I Thess. 4:9-10. “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 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.”
This chapter opened with Paul’s encouraging the Thessalonian believers to “Please God, so ye would abound more and more.” Everything in this chapter details ways that pleasing God may be accomplished: Moral purity, honoring the holiness of God, and now loving each other more and more.
It is clear that Paul was already pleased with them on this matter. He says he really doesn’t need to say much about the way they love one another, because they are already doing so well.
The word used here for love of the brethren is very familiar to us. It is philadelphia, and in classical Greek it was used to describe the relationship of a brother or sister by birth. In the New Testament, however, it always describes love for fellow believers, members of the adopted family of God by virtue of the new birth. This practice of brotherly love was one of the outstanding characteristics of the early Christian church. The believers of that day followed the example Jesus had set in His own personal ministry, and it was present in the Christian community from the beginning (Acts 4:32). Philadelphia was the tie that bound new believers to the family of God.
Paul goes on to say that the Thessalonians not only loved each other, but that they were “taught of God” to do so. The word used here is theodidaktoi. Taken in two parts, the word Theo is God; didaktoi is taught by. This word is used only here in the whole New Testament, and is in the present tense, indicating the teaching of God through the Holy Spirit. They were being taught by God Himself through the indwelling of the Spirit.
Not only were they fulfilling God’s teaching that they love one another; their love was also spreading to “all Macedonia.” We don’t know the specifics of how this love was acted out. We do know that Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia, and as an important seaport there were people in and out of the city all the time. The gospel had spread rapidly throughout the area, and there were certainly many opportunities for the believers in the city to open their hearts and homes to other believers passing through. There were also churches in Philippi and Berea, and probably other smaller groups spread throughout the province as the gospel was spread through the dispersion that always comes with persecution.
And still, Paul exhorts them to “increase more and more.” Their love was to be active and increasing to an overflowing measure. There can never be enough of the love of Christ abounding in the lives of believers. Like a living plant, it must continue to grow and bear still more fruit.
We can never feel we have done enough, worked enough, taught enough, ministered enough. If one opportunity of ministry closes, we need only to ask God where the next one is to open. I promise you, from personal experience, that He will give you that opportunity if you ask Him to.