“I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.“
Paul’s final exhortation in the conclusion is that the Thessalonian church leaders read First Thessalonians publicly to the congregation.
I charge you by the Lord
The word “charge” literally means to put under (or bind by) an oath, to adjure. Paul demands or commands that the leadership at Thessalonica take an oath that First Thessalonians be read in the public assembly. This is stronger than a suggestion or exhortation.
The phrase “by the Lord” indicates that Paul gets his authority to put them under oath from the Lord.
that this epistle be read
Paul wants the leaders at Thessalonica to publicly read First Thessalonians, thus acknowledging its place in the Bible. Most people in the early church did not read. They got their Bible from public reading. Most likely, this was more than just reading the text. It involved an explanation and exposition of the text.
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up…. …helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:5-8 ).
to all the holy brethren
Note the word “all.” It is imperative that everyone in the local church is exposed to the exposition of God’s Word, whether men, women, or children.
The exposition of Scripture is central to worship.
The strength in Paul’s command to read the Bible publicly indicates that the Word of God was central to local church worship. If Paul believed vehemently that the leadership should read the Bible publicly, should not our churches today put great emphasis on Bible exposition as well?
“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).