(135)Thesis:The God of the Peace is the Fundamental Object of our Hope.
Introduction:In our last study I argued that there is a definitive theological backdrop presented in 5:23 as the explanation for Paul's "wishes" as they are addressed toward The God of The Peace. Paul wants the Thessalonians to be "sanctified" in an on-going, through-life, kind of way that will result in a particular "end" that God has established. He also wants a "preservation" of something that will result in a specific "inheritance" when Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom.
This evening there are two questions before us: Who is the Primary Actor, and What are the primary activities?
I. Paul's Description of the Primary Actor.
A. His words are, literally, "May Himself, The God of The Peace, sanctify...".
B. The "Himself" is emphatic, being the opening word of the sentence.
1. This is a deliberate declaration that the actual accomplishment of the task is "up to God" as opposed to someone else, including "ourselves".
2. This is entirely in keeping with the thesis of 1 Thessalonians: Hope is never really rooted in what some created being may, or may not, do.
a. There is a profound "hopelessness" directly attached to every possibility that has its root in the performance of a member of the human race as fallen creatures.
1) There actually may be some significant accomplishments by redeemed fallen creatures that have the practical impact of accomplishing something desirable and good.
2) But there is never any guarantee that at any given moment the necessary action will be taken by that redeemed creature.
3) There can never be any genuine "hope" that rests anywhere other than in God Himself.
b. On the other hand, genuine "hope", rooted in God, Himself, is never tenuous; it is forever established to be fulfilled in history.
C. The primary description is two-fold.
1. The "Himself" is "The God".
a. This is in distinction from 2 Thessalonians 3:16 where Paul wrote the words in exactly the same order and form with one exception: "The God" is replaced by "The Lord".
1) We have already noted a distinction in Paul's theology between Those Who possess the ability to exercise omnipotence and He Who possesses the authority to exercise it (1:1).
2) In this text, the focus is upon the lesser of the two issues: God as the Executor of Power (what God can do is less critical than what He will do).
b. But, as the root of Hope, there is nothing more critical than the issue of the ability to bring things to pass, Himself (this was the point of hopelessness in Genesis 18:14).
2. But as "The God", He is deliberately tied to "The Peace".
a. "Peace" as a divine issue in 1 Thessalonians is only referenced in 1:1 and here in 5:23.
b. Though only mentioned three times in this letter, "peace" is a very major issue in respect to the entire letter.
1) That God is called "The God of The Peace" is a dead give-away that Paul is addressing man in respect to the "soul" (neither the spirit or the body are particularly averse to conflict, but the soul is particularly sensitive to it).
2) The "Peace" of which God is notably the Provider is a critical issue for hope.
a) In Romans 14:17, Paul puts "peace" between its "root" and its "fruit" in respect to the kingdom of God.
b) In Romans 5:1 Paul puts "peace" as the outcome of "righteousness" as an issue of "justification".
c) The fundamental threat to "hope" is the conflict between "powers" that we see in evidence every day in every way.
c. Thus, The God of The Peace is an eminently suitable description for the Thessalonians in their need to retain "hope".
II. The Actor's Primary Tasks.
A. The preparation of the saints for the objective He has had in mind for each one from the beginning.
B. The preservation of the inheritance of each of the saints in the Kingdom of His Christ.
1. The grammar of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is difficult; so much so that the lexicons are stumbling all over themselves and unable to come up with any final solution other than simple "declaration" (this is thus because I say so).
2. My conclusion is that the "holokleros" that is found in the translations as "whole" or "complete" is actually the noun the Logos Study System says it is and it is the subject of the passive verb: "be preserved".
a. As a noun, it is to be understood as "the entire inheritance" that God has in mind as Peter declared in 1 Peter 1:4 with the same verb.
b. Theologically, it does not make sense for Paul to "wish" that "The God of The Peace" would preserve the spirit, soul, and body without fault at the coming of the Lord.
1) If such faultlessness is tied to our identity with Christ, it is no wish, but fact.
2) If such faultlessness is tied to our spirit, soul, and body, it can be no wish because it will not be fulfilled.
III. Thus, The God of The Peace, Himself, is Going to Take Us Through the Necessary Sanctification for Our Individually Specific Inheritance Will Be Fulfilled Without Fault When Jesus Comes.