on 1-thessalonians 5 :23
And the very God of peace - That same God who is the author of peace, the giver of peace; and who has sent, for the redemption of the world, the Prince of peace; may that very God sanctify you wholly; leave no more evil in your hearts than his precepts tolerate evil in your conduct. The word wholly, ὁλοτελεις means precisely the same as our phrase, to all intents and purposes. May he sanctify you to the end and to the uttermost, that, as sin hath reigned unto death, even so may grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Your whole spirit and soul and body - Some think that the apostle alludes to the Pythagorean and Platonic doctrine, which was acknowledged among the Thessalonians. I should rather believe that he refers simply to the fact, that the creature called man is a compound being, consisting,
1. Of a body, σωμα, an organized system, formed by the creative energy of God out of the dust of the earth; composed of bones, muscles, and nerves; of arteries, veins, and a variety of other vessels, in which the blood and other fluids circulate.
2. Of a soul, ψυχη, which is the seat of the different affections and passions, such as love, hatred, anger, etc., with sensations, appetites, and propensities of different kinds.
3. Of spirit, πνευμα, the immortal principle, the source of life to the body and soul, without which the animal functions cannot be performed, how perfect soever the bodily organs may be; and which alone possesses the faculty of intelligence, understanding, thinking, and reasoning, and produces the faculty of speech wherever it resides, if accident have not impaired the organs of speech.
The apostle prays that this compound being, in all its parts, powers, and faculties, which he terms ὁλοκληρον, their whole, comprehending all parts, every thing that constitutes man and manhood, may be sanctified and preserved blameless till the coming of Christ; hence we learn,
1. That body, soul, and spirit are debased and polluted by sin.
2. That each is capable of being sanctified, consecrated in all its powers to God, and made holy.
3. That the whole man is to be preserved to the coming of Christ, that body, soul, and spirit may be then glorified for ever with him.
4. That in this state the whole man may be so sanctified as to be preserved blameless till the coming of Christ. And thus we learn that the sanctification is not to take place in, at, or after death. On the pollution and sanctification of flesh and spirit, see the note on 2 Corinthians 7:1.
on 1-thessalonians 5 :23
And the very God of peace - The God who gives peace or happiness; compare notes, Romans 1:7.
Sanctify you - See the notes at John 17:17.
Wholly - ὁλοτελεῖς holoteleis. In every part; completely. It is always proper to pray that God would make his people entirely holy. A prayer for perfect sanctification, however, should not be adduced as a proof that it is in fact attained in the present life.
Your whole spirit and soul and body - There is an allusion here, doubtless, to the popular opinion in regard to what constitutes man. We have a body; we have animal life and instincts in common with the inferior creation; and we have also a rational and immortal soul. This distinction is one that appears to the mass of people to be true, and the apostle speaks of it in the language commonly employed by mankind. At the same time, no one can demonstrate that it is not founded in truth. The body we see, and there can be no difference of opinion in regard to its existence. The "soul" (ἡ ψυκὴ hē psuchē - psyche), the vital principle, the animal life, or the seat of the senses, desires, affections, appetites, we have in common with other animals. It pertains to the nature of the animal creation, though more perfect in some animals than in others, but is in all distinct from the soul as the seat of conscience, and as capable of moral agency.
See the use of the word in Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Luke 12:20; Acts 20:10; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 8:9, et al. In the Pythagorean and Platonic philosophy this was distinguished from the higher rational nature ὁ νοῦς, τὸ πνεῦμα ho nous, to pneuma as this last belonged to man alone. This "psyche" (ψυχὴ psuchē) "soul." or life, it is commonly supposed, becomes extinct at death. It is so connected with the bodily organization, that when the tissues of the animal frame cease their functions, this ceases also. This was not, however, the opinion of the ancient Greeks. Homer uses the term to denote that which leaves the body with the breath, as escaping from the ἕρκος ὀδοντων herkos odontōn - "the fence or sept of thy teeth" - and as also passing out through a wound. - This ψυχή psuchē - "psyche" - continued to exist in Hades, and was supposed to have a definite form there, but could not be seized by the hands.
Ody. 2:207. See "Passow," 2; compare Prof. Bush, Anasta. pp. 72, 73. Though this word, however, denotes the vital principle or the animal life, in man it may be connected with morals - just as the body may be - for it is a part of himself in his present organization, and whatever may be true in regard to the inferior creation, it is his duty to bring his whole nature under law, or so to control it that it may not be an occasion of sin. Hence the apostle prays that the "whole body and soul" - or animal nature - may be made holy. This distinction between the animal life and the mind of man (the "anima" and "animus," the ψυχὴ psuchē and the πνεῦμα pneuma), was often made by the ancient philosophers. See Plato, Timae. p. 1048, A. Nemesius, de Nat. Hom. 1 Cited Glyca, p. 70; Lucretius, 3:94; 116, 131; Juvenal, 15:146; Cicero, de Divinat. 129, as quoted by Wetstein in loc. A similar view prevailed also among the Jews. rabbi Isaac (Zohar in Lev. fol. 29, 2), says, "Worthy are the righteous in this world and the world to come, for lo, they are all holy; their body is holy, their soul is holy, their spirit and their breath is holy." Whether the apostle meant to sanction this view, or merely to speak in common and popular language, may indeed be questioned, but there seems to be a foundation for the language in the nature of man. The word here rendered "spirit" (πνεῦμα pneuma), refers to the intellectual or higher nature of man; that which is the seat of reason, of conscience, and of responsibility. This is immortal. It has no necessary connection with the body, as animal life or the psyche (ψυχὴ psuchē) has, and consequently will be unaffected by death. It is this which distinguishes man from the brute creation; this which allies him with higher intelligences around the throne of God.
Be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - The apostle does not intimate here that either the body or the vital principle will be admitted to heaven, or will be found in a future state of being, whatever may be the truth on that subject. The prayer is, that they might be entirely holy, and be kept from transgression, until the Lord Jesus should come; that is, until he should come either to remove them by death, or to wind up the affairs of this lower world; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:10. By his praying that the "body and the soul" - meaning here the animal nature, the seat of the affections and passions - might be kept holy, there is reference to the fact that, connected as they are with a rational and accountable soul, they may be the occasion of sin. The same natural propensities; the same excitability of passion; the same affections which in a brute would involve no responsibility, and have nothing moral in their character, may be a very different thing in man, who is placed under a moral law, and who is bound to restrain and govern all his passions by a reference to that law, and to his higher nature. For a cur to snarl and growl; for a lion to roar and rage; for a hyena to be fierce and untameable; for a serpent to hiss and bite, and for the ostrich to leave her eggs without concern Job 39:14, involves no blame, no guilt for them, for they are not accountable; but for man to evince the same temper, and the same want of affection, does involve guilt, for he has a higher nature, and all these things should be subject to the law which God has imposed on him as a moral and accountable being. As these things may, therefore, in man be the occasion of sin, and ought to be subdued, there was a fitness in praying that they might be "preserved blameless" to the coming of the Saviour; compare the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:27.
on 1-thessalonians 5 :23
5:23 And may the God of peace sanctify you - By the peace he works in you, which is a great means of sanctification. Wholly - The word signifies wholly and perfectly; every part and all that concerns you; all that is of or about you. And may the whole of you, the spirit and the soul and the body - Just before he said you; now he denominates them from their spiritual state. The spirit - Gal 6:8; wishing that it may be preserved whole and entire: then from their natural state, the soul and the body; (for these two make up the whole nature of man, Matt 10:28;) wishing it may be preserved blameless till the coming of Christ. To explain this a little further: of the three here mentioned, only the two last are the natural constituent parts of man. The first is adventitious, and the supernatural gift of God, to be found in Christians only. That man cannot possibly consist of three parts, appears hence: The soul is either matter or not matter: there is no medium. But if it is matter, it is part of the body: if not matter, it coincides with the Spirit.