Lesson 11: As They Are Taught by God to Love One Another Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on 1 Thess.)
by John Lowe
Paul has on occasion remarked on the way the Thessalonians displayed this virtue (1:3; 3:6). They showed that steadfast love for others which can come about in someone only when that person has been transformed by the power of the divine agape, and has come to see people in the way God sees them. But there is something more than this. When the miracle occurs in people, they find themselves in company with others of like mind and will be naturally drawn to them. Their soul will be knit to those others. Thus, in addition to agape, self-denying love toward all people, they come to practice philadelphia, love of the brothers. This is often insisted upon and it has always been a hallmark of vital Christianity that love of those within the brotherhood has abounded. John, indeed, gives this as the criterion whereby one may know that one really has “passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14; 3:10).
The word or words rendered “taught by God” occurs only here in the New Testament. It has no reference to any external instruction but signifies the spiritual teaching of the heart. For though it was by the word of God that Paul first taught the Thessalonians to love one another, he gratefully recognizes that they were able to learn this lesson only because the Holy Spirit had taught it to their hearts (Isaiah 54:13; John 6:45).
Have you noticed that animals do instinctively what is necessary to keep them alive and safe? Fish do not attend classes to learn how to swim (even though they swim in schools), and birds by nature put out their wings and flap them in order to fly. It is nature that determines action. Because a fish has a fish’s nature, it swims; because a hawk has a hawk’s nature, it flies. And because a Christian has God’s nature (2 Peter 1:42), he loves, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
1. (Romans 5:5) “And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
2. (2 Peter 1:4) “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
3. Koine Greek, also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the common supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic period, the Roman Empire, and the early Byzantine Empire, or late antiquity.
4. Brotherly love—Brotherly love (philadelphia) is clan love, love between members of a family. For early believers, accepting Christ often meant severing family ties. But the Christians joined a new family, for they were now God’s sons, and brothers of all believers.
5. (1 Thessalonians 1:3) “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
6. (Romans 16:1-2) “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”
7. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5) “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
8. (1 Thessalonians 4:1) “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”