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1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Wednesday AM Bible Study
March 3, 2004

The grace of God in saving the Thessalonian believers was the theme of the first half of Paul's letter. And now, in the "practical" section of Paul's letter that follows after the "doctrinal" section, Paul continues a theme he began in 4:1 - the theme of a walk that is pleasing to God in the light of God's saving grace.

Here, he commends them in their practice of faithfully loving the brethren. He then, however, asks for them to go on even further in their "pleasing walk." The last section (vv. 1-8) dealt with the matter of personal holiness and sanctification in the sexual area. Here, Paul's focus is on the social and civil life of the believer.

It's a considerable commendation that Paul didn't feel that he needed to urge the Thessalonian believers to love one another. One reason for this is doctrinal; but the other is because of their own track record of love.
A. They are taught of God to love one another. This is, after all, the "New Commandment" that our Savior gave His disciples (John 13:34-35; see also Lev. 19:18).

B. They practice this love toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. They already had a testimony of practical love toward all those in the churches of their region (1:8-10).

C. It's one thing to have the commandment; but its another thing to have both the commandment AND the commendation that you keep it! The Thessalonian believers had a reputation of keeping this commandment faithfully toward their other brothers in sisters in the other churches in Macedonai. May God help our church to have such a reputation toward our brethren in our area!

There's no place to platue in the Christian life. We may do well; but that only means that we are at a place where we can do even better. Even Paul was not content, but set himself to grow (Philippians 3:12-15). He urges the same toward the Thessalonians.

A. He urges them to increase in this brotherly love "more and more." This is very much like the phrase he uses to begin this section (4:1). He is urging them to grow in love even more toward the brethren. Love is a debt that we can never fully pay off (Rom. 13:8).

B. He also urges them to live in a way that pleases God, by . . .

1. Aspiring to lead a quiet live. The actual wording is that they "exert themselves to be still." He is calling them to make it their ambition to lead a life characterized by peacefulness toward others (Rom. 12:18).

2. Minding their own business. This is a call to occupy themselves with what is their own. It is a prohibition against meddling in other people's affairs inappropriately; but also a call to take care of one's own responsibilities - to be known as someone who manages his or her own life well.

3. Working with their own hands. This (as with the above statements) has to do with the fact that some, professing a faith in Christ's return, were ceasing from working and where "sponging" off other people (2 Thess. 3:6-15).

a. This is in keeping with what Paul already commanded them.

b. This has a two-fold purpose:

i. That they may walk properly toward those who are outside; that is, that they have a reputation among non-believers as people who are responsible and faithful in their commitments and duties.

ii. That they may lack nothing; that is that they are not in a position of need because of their failure to take care of themselves.

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Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436

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