2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-02-18 10:59.

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Paul requested the Thessalonian believers, his brothers, to pray for him (and also his companions) in order that the word of the Lord would “run” and be glorified, as it was in their case. (3:1) Apparently the “running” of the “word” would denote rapid and unimpeded progress of the message about God’s Son. Those accepting the “word of the Lord,” as had Paul’s Thessalonian brothers, would glorify it, acknowledging its inestimable value and, with divine help, transforming their lives in imitation of Jesus Christ. (Compare Acts 13:48.)

Not all would respond in faith to the “word of the Lord,” and so faith would not be the possession of all. Therefore, the apostle requested that his Thessalonian brothers pray that he (and his companions) would be delivered from evil and corrupt men or vile and faithless people. (3:2)

Aware of the opposition the Thessalonians were facing, Paul reminded them of the faithfulness, trustworthiness, or dependability of the Lord Jesus Christ. They could be confident that God’s Son would strengthen them and safeguard them from the wicked one, the devil. (3:3)

It may be that Paul referred to being “confident in the Lord” about his Thessalonian brothers because of his absolute trust in Christ’s care for them. (Compare John 10:27, 28.) The apostle did not doubt that the Thessalonians would respond to his spirit-guided admonition, heeding and continuing to heed it as Christ’s loyal disciples. As for the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul’s prayerful desire was that he would direct the “hearts” or the deep inner selves of the Thessalonians to “the love of God and to the steadfastness of the Christ.” (3:4, 5) For his Thessalonian brothers, this would mean that, from deep within themselves, they would be motivated to love God and this would be evident in their faithful adherence to his commands. (Compare 1 John 5:3, 4.) The “steadfastness of the Christ” could refer to their manifesting the same kind of endurance, patience, or perseverance that Christ displayed. (Compare 1 Peter 2:21-23.)

Although much about the Thessalonian believers deserved commendation, some among them were disorderly or idle, not living in harmony with the traditions they had received from Paul. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or on the basis of the authority the Lord had granted him as an apostle, he directed that the rest of the Thessalonians withdraw themselves from such disorderly ones. Paul (and his companions) had set an impeccable example as workers. So his Thesssalonian brothers knew how they should imitate him (and his companions), for they had not conducted themselves in a disorderly way or as idlers. They did not eat food from anyone for nothing, but labored during the day and the night so as not to be a burden to anyone. In view of their diligent efforts to aid the Thessalonians spiritually, Paul and his companions were entitled to material assistance, as he said, “Not that we did not have the authority” or the right to receive food and other assistance. In order to set an example deserving of imitation, however, the apostle and his companions did not avail themselves of this “authority” or right. When with them, Paul set forth the rule, “If anyone does not want to work, let him not eat.” (3:6-10)

The apostle must have been distressed to hear that some among the Thessalonian believers were idlers, not working but injecting themselves into the affairs of others. In view of Paul’s having to correct the Thessalonian believers about Christ’s return in glory, the idlers may have regarded the nearness of Christ’s return as an excuse for not working. The apostle’s words to such idlers left no doubt about what they should be doing. He ordered and exhorted them in the Lord Jesus Christ, or on the basis of the Lord’s authority, to work and eat their own bread, or food they themselves had purchased. (3:11, 12)

As for the other Thessalonian brothers, Paul urged them not to be negligent in doing what is right or good. He did not want the attitude of the idlers to have an adverse effect on them. In the case of anyone failing to respond to the admonition in Paul’s letter, the Thessalonians were to take note of such a one and terminate association with him so that he might become ashamed about his idleness and change. Nevertheless, they were not to treat him like an enemy but to admonish him as their brother, one for whom they had concern and love. (3:13-15)

Jesus Christ is the “Lord of peace,” the one through whom the inner peace or tranquility resulting from an approved relationship with the Father is possible. Paul’s prayerful request was for the Lord to give the Thessalonian believers peace always and in every “way” (trópos, but other manuscripts say “place” [tópos]). For the Thessalonian believers to possess this peace would mean their enjoyment of the inner calmness from knowing they would continue to benefit from divine care, guidance, and safeguarding. Paul also desired that the Lord be with all of them, which would mean that they would continue to be under his care and guidance. (3:16)

Possibly because communication had wrongly been attributed to him (2:2), Paul made a point to call attention to the greeting written with his own hand, identifying it as his writing style and an authenticating sign in every one of his letters. He concluded, “The favor of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with all of you.” This is almost identical to the way in which he concluded his first letter (which see for comments). (3:17, 18)