A Dozen Ways We Know that ‘Saint’ Paul Was Not ‘Entirely Sanctified’Posted: January 10, 2014
This article is included in an appendix to God’s Laws: Sin, Law, Grace, and Obligation in Pauline Theology (2014), available in paperback from Amazon and other online retailers, and in an abbreviated eBook version at the Apple iBook Store and other eBook sources.
Paul calls all confirmed Christians “saints” (hagioi, “holy ones”) because, regardless of their individual level of spiritual maturity and yet-to-be-redeemed carnal nature, all have entered by faith into the Elect and are marked for future Redemption at Christ’s “Second Coming” (parousia, “appearing”).
Having been “marked” (“sealed”) by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Paul expects new believers to begin allowing that Spirit to motivate their actions. This requires the believer’s voluntary cooperation (1 Cor 14:32, Eph 4:30, 1 Th 5:19). Their actions and life choices should become progressively holy (hagias, “sacred,” “sanctified”), resulting in “Fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22 f.), increasingly reflecting the holiness of the Lord whom they serve. Christians are to progress “from faith to faith,” “from glory to glory,” and “more and more” (Rom 1:17, 2 Cor 3:18, Php 1:9, 1 Th 4:1, 10).
Overcoming the sin nature and achieving sinless perfection is obviously not accomplished in a day. The new believer’s instant, imputed holiness (by grace) points forward to its final, eschatological completion at the Parousia, when believers will all be “changed” (1 Cor 15:50 ff.; Php 3:10 ff., 20 f.; 1 Th 4:14 ff., 5:10). Eschaton refers to the End, and “Eschatology” to the final culmination of God’s Plan.
Unfortunately, not every Christian tradition understands Eschatology. Faced with the dilemma of a persistent carnal, sin nature, many Christians such as John Wesley have sought to appropriate divine power to banish the sin nature immediately, once and for all. Holy living is an admirable goal if pursued humbly (one must never be like the man who wrote a book which he entitled, Humility, and How I Achieved It); but the possibility of “Entire Sanctification” before full, Final Redemption of body as well as soul is ill-conceived upon wishful thinking and misapprehensions of Scripture. Moreover, the concept of ascending to a higher spiritual (or moral) plane through Contemplative Prayer and self-purification–thus transcending human nature–is based largely on a long-held, persistent tradition of Neoplatonic Mysticism, originating in Greek Pagan philosophy. See Neoplatonist Stew here and here, and “Pagan Origins of Sacramental Realism.”
Perfectionists rely heavily on prooftexts from Paul’s writings, especially occurrences of the English word “perfect” as well as references to holiness. Greek teleion, often translated “perfect” in the KJV, means “complete” or “mature”; and katartismon means “trained,” “disciplined,” “equipped,” or “prepared.” While holy living is upheld by Paul as the goal for every Christian, the various terminology does not inherently imply an ascent to permanent moral perfection but rather growing in wisdom, in competence to practice holy living, and in knowledge to train, nurture, and edify others.
So what did Paul actually say in regard to his own status of sanctification? Did he lay claim to sinless perfection, to entirely abolishing the sin nature?
1. As mentioned above, all confirmed believers are “holy ones,” by grace. The term “holy” does not refer only to a special elite who have achieved or ascended.
2. Also mentioned above, Christian “perfection” is to be fully realized only at the Eschaton. The following parallel passages, among the favored prooftexts of Perfectionists, actually convey no doctrine of Perfection but express Paul’s simple wish that believers continue to practice love, sound doctrine, and moral living, so that they incur no “blame” (“reproach,” “rebuke”) upon Christ’s sudden return (en te parousia). Note that he makes no direct connection to “praying through” in order to achieve perfection, as Perfectionists do, but to practicing a life of obedient faith and abstinence from sin.
- 1 Th 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you, 13 to the end that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness (hagiosune) before God, even our Father, at the coming (en te parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his holy ones. 4:1 Furthermore, brethren, we ask you and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification (hagiasmos, “holiness”), that you should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his own vessel in holiness (hagiasmo) and honor, 5 not in passionate lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6 that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness (hagiosmo).
- 1 Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify (hagiasai) you wholly (holoteles, “soundly,” “through and through”); and may your spirit and soul and body be found quite (holokleron) blameless at the coming (en te parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition, Paul writes clearly that believers’ full deliverance as children of God awaits Final Redemption:
- Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was made subject to futility, not willingly, but by the one who subjugates it in hope, 21 because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body.
3. Paul continually worked to subdue his flesh.
- 1 Cor 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; I so fight, not as one who beats the air, 27 but I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
4. Paul worried that he might still “suffer loss” or be “disqualified” due to slackness or moral failure.
- 1 Cor 3:10 … But let every man take heed how he builds upon it…. 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is…. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet such as by fire.
- 1 Cor 9:27 But I discipline my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
- See also Heb 2:1, Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip…. 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect such great salvation ….
5. Paul did not claim to have already attained the kingdom or his own righteousness.
- Php 3:8 … that I may win Christ, 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, 11 if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead; 12 Not as though I had already attained, or have already achieved perfection (teteleiomai): but I follow after, if only I may grasp that for which also I am grasped by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I count not myself to have grasped, but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Cor 9:15 … it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing of which to glory: for necessity is laid upon me. Indeed, woe to me, if I preach not the gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, stewardship has been entrusted to me.
- 1 Cor 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
- 2 Cor 3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? …. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to consider anything as [coming] from ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
- Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effective working of his power: 8 unto me, who is less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ;
- 1 Tim 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has empowered me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was profoundly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all patience, for a pattern to those who believe on him to eternal life.
6. Paul emphasized the need to continually mortify or crucify one’s flesh and “reckon” oneself dead to sin, choosing to deny the flesh and live according to the principles of the Gospel.
- Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?… 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: so that like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should also walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection, 6 knowing this: that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him, 9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more. Death has no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God. 11 Likewise reckon also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its desires, 13 nor yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.
- Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
- Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be made righteous (dikaiothenai) by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? By no means! 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me…. 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect (epiteleisthe, “completely finished”) by the flesh?
- Gal 5:24 And those who are of Christ crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit…. 6:14 But may I never ever boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world was crucified to me, and I to the world. (See also Gal 3:13, 1 Cor 2:8.)
- Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, mortify your parts which are upon the earth;… (See also Col 2:20 ff.)
- 2 Tim 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.
7. Paul expressed his own natural inability to do God’s will or transcend his human nature or Original Sin.
- Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of lust. For without the law, sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me…. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I practice I do not comprehend, for I do not do what I wish; but what I hate, that I pursue. 16 If then I do what I do not wish, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing, for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, not. 19 For the good that I wish I do not do: but the evil that I do not wish, that I pursue. 20 Now if I do what I do not wish, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that when I wish to do good, evil is at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, 23 but I see another law in my parts, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my parts. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 (I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.) So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
- 2 Cor 12:5 Of such will I glory, yet of myself I will not glory, but in my weaknesses. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth; but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or what he hears of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires in opposition to the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you wish.
8. Paul expressed the need to be actively and continually motivated by the Spirit in order not to sin. Sinlessness could never become an established state of being prior to Final Redemption, but a daily, rational choice, policy, and practice.
- Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die; but if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.
- 2 Cor 1:17 When I therefore thus determined, did I take it lightly? Or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes-yes and no-no?
- 2 Cor 10:2 But I beg you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence wherewith I think to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)
- Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? By no means! 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor…. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me…. 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect (epiteleisthe) by the flesh?
- Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires in opposition to to the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you wish. 18 But if you be led by the Spirit, you are not under the law…. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
- Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore mortify your parts which are on the earth;…
9. Paul was given an infirmity (astheneia, “weakness,” “illness”) to stem potential pride and vanquish self-reliance. It served as a reminder that in spite of profound revelations, he had not and could not transcend the limitations of mortality, nor ascribe to spiritual attainments apart from gifts of grace, i.e., charismata. (To Paul, his authority to preach and teach came by virtue of the revelation he had received, which he described literally as “grace” [charis] which had been “given” to him.)
- 2 Cor 12:1 Boasting is necessary, if not profitable, but I will proceed to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ over fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell, God knows), such as was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knows), 4 how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard inexpressible words which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in my weaknesses. 6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth, but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or what he hears of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace (charis) is sufficient for you: for my strength is perfected (teleitai) in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Rom 12:3 For I say to all who are among you, by the grace (charitos) given (dotheises) unto me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, just as God has dealt to each a measure of faith….
- Rom 15:15 Yet I have written the more boldly to you on select points, as putting you in mind, because of the grace (charin) that is given (dotheisan) to me of God, 16 that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God….
- 1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace (charin) of God which is given (dotheisan) unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds upon it….
- Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace (charin) that was given (dotheisan) unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship….
- Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the stewardship of the grace (charitos) of God which is given (dotheises) for you, 3 how by revelation he made known unto me the mystery…. 5 which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel, 7 whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift (dorean) of the grace (charitos) of God, given (dotheises) unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who is less than the least of all saints, was this grace (charis) given (edothe), that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
10. It so follows that to Paul it is through charismata, bestowed by grace through Spirit Baptism, that the power of God is manifested in the Church, and Spirit-empowered ministry takes place (not via “praying through” to achieve an elite spiritual state, e.g., apotheosis); moreover, that training in sound doctrine and faithful Christian practice are vital to Christian strength and maturity.
- Rom 12:3 For I say to all who are among you, by the grace (charitos) given (dotheises) unto me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, just as God has dealt to each a measure of faith…. 6 Having then gifts (charismata) differing according to the grace (charin) that is given (dotheisan) to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 or ministry, let us attend to our ministering, or he that teaches, on teaching….
- 1 Cor 1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace (chariti) of God which was given (dotheise) you by Jesus Christ, 5 that in everything you were enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, 6 even as the witness of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 such that you come behind in no gift (charismati), waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you until the End (telous), that you may be beyond reproach (anegkletous) in the Day [i.e., Parousia, Eschaton] of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Cor 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given (didotai) to each to profit in common. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit…. 18 But now God has set the parts, each of them, in the body, as it has pleased him…. 27 You are the body of Christ and its select parts. 28 And God has set some in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that powers, then gifts (charismata) of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues…. 31 But earnestly seek the best gifts (charismata):
- 1 Cor 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual things, but rather to prophesy. 2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men,… 3 but he who prophesies speaks to men for edification, exhortation, and comfort. 4 He who speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
- Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given (edothe) grace (charis) according to the measure of the gift (doreas) of Christ…. 11 And he gave (edoken) apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; 12 For the preparation (katartismon) of the saints (hagion)… 13 till we all attain … unto a mature (teleion) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children,… 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him…, 16 from whom the whole body well fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the respective task of each part, causes growth of the body, resulting in the edification of itself in love. (See also Col 2:19.)
- 2 Tim 3:14 But you continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be perfect (artios, “fit,” “capable,” “prepared”), thoroughly furnished (exertismenos, “fitted,” “prepared,” perf. participle from the same root as artios) for all good works.
11. At times, Paul still felt the need to take a vow to sanctify himself before God. He did not count himself worthy, or special; nor did he expect to escape judgment for any willful sin, nor the demise and decomposition of the body such as is common to humanity.
- Acts 18:18 And thereafter Paul tarried there yet a good while, and taking leave of the brothers, sailed to Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila, having shorn his head in Cenchrea, for he had made a vow.
- Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them, entered into the temple to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an offering was offered for every one of them.
- Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice to God, your rational service.
- Php 2:17 Indeed, if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice together with you all.
- 2 Tim 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
12. Paul expected new converts and carnal believers to receive Spirit Baptism and live according to the nature and influence of the Spirit in order to serve the Lord and live a victorious Christian life; he did not command them to seek, or expect them to receive, Entire Sanctification as a “Second (or Third or Fourth) Work of Grace.”
- Acts 6:3 Therefore, brothers, single out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom [not “entirely sanctified”], whom we may appoint over this business. (Indeed, I am aware that Paul himself had not yet been converted at this time, but this example demonstrates continuity of principle.)
- Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, Jesus, the Lord, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit [not “entirely sanctified”].
- Acts 13:9 Then Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit [not “entirely sanctified”], set his eyes on him 10 and said, O one full of all subtlety and all mischief, you child of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind….
- Acts 19:2 He said unto them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit…. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied [not “were entirely sanctified”].
- Acts 11:24 For [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith [not “entirely sanctified”]: and many people were added unto the Lord.
- Rom 15:15 Yet I have written the more boldly to you on select points, as putting you in mind, because of the grace (charin) that is given (dotheisan) to me of God, 16 that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, [the Gentiles, as a class] having been [imputed to be] sanctified (hegiasmene, perf. participle of hagiazo, “having been made holy”) by the Holy Spirit. (See also Acts 10:15, 11:9.)
- 2 Cor 13:3 Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who toward you is not weak, but is mighty in you, 4 for though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak [not “entirely sanctified”] in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you…. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong; and this also we wish, even your perfection (katartisin, “completion,” “preparation,” “discipline,” “training”)…. 11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect (katartizesthe), be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
- Eph 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit [not “entirely sanctified”], 19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God….
- Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect (epiteleisthe) by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain, if it be yet in vain? 5 Therefore, he that ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith [by grace, not through “entire sanctification”]?
- Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith [not through “entire sanctification”].
The questions remain, if there is Entire Sanctification for this life in the New Testament, where can it be found? Moreover, what can Entire Sanctification do that the Spirit has not been promised to do through us, and for us, through faith alone? Clearly, we cannot “earn” miraculous provision through achieving our own innate “goodness,” any more than we can earn salvation; nor can we perform miracles in our own right, by our own strength.
Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 and we being dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised up and seated together with Him [already, eschatologically speaking] in the heavenly realm in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the imminent ages He might show the extraordinary riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith: and that not from you, the gift of God; 9 not from works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his doing, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance, so that we might walk in them.
© 2014 Paul A. Hughes