1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:1-10

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It is very interesting to observe the apostle's use of the word " abound " or " increase," in this epistle.* It is also important, as showing that there is, no limit of attainment here for the believer. Many speak of perfection or holiness as something to be reached in this world; but the slightest glance at the teaching of the apostle on "abounding" reveals that these doctrines have no countenance from the word of God. He thus says, " The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another," &c.
(* Both words are found in the first scripture; but the word translated "abound" is afterward-in 4:10 -given as "increase.")
There can be, it is evident, no standard for "abounding." Again, "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 please God [" even as ye do walk," the Revised Version and others add], so ye would abound more and more." (4: 1) These believers had been instructed how to walk and' please God, and, accepting the added clause, they were walking so as to please God; and yet they were not to be, satisfied-they were to "abound" more and more. So also, in the last scripture named (4: 10), they had been taught of God to love one another; and they were showing their love "toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia." But the apostle adds, " We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase [or "abound") more and more." Whether, therefore, in loving one another, or loving all the brethren, all saints, or in pleasing God in their walk and ways, they were to abound more and more; and hence there was not one of these dear saints who could take the ground of saying, " I have reached the standard; I have now attained; and I am in the enjoyment of perfection." The answer at once to such vain imaginings would be, " Whatever your attainments, you have to abound more and more." And how could it be otherwise, when Christ, in His infinite love to us, is our example? (1 John 3: 16) and when, moreover, it is written, "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked"? (1 John 2:6) To claim to have reached the standard of Christ can only spring from a want of appreciation of what He is, and from ignorance of what we ourselves are.
We may add, as a point of interest, that the apostle's prayer in chap. 3: 12 is-seen to be answered in 2 Thess. 1:3; for he says, " Your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth." But even so there might be, bearing in mind the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, a larger measure of " abounding."