HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Theme: the realism of Christ's Coming
Chapter 2 ended with the fact that believers should be established in the Word . . . the Word of God. The comforting of our hearts and establishing us in every good word and work, has to do with being faithful to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul also told us in 2 Thes.2:13-14, of the wonderful position we have in Christ. We are chosen! God chose us from the beginning (Eph.1:4), to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit. We are called of God to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is incredible stuff! Paul told the Ephesian believers: Eph. 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (KJV) . . . Paul is saying the same thing to the Thessalonian believers, and to us!
Believers Should Be Established In Their Walk (2 Thes.3:1-7)
2 Thes. 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: (KJV)
Finally, brethren, pray for us . . . meaning to pray for Paul, Silas and Timothy, who were engaged in difficult work at Corinth. This request for the prayers of Christians is one which Paul often makes (1 Thes.5:25; 2 Thes.3:1; Rom.8:26; Col.4:3).
That the word of the Lord may have free course . . . meaning that the Gospel would not meet with any obstruction, but that it might be carried abroad rapidity, as that of a racer out of whose way every hindrance was removed.
And be glorified . . . and that it might be honored; and be outstanding.
As it is with you . . . it is clear that Paul had indeed met with some obstructions in preaching the Gospel where he was then laboring, which he will mention in the next verse. He was then at Corinth, and the history in the Acts of the Apostles informs us of the difficulties which he had to encounter there (Acts 18).
2 Thes. 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. (KJV)
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men . . . Paul wanted prayer that the opposition in their trying to spread the Gospel be stopped. Paul had encountered such unreasonable and wicked men everywhere, as do all preachers, teachers and missionaries who work hard to spread the Truth. It is most likely the reference here is to the opposition which he encountered when in Corinth, this being opposition that arose mainly from the Jews (Acts 18:5-6,12-13). The word unreasonable means absurd, improper, unreasonable and wicked. It is amiss in(Lk.23:41); and is harm in (Acts 28:6). It refers here to men who acted amiss or improperly; men who were not found in the right place, or who had not the right views of things; and unreasonable probably does not refer so much to their being really wicked or malicious. And wicked men . . . is probably men with bad intentions and purposes.
For all men have not faith . . . so true, this no one can doubt. It seems that Paul remembered the readiness with which the Thessalonians had embraced the Gospel, and the firmness with which they held it, and maybe they thought the same thing was true everywhere. But Paul tells them that not all men have the same faith; nor were all men prepared to warmly and fully embrace the Gospel as they were. There were unreasonable and wicked men whom Paul had encountered, from whom he prayed that he might be delivered.
2 Thes. 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. (KJV)
But the Lord is faithful . . . although men cannot be trusted, God is faithful to His every Promises and purposes (1 Cor.1:9). We can always confide in Him; and when men are hateful, unbelieving, perverse and unkind, and determined to do us wrong, we may go to God, and we will always find He is there for us.
Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil . . . the reference here is to the Evil One, or Satan (Mat.6:13), and means that God would keep them from his tricks.
2 Thes. 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. (KJV)
And we have confidence in the Lord, touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you . . . when Paul expresses the greatest confidence in Christians that they will live and act as becomes their profession, he relies is not on anything in themselves, but completely on the faithfulness of God (2 Cor.7:16; Phil.1:6; 4:7; 2 Tim.1:12; Jude 1:24; Rev.3:10).
2 Thes. 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (KJV)
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God . . . So direct your hearts that you may love God.
And into the patient waiting for Christ . . . the prayer of Paul was, that they might have the love of God in their hearts, and the patience of Christ; meaning the same patience which Christ showed in His trials. IF you are walking today in the sunshine of His love, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart (Rom.5:5), and you KNOW that He loves you. And you can be sure of that love by the power of the Spirit, because only the Spirit of God can make God's love real to us. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23).
The Thessalonians were then suffering affliction and persecution. They needed patience, that they might endure their trials in a proper way. It was natural for Paul to refer them to the Saviour, the greatest example of patience ever . . . and to pray that they might have the same patience which He had. Paul did not mean for them to wait patiently for the appearing of Christ, because he had just been showing them that Christ would not appear until after a series of events had occurred. He wanted them to have patience in their suffering, affliction and persecution, as we all should.
2 Thes. 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (KJV)
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly . . . Paul now, in verses 6-12, comes to an important subject . . . the proper way to treat those who were idle and disorderly in the church. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor.5:4). In the previous Letter, he had turned his attention to this subject, but in the mild language of urging and encouraging. When he wrote that Letter, he knew that there were some among them who were very inclined to be idle and lazy, and he had tenderly advised them to be quiet, and to mind their own business, and to work with their own hands (1 Thes.4:11). BUT . . . it seems the appeal, and the example of Paul himself when there (1 Thes.2:9), had not been effective in persuading them to be diligent. It became necessary now to use the strong language of rebuke, and to require that if they would not work, the church would withdraw from them. What was the original cause of their laziness, is not known. There is no reason to doubt that it was greatly increased by their expectation that the Saviour would soon appear, and that the world would soon come to an end . . . and IF this was to be so, why should they work? Why build a house that was soon to be burnt up, or why buy a farm which he would soon leave?
That ye withdraw yourselves . . . this is the true idea of Christian discipline. It is not mainly cutting a man off, or denouncing him, or excommunicating him . . . it is withdrawing from him. We cease to have fellowship with him. We do not regard him any longer as a Christian brother. We separate from him. We do not injure his name or standing as a man, we do not follow him with criticism or a spirit of revenge; we simply cease to recognize him as a Christian brother, when he shows that he is no longer worthy to be regarded as such.
From every brother that walketh disorderly . . . (1 Cor.5:11-13). Walking disorderly means any conduct that is in any way disagrees with the rules of Christ.
And not after the tradition which ye received of us . . . according to the doctrine which we delivered to you (2 Thes.2:15). This shows that by "tradition" Paul did not mean unwritten doctrines handed down from one to another, for he evidently refers to what he had himself taught them, and he directs them to obey it. Withdraw yourselves (1 Tim.6:5). Paul does not beat around the bush! Believers are NOT to walk with the "disorderly." We should NOT go into a bar, sit down with the drunkard and have a beer with him as we witness to him. God says that we are to "withdraw" ourselves from the disorderly. We certainly are to witness to them, but we are NOT to socialize with them on their level.
Seven Parting Commands:
#1. Withdraw from disorderly brothers (2 Thes.3:6).
#2. No work, no eat (2 Thes.3:10).
#3. Work peaceably, in quietness (2 Thes.3:12).
#4. Make your own living, others do not owe you a living (2 Thes.3:12).
#5. Do not be weary in well doing (2 Thes.3:13).
#6. Have no fellowship with agitators lest you be ashamed (2 Thes.3:14).
#7. Rebuke rebels (2 Thes.3:15).
God makes it very clear whom we are to follow . . .
2 Thes. 3:7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; (KJV)
For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you . . . Paul tells them they should imitate him and his helpers for they never behaved in a rebellious or disorderly manner (1 Thes.2:10).
Believers Should Be Established In Their Work (2 Thes.3:8-18)
The Thessalonians were walking in a right relationship to the Lord Jesus, and they were being persecuted for it. Paul comforted, instructed and encouraged them. Now he lets them know that he also is undergoing persecution and difficulty. My friend, IF you stand up for the Lord, it will cost you something.
Paul has shown us that the believer is to be established in the Word of God. Then he told us how important the walk of the believer is, and that this walk should be grounded in the Word. Now Paul comes to the work of the believer, which is very practical. This involves things in which we need to be doing . . . so the Word of God may have its way in our hearts and lives.
2 Thes. 3:8 Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: (KJV)
Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you . . . Paul was never supported in idleness at the expense of others. Paul in fact, worked to support himself (1 Thes.2:9; Acts 18:3; 20:34). Idleness, total laziness and slothfulness is a horrendous practice in today’s times. SO many people are on welfare, food stamps or disability, that need NOT be there! YES! Absolutely, there are those who are not able to support themselves, due to old age, sickness or some crippling effect. BUT . . . anyone who is well able to go out and get a job, should do so, according to the Bible. I am including millions of ‘professing’ Christians in this. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, and accepts welfare, when they are well able to work . . . is NOT a TRUE Christian. Both my husband and I are elderly, in bad health and crippled, but we do NOT depend on the government to support us. What Paul is saying here is, if you are able to work, get off your behind, get out and get a job and work for a living.
2 Thes. 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. (KJV)
Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us . . .
1 Cor. 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. (KJV) . . . What ‘power’ was Paul talking about? It was the right that he and all pastors have to expect to be cared for by the congregation for the work they do.
Mat. 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. (KJV)
1 Tim. 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. (KJV) . . . Also see: (1 Cor.9:9-12, Lk.10:7; Deut.25:40).
And though this power could have been claimed by Paul, yet in some cases it is to be denied, as the apostle Paul did, above in 1 Cor.9:12, above: have not used this power; lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. This he did here, to make himself an example, because it seems the people had become idle and lazy as they waited for the Return of Christ.
2 Thes. 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (KJV)
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you . . . it seems from this that the evil of which the apostle here complains had begun to operate even when he was with them. There were those who were willing to be idle, and who needed the serious warning of Paul to prompt them to work.
That if any would not work, neither should he eat . . . this was a saying among the Jews, meaning at the public expense . . . as millions do in our time. They should not be supported by the church. The saying is founded in clear justice, and is in accordance with the great law under which our Creator has placed us (Gen.3:19). The law here laid down by Paul extends to all who are able to work for a living, and who will not do it, and my friend it binds us NOT to contribute to their support IF they will not work for it on their own.
This saying was a proverb among the Jews. Men who can work, and would rather support themselves by begging, should NOT get one morsel of bread. It is a SIN to minister to the needs of people that have only fake needs.
2 Thes. 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (KJV)
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly . . . it is not known how this was made known to Paul, whether by Timothy, or by someone else. But, Paul had no doubt it was true, and it seems he was prepared to believe it all the more readily from what he saw when he was among them. Which walk disorderly (verse 6).
Working not at all . . . completely idle and slothful, with no care to change (like today).
But are busybodies (1 Tim.5:13; 1 Pet.4:15). They meddled in the affairs of others, of things that did not concern them. Paul had seen that there was a tendency to do this when he was in Thessalonica, and so he had commanded them to "do their own business" (1 Thes.4:11). The command, it seems, did no good at all, for in the class of meddlers, few heed good advice.
2 Thes. 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (KJV)
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread . . . eat their own bread, because earned by their own honest industry. What a shameful thing to live on the bounty or mercy of others, while a man is able to obtain his own livelihood! Anyone who can submit to this has in him a beggar's heart, and is capable of nothing but vile and beggarly actions. These people are a discredit to the nation, and a curse to society. The apostle Paul's command is a cure for this and he seems to be saying that the church should disown them. Eph.4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (KJV)
2 Thes. 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. (KJV)
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing . . . while we should NOT stretch out a hand of relief to the idle and lazy, we should never forget those who are indeed really poor and in need, for they are the genuine representatives of the poor Jesus, who would never pass by one who really needed help. My friend, there is a false doctrine today about Jesus being rich when he was on Earth. That is a LIE! A damnable heresy! (2 Pet.2:1). Do NOT believe it. Jesus was a poor Man while on Earth, a Servant (Mat.8:20; Lk.2:7; 9:58; 2 Cor.8:9; Phil.2:6-8).
2 Thes. 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. (KJV)
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle . . . they had disobeyed Paul’s word in the his first Letter, and the Church still continued to tolerate these lazy ones, now he tells them if they still continue to disregard what is said to them, and particularly his word by this second Letter, the church is to mark them as being totally hopeless, and have no fellowship with them.
And have no company with him, that he may be ashamed . . . this probably meant to excommunicate him, and deliver him over to Satan for the destruction of the body, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Tim.1:20; 1 Cor.5:5).
2 Thes. 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (KJV)
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother . . . count him not as your enemy, but consider him more an enemy to himself than to you; and rebuke him as a brother, even though you have stopped religious fellowship with him. His soul is still worth working to save it. All attempts should be made to win the wayward member.
2 Thes. 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. (KJV)
Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means . . . the Lord of peace isJesus Christ, who is called our peace (Eph.2:14); and the Prince of peace (Isa.9:6). May He give you peace, for He is the Fountain and Distributer of it. Always . . . both in your own consciences, and among yourselves. By all means . . . means peace or spiritual riches in every form and shape.
The Lord be with you all . . . this agrees to the Promise of our Lord. He cannot lie!
Mat. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)
Heb. 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (KJV)
Paul’s prayer is that the Lord, who has promised to be always with his TRUE disciples, be with them! Christians are the temple of God, and the temple of God has the Divine Presence in it (Jn.14:17; Rom.8:11; 1 Cor.3:16; 2 Tim.1:14; Heb.3:6). Paul prayed that the Lord God would dwell among them!
2 Thes. 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. (KJV)
The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write . . . it is quite likely that Paul employed a scribe or secretary to write what he dictated in his Letters, but it seems that Paul always wrote the salutation and benediction with his own hand; and this was what authenticated all his Letters (1 Cor.16:21; Col.4:18).
2 Thes. 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (KJV)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all . . . (Rom.16:20). Paul’s Letter ends with a benediction, ending a wonderful Letter which teaches that the knowledge of prophecy, not laziness, brings peace to the heart.
We today, should desire the same blessings for ourselves that Paul prayed for the Thessalonians. Peace with God. This peace is desired for them, and us, always, and in everything. Peace in every way, is enjoyed by the means of God’s amazing grace. No matter where we are, God is with us. It is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we hope to have peace with God, and to enjoy the Presence of God for eternity.
In 2 Thessalonians chapter 3, we are encouraged to continue living obediently in spite of difficult circumstances. Christ's Return is more than a doctrine; it is a Promise. It is not just for the future; but has a vital impact on how we live now.
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