Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2

Grow In Love

Popular Translation

3:12 May the Lord give you an overflowing love for each other and for everyone, just like we loved you. 13 May he give you this love so you can stand before our God and Father as a holy person without guilt. And you can stand with the other holy people with Jesus there in front of you. [Amen.]

4:1 In the beginning, we told you how important it was to live as Christians and to always please God. You are living that way today. So, for now on, we ask you to grow more and more in this life. 2 For you know the instructions we gave you. These are from the Lord Jesus himself.

Literal Translation

3:12 May the Lord increase and exceed in (your) love for one another and for all (people), just as we (have love) for you, 13 to establish you as blameless in holiness before our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus (along) with all his holy ones. [Amen.]

4:1 So, from now on, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how necessary it was for you to walk (throughout life) with and to please God, just as you walk (throughout life) now, you should exceed (in this life) to a greater degree. 2 For you know the commands we gave to you through the Lord Jesus.

In one of the earliest books in the New Testament canon, Paul wrote to the Church at Thessalonika between 50-54 A.D. At the time of letter, the city was a major seaport to the east of Greece proper. It was the seat of Roman administration with a diverse and prosperous population. The Church at Thessalonika was mixed between Gentile and Jew.

This letter revealed that despite a strong opposition from the Jewish synagogue, Paul had a strong affection for the community because they were steadfast in their faith. Nevertheless, after Paul explained his efforts to see those in the church, he exhorted them to live chaste lives. The verses in this study form the bridge between his explanation and his exhortation.

These verses used a simple question to create this bridge: How should the Christian live? Paul's answer was as simple: love the way you have been shown to love. 3:12-13 was a prayer that the community grow in the love that Paul and his fellow missionaries showed the community. 4:1-2 remind the community to grow in the Christian life and devotion to God. This life and devotion were again found in love. Indeed, in these verses, Paul could reduce the tradition he claimed to receive from Christ himself in one simple word: love. Christian love is the basis for missionary work and morality.

May we grow in love for each other and in the Christian life, just as Paul wrote in prayer and encouragement.

How has you awareness of God's love grown? How has God's love for you changed you?