameless in that day. This further petition also implicates the possibility of falling away from sanctification. It implicates the need for perseverance and diligence. It implicates, finally, a growth in holiness until the consummation of God’s sanctifying work throughout our whole being, including our body as well as spirit and soul.

The brief affirmation to this great prayer for sanctification has about it the ring of a magnificent confidence. By its inclusion Paul affirms that sanctification is God’s work in the believer. God is “the Doer” we well as “the Caller” in sanctification.[60] We are reminded of the text of 1 Thessalonians 4:7 –8 which speaks of God as the One who has called us in holiness, and then proceeds to speak of the indwelling ministry of his Holy Spirit. The thought of 2 Thessalonians 2:13 –14 may also be in mind here. There Paul speaks of sanctification in relationship to God’s purpose for our salvation. It is the fulfillment or consummation of His design and calling upon our lives. Our assurance of sanctification, therefore, is based upon the character of God.[61] He is faithful; He will do what He says; and His purpose is calling men in that they may be holy. Sanctification does not rest upon the achievements of men.[62] It is, from start to finish a work of grace.  

 

Conclusion  

 

The sanctification of his converts represents one of the chief concerns of the Apostle in 1 Thessalonians. He directs their attention to sanctification, and prays to God for the realization of holiness in their lives. Moreover, we discern in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 –4 an indication that his prayers on their behalf had been granted.[63]

In conclusion, we outline summarily the major teachings of these holiness texts, as an aid to their doctrinal appropriation.[64] In the first instance, Paul has described sanctification as (a) experiential, (b) ethical, and (c) entire. He also has characterized the life of holiness as (a) pleasing, (b) practical, and (c) progressive. It is to be noted how comprehensive the treatment really is (we have merely outlined it in this brief essay).

Certainly the subject of sanctification in the Thessalonian Epistles is deserving of serious attention and further study. We also believe it is important to appropriate and proclaim these great truths today. How timely this message . . . “in times like these”!



[1] P. A. van Stempvort, “Eine stilistische Losung einer alten Schwierigkeit in 1 Thessalonians V. 23, New Testament Studies 7(3, ‘61), 262–265.

[2] We give special attention in this article to two significant “newer” commentaries (1) Leon Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959); (2) Ernest Best, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, Harper’’ New Testament Commentaries (New York: Harper and Row, 1972).

[3] Our survey included all the published issues of the Wesleyan Theological Journal (WTJ) and the Asbury Seminarian (AS) as well as several standard collections of holiness articles, such as Insights into Holiness, Further Insights into Holiness, and The Word and The Doctrine (Kansas City, MO.: Beacon Hill Press, 1962, 1963, and 1965).

[4] See, for example: J. Harold Greenlee, “The Greek New Testament and the Message of Holiness,” in Further Insights, p. 86; Bert H. Hall and Armor D. Peisker, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation,” in Word and Doctrine, p. 190; Kenneth E. Geiger, “The Biblical Basis for the Doctrine of Holiness,” WTJ 1(1966), pp. 47–50; William M. Arnett, “Entire Sanctification,” AS 30 (Oct, ‘75), pp. 36–37.

[5] We have reference, in particular, to two (additional) “holiness” commentaries of recent publication: (1) W. O. Klopfenstein, in the Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Vol. 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965); (2) Arnold E. Airhart, in the Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 9 (Kansas City, MO.: Beacon Hill Press, 1965).

[6] Consider the following: 1 Thessalonians 4:1 –2, 9–12; 5:21–22; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 –5, 11–12; 2:16–17; 3:3–5, 16.

[7] 1 Thessalonians 3 :(11) 12–13; 5:23–24. Compare with respect to form and content, 2 Thessalonians 2:16 –17; 3:3–5, 16.

[8] See especially 1 Thessalonians 2:17 –3:10.

[9] Our references to Scripture generally follow the translation of the Revised Standard Version.

[10] Klopfenstein, p. 528.

[11] See Airhart for a good treatment on this point (pp. 471–472).

[12] Best, p. 151. This author goes on to state: “Paul holds the two in tension; in reference to men total behavior is characterized as love, in reference to God as holiness.” Cf. Mildred Wynkoop, A Theology of Love; The Dynamic of Wesleyanism (Kansas City, MO.: Beacon Hill Press, 1972).

[13] See further below.

[14] Morris comments on the verb “establish”: “The prayer here is that God will so supply the needed buttress that the Thessalonians will remain firm and unmoved whatever the future may hold” (p. 113).

[15] Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 –12.

[16] Morris, p. 113. The author also states: “Nothing less than the very highest standard will do for the Christian.” (Such comments are particularly noteworthy, in that they were not penned by a “holiness” author.)

[17] A lengthy discussion of this matter is presented by Best (pp. 152–153).

[18] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:10 –12.

[19] Airhart, p. 473.

[20] The word “ought” is a strong one. It is often translated “must,” as descriptive of a compelling necessity. Cf. Morris, pp. 118–119.

[21] Cf. Colossians 1:9 –10; Hebrews 13:15 –16. “Pleasing God” represents a significant motif in the ethical appeal of the New Testament. Airhart interprets and applies the appeal as follows: “. . . to glorify God and to do His will is the heart of Christian living” (p. 473).

[22] Cf. Ephesians 5:1 –10 (many other supporting passages could be adduced).

[23] See, e.g., Klopfenstein, p. 530.

[24] Best, p. 159.

[25] Best comments that the form of the word (hagiamos) “lays emphasis on the process of sanctification, the activity associated with it, rather than on sanctification as a completed state” (p. 160). Hall and Peisker, loc. cit., simply state that the apostolic reference here is to “progressive sanctification.”

[26] Two significant questions have never been resolved: (1) Does the word “vessel” in verse 4 have reference to one’s own body, or to one’s wife? (2) Does “matter” (pragma) in verse 6 refer to sexual relations, or to practical (i.e., business) dealings?

[27] Morris, p. 121.

[28] Cf. Best, p. 165.

[29] See n. 27 above.

[30] Note that “self-control” is included among the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Note especially Wilber T. Dayton’s discussion of the subject: “This is the crowning glory of the life in the Spirit . . .” (Wesleyan Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 359).

[31] This original insight came to light in the course of a careful study of the Greek text on the Thessalonian epistles. The four clauses referred to in the passage are all introduced by conjunctive particles used to indicate a substantive reason, for, or supportive explanation of, the preceding affirmations. English translations generally these thoughts as “for,” “because,” and/or “therefore.” Cf. James E. Frame, The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), pp. 145, 153–155.

[32] Morris, p. 122. Airhart amplifies the idea, as follows: “The will of God may be seen as precept (unalterable law or commandment, to which men must submit); as purpose (divine wisdom and love seeking their sublime ends); as power (divine efficiency working out what is purposed); and as promise (utter dependability in the fulfillment of its purpose)” (p. 474).

[33] Cf. Morris, p. 128: “When God called the Thessalonians it was not aimless procedure. He had a very definite purpose, and that purpose is not uncleanness.”

[34] Phillips’ paraphrase.

[35] Airhart, p. 478.

[36] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 37.

[37] Cf. Morris, p. 128.

[38] John Wesley, in his Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament (p. 759), becomes very excited over 1 Thessalonians 4:8 . His emotion overreacts the bounds of both brevity and prose: “Who hath also given you his Holy Spirit—to convince you of the truth, and enable you to be holy. What naked majesty of words! How oratorical, and yet with what great simplicity! A simplicity that does not impair, but improve, the understanding to the utmost; that, like the rays of heat through a glass, collects all the powers of reason into one orderly point, from being scattered abroad in utter confusion” (1954 reprint; London: Epworth Press).

[39] The Greek text in the better manuscripts speaks of God as “giving (not aorist but present, continuing tense) the Holy Spirit (not simply ‘to’ but) into us.”

[40] Morris, p. 128.

[41] Airhart, p. 479. Best (p. 169) states boldly: “. . . the Spirit is the Spirit of sanctification (Holy and sanctification come from the same Greek root)”; similarly, Frame (p. 156) explains: “This indwelling Spirit is a power unto holiness, a consecrating Spirit.”

[42] Cf. Klopfenstein, p. 532.

[43] Best, p. 169.

[44] See 1 Thessalonians 3:12 –13 above.

[45] Cf. Best, p. 2442: “. . . peace is practically equivalent to salvation; and such salvation and oneness with God require the complete sanctification of the Thessalonians.” Stempvort (p. 262) describes “peace” as a great word which embraces “die Totalitat des Heiles” in a nearly untranslatable manner.

[46] Wesley, p. 763. Luther translated it, “durch und durch” through and through).

[47] Stempvort, p. 263.

[48] Morris, p. 180.

[49] It also may be noted that the consummation of God’s purpose in our salvation is described by use of the verb “to sanctify.”

[50] At this point we do not agree with Morris (p. 180) that Paul merely “repeats the prayer in another form.” This is a continuation of his prayer for the entire sanctification of the Thessalonians. It presumes the previous petition and enlarges upon it.

[51] This description of man by reference to both “spirit and soul” (not just one or the other) as well as “body” is unique to the New Testament.

[52] Cf. H. Wheeler Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man (3rd ed.; Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 1929), p. 108: “This is not a systematic dissection of the distinct elements of personality . . . [but] emphasizes the totality of the personality.”

[53] Morris, p. 181.

[54] See Stempvort, p. 263. Adam Clarke comments: “The apostle prays that this compound being, in all its parts, powers, and faculties . . . everything that constitutes man and manhood, may be sanctified and preserved blameless till the coming of Christ” (Holy Bible Commentary, vol. 5 [New York: Methodist Book Concern, n.d.], p. 555).

[55] Airhart, p. 501.

[56] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4 (New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931), p. 39.

[57] Airhart, p. 501.

[58] “In doing so, he makes clear that God not only consecrates the believers, but keeps them . . .” (Frame, p. 211).

[59] Cf. Morris, p. 183.

[60] Cf. Philippians 1:6 .

[61] Cf. Airhart, p. 501.

[62] See Morris, p. 195 (commenting on 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ): “It is significant that the two matters for which he now gives thanks are both mentioned in the former letter as subjects for improvement. In 3:10 he had spoken of his desire to perfect what was lacking in their faith, and in 3:12 he had prayed that their love might abound. Now he is able to thank God for the growth of their faith and the abundance of their love. . . . The verb ‘aboundeth’ is the one used in the prayer of 1 Thessalonians 3:12 , so that he is recording the exact answer to his prayer.” We ought to be reminded, moreover, of one additional fact: this prayer found its terminus in the apostolic petition for sanctification. Thus we conclude that the vigorous growth of the Thessalonian in faith and love is evidence of their progress on the way of holiness.

[63] At this point, we call the reader’s attention to the outline of 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 suggested by Arnett, loc. cit.

[64] We are convinced the principle set forward here constitute a significant biblical basis for the Wesleyan message.