1 Thessalonians 4:9 MEANING

1 Thessalonians 4:9
(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 (1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 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 1 Peter 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 1 John 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.

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.

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,.... 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.

Courtesy of Open Bible