Grace to you: Devotional Commentary for September 19-25
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
After offering several remarks, commendations, exhortations, encouragement, and specific instructions on how their lives can reflect their faith and commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Paul closes this first letter to the Thessalonians with a magnificent benediction. He commends them for their outstanding testimony. He gives them guidance on how to respond to all the circumstances in which they lived. He commits their spiritual growth and the maturation of their faith into the hands of God. Being the God of Peace and Love, our Lord Himself will graciously and mercifully work-out the process of the spiritual development of His children according to His own plan and purpose. Both the Thessalonian church and all believers are under the Lord’s Authority and blessings; preserved, set apart, complete, and blameless in Jesus Christ.
Even though his exhortation is given with specific instructions on how believers should conduct themselves and how Christians should live, Paul finally affirms that the Lord is the One Who gives His Peace and Who makes us holy. God alone keeps Christians blameless in spirit, soul, and body. It is the Lord Himself Who sets us apart into a life of holy consecration, enriching our lives with the person and character of Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Spirit. He perfects our faith, finally bringing us home to be with Him forever.
5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
As human beings, we often falter in our faith. The Lord Jesus Christ never wavers. He is always faithful. He will finish the work that He had begun in His children. That is our confidence. That is the joy and the victory of Christians.
5:25 Brethren, pray for us.
As Paul rejoices in the testimony of the Thessalonian church, even as he commits them to God under the Authority of his faithful Lord, he now asks them to pray for him and his fellow-laborers. Just as they needed Paul’s encouragement and support, so Paul also needed their encouragement and support through their prayers. Paul firmly believes that all Christians must be mutually supportive, interceding for one another and upholding each other before the Lord in prayer.
5:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
In the Middle-Eastern and the Mediterranean cultures where Paul lived and served, greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek is common. Speaking in cultural terms, we can safely surmise that Paul might be recommending that believers could greet each other in keeping with the cultural conventions of the time and the region. He affirms that the expression of high regard that believers hold for each other is appropriate and could be shown with holy and godly gestures which reflect godly affection, support, and care for one another.
5:27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.
Paul lived under the divine Authority of God’s consecration and ordination upon his life. He had been set apart by God from his mother's womb for this task: To bring to the Gentiles the Good News of salvation.
Powerfully and remarkably redeemed on the road to Damascus, Paul never again questioned the hand of God that was operating in his life. Thus, with the Authority of the Lord’s Name, Paul required that his letter to the Thessalonians is read to all the churches in the region. The contents of his epistle were not Paul's opinions and instructions. They are the inspired exhortations of God’s Spirit to the believers in Thessalonica [Θεσσαλονίκη] as well as to all the saints across the ages.
5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Paul pronounces the closing benediction, praying that the benefits of the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ would accompany the Thessalonians and all believers across the ages. We have all been born again under the favor of God’s matchless Grace, and Paul prayerfully commits us to that same Grace by which we are saved. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
The words of the hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” by Charles Wesley, echo Paul’s magnificent benediction. These magnificent words reflect the thrust of Paul's entire epistle, prayerfully appealing to the Love and the Grace of God which cause us to excel in our testimony for Christ. We are humbled by the might of these pervasive thoughts. We are irresistibly impelled to submit ourselves to the continuing work of the Spirit in our hearts, as we look forward to that Day when we join the Lord forever.
Love divine all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion, pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation, enter every trembling heart.
Breathe oh breathe Thy loving Spirit, into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit, let us find the promised rest.
Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.
Come Almighty to deliver, let us all Thy grace receive;
Suddenly return and never, nevermore Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, serve Thee as Thy host above;
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing, glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish then Thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation, perfectly restored in Thee.
Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place;
Till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise.