1 Thessalonians 3:13
To the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) To the end.—A beautiful connection of thought. Perfect and settled sanctification in the eyes of God is the object in view, and the means by which it is to be attained is growing and overflowing love toward mankind. (See Colossians 3:14.) St. Paul is already thinking, probably, how he shall treat the subject of chastity in the next chapter. (See Note on 1Thessalonians 4:6.)

Before God . . . at the coming.—The hearts are to be unblamably holy before God—not only all through life, but also at the Judgment Day, when Jesus Christ is to judge us in the Father’s presence. Though He has “committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22), yet the judgment is His own, and the Son is the agent by whom He judges, just as He is the agent by whom He creates (see Acts 17:31): therefore in that day it is in the Father’s sight rather than in the Son’s (though there can be no divergence between Them) that we are to be able to clear ourselves.

With all his saintsi.e., attended by them:-

“Thousand, thousand saints attending,

Swell the triumph of His train.”

The word might possibly be stretched to include the holy angels (Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 4:13, et al.); but here we may more probably suppose that St. Paul is anticipating his teaching of 1Thessalonians 4:14, and besides, the Greek seems almost to indicate that these “saints” are to be assessors in the judgment—an honour to be given only to holy men. (Comp. Luke 22:30; John 5:28; 1Corinthians 6:3, et al.)

3:11-13 Prayer is religious worship, and all religious worship is due unto God only. Prayer is to be offered to God as our Father. Prayer is not only to be offered in the name of Christ, but offered up to Christ himself, as our Lord and our Saviour. Let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and he will direct our paths. Mutual love is required of all Christians. And love is of God, and is fulfilling the gospel as well as the law. We need the Spirit's influences in order to our growth in grace; and the way to obtain them, is prayer. Holiness is required of all who would go to heaven; and we must act so that we do not contradict the profession we make of holiness. The Lord Jesus will certainly come in his glory; his saints will come with him. Then the excellence as well as the necessity of holiness will appear; and without this no hearts shall be established at that day, nor shall any avoid condemnation.To the end he may stablish your hearts - That is, "may the Lord cause you to increase in love 1 Thessalonians 3:12, in order that you may be established, and be without blame in the day of judgment." The idea is, that if charity were diffused through their hearts, they would abound in every virtue, and would be at length found blameless.

Unblameable - See the 1 Thessalonians 1:10 note; Philippians 2:15; Philippians 3:6 notes; Hebrews 8:7 note; compare Luke 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The meaning is, so that there could be no "charge" or "accusation" against them.

In holiness - Not in outward conduct merely, or the observance of rites and forms of religion, but in purity of heart.

At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - To judge the world; notes, 1 Thessalonians 1:10. As we are to appear before him, we should so live that our Judge will find nothing in us to be blamed.

With all his saints - With all his "holy ones" - τῶν ἁγίων tōn hagiōn. The word includes his "angels," who will come with him Matthew 25:31, and all the redeemed, who will then surround him. The idea is, that before that holy assemblage it is desirable that we should be prepared to appear blameless. We should be fitted to be welcomed to the "goodly fellowship" of the angels, and to be regarded as worthy to be numbered with the redeemed who" have washed their robes and have made them pure in the blood of the Lamb." When we come to appear amidst that vast assemblage of holy beings, the honors of the world will appear to be small things; the wealth of the earth will appear worthless, and all the pleasures of this life beneath our notice. Happy will they be who are prepared for the solemnities of that day, and who shall have led such a life of holy love - of pure devotion to the Redeemer - of deadness to the world - and of zeal in the cause of pure religion of universal justice, fidelity, honesty, and truth, as to be without reproach, and to meet with the approbation of their Lord.

13. your hearts—which are naturally the spring and seat of unholiness.

before God, even our Father—rather, "before Him who is at once God and our Father." Before not merely men, but Him who will not be deceived by the mere show of holiness, that is, may your holiness be such as will stand His searching scrutiny.

coming—Greek, "presence," or "arrival."

with all his saints—including both the holy angels and the holy elect of men (1Th 4:14; Da 7:10; Zec 14:5; Mt 25:31; 2Th 1:7). The saints are "His" (Ac 9:13). We must have "holiness" if we are to be numbered with His holy ones or "saints." On "unblameable," compare Re 14:5. This verse (compare 1Th 3:12) shows that "love" is the spring of true "holiness" (Mt 5:44-48; Ro 13:10; Col 3:14). God is He who really "stablishes"; Timothy and other ministers are but instruments (1Th 3:2) in "stablishing."

These words some refer only to the verse immediately preceding: by increasing and abounding in love, their hearts would be established unblamable in holiness. Which is true, for that holiness is justly to be suspected, at least is to be blamed, which is without love to men. And love itself is a great part of holiness; and who will blame holiness when it shines forth in love? Yea, it will be unblamable before God and men. And when God doth cause a people to increase in love, he doth hereby establish them in holiness that is unblamable; where love is wanting the heart is not established. The hypocrite will fall off in an hour of temptation, because he wants love; and though he may for a while make a fair show before men, yet he is not unblamable before God, who searcheth the heart: neither will he be found so at the appearance of Jesus Christ; which the apostle prays for here with respect to these Thessalonians, that they might be established in holiness until the coming of Christ; or that they might be found unblameable in holiness at his coming. Whereby the apostle signifies there is yet another coming of Christ, when there will a strict trial pass upon men, and therefore the saints should labour to be then found unblamable, or without spot and blemish, as 2 Peter 3:14.

At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints; whereof he gives a particular account in the next chapter. Others carry this verse as referring also to 1 Thessalonians 3:10, where he desired to see their face to perfect their faith, that both by their faith and love they might be established unblamable in holiness. To the end he may stablish your hearts,.... Which are very unstable and inconstant in their frames, and in the exercise of grace, and have need to be established in the love of God, against the fears of men, the frowns of the world, the temptations of Satan, and in, and with the doctrines of grace; See Gill on 1 Thessalonians 3:2,

unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father. There is no holiness in men naturally; what is in them without the grace of God is only a show; true holiness is from the Spirit of God; and this is a stable thing in itself, and can never be removed or taken away; but the acts of it, through the prevalence of corruption, the force of Satan's temptations, and the snares of the world, are fickle and inconstant; and the saints need to be established in the discharge of duty, as well as in the exercise of grace: and whereas the apostle prays, that they might be "unblamable in holiness", the Alexandrian copy reads, "in righteousness" so one of Stephens's; it must be observed, that no man is perfectly holy in this life; no man is without sin in himself, or lives without the commission of it; holiness in the best is imperfect; no man, as yet, is in himself sanctified wholly; there is no unblamable holiness but in Christ; and in him the saints are without spot and blemish, who is their sanctification and their righteousness; but in themselves they are full of spots and stains; yet through the grace of God their hearts may be so established with principles of holiness, and they may be so assisted in the acts of it daily, as to give no just cause of blame to men, and so to behave as to approve themselves "before God", who sees the heart, and knows from what principles all actions flow: and this the apostle desires may be at the coming of our Lord Jesus; or unto the coming of him, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Either at death, when he comes into his garden, and gathers his lilies, and takes his to himself to be for ever with him; or at the day of judgment, when he comes to judge the quick and dead; and which coming of his is certain, and will be quickly and suddenly, and with great glory and power: and, as it is here added,

with all his saints; meaning either his holy angels, or rather the souls of his people, whom he will bring with him, and will raise their dead bodies, and reunite them to their souls, when they shall be for ever with him; and then shall they be unblamable in holiness, both in soul and body, and shall be presented by him, first to himself, and then to his Father, faultless, and without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions add, "Amen"; and so does Beza's ancient copy, and the Alexandrian manuscript.

To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 3:13. The final aim is derived from the wish, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, because love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10), and the band of perfection (Colossians 3:14).

εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι] not so that (Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius); also, not so much as καὶ στηρίξαι (Koppe), by which the words would only annex a new wish to the preceding. It is designed to introduce a majus, a greater, specifying the higher or final aim to which πλεονάζειν and περισσεύειν are to conduct. But the subject in στηρίξαι is not τὴν ἀγάπην (Oecumenius), but τὸν κύριον (which, however, is not, with Theophylact and Schrader, to be converted into the idea τὸ πνεῦμα), or, with the contingent spuriousness of ὁ κύριος in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 : God and Christ, 1 Thessalonians 3:11.

στηρίξαι denotes confirming, strengthening generally, not confirming in the faith (Flatt, Pelt), against which is the context.

τὰς καρδίας] Chrysostom: οὐκ εἶπεν ὑμᾶς στηρίξαι, ἀλλὰ τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν. Ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί.

ἀμέμπτους] proleptic: so that you will be blameless. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; Php 3:21 (according to the correct reading); Winer, p. 549 [E. T. 779]; Kühner, II. p. 121.

ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ] belongs not to στηρίξαι, but to ἀμέμπτους, specifying the sphere in which the blamelessness is to be shown. The expression denotes the condition of holiness, comp. Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 7:1; erroneously Koppe: alias ἁγιασμός, and Olshausen: ἁγιωσύνη is the process of becoming holy, the result of which is ἁγιασμός.

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ] before God, according to His judgment, His judicial sentence, belongs neither to ἁγιωσύνῃ (Koppe, Pelt), nor to ἀμέμπτους (de Wette, Koch), but to the whole ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ.

μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ] Flatt, with whom Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis, II. 2, ed. 1, p. 595, agrees (he construes the passage differently in ed. 2, p. 649, and in his H. Schr. N. T., without altering his interpretation of οἱ ἅγιοι), unites the clause with ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ: “in order that ye may appear blameless on that day with all who are consecrated to God, who are the genuine members of His people, who truly honour God and Christ.” So also Musculus; and also Benson and Olshausen (comp. also Bouman, Chartae theol. I. p. 81 ff.), although they do not construe with Musculus and Flatt, understand by ἅγιοι the earlier perfected believers. But the difficulty which impelled Flatt to this interpretation (and in which Schrader finds even an objection against the authenticity of the Epistle), namely, that ἅγιοι in the New Testament never denotes the angels when it is by itself, that is, without the addition of ἄγγελοι, vanishes, as—(1) The advent is considered as glorified by the appearance of angels; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26. (2) In the Old Testament without any further addition קְדֹשִׁים, and in the LXX. οἱ ἅγιοι, is a designation of the angels; comp. e.g. Zechariah 14:5; Daniel 4:10; and therefore this current designation cannot surprise us in Paul. Also, what Hofmann in the above-mentioned place urges in favour of Flatt’s interpretation is without force. For to “the probability of the three prepositions ἔμπροσθεν, ἐν, and μετά being used in a similar connection,” is opposed the greater naturalness and easiness of the connection of μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ with the directly preceding ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ. “And that also the connection” supports Flatt’s explanation, “since the brotherly love in which the Thessalonians are to grow finds its suitable reward in sharing at length the blessed fellowship of all the saints of God,” so that hereby is already introduced “what the apostle has particularly to teach the Christians of Thessalonica for their comfort, that those believers who fell asleep before the Advent of the Lord will not be wanting at it,” can only be maintained without arbitrariness, if not only the explanation in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, but the section 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff., be directly joined to 1 Thessalonians 3:13; and then this section would be introduced with Οὐ θέλομεν γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, instead of with Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν.

Moreover, the concluding word αὐτοῦ is more correctly referred to τοῦ Θεοῦ, than, with Pelt, Riggenbach, and others, to τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ.13. to the end he may stablish your hearts] On “stablish” see note to 1 Thessalonians 3:2; and on “hearts,” ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:4; comp. also 2 Thessalonians 2:17.

This is an O.T. phrase, found in Psalm 104:15, “Bread that strengtheneth (Greek, stablisheth) man’s heart”; and Psalm 112:8, “His heart is established, he shall not be afraid.” The only N.T. parallel is in James 5:8, “Be patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” In all these places it signifies the imparting of conscious strength; and denotes here, therefore, not so much a making firm or steadfast in character, but giving a firm confidence, a steadfast and assured heart (contrast the language of 2 Thessalonians 2:2). This would be the effect of the abounding love prayed for in the last verse. The Apostle’s thought runs in the same groove as St John’s in 1 John 3:18-21 and 1 John 4:16-17, “Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement.… Perfect love casteth out fear.” The Church was living in the expectation of Christ’s speedy return to judgement, a prospect before which the heart naturally quails; in order to “assure their hearts before Him,” the Thessalonian believers must increase and abound in love. “Love” is the one thing that “never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, and 1 Thessalonians 5:14 show that courage and joyous confidence in Christ were wanting in some members of this Church.

The words unblameable in holiness form, then, a secondary predicate of the sentence: “to the end He may establish your hearts, making them unblameable,” or “so as to be unblameable in holiness before our God,” &c. The clause appears to be proleptic, or anticipatory (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; Php 3:21). Similarly in ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 the keeping of “spirit, soul and body” prayed for belongs to the present, but unblameably carries our thoughts at once to “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (see note). We take the Apostle’s thought, amplified, to be this: “May the Lord make you to abound in love … so that you may have the confidence and strength of heart in which abiding you will be found blameless in holiness before God at Christ’s coming.” This blamelessness will be manifest at the coming of the Judge; but it is imparted already, and belongs to those whose hearts are filled with love to their fellow-men, and so with confidence toward God (comp. again 1 John 4:16-17); in which confidence they anticipate the day when they shall be found “holy and without blemish before Him.” This assurance of heart resembles St Paul’s, expressed in 2 Corinthians 1:12 : “Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience that in holiness and sincerity of God we have behaved ourselves in the world.” Such confidence must always be guarded by strict self-scrutiny and absolute dependence upon Christ. It was encouragement, however, rather than caution that St Paul’s readers just now required (see 1 Thessalonians 3:2). This verse and the last set forth Christian perfection in its twofold aspect, as constituted at once by an unbounded love to men and a blameless consecration to God.

On “holiness” see notes to ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:7, also 1 Thessalonians 2:10.

This “blamelessness” of the Thessalonians will be approved before our God and Father, Who listens to the Apostle’s prayers and thanksgivings and witnesses his joy on their account (1 Thessalonians 3:9, ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:3), and delights to see the good pleasure of His will accomplished in His children. He, the Trier of hearts (ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:4), permits them now through Christ, and will surely permit them hereafter to stand in His presence with hearts unafraid—in the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

This is the goal of the Apostle’s prayers and labours for the Church (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12); and the aim of the hopes and strivings of the Thessalonian believers (ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5, &c.). He prays that they may be able with good right to look forward confidently toward that Day, trusting not to be “ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:3). On the title “Lord Jesus” see notes to 1 Thessalonians 3:11, and ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; and on “coming” (parousia), ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:19.

Observe that “the Lord” (Christ) is the Agent of all that is set forth in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13. Christ fills His people’s hearts with love and sanctifies them by His Spirit, so that at the last He may present them to the Father as His joy and crown. Then He will be “glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:10-12).

His saints (or holy ones) are those, “unblameable in holiness,” whom Christ will acknowledge and associate with Himself at His coming. These last words have been shaping the Apostle’s prayer all along. To those who possess abundantly the spirit of love (1 Thessalonians 3:12) the hope is given of being found amongst the “holy ones,” approved by God, who will attend the Lord Jesus on His glorious return to earth. Christ will not then be solitary, but will have a vast retinue of “the saints,” visible in forms of splendour like His own (Php 3:20-21) and “with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). For this association of the returning Saviour and His saints, see further ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and notes; 1 Thessalonians 5:10; and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him.”1 Thessalonians 3:13. Μετὰ, with) Construe with ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ, at the coming; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:7.—πάντων τῶν ἁγίων, with all the saints) This phrase comprehends angels and the elect of the earth.—αὐτοῦ, His) Christ’s, Acts 9:13.

—————Verse 13. - To the end (in order that) he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God. In the sight of God, in his judgment who searcheth the hearts. The words, "before God," are to be conjoined neither with "holiness" nor with "unblamable," but with the whole phrase, "unblamable in holiness." Even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; at the second advent. With all his saints. By "saints" or "holy ones" are by some understood the angels who shall accompany Christ to judgment; but although the term "saints" is used of the angels in the Old Testament, it is never so employed in the New. The word seems to denote those holy men who have died in the Lord and who shall be raised at the advent, and accompany Christ to the judgment.



With all his saints (μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ)

Saints is often explained as angels; but the meaning is the holy and glorified people of God. Οἱ ἅγιοι is uniformly used of these in N.T. and never of angels unless joined with ἄγγελοι. See Luke 9:26; Mark 8:38; Acts 10:22. It is doubtful if οἱ ἅγιοι is used of angels in lxx. Zechariah 14:5, which is confidently cited as an instance, is quoted at the conclusion of the Didache (xvi. 7), clearly with the sense of glorified believers. Ἅγιοι ἄγγελοι appears Tob. 11:14; 12:15; Job 5:1. Angels has no connection with anything in this Epistle, but glorified believers is closely connected with the matter which was troubling the Thessalonians. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13. This does not exclude the attendance of angels on the Lord's coming (see Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26), but when Paul speaks of such attendance, as 2 Thessalonians 1:7, he says, with the angels (ἀγγέλων) of his power.

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