Main point summary
No one needs to tell you about brotherly love ... yet keep at it brothers, through quiet lives of diligent work, so you walk as honest citizens among the outsiders.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Now concerning v brotherly love w you have no need for anyone to write to you,
Now no one needs to teach you about brotherly love
Now on the topic of brotherly love 9 you have no need for anyone to write you,
Now as to the a love of the brethren, you b have no need for anyone to write to you,
for you yourselves have been x taught by God y to love one another,
because God himself has taught you to love one another
for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
for you yourselves are c taught by God to love one another;
for that indeed is what z you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia.
[we know this] because you are indeed loving all of the brothers throughout Macedonia.
And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters 10 in all of Macedonia.
for indeed a you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia.
But we urge you, brothers, to a do this more and more,
Nevertheless , we exhort you, brothers, to keep at it, more and more,
But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11
But we urge you, brethren, to b excel still more,
and to aspire b to live quietly,
How? Be ambitious to keep your head down
to aspire to lead a quiet life,
and to make it your ambition a to lead a quiet life
and c to mind your own affairs,
that is, be about your own business
to attend to your own business,
and b attend to your own business
and d to work with your hands,
and work with your own hands
and to work with your hands,
and c work with your hands,
as we instructed you,
just as we taught you.
as we commanded you.
just as we commanded you,
so that you may e walk properly before f outsiders
so that your lives are upright, honest, before unbelievers
In this way you will live 12 a decent life before outsiders
so that you will 1 a behave properly toward b outsiders
and be dependent on no one.
and you don't need to scrounge off others.
and not be in need. 13
and 2 c not be in any need.
The Thessalonians were known for their brotherly love for all the brothers throughout Macedonia.
God himself had taught them to love one another.
They were living out this love for one another.
Nevertheless, Paul saw fit to urge them to keep going in it
Here was Paul, the great evangelist, who yet could say that he instructed the Thessalonians to take care of their own affairs.
Is their a tension between evangelism (which is by necessity going into others' space) and being faithful about our own business?
Paul set them an example of hard work so as not to be a burden on them (1 The 2:9)
How does a quiet lifestyle result in loving others? Could we become excessively introverted and fail to fellowship with and serve others?
What does 'to live quietly' mean? a. to rest, to cease from labor : Luke 23:56 . b. to lead a quiet life , said of those who are not running hither and thither, but stay at home and mind their business: 1 Thess. 4:11 . c. to be silent , i.e. to say nothing, hold one’s peace : Luke 14:4 How does this apply to someone in a prominent position, whose role requires leadership, potentially in the public square? No different to anyone else. They go about their role, faithfully fulfilling the duties of their role, allowing others to fulfil their roles, being respectful of others.
What then of sharing to meet one another's needs? Yes, there will be a time for this, with generosity. However I think Paul's point is that we should not become busy bodies but should get about our work, so we don't need to be dependant.
Do we sometimes feel we ought to be out and about in the community, busily engaging our neighbours in order to 'share our faith with them'? Have we (or others we know) ever taken this too far, to the extent of neglecting our other responsibilities, or even becoming a burden to those around us? Paul saw the critical importance of sharing / declaring the gospel, and was bold in doing so, even in the midst of much conflict (1 Thes 2:2; 2:16). It is good news, and a message for salvation. Yet his gospel proclamation was coupled with honest hard work, in order not to be a burden to those he was among (1 Thes 2:9). This is the note he strikes as he instructs the Thessalonians how to walk and to please God. He teaches that the way to love is to be diligent in minding our own affairs. He teaches this so that the disciples behave as honest citizens among the outsiders. Application . In the New Year (Jan 2019) I start in a new role. An application of this text for me is to take time to understand the boundaries of the new role. And to then work diligently, and be wary of straying into things outside my scope. ... aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, ... (1 Thes 4:11) I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Pascal: I have discovered that all the miseries of men derive from one single fact: that they cannot sit quietly in their own room.