Atoning Sacrifice Pt I

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1 Thess 5:12 – 28 narrates Paul's closing requests for life in the church and final greetings to the Thessalonians. This portion of the letter has been referred to closing remarks between friends. Verses 25 – 28 demonstrate evidence of friendship, by indicating communal prayer, greeting with a holy kiss, and encouraging all to read the letter. In addition to the friendship elements, as previously noted, Paul instructs the Thessalonians on Christian living. He first identifies the appropriate attitudes toward leaders. He proceeds to exhort them to warn those who are weak spiritually, not repay others with evil, as well as maintain spiritual piety and sanctification. Paul's last statement imparts grace to the Thessalonians, which closes the letter with encouragement.


Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians by providing final instruction for their behavior as a body of believers. He addresses behavior for respect towards ecclesial leadership, respect with care for the spiritually weak believers, spiritual piety, and Christian prophecy. Paul uses the same style of speech, imperatives to urge Thessalonians to possess spiritual piety and accurate handling of spiritual gifts. He concludes the list of imperative actions, by praying for the Thessalonians. The transition from behavior to prayer occurs by the term, δὲ. The Thayer Greek Lexicon provides six definitions to the term. In the context of verse 23, two definitions apply. The first definition states, “Universally by the way of opposition or distinction; it is added to statements opposite to a preceding statement”. The fifth definition denotes, “it serves to mark a transition of something new; the new addition is distinguished from and, as it were, opposed to what goes before”. Therefore, even though Paul urges the Thessalonians to possess certain spiritual behaviors, he distinguishes their behavior against God’s behavior for them. He separates God’s behavior of sanctifying them entirely from their spiritual behaviors. Ultimately, God’s behavior of sanctifying them represents a new action separate from their human actions or efforts. The TDNT also denotes sanctification as not man’s moral action, but a divinely effected state. This state occurs by Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Christ achieves sanctification for the sanctified by his offering on the cross. His sanctification will also be consummated in the future during final judgement.