Summary: Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 that brotherly love is God-taught to the true believer, but must be manifested practically and is capable of growth. That is the subject of this sermon.
October 14, 2012
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 – “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more.”
Note the phrase “brotherly love” in verse 9.
This is one word in the Greek: philadelphía (after which the famous city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is named).
Philadelphía is defined by Strong’s as follows: “love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love; in the New Testament, the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren.”
Hebrews 13:1 – “Let brotherly love [philadelphía] continue.”
1 Peter 1:22 – “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren [philadelphía], see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
1 Peter 2:17 – “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (Here Peter uses agap_ instead of philadelphía, but it has the same meaning because the object of that agape love is “the brethren”, thus carrying the idea of brotherly love.)
1 Peter 3:8 – “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love [philadelphos] as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”
Go back with me now to 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 and note with me three things about this love Paul talks about:
I. BROTHERLY LOVE IS DIVINELY TAUGHT – 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
Paul said he didn’t really need to write the Thessalonians about brotherly love, because they were taught that by God. Note the phrase, “ye yourselves are taught of God”. Paul is saying, “you are God-taught.” The idea is that this kind of love is not attained by human effort, but “God-taught”—something automatically instilled by God Himself in the heart of every believer. It is part of the new nature that comes by being born again.
Illus. – I remember getting a call from a man named a man named Mike when I was pastoring in Germany. He asked me some questions over the phone, like did I believe the Bible was the Word of God? and what did we teach was the way to be saved?
In the course of our conversation, he related to me that he had grown up in a Christian home, but had never listened to the Gospel or responded to the invitation by God to salvation. He joined the Army and fought in the Vietnam war and was injured in battle, but recovered. After the war he married and had an unhappy marriage, got into drugs and alcohol, got divorced and basically made a royal mess of his life. He had remarried a German lady and had started to get some order in his life when he started having marital problems with his new wife. God showed him that he had tried to live life his way and failed; now it was time to turn to God and let Him straighten out the mess. With no one witnessing to him, no preacher he knew of, no one to lead him to Christ, he knelt down by his bedside, he repented of his sin and trusted Christ as his Savior.
He got up off his knees a new man. And you know what he said?—He said that as soon as he came to Christ, he had an overwhelming love for, and desire to be around, God’s people.
No preacher taught him that. He didn’t learn it from a discipleship course. He didn’t know where a single Christian in Germany was, but suddenly he had a desire to find one!
Isn’t that amazing? He called his parents and told them of his decision to follow Christ and they found out about our church and told him to call us, but to make sure it was a sound church and told him a few questions to ask the pastor, which is why he had asked me those questions. But you see, nobody had to tell him that he needed to find Christian fellowship and nobody taught him to love brothers and sisters in Christ.
It just came naturally from God.
You see, brotherly love is God-taught—
• Fish swim in schools, but they don’t have to go to schools to learn how to swim. Well, how do they know how to do that? They’re God-taught. You can use a fancy scientific word like instinct if you want, but all instinct means is that they’re God-taught.
• Birds do not have to take flying lessons to learn to fly. Their mothers just one day push them out of the nest and—BAM, they just know what to do and they do it. How do they know they need to flap their wings? God taught them.