1 Thessalonians– Chapter Five XXXVIII

by Ed Urzi

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV).

One Biblical scholar offers some helpful insight concerning the doxology (1) given to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23…

“This concluding doxology provides additional instruction on the eternal security of the believer. The eternal duration of salvation is a guaranteed reality that rests not upon the shaky faithfulness of believers but upon the unwavering steadfastness of God Himself. It is God’s faithfulness that will bring His eternal purposes for His elect to full completion. God, who calls His elect to Himself in conversion, also calls them to sanctification and glorification, and He never fails to bring this ongoing salvation to pass.” (2)

In another sense, this interaction between spirit, soul, and body involves a daily conflict for those who are in Christ. For instance, the body naturally gravitates towards whatever satisfies its desires without regard to morality or consequence. On the other hand, the spirit seeks to pursue God’s will, a pursuit that often clashes with the body’s desires. The soul is between the two and lives under the constant influence of one or the other to a greater or lesser degree.

Therefore, the soul (the “you” inside your physical body) must consciously decide to live under the control of the God-directed spirit or the body each day. The New Testament book of Galatians illustrates this daily interaction in the following manner: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17 NIV). Paul the Apostle also described this struggle in very personal terms in his letter to the church at Rome.

Nevertheless, one source reminds us of the need to view the spirit, soul, and body as parts of an integrated whole…

“The spirit, soul, and body refer not so much to the distinct parts of a person as to the entire being of a person. This expression is Paul’s way of saying that God must be involved in every aspect of life. It is wrong to think that we can separate the spiritual life from everything else, obeying God only in some ethereal sense or living for him only one day each week. Christ must control all of us, not just a ‘religious’ part…” (3)

(1) A “doxology” is brief hymn or expression of praise for God

(2) Steven J. Lawson. (2006). Foundations of Grace (p. 437). Reformation Trust Publishing

(3) Life Application Study Bible NKJV [1 Thessalonians 5:23] Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers