1 Thessalonians 4:9
But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) But . . .—This forms the second subject of instruction, following naturally on the first. “We are very glad to hear of so strong a Christian feeling of brotherhood among you, and think it almost unnecessary to say anything more to you about it; still your charity is hardly catholic enough, nor have you exercised it with sufficient sobriety and thrift.”

Brotherly love.—Not love of men at large, but of Christians in particular: in fact, pretty nearly what we call “Church feeling.” It is the natural affection of those who feel that they are children of the same Father and the same mother (Galatians 4:26), members of the same “household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). In itself, it is not the most exalted of graces, being to some extent the outcome of community of interests; therefore St. Peter exhorts his readers to make it a means of obtaining the higher grace of charity (1Peter 1:22; 2Peter 1:7). St. Paul in this place does mean the sentiment rather than the practice, but has specially in view the exercise of liberality towards fellow-Christians. The feeling of community can only be known by acts that prove it.

Ye need not.—A sweet rhetorical figure, by which men are encouraged to the performance of a duty in which they are not perfect, by the praising of their imperfect attempts: a specimen of that “courtesy” which is a part of “brotherly love.” (See 1Peter 3:8.) “I” should be we, or any.

Ye yourselves.—It seems as if St. Paul had intended at first to say, “For ye yourselves know without any instruction,” but suddenly inserts the source of their knowledge instead:” For ye yourselves are divinely taught already.” This seems more natural to the context (though grammatically less easy) than to understand:” For ye yourselves (as well as we) are taught of God.” (Comp., however, the references.) God’s teaching here comes (though perhaps other modes are not excluded) by the direct contact with the indwelling Spirit. (See 1John 2:27.)

To love.—In the Greek this is not the simple infinitive after “taught;” it expresses rather the result and issue of God’s teaching: “have been so schooled by God as to love one another.” This love is not actually contrasted with the “brotherly kindness” above, but means more.

1 Thessalonians

SMALL DUTIES AND THE GREAT HOPE

1 Thessalonians 4:9-18.

‘But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.’-- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.

This letter was written immediately on the arrival of Silas and Timothy in Corinth {1 Thessalonians 3:6, ‘even now’}, and is all flushed with the gladness of relieved anxiety, and throbs with love. It gains in pathetic interest when we remember that, while writing it, the Apostle was in the thick of his conflict with the Corinthian synagogue. The thought of his Thessalonian converts came to him like a waft of pure, cool air to a heated brow.

The apparent want of connection in the counsels of the two last chapters is probably accounted for by supposing that he takes up, as they occurred to him, the points reported by the two messengers. But we may note that the plain, prosaic duties enjoined in verses 7-12 lead on to the lofty revelations of the rest of the context without any sense of a gap, just because to Paul the greatest truths had a bearing on the smallest duties, and the vision of future glory was meant to shape the homely details of present work.

I. We need to make an effort to realise the startling novelty of ‘love of the brethren’ when this letter was written.

The ancient world was honeycombed with rents and schisms, scarcely masked by political union. In the midst of a world of selfishness this new faith started up, and by some magic knit warring nationalities and hostile classes and wide diversities of culture and position into a strange whole, transcending all limits of race and language. The conception of brotherhood was new, and the realisation of it in Christian love was still more astonishing. The world wondered; but to the Christians the new affection was, we might almost say, instinctive, so naturally and spontaneously did it fill their hearts.

Paul’s graceful way of enjoining it here is no mere pretty compliment. The Thessalonians did not need to be bidden to love the brethren, for such love was a part of their new life, and breathed into their hearts by God Himself. They were drawn together by common relation to Jesus, and driven together by common alienation from the world. Occasions of divergence had not yet risen. The world had not yet taken on a varnish of Christianity. The new bond was still strong in its newness. So, short as had been the time since Paul landed at Neapolis, the golden chain of love bound all the Macedonian Christians together, and all that Paul had to exhort was the strengthening of its links and their tightening.

That fair picture faded soon, but it still remains true that the deeper our love to Jesus, the warmer will be our love to all His lovers. The morning glow may not come back to the prosaic noonday, but love to the brethren remains as an indispensable token of the Christian life. Let us try ourselves thereby.



II. What have exhortations to steady work to do with exhortations to increasing love?


Not much, apparently; but may not the link be, ‘Do not suppose that your Christianity is to show itself only in emotions, however sweet; the plain humdrum tasks of a working man’s life are quite as noble a field as the exalted heights of brotherly love.’ A loving heart is good, but a pair of diligent hands are as good. The juxtaposition of these two commands preaches a lesson which we need quite as much as the Thessalonians did. Possibly, too, as we see more fully in the second Epistle, the new truths, which had cut them from their old anchorage, had set some of them afloat on a sea of unquiet expectation. So much of their old selves had been swept away, that it would be hard for some to settle down to the old routine. That is a common enough experience in all ‘revivals,’ and at Thessalonica it was intensified by speculations about Christ’s coming.

The ‘quiet’ which Paul would have us cultivate is not only external, but the inward tranquillity of a spirit calm because fixed on God and filled with love. The secret place of the Most High is ever still, and, if we dwell there, our hearts will not be disturbed by any tumults without. To ‘do our own business’ is quite a different thing from selfish ‘looking on our own things,’ for a great part of our business is to care for others, and nothing dries up sympathy and practical help more surely than a gossiping temper, which is perpetually buzzing about other people’s concerns, and knows everybody’s circumstances and duties better than its own. This restless generation, whose mental food is so largely the newspaper, with its floods of small-talk about people, be they politicians, ministers, or murderers, sorely needs these precepts. We are all so busy that we have no time for quiet meditation, and so much occupied with trivialities about others that we are strangers to ourselves. Therefore religious life is low in many hearts.

The dignity of manual labour was a new doctrine to preach to Greeks, but Paul lays stress on it repeatedly in his letters to Thessalonica. Apparently most of the converts there were of the labouring class, and some of them needed the lesson of Paul’s example as well as his precept. A Christian workman wielding chisel or trowel for Christ’s sake will impress ‘them that are without.’ Dignity depends, not on the nature, but on the motive, of our work. ‘A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine.’ It is permissible to take the opinion of those who are not Christians into account, and to try to show them what good workmen Christ can turn out. It is right, too, to cultivate a spirit of independence, and to prefer a little earned to abundance given as a gift or alms. Perhaps some of the Thessalonians were trying to turn brotherly love to profit, and to live on their richer brethren. Such people infest the Church at all times.

III. With what ease, like a soaring song-bird, the letter rises to the lofty height of the next verses, and how the note becomes more musical, and the style richer, more sonorous and majestic, with the changed subject!

From the workshop to the descending Lord and the voice of the trumpet and the rising saints, what a leap, and yet how easily it is made! Happy we if we keep the future glory and the present duty thus side by side, and pass without jar from the one to the other!

The special point which Paul has in view must be kept well in mind. Some of the Thessalonians seem to have been troubled, not by questions about the Resurrection, as the Corinthians afterwards were, but by a curious difficulty, namely, whether the dead saints would not be worse off at Christ’s coming than the living, and to that one point Paul addresses himself. These verses are not a general revelation of the course of events at that coming, or of the final condition of the glorified saints, but an answer to the question, What is the relation between the two halves of the Church, the dead and the living, in regard to their participation in Christ’s glory when He comes again? The question is answered negatively in verse 15, positively in verses 16 and 17.

But, before considering them, note some other precious lessons taught here. That sweet and consoling designation for the dead, ‘them who sleep in Jesus,’ is Christ’s gift to sorrowing hearts. No doubt, the idea is found in pagan thinkers, but always with the sad addition, ‘an eternal sleep.’ Men called death by that name in despair. The Christian calls it so because he knows that sleep implies continuous existence, repose, consciousness, and awaking. The sleepers are not dead, they will be roused to refreshed activity one day.

We note how emphatically verse 14 brings out the thought that Jesus died, since He suffered all the bitterness of death, not only in physical torments, but in that awful sense of separation from God which is the true death in death, and that, because He did, the ugly thing wears a softened aspect to believers, and is but sleep. He died that we might never know what the worst sting of death is.

We note further that, in order to bring out the truth of the gracious change which has passed on death physical for His servants, the remarkable expression is used, in verse 14, ‘fallen asleep through Jesus’; His mediatorial work being the reason for their death becoming sleep. Similarly, it is only in verse 16 that the bare word ‘dead’ is used about them, and there it is needed for emphasis and clearness. When we are thinking of Resurrection we can afford to look death in the face.

We note that Paul here claims to be giving a new revelation made to him directly by Christ. ‘By {or, "in"} the word of the Lord’ cannot mean less than that. The question arises, in regard to verse 15, whether Paul expected that the advent would come in his lifetime. It need not startle any if he were proved to have cherished such a mistaken expectation; for Christ Himself taught the disciples that the time of His second coming was a truth reserved, and not included in His gifts to them. But two things may be noted. First, that in the second Epistle, written very soon after this, Paul sets himself to damp down the expectation of the nearness of the advent, and points to a long course of historical development of incipient tendencies which must precede it; and, second, that his language here does not compel the conclusion that he expected to be alive at the second coming. For he is distinguishing between the two classes of the living and the dead, and he naturally puts himself in the class to which, at that time, he and his hearers belonged, without thereby necessarily deciding, or even thinking about, the question whether he and they would or would not belong to that class at the actual time of the advent.

The revelation here reveals much, and leaves much unrevealed. It is perfectly clear on the main point. Negatively, it declares that the sleeping saints lose nothing, and are not anticipated or hindered in any blessedness by the living. Positively, it declares that they precede the living, inasmuch as they ‘rise first’; that is, before the living saints, who do not sleep, but are changed {1 Corinthians 15:51}, are thus transfigured. Then the two great companies shall unitedly rise to meet the descending Lord; and their unity in Him, and, therefore, their fellowship with one another, shall be eternal.

That great hope helps us to bridge the dark gorge of present separation. It leaves unanswered a host of questions which our lonely hearts would fain have cleared up; but it is enough for hope to hold by, and for sorrow to be changed into submission and anticipation. As to the many obscurities that still cling to the future, the meaning and the nature of the accompaniments, the shout, the trumpet, and the like, the way of harmonising the thought that the departed saints attend the descending Lord, with whom they dwell now, with the declaration here that they rise from the earth to meet Him, the question whether these who are thus caught up from earth to meet the Lord in the air come back again with Him to earth,--all these points of curious speculation we may leave. We know enough for comfort, for assurance of the perfect reunion of the saints who sleep in Jesus and of the living, and of the perfect blessedness of both wings of the great army. We may be content with what is clearly revealed, and be sure that, if what is unrevealed would have been helpful to us, He would have told us. We are to use the revelation for comfort and for stimulus, and we are to remember that ‘times and seasons’ are not told us, nor would the knowledge of them profit us.

Paul took for granted that the Thessalonians remembered the Lord’s word, which he had, no doubt, told them, that He would come ‘as a thief in the night.’ So he discourages a profitless curiosity, and exhorts to a continual vigilance. When He comes, it will be suddenly, and will wake some who live from a sinful sleep with a shock of terror, and the dead from a sweet sleep in Him with a rush of gladness, as in body and spirit they are filled with His life, and raised to share in His triumph. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. As touching brotherly love — That peculiar affection which one disciple of Christ owes to another; ye need not so much that I should write unto you; for ye yourselves — Independent of any teaching of mine; are taught of God — By his Spirit; to love one another — In an especial manner, even with pure hearts fervently, 1 Peter 1:22. And indeed ye do it — And not only with respect to the brethren in your own city, but toward all who are in Macedonia — All the believers in that province, relieving them in their necessities according to your ability. But we beseech you that ye increase more and more — In this divine and necessary endowment. And that ye study — Literally, that ye be ambitious, to be quiet — To live quietly in the practice of those peaceful and humble virtues which suit the genius of Christianity; an ambition worthy of a follower of Jesus: and to do your own business — Without meddling, uncalled, with the concerns of others; and to work with your own hands — Not a needless caution; for to attend to temporal matters is often a cross to them whose hearts have been lately filled with the love of God. That ye walk honestlyΕυσχημονως, decently, as becomes Christians; toward them that are without — The enclosure of the church; that they may have no pretence to say, (but they will say it still,) “This religion makes men idle, and brings them to beggary.” And that ye may have lack of nothing — Needful for life and godliness: more than which no Christian should desire, unless that he may have wherewith to supply the wants of others.4:9-12 We should notice in others what is good, to their praise, that we may engage them to abound therein more and more. All who are savingly taught of God, are taught to love one another. The teaching of the Spirit exceeds the teachings of men; and men's teaching is vain and useless, unless God teach. Those remarkable for this or any other grace, need to increase therein, as well as to persevere to the end. It is very desirable to have a calm and quiet temper, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behaviour. Satan is busy to trouble us; and we have in our hearts what disposes us to be unquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men's matters, have little quiet in their own minds, and cause great disturbances among their neighbours. They seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands. Christianity does not take us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein. People often by slothfulness reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants; while such as are diligent in their own business, earn their own bread, and have great pleasure in so doing.But as touching brotherly love - The "peculiar charity and affection which one Christian owes to another." Doddridge; see the notes on John 13:34.

Ye need not that I write unto you - That is, "as I have done on the other points." They were so taught of God in regard to this duty, that they did not need any special instruction.

For ye yourselves are taught of God - The word here rendered "taught of God" - θεοδίδακτοί theodidaktoi - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is correctly translated, and must refer here to some direct teaching of God on their own hearts, for Paul speaks of their being so taught by him as to need no special precepts in the case. He probably refers to that influence exerted on them when, they became Christians, by which they were led to love all who bear the divine image. He calls this being "taught of God," not because it was of the nature of revelation or inspiration, but because it was in fact the teaching of God in this case, though it was secret and silent. God has many ways of teaching people. The lessons which we learn from his Providence are a part of his instructions. The same is true of the decisions of our own consciences, and of the secret and silent influence of his Spirit on our hearts, disposing us to love what is lovely, and to do what ought to be done. In this manner all true Christians are taught to love those who bear the image of their Saviour. They feel that they are brethren; and such is their strong attachment to them, from the very nature of religion, that they do not need any express command of God to teach them to love them. It is one of the first - the elementary effects of religion on the soul, to lead us to love "the brethren" - and to do this is one of the evidences of piety about which there need be no danger of deception; compare 1 John 3:14.

9. brotherly love, &c.—referring here to acts of brotherly kindness in relieving distressed brethren. Some oldest manuscripts support English Version reading, "YE have"; others, and those the weightiest, read, "WE have." We need not write, as ye yourselves are taught, and that by God: namely, in the heart by the Holy Spirit (Joh 6:45; Heb 8:11; 1Jo 2:20, 27).

to love—Greek, "with a view to," or "to the end of your loving one another." Divine teachings have their confluence in love [Bengel].

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: the apostle proceeds from chastity and justice to speak of brotherly love, which is love upon a spiritual ground; to love the saints as such, with respect to God as a common Father, and so all his children are brethren, 1 Thessalonians 2:8,9; so Hebrews 13:1. And he persuadeth the practice of it by a loving and winning insinuation; Sure you are forward enough of yourselves; as he useth the same artifice, Acts 26:27,28 2 Corinthians 9:1; wherein the apostle tacitly commends them, and hereby would engage them to answer the commendation, and good opinion he had of them.

For ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; what need I write to teach you that which you have already been taught of God? The saints have this promise, Isaiah 54:13 Jeremiah 31:34; fulfilled, 1Jo 2:26,27: and this Divine teaching is always efficacious, for none teacheth like God. Not that all teaching of men is to be laid aside, as some enthusiasts would hence infer, but that the apostle thought he had less need to teach that which God himself had so effectually taught them. Hereby we perceive that God’s teaching doth not only enlighten the mind, but reacheth the affections, and especially inclines the heart to love, for God is love; and though they were taught other things of God besides this love, yet he mentions only this as the most proper work of the Spirit of God by the gospel; and though common love of man to man may be found in mere nature. But as touching brotherly love,.... Another branch of sanctification; which is distinct from love to God and Christ, though it always accompanies it, and from love to all mankind; and is what is peculiar to brethren in a spiritual relation, and ought to be universal, fervent, and sincere, and as Christ has loved them: concerning which the following things are said,

ye need not that I write unto you. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "we have no need to write unto you"; and so some copies. It seems that it was needful to write unto them about other things, as to refresh their memories with the instructions they had given them, when with them, how they should walk and please God; and to put them in mind of the commandments given them by Christ, and that their sanctification was the will of God; and particularly it was necessary to write unto them about chastity, and purity of life, whether in or out of the conjugal state; but as for brotherly love, there was no immediate absolute necessity to write about that, either about the nature of it, or to describe the objects of it, or point out instances of it, or to exhort to it in a pressing manner: the reason is,

for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; not merely by the light of nature, which teaches men to be kind, courteous, affable, and beneficent; nor by the law of Moses, which obliges men to love their neighbours as themselves; nor only doctrinally by the ministry of the Gospel, which frequently inculcates the exercise of this grace as a matter of great importance and consequence; nor only by the new commandment, and example of Christ; but by the Spirit of God internally in regeneration, who, according to the tenor of the new covenant, writes this law of love, and of Christ, upon the heart; and this being written upon the hearts of the Thessalonians, by the finger of the Spirit of God, whereby they were dearly directed, and powerfully taught to exercise this grace, and discharge this duty, and under the influence of the same spirit did exercise it, it was unnecessary for the apostle to write about it, and press them to it.

{6} But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

(6) Thirdly, he requires a ready mind to every manner of lovingkindness, and exhorts them to profit more and more in that virtue.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 4:9. Δέ] introduces a new requirement.

φιλαδελφία] brotherly love, i.e. love to fellow-Christians; Romans 12:10; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7. But the apostle thinks on this not only as a disposition, but also as verifying itself by action, that is to say, as liberality toward needy companions in the faith (comp. ποιεῖτεεἰς, 1 Thessalonians 4:10). It is self-evident that this brotherly love does not exclude love to man in general, comp. Galatians 6:10; 2 Peter 1:7.

When, moreover, the apostle says that he has no need to exhort the Thessalonians to brotherly love, as they practise this already, but nevertheless requires them to increase in it, this is a touch of delicate rhetoric (praeteritio, παράλειψις, see Wilke, neutestamentliche Rhetoric, p. 365), not unusual to Paul (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 9:1; Philemon 1:19), in order to gain willing hearts for the fulfilment of an exhortation whose necessity was evident. Chrysostom: Οὐ χρείνα ἔχομεν γράφειν ὑμῖν. Ἐχρῆν οὖν σιωπῆσαι καὶ μηδὲν εἰπεῖν, εἰ μὴ χρεία ἦν. Νῦν δὲ τῷ εἰπεῖν, οὐ χρεία ἐστί, μεῖζον ἐποίησεν ἢ εἰ εἶπεν. Erroneously Estius, to whom Benson assents: Tacite significat, eos omnino opus habuisse admonitione superiori, quae erat de sanctimonia seu munditia vitae; difficile enim erat, homines gentiles immunditiae peccatis assuetos a talibus subito revocare.

αὐτοί] not equivalent to sponte (Schott), which would not suit θεοδίδακτοι but αὐτοὶ γὰρ ὑμεῖς are to be taken together, and form the contrast to the person of the writer formerly named (however without further emphasis).

θεοδίδακτοι] an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N. T., but analogous to διδακτοὶ Θεοῦ, John 6:45 (Isaiah 54:13), and by no means un-Pauline, because Paul elsewhere uses πνευματικοί in this sense (Schrader); for πνευματικοί could not here have been put. The expression is not to be taken absolutely in the sense of θεόπνευστοι, according to which εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους would only be a more definite epexegesis of it—“so that ye, in consequence of this theopneustia, love one another;” but it contains a blending of two ideas, as properly only διδακτοί ἐστε is expected, but now the source of this instruction is immediately united with the word (without any one exhorting you, you yourselves know, namely, being taught of God, etc.). The knowledge or the instruction is not theoretical, not a knowledge from the Old Testament, not a knowledge from a word of the Lord (John 13:34; Baumgarten-Crusius), also not a knowledge from the instructions of the prophets, such as actually were, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:20, among the Thessalonians (Zachariae), but a practical knowledge which has its ground and origin in the purified conscience of the inner man, effected by God through the communication of the Holy Spirit; consequently a knowledge or instruction of the heart. Moreover, incorrectly Olshausen: “where God teaches, there, the apostle says, I may be silent.” For the stress lies not on the first, but on the second half of θεοδίδακτοι.

εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους] is dependent on the διδακτοί in θεοδίδακτοι, and denotes, under the form of the design at which that instruction aims, its object. Incorrectly Flatt, εἰς denotes quod attinet ad.

REMARK.

Pelt, Schott, de Wette, Hofmann, also Winer, p. 303 [E. T. 426], and Buttmann, Grammatik des neutest. Sprachgebr., Berlin 1859, p. 223 [E. T. 259], consider the reading of the Receptus: οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε γράφειν ὑμῖν (see critical remark), as correct Greek, appealing to the frequent use of the infinitive active, where one would expect the infinitive passive (see Kühner, II. p. 339). I cannot agree with this; on the contrary, most decidedly deny the applicability of that use to our passage. For, in the instances given, the characteristic distinction is throughout observable, that the infinitive active expresses the verbal idea in a vague generality, entirely free from any personal reference, so that this active infinitive, in its import and value, can scarcely be distinguished from an absolute accusative. Comp. for example, Sophocles, Oed. Col. 37: ἔξελθʼ· ἔχεις γὰρ χῶρον οὐχ ἁγνὸν πατεῖν.

Thucydides, i. 38: Ἦνὁ Θεμιστοκλῆςἄξιος θαυμάσαι.

Euripides, Med. 318: λέγεις ἀκοῦσαι μαλθάκ’.

Comp. also Hebrews 5:11 : λόγος δυσερμήνευτος λέγειν. Entirely different from these is our passage, where γράφειν, by means of ὑμῖν, instead of forming an absolute statement, is put in a special personal reference to the readers; indeed, as the subject of γράθειν can only be the apostle, in a special personal reciprocal reference to Paul and the Thessalonians, and accordingly the whole expression acquires an individual concrete form. If ἔχετε is not to be without meaning, it would require accordingly either ἐμὲ γράφειν, or, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, the passive γράφεσθαι to be written. For that, as Bouman, Chartae theolog. I. p. 65, and Reiche, p. 339, think, ἐμέ or ἡμᾶς, or rather the indefinite τινά, readily suggest themselves to be supplied, and that the more so, as the necessity of some such supplement is obvious from the following θεοδίδακτοι (Bouman), can hardly be maintained. Also Hebrews 5:12, to which an appeal is made, proves nothing, for here from a similar reason τινά is to be accented (with Lachmann) instead of τίνα; whereby the reference and the relation of the words are entirely transformed. Comp. my commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews , 3 d ed. p. 188 f.1 Thessalonians 4:9-10. περὶ φιλαδελφίας. One might have expected that adultery, especially when viewed as selfish greed (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:6), would have come under φ., but the latter bears mainly here on charity and liberality, a Christian impulse or instinct which seems to have come more naturally to the Thessalonians than ethical purity. “A new creed, like a new country, is an unhomely place of sojourn, but it makes men lean on one another and join hands” (R. L. Stevenson).

1 Thessalonians 4:10. Their ἀγάπη was no parochial affection, but neither was it to be fussy or showy, much less to be made an excuse for neglecting their ordinary business (11, 12); this would discredit them in the eyes of the busy outside public (πρὸς = in intercourse or relations with) and sap their own independence. Such seems the least violent way of explaining the transition in καὶ φιλοτιμεῖσθαι κ.τ.λ. The church was apparently composed, for the most part, of tradesmen and working people (χερσὶν ὑμῶν, cf. Renan’s S. Paul, 246 f.) with their families, but there may have been some wealthier members, whose charity was in danger of being abused. Cf. Demos., Olynth., iii. 35: οὐκ ἔστιν ὅπου μηδὲν ἐγὼ ποιοῦσιν τὰ τῶν ποιούντων εἶπον ὡς δεῖ νέμειν, οὐδʼ αὐτοὺς μὲν ἀργεῖν καὶ σχολάζειν καὶ ἀπορεῖν.9. But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you] More exactly, you have no need that one write to you. “Have no need” recurs in ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:1; comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 and 1 John 2:27. There was need for the Apostle to write on the previous subject (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). But in this grace the Thessalonian Church excelled (comp. note on ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:3, also 2 Thessalonians 1:3).

In this respect they were (literally, and in one word) God-taught—an expression found only here in the N.T.; comp. “God-breathed,” 2 Timothy 3:16. The separate elements of the compound appear in John 6:45, where our Lord cites the words of Isaiah 54:13, “They shall be all taught of God.” The former “charge” the Thessalonians had received through men from God (1 Thessalonians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:8): the lesson of “brotherly love” they learnt so readily and with so little need of human instruction, that they were evidently taught it by God Himself. It seemed to come to them “naturally” as we say—ye are of yourselves God-taught; or as we ought to say, more reverently, “by God’s direct endowment.

taught of God to love one another] Lit., to the end (or effect) that you love one another. This was the purport and issue, rather than the mere content of the Divine teaching: God taught them many lessons; this was the aim of all.1 Thessalonians 4:9. Οὐ χρείαν ἔχομεν, we have no need) Hebrews 8:11.[14]—θεοδίδακτοι, taught of God) God imbues [not teaches, strictly] us with love by regeneration; therefore the word taught has a Catachresis [an application of a word not in its strictly regular sense], that it may be opposed to the writing [γράφειν ὑμῖν].—εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾷν, with respect to loving) The force of Divine doctrine flows into (has its confluence in) love.

[14] B (εἴχομεν) D corrected, G Vulg., later Syr. fg, support the first person plural. The MS. Amiatinus of Vulg., like B, has the past tense, ‘habuimus.’ Ἔχομεν is Lachmann’s reading. But Tisch., as Rec. Text, ἔχετε, with Syr. and Memph.—ED.Verse 9. - The apostle now proceeds to a new exhortation. But as touching brotherly love. Brotherly love is the love of Christians to Christians, that special affection which believers bear to each other; a virtue which was carried to such perfection in the primitive Church as to call forth the admiration of their heathen adversaries. This virtue is often inculcated in Scripture (Hebrews 13:1; 1 John 3:14), and is distinguished from love in general (2 Peter 1:7). Ye need not that I write unto you; a delicate and gentle reproof. For ye yourselves are taught of God. We are not here to think of the new commandment of brotherly love given by the Savior, nor on the Divine compassion exciting us to love; but "taught of God" by the influences of the Spirit on their hearts and consciences to love one another. Taught of God (θεοδίδακτοι)

N.T.o. olxx. Not in Class.

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