1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Short But Comprehensive PrayerR. Fergusson.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Body, Soul and Spirit SanctifiedT. Arnold, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Body, Soul, and SpiritCanon T. S. Evans, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Body, Soul, and SpiritDean Goulburn.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Complete SanctificationW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Entire SanctificationM. G. Pearse.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Entire SanctificationDr. Jarbo.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Entire SanctificationW. B. Pope, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:23
SanctificationTimothy Dwight, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:23
The King's LodgingC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:23
The Prayer for Entire ConsecrationBp. Ellicott.1 Thessalonians 5:23
The Sanctification of the Complete ManE. L. Hull, B. A.1 Thessalonians 5:23
The Spiritual NatureLyman Abbott.1 Thessalonians 5:23
The Tripartite Nature of ManBp. Woodford.1 Thessalonians 5:23
Prayer for the Sanctification and Preservation of Thessalonian BelieversT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24
The Result of Obedience to These Commandments - SanctificationB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24
PrayerR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28


I. IT IS A PRAYER FOR PERFECT SANCTIFICATION. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly."

1. It is the design of the God of peace to do this. Our Lord came to "save his people from their sins," to "redeem them from all iniquity."

2. This sanctification is to extend to body, soul, and spirit.

(1) The body is to be sanctified, for it is to become an "instrument of righteousness," a "temple of the Holy Ghost," and eventually will receive its "redemption" in the resurrection (Romans 8:23).

(2) The soul is to be sanctified. It is the principle of animal life. It is the self. The individual life of man is to be fully sanctified.

(3) The spirit points to the inner life as coming from God, as the soul is life as constituted in man. The spirit is the higher aspect of self, the spiritual man being man as grace has reconstructed him. Yet the two words are parallel, though not equivalent; signifying not two separate natures in man, but two separate functions of the same nature. Provision is made for the sanctification of the whole man.

3. It is not perfect in the present life. The very prayer that God might sanctify them wholly implies that it was an attainment yet to be reached.

II. IT IS A PRAYER FOR THE PRESERVATION OF SAINTS TILL THE COMING OF CHRIST. "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless."

1. It is God only who can keep us. He "keeps us from falling," that "he may present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 1:24). He "keeps us from evil" (John 17:15). Saints are "kept by his power" through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1:5).

2. The preservation is to extend till the second advent. Not till death, but till his coming, implying that body and soul are alike to share in the final redemption. "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).


1. God's faithfulness is the guarantee. He "also will do it." He will be faithful to his oath, to his promises, to his covenant; for he has promised to cleanse his people from all their sins, and preserve them to his kingdom and glory. God is faithful "by whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son" (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9).

2. Effectual calling is another guarantee. For whom he calls he justifies and glorifies. If he gives grace, he gives glory. The calling implies perfection, as it is the first step to it. - T.C.

The very God of peace sanctify you wholly
The apostle had told the Thessalonians in the beginning of his Epistle, that he always made mention of them in his prayers; and, now he is Writing to them, and closing his Epistle, he lifteth up his whole heart for them.

I. THE GOD TO WHOM THE APOSTLE PRAYS, namely, "the very God of Peace." He is sometimes denominated "the God of all grace," "the God of love," but here — "the very God of peace," not only because He is "the Author of peace," but also "the Lover of concord." There was a special reason for this: Paul felt that by the peaceableness and unity of the Thessalonians themselves they would best obtain those things for which he prays. God does not bestow His choice blessings on the members of a Church who are given to strife and disorder, but on those who are bound together in one by the golden cord of love. Such peace and fellowship are pleasant to behold both to men and angels; how much more to God Himself! (Psalm 133).


1. Sanctification. Not partial but entire — the whole man. Or, he prays that they may be more perfectly sanctified, for the best are sanctified but in part while in this world; and therefore we should pray for and press toward complete sanctification.

2. Preservation. Where the good work of grace is begun, it will be carried on, be protected and preserved; and all those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus shall be preserved to the coming of Christ Jesus. If God did not carry on His good work in the soul, it would miscarry; and therefore we should pray God to perfect it, and preserve us blameless, that is, free from sin and impurity, till at length we are presented faultless before the throne of His glory with exceeding great joy.

III. THE APOSTLE'S ASSURANCE ANENT HIS, PRAYER. "Faithful is He that calleth you," he writes to his converts, "who also will do it." The sovereign kindness and infinite love of God had already graciously appeared to them in calling them to the saving knowledge of His truth, and the sure faithfulness of God was their security that they would be Divinely helped to persevere to the end. Accordingly, the apostle assures them that God would do what he desired: He would effect what He had Himself promised: He would accomplish all the good pleasure of His goodness toward them. Verily, our fidelity to God depends upon God's faithfulness to us.

(R. Fergusson.)

I. THE AGENT in our sanctification is the Spirit of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:14; see also Romans 8). By the Father we are sanctified, as we are chosen by Him unto sanctification; as by His good pleasure and free grace the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying agency of the Spirit exist. By the Son we are sanctified, as His death is the only means by which we ever become holy, and by which the Spirit came into the world for the benevolent purpose of making us holy. By the Spirit we are sanctified as the immediate Agent in applying to us the blessings of Christ's redemption, particularly in renewing and purifying our hearts and lives. Thus, although this work is immediately performed by the Spirit as the proper Agent, yet we are truly, though more remotely, said to be sanctified by the Father, by the Son, and by the Godhead universally considered.

II. THE INSTRUMENTS of our sanctification are generally the Word and Providence of God.

1. The Word of God is the means of our sanctification in all cases in which it contributes to render us better, whether it be read, heard, or remembered; whether it be pondered with love, reverence, wonder, or delight; or whether, with similar affections, it be faithfully obeyed; whether its instructions and impressions be communicated to us directly, or through the medium of Divine ordinances, or the conversation, or the communion, or the example of our fellow Christians.

2. The Providence of God becomes the means of our sanctification in all the ways in which it makes solemn and religious impressions on the mind.

III. THE PROCESS of sanctification may be summarily exhibited in the following manner.

1. It is progressive through life. The first sanctifying act of the Spirit of God is employed in regenerating the soul. Succeeding acts of the same nature are employed in purifying it through all the successive periods of life.

2. This process is not uniform. By this I intend that it is not the same in manner or degree every day, month, or year. From whatever cause it arises, our views are at times brighter, our vigilance more active, our resolution stronger, our temper more serene, and our energy more vigorous than at other times. This is visible in all that we speak, or think, or do, whatever may be the objects of our attention. That a state of things in us, which so materially affects ourselves in our very nature, should have an important influence on our religious interests is to be expected of course. The changes are here wrought in ourselves; and we, the persons thus changed, are those whose religion is concerned. As we are changed, therefore the state of our religion must in a greater or less degree be changed also.

3. The process of sanctification is universal. By this I intend that it affects the whole man: his views, affections, purposes, and conduct, and those of every kind. It extends alike to his duties of every kind; toward himself, his fellow creatures, and his Maker. It affects and improves indiscriminately all the virtues of the Christian character: love to God and to mankind, faith, repentance, justice, truth, kindness, humility, forgiveness, charity, generosity, public spirit, meekness, patience, fortitude, temperance, moderation, candour, and charitableness of judgment. It influences ruling passions and appetites, habits of thought and affection, of language and practice. It prompts to all the acts of piety: to prayer, praise, attendance upon the sanctuary and its ordinances, oar sanctification of the Sabbath, Christian communion, and Christian discipline.

4. The progress of sanctification is conspicuous in the life. From the commencement of Christianity in the soul the Christian course is that of a general reformation.REMARKS:

1. The considerations suggested concerning this important religious subject furnish every professing Christian with an interesting rule for the examination of his own character.

2. The same considerations furnish abundant encouragement to the Christian. Think how much God has done to accomplish this work, and you can find no room for despondency.

(Timothy Dwight, D. D.)

Short of being wholly surrendered to God, we are maimed and incomplete. Holiness is the science of making men whole and keeping them whole. Christ is not come to save bits of humanity, like spars of a floating wreck, men's souls only, but to restore the finished man which God fashioned at the first, entire and without blemish. And because this is our completed life, it is our only true life. Our true life can only be that in which all our faculties find room for their harmonious development. This differs greatly from some of the notions that have gathered about the doctrine which regard the body as an enemy and persecute it accordingly; or a weak effeminacy whose conscience is troubled as to the colour of a ribbon, the size of a feather, the metal of one's watch chain; a life in which everything is suspected a ghostly mystery, a thing alike loveless and useless. Let us gladly welcome the word — entire sanctification; not the privilege of a few adventurous and favoured souls, but the everyday life of ordinary men and women in the everyday work. The word "sanctification" means everywhere that which is claimed by God, given to God, used for God. Take its first use, "God rested on the seventh day...and sanctified it." What the Sabbath was amongst days, that man is to be amongst creatures.


1. Man is a mystery, rent by two, we might say three, worlds.(1) In common with the animals he has a body taken from the same earth, dependent on the same conditions, returning to the earth in the same way. And yet the beasts in following their instincts fulfil the purpose of their being, whilst man is a true man only as these instincts are checked. The reason must come in to control the appetites, but what if the passion be stronger than reason? Reason may bid the man to do right, but it does not bring the power. And, worse still, what if the reason itself drag down the man, lower the animal, and he who was sensual becomes devilish, the subject of envy, malice, pride, covetousness, revenge? What then?(2) We turn to the other faculty — the spirit. That which looks out where reason cannot see, and listens where reason hears nothing, that which has the dread consciousness of a Presence at which reason may laugh, looking out into the dark to declare that there is nothing. But this faculty may contribute to the degradation of the man. To his other miseries this may add a thousand superstitions. Of all creatures man alone wants more than he needs, and in that one fact lies the source of man's misery. Of all animals man alone is the victim of excess. It is the infinite capacity of the spirit degraded and seeking its satisfaction through indulgence.

2. Such is this creature. In a world where all else fulfil their purpose and lie down in peace, he alone is distracted. He is too big for the world, with a mind that cannot fulfil its own ideal. Where can he find his true life, in which all that is within him can be made harmonious and balanced? Some have said, "Mutilate the body to save his nobler being." Others have said, "Blind the mind and mock the spirit, that the animal may be happy. Eat, drink, for tomorrow we die." But surely there is a power somewhere that can keep the creature whole. Think of a steamship, steam at full pressure, engines going, sails set, yet with no hand on the helm, no lookout, no eye on the compass, hurrying on in the darkness, none knows whither. Or think of such a ship manned, yet where the forces of steam are set to one end and the sails to another, where one part of the crew will make for the Southern Cross and another steer for the North Pole. What is the remedy?

3. Let the commander come on board with due authority, then shall all these antagonistic forces be brought into harmonious working. We, seeking for deliverance, turn instinctively to our Creator. He who made us at the first must understand these faculties and can restore them to their true ends and uses. In all gradations of life we find the need of the creature met with its supply. The higher capacities of man for friendship, service, brotherhood find room and satisfaction. And is it only in the highest that we are to be left deceived? Made conscious of the infinite, yet are we to be met with the finite? If that be so, then has all nature mocked us. Every instinct within us, everything about us, cries aloud that somewhere there is that which can set the man at rest. Instinctively we lift our hands upward, assured that help must come from God. The God of Peace, who made us for Himself, can adjust the wishes and aims to His will, and the man takes his true place in the world as one having dominion over it. Here is our only true life, a life of entire consecration.

II. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD MAKES THIS ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION OUR ONLY TRUE LIFE. In common with other creatures, we live and move and have our being in God.

1. But this wards us from all other creatures in the world, we can give to God. This it is which makes us capable of religion. According to our gift do we find our place in one of the three great classes which divide humanity. Only to give something that we have is the mark of the heathen. Only to give something that we do is the distinction of the Jew. To give that which we are is the privilege and glory of the Christian. "Take my goods and be no more angry with me," is the cry of the heathen. "Behold my righteousness and remember Thy promise," speaks the Jew. "I am not mine own, but Thine, live in me or I die," is the distinctive glory of the Christian.

2. But what we give to God is altogether the result of our knowledge of Him. If we know God only as Creator and Controller, who touches us only from without, we give that which is only from without. But if we know God as our Father, as Love — then is there but one offering which can satisfy Him or satisfy us, body, soul, and spirit wholly given up to Him. Before this demand of our complete surrender, there comes the revelation of God. The Epistle begins with, "Grace and peace from God our Father," etc. It is in this revelation of God's love to us that this claim finds its force. If He have given Himself to us there can be no other return than our whole being to Him. Amongst us the claims of love are such that true love is hurt and injured with less than love. If love be lacking, gifts, obedience, service do but affront and insult love. If the measure of God's love to us be nothing less than the shame and agony and death of the Son of God, then to give Him less than our body, soul, and spirit is to make religion itself only another bewilderment.

III. CONSIDER THIS LIFE AS THE SUBJECT OF OUR PRAYER. "May the God of Peace Himself sanctify you wholly." This great work is to be done for us by God. What years of weary and wasted endeavour it would save us if we were willing to accept so obvious a truth! We linger about theories of sanctification. In seeking to make this life our own it will help us to dwell upon the three stages of sanctification as set forth in the Old Testament, the picture book of the New.

1. Sanctification is the surrender of that which is claimed. "Sanctify unto me," or as it is in the original, "Cause to pass over unto us." That is where sanctification begins. The demand and command of God. We have thought so much about God's provision for our forgiveness that we have almost lost sight of the fact that forgiveness has this purpose, our perfect obedience to His will. Jesus Christ is come not to be Saviour only, but Lord. Holiness is obedience, and the beauty of Holiness is the beauty of a completed obedience. Religion may borrow the loftiest titles, and swell with the sublimest aspiration, and yet be a thing of flabby sentimentalism, without the strong pillars and girders of God's authority. Let this surrender to God be a definite act. Our fathers often made this surrender in writing, and it is a distinct gain to make the act visible and tangible. And the process of writing gives one leisure to see into the greatness of God's claim, and into the sincerity of our response. This is the first step we must bring into our life, the great, strong authority of God. There was an age in which the authority of God was so set forth that it concealed His love, and it produced men stern, perhaps, but grandly true, men all backbones and ribs. Let us beware lest by concealing the authority of God in His love we grow creatures without any backbones or ribs at all.

2. The second step in our sanctification is the cleansing blood. Nothing else could give such solemnity to the offering, nothing else so completely set it apart for God. This was the crimson seal upon the deed of gift. The Church of today has gone away from the Church of the first ages. The death of Christ is the ground of our salvation, that and nothing more. With them it was the resistless claim. Our answer is, "Go on your happy way to heaven"; theirs was, "Glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are His." The blood meant ransom, redemption, but the deliverance found its purpose only in the service of God. That is the measure of the Cross of Christ — not safety only from the destroying angel, but deliverance from the bondage of sin, our victory over the world and the flesh. And that not simply as the natural effect upon us of Christ's love. It is more than a passionate hatred of sin kindled by the sight of our crucified Lord; more than an enthusiastic devotion fired and sustained by the memory of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. As surely as the Cross of Christ has put me into a new relationship to God, and made it possible for Him to be just and the Justifier of him that believeth, so has that Cross put me into a new relation to the world. This is the great salvation which is provided for us. Now, in the name of Jesus Christ are we to rise to find the chains fall off, the bondage ended, the doors of the prison open, the jealous foes powerless to hold us. Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, now are we free indeed, that in everything we may be His faithful soldiers and servants until our lives' end.

3. The last stage in sanctification is the Divine indwelling. Everything led up to that. Everything that was claimed was cleansed. When Moses had done all that God commanded him, then God came down and filled the place with His glorious Presence. Earth had no more to ask, and heaven no more to bestow. Up to that point God is ever seeking to lead us. Just as earth led up to man, and found its use and completeness in his coming, so was it that man led up to God. And when man came God rested from His labours, here was his resting place and home. His work was at an end, and with that indwelling all things found their finish and completion. And up to this all the great provisions of grace lead. We stand and look down through the ages and see God coming nearer to earth, until at last there cometh One who standeth and knocketh, saying, "Open unto Me." Then, when He cometh in to dwell with us, paradise is restored. Once more God hath found His rest, and we have found ours, and there comes again the Sabbath calm, for that all is very good.

(M. G. Pearse.)

By regeneration the heart is renewed, by justification sins are pardoned, in sanctification the life is made holy. Romanists confound justification and sanctification; but while connected they must be distinguished. The former is what is done for us, changes our state, is perfect at once, and is through the merits of Christ; the latter is what is done in us, changes our nature, is gradual, and is by the Spirit. The one gives the title, the other the fitness for glory.

I. THE NATURE OF SANCTIFICATION. Separation from that which is common to that which is holy. So the furniture of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:29), and priests and people were sanctified (Exodus 28:46). It consists —

1. In mortifying the evils of our nature. (Romans 8:12, 13). If sin is not mortified, it will prevent —

(1)Our communion with God (Ezekiel 14:7).

(2)Growth in grace.

(3)Peace here and happiness hereafter.That which makes clean the outside merely will never satisfy a holy God, make a holy character and fit for a holy place.

2. The consecration of the Christian to that which is holy.

(1)To the glory of God of all that he is, has, and does.

(2)To the cause of Christ which is the good of man.


1. It is attributed to the redeeming, cleansing blood of Christ.

2. To the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13: Romans 15:16). His design is not simply to better our nature, but to cure it entirely.

3. To the Word of God as the Spirit's instrument (John 17:17), explaining the nature, applying the promises, and imparting the hope of holiness.

4. To faith and prayer (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts 15:9; Matthew 7:11). Truth sanctifies only as it is received by faith, and by prayer obtains the influence of the Spirit.

III. THE CHARACTERISTICS of sanctification.

1. Progressiveness. We should aim at sinless perfection, and unless we increase in holiness we are increasing in sin.

2. Visibility, not of course in its essence but in its effects. We see that the tree grows, that its branches extend, that it bears fruit, although we do not see it grow.

3. Entireness. It must influence the whole man.

IV. THE IMPORTANCE of sanctification.

1. Without it the design of God's love to us is in vain, "This is the will of God even your sanctification."

2. Without it we are strangers to the Saviour's grace "who died for us that He might purify unto Himself," etc.

3. Without it we are a forsaken and desecrated temple of the Holy Ghost.

4. Without it we are unfit for heaven. None but "the pure in heart shall see God."Application:

1. Use the means of sanctification, prayer, Bible study.

2. Keep before you the perfect model of sanctification in the example of Christ.

3. Never be satisfied with your attainment in sanctification.

(Dr. Jarbo.)

1. Note the position of this prayer. It forms a conclusion, and this gives it a specific character.(1) It is the natural close of the Epistle — an impressive course of precept and exhortation. Sanctification from all sins and also in its positive sense had been inculcated and prayed for, and now all previous petitions are gathered up into one.(2) It is the close of the strain immediately preceding. As far back as ver. 15, we perceive the signs of strong emotion. Paul's exhortations become very bold, and each bears the burden of perfection. The grandeur of this introduction prepares us for the grandeur of the prayer. Precisely at the point when man's ambition to be perfect has been stimulated to the utmost, the transition is made from what we can do for ourselves to what God can do foe us.

2. The peculiarities of the prayer. It is marked off from the rest of Paul's prayers in that it has more of the temple spirit and phraseology. This suggests at once a comparison with our Lord's High Priestly consecration prayer (John 17). The Divine consecration separating believers from the world while keeping them blameless in it; having its end, on the one hand, in the unity of the mystical body in holiness, and on the other, the vision of Christ's glory at His coming; and brought to its perfection by the righteous or faithful God of the Christian vocation; these form a series of ideas common to Christ and Paul.

3. The expressions by which God is invoked in Paul's prayers are always great expository helps.(1) "The God of peace" is the author of reconciliation accomplished through the atoning mediation of Christ, Those only can be sanctified who have entered into the enjoyment of the Divine favour. Peace begins the state of grace, pervades it, and is its perfection (Romans 5:1).(2) "He that calleth" (ver. 24). Sometimes the calling refers to the past — at conversion: sometimes to the final issue; here, however, it is the continuous call between the two extremes — always to holiness. This name is a remembrancer, every time we hear it, of an abiding obligation on our part, and a constant will on the part of God.(3) The third name is not mentioned but implied. God is the only sanctifier — the Father (John 17:17), the Son (Hebrews 2:11), the Holy Ghost (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Only a lax religious phraseology speaks of a man's consecrating himself. We have words for duty and virtue in every form, but this must be sanctified or set apart from our common use. Only One could say "I sanctify myself."

4. Entering the prayer itself we mark its great central idea, the entireness of personal sanctification: but to clear the way we must consider what is not meant, that in which all accepted believers are entirely sanctified.(1) They are absolutely washed from the guilt of sin (Hebrews 10:22). In this sense sanctification and justification are one. The soul that is justified in the forum or court mediatorial is in the temple and before the altar sanctified, and completely (Hebrews 10:14).(2) They are presented to God upon an altar which makes everything holy, and they are thus set apart to the Divine service. Now that must be absolute or nothing. The offering must be either on the altar or not on it. But the oblation has yet to go up to heaven in the consuming fire as a whole burnt offering.(3) They are complete in Christ according to the foreknowledge of God (Romans 8:30; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30).(4) These several views unite in the element of imputation. But the apostle's prayer uses a word which takes us into an altogether different region, "Faithful," etc. (ver. 24). He does not ask that God may count, but that God may make them holy. The entireness of sanctification is here expressed in two ways. It is —


1. Consider some objections arising out of the form and construction of the sentence. It has been said that the words are too rare and uncertain to admit of a doctrine so important being based upon them. But granted that they are unusual, they are chosen with extreme precision, and bear their sense in their very form. Passing by this, two other objections, based upon it, must be noticed.(1) One takes the form of an honourable but unsound explanation which assumes that "wholly" refers to the Thessalonian Church, and "blameless" to individual members. But there is no instance of any particular community being regarded as capable of entire sanctification. That blessedness is the prerogative of the Christian or the whole mystical body of Christ.(2) The other less-worthy subterfuge asserts that the plain meaning of the terms must not be unduly pressed; that Paul's theology ought not to be made responsible for his exuberant phrases. This loose theory of inspiration as here applied is condemned by the fact that the text begins and ends with the power of God. And with regard to "Faithful is He," it is remarkable that it is always used when the strength of the apostle's language might seem to demand the confirmation of a special Divine guarantee.

2. Entire sanctification as an end attained consists of —(1) A consecrating act of God put forth to the utmost necessary point. The work is one of Divine power which God begins, continues, and brings to perfection. "He will do it." This separates our sanctification from everything which man by his own effort may attain. It is not the result of a new direction or impetus given to our faculties; through no energy of the self-consecrated will; through no mighty outgoings of the regenerate feeling; through no contemplation of the regenerate reason. There is a power above and behind using them, but not leaving the recovery of holiness to them. It is not the moral agent retrieving himself by Divine aid, but a new and more abundant life infused, sustained and carried to perfection by God Himself.(2) This sanctifying power extends to all the elements of man's nature.(a) His spirit is that element of his nature which is his distinction. In it he is only a little lower than the angels for a season, and has no fellowship whatever with the lower creation. Here is the seat of the Divine image, marred but never lost, and whose perfect restoration must wait until sanctification is lost in glory. Meanwhile the reason is entirely dedicated to its original function of being the depository of the supreme first principles of goodness, rectitude, and truth; the conscience is sanctified unto perfect fidelity as an internal legislator true to the truth, as an incorruptible witness pacified, and as a fearless interpreter of the Divine judgment; the will is sanctified as the servant of its own supreme choice and intention, and as the master of its own acts, by release from every impediment of unholy motives and by the constant influence of the truth applied by the spirit; the impulse behind and the end before, and all its means between consecrated in the unity of one supreme principle — the glory of God. But we are apt to lose the noblest meaning of the term "spirit," by the use of these synonyms. It is the element in man's nature that is capable of God. Dead or asleep in the unregenerate, it is quickened into life by the Holy Spirit; and when it is entirely possessed by Him who quickens it — the spiritual man being "filled with the Spirit," and wholly spiritual — it is wholly sanctified to the vision of God.(b) The soul is consecrated as distinct from the spirit. This faculty, when mentioned apart from the spirit, comes between the higher and lower elements of our being. It is the sphere of the desires and passions, which are innocent in themselves, but transformed by the sinful will into worldly affections and lusts, which are restored, however, by being brought under the control of the Holy Spirit through the will, refusing them their unholy stimulants and nourishment in the world.(c) The body is also sanctified as the instrument of spirit and soul. As such it has abundant honour put upon it as the temple of the Holy Ghost. But like spirit and soul, its sanctification is limited till sanctification and glorification shall be one.(3) The entireness of the consecration. "Wholly" has reference to the person made up of these constituents. The three parts are not introduced to show that holiness becomes perfect by proceeding through these inwardly towards the centre. The sanctification is of the man in whom these unite. It begins with the self of the "new man," and the Holy Ghost dwelling therein, becomes a will within the will that rules the whole; and when He has confirmed that will in supreme devotion to God, sanctification is entire.


1. The same power that sanctifies as an act preserves that sanctification as a state. Entire sanctification as distinguished from sanctification is the confirmed, habitual, no longer interrupted devotion of the whole being to God. As the power which created the world sustains it by an indwelling energy, so the power which can fix upon God the strength of the whole soul can keep it fixed upon Him. A strong influence of grace descending in answer to prayer may carry the whole soul to God for a season. When the prayer of faith which brings this blessing becomes unceasing this act becomes the tranquil state of the soul. "By faith we stand," and He who is faithful is "able to keep us from falling."

2. This consecration is the preservation of all that belongs to Spirit, etc., in the fellowship and service of God. The whole man becomes entirely the Lord's property and worshipper, His instrument and servant. Hence entire sanctification is the habitual communion with God as the supreme good of the soul; and the habitual reference of every act to the will and glory of God as the Lord of life. Love makes the whole being a whole burnt offering.

3. This state of entire consecration is preserved in blamelessness.(1) No blame is imputed to it; by virtue of the atoning blood it is in a constant state of acceptance.(2) It is a faultless sacrifice. The High Priest so entirely consecrates the offering to God that sin is no longer found in it.

4. The fidelity of God is pledged to the accomplishment of this.

(W. B. Pope, D. D.)


1. What does Paul mean by being sanctified wholly?(1) In man there is a trinity of powers linking him with three different worlds.(a) By the body, with its sensations, etc., we are connected with the earth.(b) By the soul, powers merely natural, faculties, passions, and affections, we are connected with the sorrowing, rejoicing, toiling world.(c) But there are deeper things linking us with a sublimer region, an emotion that pants for the eternal, prayers that cry out for the infinite — these are voices of the spirit.(2) These, Paul says, are to be sanctified, i.e., consecrated.(a) The body, not by crushing and despising it, but using it as a gift of God for His glory.(b) The soul, not by despising its gifts as carnal, or shutting our ears to the appeals of affection, but by dedicating it to God; thus making hopes, ambitions, loves, holy.(c) The spirit must be sanctified, for when men have used the powers of their spirit as their own they have fallen into spiritual sins, intolerance, bigotry, pride.

2. Why does Paul lay such emphasis on the consecration of all our powers? Because they are gateways of temptation from three different worlds, and unless they are consecrated we are never safe.(1) Men have tried to purify their outward life alone, leaving soul and spirit unguarded, and then secret sins of pride and imagination break out.(2) Men have left the spirit unconsecrated. Guarding body and soul, subduing bodily fear, and ready to meet scorn and shame, Peter, relying on his own strength, fell at the first temptation.(3) Men have tried to hallow the spirit only, to keep their higher life apart, hence the dishonesties which have so often blemished men professing peculiar saintliness. We must be consecrated through the whole range of our powers or we shall not be consecrated at all.


1. We cannot consecrate ourselves. We try it.(1) We subdue the body, but the soul, with its temptations, is too strong for us.(2) We strain all our energies to subdue sins of the intellect and affections; and then we are tempted with spiritual pride. Weary of the struggle, we say, "It is all vain." It is not. Admit your weakness, and cry to God the sanctifier.

2. God preserves the entire sanctification by imparting peace. The calmness He gives when we cease our own efforts is our truest might to maintain this complete consecration.

III. ITS MOTIVE. "Until the coming," etc. This coming is —

1. A day of manifestation. Because that day is coming sanctify —(1) The body, that it may shine out a glorified body in that day;(2) The soul, that it may be able to receive the truth and light of that day;(3) The spirit, that it may be able to commune with the Eternal Love.

2. A day of everlasting gatherings. Sanctify, therefore, body, etc., "that you may be meetened for the Church of the firstborn."

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

The momentous warning of ver. 19 perhaps led to this prayer that the temple in which that holy flame was burning might be preserved in its integrity and blamelessness. "Whole" does not mean the three associated together, but that each may be preserved in its completeness. The prayer is threefold.


1. Sanctification is the condition of outward and inward peace.

2. This sanctification is to be complete "wholly" in their collective powers and constituents.

II. THAT EACH CONSTITUENT MAY BE PRESERVED TO OUR LORD'S COMING. Each part of the man and the whole man is immortal.

III. THAT EACH SO PRESERVED MAY BE ENTIRE and complete, not mutilated or disintegrated by sin.

1. That the body may retain its yet uneffaced image of God, and its unimpaired aptitude to be a living sacrifice to its Maker.

2. The appetitive soul, its purer hopes and nobler aspirations.

3. The spirit, its everblessed associate the Holy Spirit of God.

(Bp. Ellicott.)

I pray God that your whole spirit, and soul, and body
I. BODY — sense-consciousness.

II. SOUL — self-consciousness.

III. SPIRIT — God-consciousness.

(J. B. Heard, M. A.)There are three things of which man in his entirety consists — flesh, soul, and spirit: the one, the spirit, giving form; the other, the flesh, receiving form. The soul is intermediate between these two: sometimes it follows the spirit and is elevated by it, and sometimes it consents to the flesh and falls into earthly concupiscences.

( Irenaeus.)

An ancient philosopher once called the human frame "a harmony of bones," and a beautiful cathedral may be well called a harmony of stones. Following the same train of thought in a wider application, I might point out to you how man in his entire composite structure of body and soul and spirit was designed by his Creator to be, as it were, a living instrument of diverse chords attuned to one perfect harmony. How should I describe the relations to each other of these factors of our human fabric? Should I call the body the sheath of the soul, and the soul the sheath of the spirit? Or the body the organ of the soul, and the soul the organ of the spirit? Or the first the utterance of the second, and the second the expression of the third? What is the body for? Not for intemperance, incontinence, greed; "the body is for the Lord." He is its Builder and Redeemer: doubly Owner of it and twice Proprietor, first by creation and then by redemption. If, then, we would live to the Lord, let us keep our bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity. But what did I say — let us keep the body in order? Why, the body is the organ of the soul; the soul rules it with a will, uses it with a will, bids it walk with feet, touch with hand, taste with tongue, speak with mouth, see with eyes. To keep the body in order, then, we must keep the soul in order — filling it with good desires, pure motives, wise counsels, noble aims and aspirations. Yes, but what is to keep the soul in order? Why, the soul itself is controlled by that of which it is the organ and the expression, even by the spirit. So, then, let each of us fill our highest nature, even the spirit, with good desires, pure motives, noble aspirations, lofty thoughts of God and heaven. But can we? Is a man's ego or self outside a man that he should pour into his own spirit good desires, as he would pour water into a cistern? A man's ego is inside the man, whether it be seated in the soul, or in the spirit, or in both. For behind the body is its ruler and director, the soul, behind the soul is its ruler the spirit: but behind the spirit of man is what? Is there no superior? Why, yes; some unseen power there is, that plays the part of King David to the harp, and makes the music of the instrument; that suggests, inspires, persuades, drawing to virtue or tempting to vice — an evil power drawing to evil, a good power to good. If God's Spirit penetrate, intensify, illuminate man's spirit and through that reach the soul, and bend the will submissive to good, until the man subdue his own flesh to his own spirit, that man, by faith in Christ, shall save his soul alive. But if, alas! the reverse of this — if the love of the world, the lust of the eye, the pride of life should smother, stifle, quench the nobler aspiration after holiness and happiness — such a man, if he resist to the end the strivings of the Holy Ghost in the domain of his own spirit, shall, in the words of our Lord, "lose his own soul — his own self. We are fearfully and wonderfully made: our triple organism is a mystery, but our double destiny is a certainty. There is to life eternal a dread alternative. There is the one way to heaven before us, and Jesus Christ is this one Way; and there is another way leading to hell. Powers of evil and powers of good surround us: the angels of God attend upon us for our well-being, the angels of Satan hover about us, tempting us to our ruin. Environed by this conflict in the air between good and evil, we must be loyal to our Master, true to our only Saviour, stedfast in prayer and watching, doing our duty in our several stations, keeping our garments unspotted of the flesh: ever using the sacramental means of grace in the Holy Supper; and so, and only so, the Spirit of Christ, which flows through the mystical veins of His Divine humanity, shall fill with its goodness and gentleness, its purity and charity, our own spirits, through them controlling our souls and bodies. For in God's propriety of order, the body is the tabernacle of the soul, the soul is the temple of the human spirit, and the human spirit is the sanctuary of the Holy Ghost.

(Canon T. S. Evans, D. D.)

I. Every department of the universe of matter finds itself represented in the BODY of man.

1. Whenever he receives, digests, and is nourished by food, and experiences bodily pain, man lives the life of the: animal.

2. The hair, which grows and is nourished, and yet which is endowed with no sensation, belongs to, and connects us with, the vegetable kingdom.

3. Mineral matter enters largely into the composition of the circulating lifeblood, whose current throbs in every extremity of our frame — and thus a link of sympathy, and community of nature, is established between man and a third great department of matter.

II. The Soul is that, which when held in combination with the body, connects us with the beasts of the field. For by the soul is probably to be understood the passions or affections — such as have no element of reason or the higher nature in them — perhaps natural instincts would be a more generally intelligible term. It will not be denied that brutes manifest fear, when they are threatened or punished; that there is a strong spirit of emulation and competition among horses; that anger and jealousy will lead stags to encounter one another; that all animals care for their young, and that in some the maternal instinct is developed with a power which almost surpasses that feeling as it exists in man. Now fear and emulation and anger and parental affection, and other such instincts — in their crude state, unmodified by reason, and the sense of right and wrong — constitute, I suppose, the ψυχὴ, or soul, of which the apostle is here speaking.

III. The SPIRIT comprises all that higher part of human nature, by which man holds of God and blessed angels. The spirit gives him a sympathy with the world above, even as the soul gives him a sympathy with the animals, and as the body gives him a sympathy with the material universe. Angels are said to be "ministering spirits." And it is remarkable that when man is spoken of in the Scriptures as holding communion with God, the spirit and not the body is mentioned as the organ through which that communion is held (Romans 1:9; John 4:24). The beasts that perish cannot apprehend God, cannot understand the Divine Word and Will, or hold communion in any form with the Eternal. Why not? They have no natural capacity for doing so. Some link in their nature is wanting, which, if it were present, might make them competent to an exercise so sweet and yet so awful. That link is πνεὺμα — spirit.

(Dean Goulburn.)

I. THE THREE-FOLD NATURE OF MAN. In ordinary language, which the Scripture itself does not hesitate commonly to adopt, a two-fold division of our nature is recognized — man is said to be made up of body and soul. By the word "soul" are understood both his moral and intellectual faculties — those points in his being which distinguish him from other animals, and to cultivate which is the proper business of his life. It is thus used to signify the highest part of his nature; and therefore in the language of those who know the true objects of his highest faculties, and the exalted state to which they might be raised hereafter, it expresses his immortal part in contradistinction to that which is to perish with this present life (Matthew 10:28). But as the notions generally entertained respecting the highest part of our nature were in many respects highly erroneous — as our relation to God as our Maker and Father was lost sight of, and further, as ceasing to regard Him as the great object and centre of our being, men naturally lost all clear and lively hopes of immortality, the word "soul" in its common acceptation among the Greeks was inadequate to express the loftier and more enlightened conceptions of a Christian, with respect to his best faculties and their most perfect state. We find, therefore, in several passages of the New Testament that a third term is employed in addition to those of body and soul, and intended to express something superior to the soul in its common sense, as the soul is superior to the body. The third term is "spirit," which, in the signification now alluded to, seems applicable to Christians only, and to denote that perfection of human nature which it was the object of the gospel to accomplish — an understanding that should know God, and affections that should love Him; or, in other words, a spiritual creature capable of enjoying communion with the Father of Spirits, and from that relation being naturally immortal. Thus, then, when this three-fold division of our nature is mentioned, the term "body" expresses those appetites we have in common with the brutes; the term "soul" denotes our moral and intellectual faculties, directed only toward objects of this world, and not exalted by the hope of immortality; and the term "spirit" takes these same faculties when directed toward God and heavenly things, and from the purity, the greatness, and the perfect goodness of Him who is their object, "transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

II. THE PERFECTION OR BLAMELESSNESS OF THIS TRIPLE NATURE. With the government of the body all are engaged at some periods of their lives, and some through the whole of their lives. All more or less can understand the temptations to indolence and comfort, and to the indulgence of intemperance and sensuality, How many thousands there are who live like Esau! Their appetites are keen, and their enjoyments lively; the body is alive, while the soul and spirit are almost dead; and therefore the man lives what may be called an animal life; but as a man with a soul, and much more as a Christian with a spirit, he is in the lowest state of degradation, neither fit for the life that is to come, nor yet for the life of a reasonable being even in this present world. To keep down the body, therefore, and bring it into subjection, was the object of fasting and mortification; but what is specially wanted is to raise and strengthen the soul and spirit, that the body may be able and ready to aid them in their work, which it cannot do unless it be itself sound and vigorous. The soul is commonly strengthened by the growth and cultivation of the powers of the understanding, and by the various objects which attract the mind as we come forth into actual life. But the perfection of the soul must not be preferred to that of the spirit, any more than that of the body to that of the soul. The excellence of our spirit is to feel and hope as spiritual and deathless creatures. When this takes place, how beautiful is the sight to behold the spirit, and soul, and body, each healthy and strong, and each working in its proper order to perfect its own happiness, and thereby to advance the glory of the Triune-One!

(T. Arnold, D. D.)

What Paul prayed for his friends we may well pray for both ourselves and our friends — a blameless spirit, a blameless soul, a blameless body. This is the whole man.

1. What we mean by the body we very well understand. Mystery even in the body there is, it is true; but still, on the whole, what is meant by a blameless body requires no great exposition. The man with a perfect physique, the man who is a picture of perfect health, verifies himself to our senses, with his broad shoulders, his brawny, muscular limbs, the glow of health upon the cheek, his unwearied vigour by day, his sweet, undisturbed sleep at night.

2. We look in the Greek, to find the same word indiscriminately rendered "life" and "soul." We look in the Latin, and find the word that stands for soul to be "anima," that which animates the body. The soul, then, is that which gives life to this physical organization, The brain is but ashes, without intellect behind it. The heart is a mere muscular valve, if there be no affection and love which make it beat quicker in the presence of the loved one. That which gives physical organism its use, that which makes it an instrument, that which links man to his fellow man, that which deals with the transient and the visible, with that which is round about us, what philosopher's classify as "the intellect, the sensibilities, and the will" — we call this the soul.

3. But what is the spirit? It is by the spirit that we discern the truth. It is the spirit which is ever against the flesh, antagonizing, striving for full mastery of it. It is the spirit which links us to God. It is the spirit which is the Divine and immortal principle in man, undying. So that if there be no spirit, or if it be left to die, there is no immortal life. Let us look for a few moments, and see what are some of the characteristics of this spiritual nature, what some of the indications of the possession of this spiritual in man. But how shall you know what is the value, worth, character, of your spiritual nature? He that has a spiritual nature —


1. This may be, indeed, the only evidence of spiritual nature in him. It certainly is the first. Before as yet the artist knows how to paint or draw, he has in him the desire for painting; and the little boy takes up his pencil and scrawls away, trying to make forms, so bearing witness to a seed-art within him that needs development. The bird has a wish for the air before its wings are fledged and it can soar out from the nest. Our hungers indicate what we are.

2. And as the Bible expresses and interprets the desire of spirituality, so it gives its promise to those desires. You may wish for wealth, and stay poor. But the soul that longs for a stronger conscience, a clearer faith, a more eager and joyous hope, a diviner reverence, shall not go unsatisfied.


III. WILL FIND EXPRESSION FOR THE SPIRITUAL. We are not all teachers, but we all live; and, after all, the true measure and final test of spiritual life is not what we think, nor what we say, but the way in which we live. I pray God that you present yourselves, spirit, soul, body, blameless before the throne of His grace.

1. Blameless in body: with no wart upon it of intemperance or sensual self-indulgence.

2. Blameless in soul, with no ignorant superstition degrading it, with no social coldness, no disfellowship of humanity, no idleness shackling the hands that should have been busy in service.

3. Blameless in spirit — what do I mean by that? I pray God that you may have —(1) A reverence that shall always show something higher and grander and nobler and diviner than the eye has ever shown you, and shall always make you bow before it and follow after it.(2) A hope that shall summon you to a nobler and diviner life than can be interpreted by anything the eye has ever seen or the ear has ever heard.(3) A conscience that shall hold you rigorously and undeviatingly in the path of rectitude, not turning to the right hand nor the left under beckoning enticement or under threatening pressure and menace.(4) A love so large, so catholic, and so inspired by Him that no wrong shall weary its patience, no iniquity shall blur or hinder its sympathy, no sorrow shall fall to touch its pity: for this makes manhood and womanhood. Not what we know: ignorance does not defile us. Not what we have done: doing does not make us. But what in the higher developments of our soul, what in our reverence, in our hope, in our faith, in our love, we are — that really makes us.

(Lyman Abbott.)

Manton says: "If an earthly king lie but a night in a house, what care is there taken that nothing be offensive to him, but that all things be neat, clean, and sweet? How much more ought you to be careful to get and keep your hearts clean, to perform service acceptably to Him; to be in the exercise of faith, love and other graces, that you may entertain, as you ought, your heavenly King, who comes to take up His continual abode and residence in your hearts!" We know a house in which an empress rested for a very short time, and the owner henceforth refused to admit other inmates. Such is his devotion to his royal guest that no one may now sit in her chair or dine at the table which she honoured. Our verdict is that he makes loyalty into absurdity by this conduct; but if we imitate him in this procedure in reference to the Lord Jesus we shall be wise. Let our whole being be set apart for Jesus, and for Jesus only. We shall not have to shut up the house; for our beloved Lord will inhabit every chamber of it, and make it a permanent palace. Let us see to it that all be holy, all pure, all devout. Help us, O Purifier of the temple, to drive out all intruders, and reserve our soul in all the beauty of holiness for the Blessed and Only Potentate.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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