Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: We are to make "making friends of the brethren" one of our primary sub-goals in this interim "life" as we await the coming of God's Son from heaven.
Introduction: When we began our considerations of 1Thessalonians 4, we concluded that verse one is a kind of "bottom line" for our lives in this world as we await the culmination of God's plans to send His Son into our world once again. As "bottom lines" go, the "abounding more" in a "walk" that puts "pleasing God" in a high place in our priorities is pretty hard to dismiss as it bubbles to the surface in all of the Scriptures as a high priority.
Paul uses this phrase "excel still more" (NASB) at the ends of both 4:1 and 4:10. This is an obvious indication of what he wants to happen. When we put 3:12 into the mix ("...increase and abound..." [the NASB's "excel" is the same as its "abound"]) and stir in 5:23-24, we see that Paul is actually declaring what his goal is in writing this letter: he wants the Thessalonians to clearly understand where God is going with His insistence that we learn how to relate to Him by faith so that He can begin the Kingdom with people in place who know how to live by faith.
This evening, as we begin our studies of the second of Paul's paragraphs in chapter four, we see that verses nine and ten are a restatement of 3:12. But, as is sometimes the case, the restatement adds some details that make it possible for us to more fully understand what the meaning is. So, we are going to look into this restatement to see how it helps us.
November 23, 2014
- I. One Sub-Goal Among Several.
- A. There are at least two realities that govern what we are to understand regarding Paul's use of "parakaleo" (the NASB's "urge" at the end of 4:10).
- 1. The complexity of "Truth" as an integrated whole.
- 2. The orderly "progression" of sub-goals toward the final "end" [2 Peter 1:5-7 is as clear an example as will be found in the New Testament].
- B. The Thessalonian epistles, taking their place in the New Testament as the presentation of the believer's "basic hope" (the return of the Son from heaven), weigh in with a certain line of "truth" that makes the particular sub-goal of "hopeful living" a major focus.
- C. And, under that sub-goal is the one that we have seen most recently: learning where "abounding" fits into "loving one another" as a preparatory stage in coming to "blameless holiness".
- D. Thus, in light of the pursuit of "blameless holiness" (3:12/5:23-24) through an "increasing to abounding" in "love for all men", 4:9-10 adds a couple of details.
- II. The Added Details.
- A. The main theme: "Now as to the 'love of the brethren'...".
- 1. The term here is the word "Philadelphia".
- 2. The meaning has been significantly undercut by some rather pitiful "definitions" (Strong's "fraternal affection" being one of them).
- 3. The real meaning, as a derivative of the main verb (fileo) and the use of the noun (filos).
- a. James 2:23 in the context of the sacrifice of Isaac in 2:21.
- b. 2 Peter 1:7 as the next to the final "step" of maturation in the faith.
- 4. Summary: "love of the brethren" means "a sacrificial provision of whatever a 'brother' needs".
- B. The main "ingredient": God's teaching.
- 1. Paul clearly declares that they "have no need to have someone write anything to them about this particular issue".
- 2. They, he says, are "God-taught".
- a. This is the only place in the New Testament that this particular word is used, but the idea is also declared by John in 1 John 2:27.
- b. The idea seems to be that God simply by-passes a host of intermediate issues and puts "sacrificing for the brother" into the understanding of the "believer".
- C. The sub-thesis: "...to love one another.".
- 1. Paul switches from "Philadelphia" to "agapao".
- a. Some will thoughtlessly conclude that "fileo" is just a synonym for "agapao".
- b. But each word carries its own field of meaning into the conversation.
- 1) "Fileo" is about sacrifice because a relationship is critical to the one making the sacrifice (thus making the term an issue of the soul).
- 2) "Agapao", on the other hand, is about making calls about "relative value" in respect to whatever elements are in view in a given circumstance (it has none of the 'relational' and 'emotional' overtones of "fileo", thus making it a matter of the spirit).
- 2. And Paul says that the "God-teaching" is all about "agapao" as the basis for "fileo".
- a. In other words, one has to be "taught" by God in respect to what/who is really important before one's "soul" can be attached to another person with wholehearted sacrifice in view.
- b. This scenario plays out in the Scripture in that it was "agape" that motivated the Cross because of the value God has set upon the world, but it was "file" that developed between Christ and those for whom He died who also believed in Him (John 15:15).
- D. The on-going imperative: "...I parakaleo you, brethren, to abound even more...".
- 1. The insistent issue is becoming unblameable in holiness.
- 2. The insistent methodology is building a network of "friends" who are "friends" in the Biblical sense of "brothers who believe".