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1 Thessalonians

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©Michael Player

Chapter 4:9-12 (ESV)

Posted on April 29, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 4:9-12 (ESV) - Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Question to consider: What are some things that the church does well (or still lacks) in regard to our love of neighbor?

The words of Jesus which Matthew used to close out his gospel account were, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Two main questions get answered with these words and one is raised. The two answered are:

  1. For those who wonder whether Christ’s reign is present or future, He pronounced that all authority in heaven and on earth was His. He is reigning right now. Regardless of how the devil may influence world leaders and regardless of the wickedness in this world, Christ is using the things of this world to build His church and will continue to do so until the end of the age. This is how Paul could rejoice along with the Thessalonians in their suffering.
  2. Those being built into His church come from “all nations” and are to be baptized into Christ. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29) Paul could call the Thessalonians “brothers” because they were also Abraham’s offspring because of Christ.

The question that gets raised is what Jesus meant by “observe all that I have commanded you.” The commands given by the LORD to Moses were divided into two tables. The first related to our love of God and the second related to our love of our neighbor. In John’s gospel account, in regard to the first table, Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1) According to the second table, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) The command was “new” because according to the Law of Moses, we were to love our neighbor as ourselves, and Jesus said the church was to love our neighbor as He has loved us– a self-sacrificing love in which we treat our neighbor even better than ourselves.

In the first part of this chapter of Paul’s letter, he talked about God’s will for us being our sanctification so we should strive for purity while the Holy Spirit continues to refine us and mold us into the image of Christ. This is a “first-table” command because the Lord said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you’ll obey my commands.” Our salvation is not dependent upon our ability to keep God’s Law, and the Holy Spirit is one who perfects our faith, but in the midst of all of this, we strive more and more to resist sin and grow closer to Christ.

In today’s passage, Paul referred to Christ’s “second-table” command to sacrificially love one another by commending the Thessalonians in that task. We’ll find out in the rest of the letter that their love for one another was so strong, it created an opportunity for some to take advantage of them, but we should look to this persecuted Gentile church as an example for our own. Not only did they love those in Thessalonica but throughout Macedonia. If Paul had any issue with them, it was that some were so focused on Christ’s return and the work of evangelism that they weren’t doing their fair share of the daily labor.


Dear heavenly Father, please show us those areas in which we can increase our love and service to Your church. Help us to live with a sense of gratitude and purpose as we do the works that You have created us to do. Amen.