1 Thessalonians 4:9 New International Version

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

3 Answers 3


What does “taught by God” mean in 1 Thessalonians 4:9?

Thessalonians 4:9 NIV

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

Taught by God to love, How?

1/ God said let us make humankind in our image.

Genesis 1:26-27 NASB

26 Then God said, “[a]Let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness; and [b]let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth, and over every crawling thing that crawls on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God is a spirit and this rules out any physical likeness between God and man, rather, man reflects the qualities of his heavenly Maker. He has endowed man even though imperfect- sinful to be loving.

2/ Another way God has taught humankind to love one another is by his commandments, Jesus speaking as God's spokesman said:

John 13:34 NASB

34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Jesus revealed that Christians must have even superior love, loving one another just as he had loved his disciples.

1 John 3:16 NASB

16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers and sisters.

3/ Another way is by example. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. The ransom is God's greatest expression of love,by this provision God provided the means to deliver humankind from sin and death.

1 John 4:9-11 NASB

9 By this the love of God was revealed [a]in us, that God has sent His only Son into the world so that we may live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the [b]propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.



It means they were taught by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

This is consistently part of Paul's theology. The indwelling Spirit teaches believers to love.

  • Hi Thomas and thanks for your thoughtful post. However, if you examine the context of that verse, it seems clear that Paul is speaking of his own teaching, as an apostle, not that every believer has received these same revelations. The "we" does not, in this context, include the Corinthians, or anyone in the 21st century.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 16, 2021 at 19:40
  • @Ruminator—I disagree with Ruminator. The Holy Spirit teaches every Christian in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (cf. John 14:26), so there's no reason to limit 1 Cor. 2:12 to just Paul or a select few people. Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 19:34
  • Hi Der. I consider it unwise to pit one verse against another. Even if you could, exegetically, prove that what Jesus said to the Twelve in J. 14:26 actually applied to everyone in the universe in all ages, and the angels in heaven and sheol beneath, that does not legitimately put words on Paul's lips in Corinthians. Paul's words are not John's words and vice versa. Paul is defending his ministry and that of the apostles, not saying they aren't needed. Please read it again s-l-o-w-l-y, sans the John/tradition filter. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 19:41

Note the statements elsewhere on this same topic:

John 16:13, 14 - However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you.

1 Cor 2:12 - And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words

2 Peter 1:21 - For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Cor 3:18 - And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Peter 1:4 - Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

1 Cor 2:16 - “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

... and so forth. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life is absolutely essential - note Paul's instruction in Rom 8:9 -

You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

  • Hi Dottard. FYI, the only verses you cite that apply to generic Christians (rather than the prophets or apostles) would be 2 Peter 1:4 and Romans 8:9. The other verses are irrelevant to your case.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 19:51
  • @Ruminator - 2 Cor 3:18 is irrelevant? What of John 16:13 & 1 Cor 2:16. In fact the ONLY verse that applies directly to prophets is 2 Peter 1:21.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 20:03
  • Please read 2 Cor 3 from verse 1: blueletterbible.org/nlt/2co/3/1/s_1081001 Ditto for 2 Cor 2, etc.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Jan 17, 2021 at 20:04

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