Rejoice Always... Be Sanctified Entirely

Paul concludes many of his letters with a “mixed bag” of closing advice and admonitions, and this passage is an example of that sort of collection.  It’s difficult to deal with this assortment of disparate sayings as a unified whole; each piece of advice is more or less distinct.  Two excerpts, however, lend themselves to consideration during Advent: either one may explain why the lectionary editors chose this passage for this week.  V. 16 (one of the shortest verses in the Bible) says, “Rejoice always” – always an appropriate thought for Advent.  V. 23 says, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Note that God – and not the believer – is the principal actor here.  Sanctification is never a human accomplishment, but is wholly the result of God’s gracious intervention.