THE TEACHING OF PAUL
Because of his unique role in the Kingdom of God, I am particularly interested in Paul's teaching on this subject. It is true, his word is no more God's Word than Matthew, Peter, or John. However, his role was to expound these things to those who were by nature "wild olive branches." He was appointed by Jesus to "open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in" Christ (Acts 26:18). Those with closed eyes cannot turn from Satan or to God! They cannot receive the forgiveness of sins or an inheritance among the sanctified ones. How does Paul speak about this subject--the one through whom the Gospel has been both preached and expounded to the Gentiles?
Throughout church history, the matter of brotherly love has become an issue. Those who wear thename of Jesus, yet walk in the flesh, are often reminded of the nature of new life in Christ. Pointedly, John declared, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also" (1 John 4:20-21). John makes no allowance for an absence of love for Christ's brethren, and neither can we. These days, much of the church is addressed as though they really did not love the brethren. John states this is the evidence that we are no longer dead in sin. "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" (1 John 3:14).Peter reasons from the standpoint of our new birth, exhorting believers to love one another fervently." Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet 1:22-23). A spiritual birth that is not attended by an affection and preference for the people of God is no birth at all! Paul takes the matter of brotherly love to a new dimension. He brings God himself into the scenario.Yes, we are to engage in a hearty effort to love one another! Yes, we are to do so fervently, in faith seeking to add brotherly love to our lives. Now, Paul rises into the heavenlies, grounding our confidence in God, and expressing confidence in the advancement of believers in this matter. "Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another" (1 Thess 4:9). The power of this verse is seen in some of the other translations. Young's Literal Translation puts it this way, "And concerning the brotherly love, ye have no need of [my] writing to you, for ye yourselves are God-taught to love one another." You would be hard pressed to find an individual that would frame these words in his mouth. They do not appear to fit in with the requirement of diligence in brotherly love. The text presumes spiritual attentiveness on the part of the Thessalonians. That kind of inner quality eliminates the need for a constant flow of words about what we "should" be doing. Make no mistake about it, this is not a form of license that relieves men of the need for exhortation. It is a clear proclamation that provision is made in Christ for effecting tutelage in the area of loving our brethren. It is to the advantage of every believer to be alert to and receptive of that blessed instruction. God will reveal it to himWhat do you do with people that do not see critical issues as you see them? Paul faced this challenge, and provided some insights by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Having shared his earnest quest to "know Christ" and experience the "fellowship of His sufferings, and the power of His resurrection," he challenged the Philippian brethren to have this kind of mind. How appropriate his words are for our time! "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upwardcall of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13-14). A noble goal, indeed! However, it is not a frame of spirit to be had only by an Apostle, or even some special class of believers. It is for all that are mature in Christ--all who have "grown up into Him in all things."
In joyful expectation of glory Given O. Blakely