1 Thessalonians 5:27
I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the holy brothers.
This is not only an exhortation, but an adjuration by the Lord that must not be set aside for any consideration. What was the special reason for this serious order at Thessalonica is not stated; but it is possible that an opinion had begun to prevail even then and there that the Scriptures were designed to be kept in the hands of the ministers of religion, and that their common perusal was to be forbidden. At all events it is not unreasonable to suppose that the Holy Spirit, by whom this Epistle was dictated, foresaw that the time would come when this prohibition would be broached and upheld by certain ecclesiastics and councils, and that acted upon it would be one of the means by which a huge religious fabric would be established. Hence the mind of the apostle was supernaturally directed to give this solemn injunction, that the contents of this Epistle should be communicated without reserve to all the Christian brethren in Thessalonica.
I. THE APOSTOLIC INJUNCTION IS AN EXPRESS DIVINE COMMAND. All the people must have access to the Word of God. So important was this considered that it was deemed necessary to enjoin those who should receive the Word of God, under the solemnities of an oath, and by all the force of apostolic authority to communicate what they had received to others.
II. THE UNLIMITED CHARACTER OF THIS APOSTOLIC INJUNCTION. Not a single member of the Church at Thessalonica was omitted from it, whether high or low, rich or poor. The command is, indeed, that the Word of God be "read unto all the holy brethren," but by parity of reasoning it would follow that it was to be in their hands; that it was to be ever accessible to them; that it was in no manner to be withheld from them. Probably many of them could not read, but in some way the contents of revelation were to be made known to them; and not by preaching only, but by reading the words inspired by God. No part was to be kept back; nor were they to be denied such access that they could fully understand it. It was presumed that all the members of the Church would understand what had been written to them, and to profit by it.
III. THE SIN OF VIOLATING THE INJUNCTIOn. If all be true we have stated, and true all is, it follows that there is great sin in all decisions and laws which are designed to keep the Scriptures from the people, and great sin in all opinions and dogmas which prevail anywhere, denying them the right of private judgment. The richest blessing of heaven to mankind is the Bible; and there is no book ever written so admirably adapted to the popular mind, and so eminently fitted to elevate the fallen, the ignorant, and the wicked; and there is no more decided enemy of the progress of the human race in intelligence and purity than he who prevents in anywise the free circulation of the Holy Volume, while there is no truer friend of his species than he who causes it to be read by all men, and who contributes to make it accessible to all the peoples of the world.
(A. Barnes, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.