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The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Thessalonians 6. “Now May Our God … Clear the Way for Us to Come to You”—The Prayer to Return to Thessalonica (3.11–13)

The objects of this love were, in the first instance, the other members of the Christian community in Thessalonica, for each other. The commandment of the Lord Jesus to love one another echoes throughout the NT as well as here (John 13:34–35; 15:12, 17; Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:22; 4:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11–12; 2 John 5; and cf. Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2) and constitutes the virtue that, more than any other, defines the relationship between members of the Christian community. It is truly reciprocal. The Thessalonians even extended their love to Christians in other places throughout Macedonia (4:9–10). The prayer continues that their abundant love would be not only for other Christians but also for everyone else. Although Paul could speak of the totality of the Christian community similarly with the inclusive “all the brothers and sisters” (4:10; 5:26–27), the reference here is rather to the people who were not members of the church. In the same way, 5:15 calls the Thessalonians “to be kind to each other and to everyone else,” and in Galatians 6:10 Paul exhorts the churches to “do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” In his teaching about how to relate to those outside the Christian community, Paul tells Timothy that the servant of the Lord “must be kind to everyone” (2 Tim. 2:24), while Titus is urged to remind the believers “to show true humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). Paul regularly shows his concern for the relationships Christians have with fellow believers as well as with “outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:12; Col. 4:5; cf. 1 Cor. 5:12–13). The call to love all people finds its roots in the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 5:43–48; 22:39; Mark 12:31–33; Luke 10:27–37), though at times the commandment to “love your neighbor” was converted into a teaching that governed the internal relationships in the church (Rom. 13:8–10; Gal. 5:14–15; Jas. 2:8–9). However, since Jesus is the “Lord of all” (Rom. 10:12), the church kept one eye on the mission to those “outside,” which included both the proclamation of the gospel (1:8) and good works done for all (5:15 and commentary).

There are four ways we may be united:

1) In Creation- all Gen 1

Image of God

2) In Adam-

3) In Community

4) In Christ

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