I’ve been hanging out in 1 Thessalonians this week for devotional meditations, and one of the things that surfaced after multiple readings is how often Paul employs the phrase “as you yourselves know” or simply “you know.” When you take a look through his letters, I believe it can be argued that the majority of the content is not new information. It is truths or practices they already know but are being called to remember, be faithful, and work it out in gospel-fueled obedience.
I wonder how much of a role “remembering” has played in our discipleship process. How often do we tell people we are investing in “as you yourselves know . . .”? Take a look at this short letter to the Thessalonians how many times Paul does this:
because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thess. 1:5
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
1 Thess. 2:1-2
For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
1 Thess. 2:5
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
1 Thess. 2:9
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:11-12
Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker1 in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
1 Thess. 3:1-4
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
1 Thess. 4:2
Compiling those verses like that, it sounds like Paul is a broken record! But then again, perhaps Paul is keenly aware of our natural tendencies to forget, to wander, to lose our focus. I think Paul’s letters are instructive to us when it comes to discipling others because we discover patterns of gospel transfer from the portrait of Paul’s life and ministry.
As you yourselves probably know this already.