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1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

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.

9. De fraterno autem amore non opus habetis, ut scribam vobis: ipsi enim vos a Deo estis edocti, ut diligatis invicem.

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;

10. Etenim hoc facitis erga omnes fratres, qui sunt in tota Macedonia. Hortamur autem vos, fratres, ut abundetis magis,

11. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

11. Et altius contendatis, ut colatis quietem, et agatis res vestras, et laboretis manibus vestris, quemadmodum vobis denuntiavimus,

12. That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

12. Ut ambuletis decenter erga extraneos, et nulla re opus habeatis.

 

9 As to brotherly love. Having previously, in lofty terms, commended their love, he now speaks by way of anticipation, saying, ye need not that I write to you. He assigns a reason — because they had been divinely taught — by which he means that love was engraven upon their hearts, so that there was no need of letters written on paper. For he does not mean simply what John says in his first Canonical 571571     The Epistles of John, along with those of James, Peter, and Jude, “were termed Canonical by Cassiodorus in the middle of the sixth century, and by the writer of the prologue to these Epistles, which is erroneously ascribed to Jerome.... Du Pin says that some Latin writers have called these Epistles Canonical, either confounding the name with Catholic, or to denote that they are a part of the Canon of the books of the New Testament.” —Horne’s Introduction, vol. 4, p. 409. On the origin and import of the epithet General, or Catholic, usually applied to these Epistles, the reader will find some valuable observations in Brown’s Expository Discourses on Peter, vol. 1. Epistle, the anointing will teach you, (1 John 2:27) but that their hearts were framed for love; so that it appears that the Holy Spirit inwardly dictates efficaciously what is to be done, so that there is no need to give injunctions in writing. He subjoins an argument from the greater to the less; for as their love diffuses itself through the whole of Macedonia, he infers that it is not to be doubted that they love one another. Hence the particle for means likewise, or nay more, for, as I have already stated, he adds it for the sake of greater intensity.

10 And we exhort you. Though he declares that they were sufficiently prepared of themselves for all offices of love, he nevertheless does not cease to exhort them to make progress, there being no perfection in men. And, unquestionably, whatever appears in us in a high state of excellence, we must still desire that it may become better. Some connect the verb φιλοτιμεῖσζαι with what follows, as if he exhorted them to strive at the maintaining of peace; but it corresponds better with the expression that goes before. For after having admonished them to increase in love, he recommends to them a sacred emulation, that they may strive among themselves in mutual affection, or at least he enjoins that each one strive to conquer himself; 572572     “En cest endroit;” — “In this matter.” and I rather adopt this latter interpretation. That, therefore, their love may be perfect, he requires that there be a striving among them, such as is wont to be on the part of those who eagerly 573573     “Courageusement et d’vn grand desir;” — “Courageously and wait a great desire.” aspire at victory. This is the best emulation, when each one strives to overcome himself in doing good. As to my not subscribing to the opinion of those who render the words, strive to maintain peace, this single reason appears to me to be sufficiently valid — that Paul would not in a thing of less difficulty have enjoined so arduous a conflict — which suits admirably well with advancement in love, where so many hindrances present themselves. Nor would I have any objection to the other meaning of the verb — that they should exercise liberality generally towards others.

11 Maintain Peace. I have already stated that this clause must be separated from what goes before, for this is a new sentence. Now, to be at peace, means in this passage — to act peacefully and without disturbance, as we also say in French — sans bruit, (without noise.) In short, he exhorts them to be peaceable and tranquil. This is the purport of what he adds immediately afterwards — to do your own business: for we commonly see, that those who intrude themselves with forwardness into the affairs of others, make great disturbance, and give trouble to themselves and others. This, therefore, is the best means of a tranquil life, when every one, intent upon the duties of his own calling, discharges those duties which are enjoined upon him by the Lord, and devotes himself to these things: while the husbandman employs himself in rural labors, the workman carries on his occupation, and in this way every one keeps within his own limits. So soon as men turn aside from this, everything is thrown into confusion and disorder. He does not mean, however, that every one shall mind his own business in such a way as that each one should live apart, having no care for others, but has merely in view to correct an idle levity, which makes men noisy bustlers in public, who ought to lead a quiet life in their own houses.

Labor with your hands. He recommends manual labor on two accounts — that they may have a sufficiency for maintaining life, and that they may conduct themselves honorably even before unbelievers. For nothing is more unseemly than a man that is idle and good for nothing, who profits neither himself nor others, and seems born only to eat and drink. Farther, this labor or system of working extends far, for what he says as to hands is by way of synecdoche; but there can be no doubt that he includes every useful employment of human life.


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