1 Thessalonians 4:9

Saturday, 5 August 2017

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 1 Thessalonians 4:9

In verse 12 of the previous chapter, Paul said, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you.” Now in this verse, he again brings up the subject of love among the brethren. It is obviously something heavy on his mind, and something which he feels must not be left unaddressed in its fullness. His words, “But concerning brotherly love,” contrast with what he said in verses 6-8. There he began with, “that no one should take advantage and defraud his brother in this matter.” Now, he shows what is right rather than that which is improper.

However, he elevates the thought to highlight the importance of this fraternal bond by saying, “…you have no need that I should write to you.” In other words, “This is something you already are aware of, and something that exists between you already.” And how is this the case? He then adds, “for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.”

The word he uses for “taught by God” is unique. It is not found in classical writers, and it is only used here in Scripture. It is thus a word coined by Paul to make his point. The word is theodidaktos, and it means exactly “God taught.” What Paul is speaking of here obviously must be speculated on. Does this mean they already have already heard the substance of the words of Jesus in his prayer for unity among the believers (John 13:34)? Does it mean that the instructions given by Paul and his associates, being the very words of God, have been received and acted upon by them? Or does it mean that the indwelling of the Spirit has taught them this?

What is probably the case is a combining of two or three of these things. They were taught the very truth of God by Paul and his companions, the Holy Spirit prompted them in their own Spirits, and they may have had the very words of Jesus explained to them as well. In receiving Christ, they understood the family unit of believers in a new way. If they are adopted children of God because of the work of Jesus, then they are brothers in a real sense.

Just as children of the same father and mother are united in a unique way, loving one another even when they disagree, so those in the church are united under a Father and a mother (Galatians 4:26) in a unique way. The bond is so close that love is expected to be the natural result. Thus they are God taught because of the situation they are in.

Life application: How unfortunate it is that Christians are so quick to tear one another apart over minor differences. There are many major doctrines which we must stand on, but churches have been divided over things as stupid as whether the congregation should stand, kneel, or sit during prayer. Pet peeves produce poor parishioners. Let us put them aside and demonstrate the love we have been called to.

Heavenly Father, as Christians who have been bought by the precious blood of Christ, we are actually supposed to be loving to one another. It seems this instruction has been left out of the basic curriculum which is taught to believers. Instead, we find it easier to tear apart one another over the color of chairs used in the church. Give us hearts to overlook pet peeves, and to see one another as You see us. Amen.

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