1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2
Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus…
ST. PAUL'S AFFECTIONATE IMPORTUNITY.
1. He beseeches. He has finished the personal part of his letter; he has told them of his love, his constant remembrance of them, his prayers for them, his thanksgiving; he has reminded them of the close spiritual ties which bound them to him. Now he beseeches them to persevere. He knows the exceeding difficulty of maintaining a Christian life in this sinful world; he knows the momentous issues that depend on perseverance; he loves his converts with an intense love; therefore he beseeches (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:20). He uses all means of persuasion in turns. Now he commands, now he beseeches. Sometimes entreaty is more prevailing than commandment, gentleness than authority. No qualities are more important in the work of the ministry than a genuine love for souls, a real and evident anxiety for the spiritual welfare of our people. St. Paul beseeches; it is an example to all Christian ministers.
2. He exhorts them in the Lord Jesus. Christian people need all manner of encouragement, comfort, exhortation. That exhortation prevails which is in the Lord Jesus. His presence, his grace, himself, is the sphere of the Christian's spiritual activity. He who lives habitually in "that fellowship which is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," is best able to lead others to God and heaven. For he who hath the Son hath life. The Lord Jesus is the Life; and he who hath that life himself, hath from the life that abideth in him the warmth, the fervor, the holy enthusiasm, without which religious exhortation has no power, no reality. "In the Lord Jesus." Mark how frequently those words, "in Christ," "in the Lord," are on the lips of St. Paul. It is a constant formula with him. But it is a formula full of life, full of holy meaning. "Not I, Christ liveth in me."
3. He reminds them of his former teaching. He had given them a charge, and that through the Lord Jesus. He had received of the Lord that which he delivered unto them. The commandments were not his; they were the commandments of Christ. He had received them from Christ; and through Christ's appointment, guidance, presence, he delivered them to the Thessalonians. He appeals to their recollection. They knew them; they had the knowledge; that knowledge involves a deep and solemn responsibility. The Lord tells us in the Gospel of the condemnation that hangs over the careless servant who knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will. Hence the force of the apostle's words, "Ye know." Much had been given to them, much would be required. It is a warning to be always remembered, to be urged constantly upon ourselves, upon those who are brought in any way under our influence. "Ye know." Knowledge, if it issue in obedience, is exceeding precious; knowledge without obedience involves an awful danger. "Ye know;" therefore we must use that knowledge, that precious talent entrusted to our keeping. The tremendous alternative lies before us - the blessed words, "Welt done!" or the sentence that fills the heart with shuddering awe, "Thou wicked and slothful servant!"
4. He urges them to continual progress. He had taught them how to walk and to please God. The subject of his practical teaching was how to walk, not how to talk. They must walk in the Spirit, he had told them; their daily life in all its details and circumstances must be guided by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth," is the key-note of the true Christian life. Thus living they would please God. To please God is the highest Christian ambition; the consciousness of pleasing him is the highest Christian joy. But walking implies progress. Standing still is dangerous; it must issue in backsliding. They must go on from strength to strength; they must forget those things that are behind, and press on to those that are before. The grace of God abounds; it is without limit. He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. So must the Christian abound more and more in the exercise of the graces communicated to him by God; he must work the works of righteousness with ever-increasing energy, as the grace of God more and more fills his heart. LESSONS.
1. Do all things in the Name of the Lord Jesus; learn by experience the meaning of those deep words, "in the Lord."
2. Remember that knowledge implies responsibility.
3. Strive to maintain continual progress in all Christian graces, in faith, hope, love, humility, patience. - B.C.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.