About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
2 Thessdalonians 3
in chapter 3 verse 1 that Paul asks his readers for prayer, but not
necessarily prayer for himself, but for the preaching of the gospel, so
it would “be honoured and spread.” Paul
was clearly more interested in the survival of the gospel than he was
for himself. This is
something that all church leaders should think seriously about.
should know that Paul was writing from
verse 2 Paul does ask for specific prayers for himself and his fellow
workers. He asks the
Thessalonians to pray “that they will be delivered from wicked men,
for not everyone has faith”. Once
again, we need to understand that Paul is not asking for protection out
of selfishness. He wants the
protection in order to preach the gospel.
Paul isn't worried about his own life.
He'd rather be with the Lord anyway.
His only mission on earth was to preach the gospel.
wicked men Paul spoke of here would have been Nero, the emperor of the
said that not everyone has faith. We
saw back in 1 Thessalonians 1 and 4 that some even in Nero's palace did
believe, but for the most part, most had no faith in Jesus.
verse 3 Paul says that “the Lord will protect them from the evil
one”. We can accurately
assume by the “evil one”, he means satan. Paul believes that his
readers can be protected from the devil, even though Paul himself was
hindered at one point by satan from visiting these people.
Satan got in Paul’s way, but he did not harm Paul.
The only exception to this might be Paul’s thorn in the flesh
which he called “a messenger from satan”, and this was God’s doing
because of the excess of revelations that Paul had.
Both the Thessalonians and us most likely have not experienced
this excess and therefore don’t have to worry about a thorn in the
flesh, a messenger from satan. Also, even though Paul was bothered by a
messenger from satan, he was not overtaken by him.
verse 4 we see the word "command".
Paul was an apostle and with this apostolic ministry comes a
certain authority. He
acknowledges that the Thessalonians were doing, and would continue to
do, “as he commanded”. The
Greek word used here for our English word “command” is
“parangello”. It is made
up of 2 words meaning, “to announce”, and “beside”.
This command was more of a passing along of the word of God to
these people. It was not a
command as from a dictator. Yet
on the other hand, this was the Word of God which brings with it a good
measure of authority and should not be taken lightly. Paul
never viewed authority n a dictatorial way.
His motivation was always based on the love of God that he wanted
to demonstrate to those he was commissioned by Jesus to care for.
5 says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and
Christ’s perseverance”. Notice
Paul mentions both God and Christ, as he quite often does.
Paul expects God to direct people to do as they should.
6 begins with the words "in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That means that what Paul is about to say, he is saying on the
behalf of Jesus, since he is representing Jesus to these people.
uses the word command once again. He
commands, or passes along God's instructions, to his readers to keep
away from every brother who is idle and who does not live according to
the teaching you received from us. A number of things can be noted here.
One is that Paul is actually commanding these people to stay away
from certain “brothers”. By
the use of the word “brothers”, we should be able to say that he is
talking about Christians. These
Christians are ones who are idle and do not follow after what Paul
picture is that there is a community of Christian brothers, but not all
work hard. Some are idle and
prefer to live off of others. This
would disturb Paul. He hated to impose on anyone.
He felt that everyone should do their best to provide for
themselves. When it comes to
the idea of working hard, I'm not sure Paul would be very happy with the
average Christian today.
Greek sentence structure used here implies “a falling out of rank”,
a military phrase. Some were
falling out of rank which Paul had previously established in his
teaching. They were falling out of step with the will of the Lord.
is speaking not just about being idle.
He is speaking about men departing from the teaching he taught
them. This would have been
just as important as being idle. We need to think of being idle as being
a busybody. Some might well
be idle because of sickness or something legitimate.
He's not talking about such idleness here.
it comes to Paul's admonition to separate from idle brothers, that's not
all that acceptable these days. Paul
isn't saying that these men aren't brothers.
He's simply saying to stay away from them.
There is a Scriptural time and place for separating one's self
from brothers in Christ. We
just need to make sure we are motivated properly when we do so.
goes on to say in verses 7 through 9, “you yourselves know how you
ought to follow our example”. The
words “you yourselves” place double emphasis on Paul’s point.
Even though Paul did not stay long with these people, he must
have stressed the point that they needed to follow his example of
living, which included working for your living.
says that his example was not idleness when he was with them, “nor did
we eat anyone’s food without paying for it”.
He goes on to say, “on the contrary, we worked hard night and
day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of
you”. You can see Paul’s
thinking on the subject of working.
I believe his thinking was based on love, or what Jesus said,
“it is better to give than to receive”.
Those who always receive and never give are not living the life
of Christ. Paul says to
“keep away” from such people, even if they are called brothers in
Christ. I think this is
really Paul's idea of idleness; that is, do nothing and expect others to
need to speak about the words "follow my example".
We need to understand these words, not from our understanding,
but from how Paul understood and lived these words out.
Paul is not being a dictator. Paul is not saying that these
people should copy every aspect of his life.
In this context especially, Paul is saying "follow my
example in how I work hard for the sake of the gospel."
We are not talking about heavy handed "submission and
verse 10 Paul gives his reason for living this way while they were among
the Thessalonians. He wanted
to be “a model”, an example for them to follow.
Even though he felt that an apostle has the right to receive
financial help from those he served, he refused it in order to be an
example of one who would rather give than receive.
Such a mentality as this demonstrates maturity in the Lord.
verses 11 through 13 Paul notes that there were some slackers among
these people. They wanted to
live off of others, something that is not demonstrating God's love.
He urges, even commands, that these brothers settle down and
start earning their own living. Then
for those who are earning there own living, he encourages them to work
even harder. Again, Paul is
not afraid of hard work. I
can just see Paul in today's socialistic world speaking out about
Paul was with these people he taught many things to them as you can well
understand. One thing he taught, and actually commanded is seen in verse
14. He says, “If a man
will not work, he should not eat”.
Notice the use of the word “man” here.
He did not say women or children.
He used the word “man”. In
1 Timothy 5 Paul gives various instructions to Timothy and one is to
look after the widows who do not have children to look after them.
Paul doesn’t say to look after the widowers.
Most likely in their society a widower was more able to make a
living than a widow. Yet
even in financial distribution to the poor, Paul had certain
requirements. One was that a
widow, if she had children to look after her, should not receive
financial help. Here in 2
Thessalonians 3 Paul would say that if a man was capable of working and
didn’t, he too should not receive financial help.
Money did not come to Paul on a silver platter, and I don’t
think he was in favour of throwing it away to those who did not
appreciate it. This is
something for all of us to understand in church life today as we help
the poor among us.
Paul had heard that there were some among the Thessalonians who were
idle. “They are not busy, but busybodies”, he says.
Idleness produces things like gossip, and other such evils. He
commands these idle people to earn their own money and buy their own
food. For the rest of the
hardworking people he urges “never to tire of doing what is right”.
verse 14 Paul speaks from his apostolic authority once again when he
says, “If anyone does not obey our instructions in this letter, take
special note of him. Do not
associate with him in order that he will feel ashamed”.
Paul is being quite bold in his words here, and maybe even harsh
on these idle men, but harshness is probably what they needed.
They needed to be ashamed of the way in which they were living.
Maybe if they were ashamed enough, they would come to their
senses and get back being productive people. Once
again, Paul is telling his readers to stay away from a certain sector of
the Christian family, something that we might not be all that
comfortable with today, nevertheless, this is Paul’s command.
though Paul tells these people to stay away from the idle man, in verse
15 he tells them not to treat him “as an enemy, but warn him as a
brother”. If you remember,
Paul told the Corinthians to excommunicate one brother from their midst
because of the sinful life he was living.
They were to treat him as a sinner, but not in this case.
ends his second letter to the Thessalonians in verses 16 through 18 by
praying that the Lord would give these people peace in all that they do,
and in every circumstance they find themselves in.
It is only Jesus who can give such peace to anyone.
These people really needed peace because of all the hardships and
persecution they were going through.
ends by saying in verse 17, “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own
hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters.
This is how I write.” Note
that Paul does not say his hand wrote the whole letter, only the final
greeting. Like most of
Paul’s letters, he dictated it to someone else. He says, “This is
the way I write”, hoping that people would know his writing style and
thus be sure that this letter was actually from him.
Can we read anything further into this? Maybe we can, but it is
pure speculation. When he
says, “This is the way I write”, and “this is the distinguishing
mark”, might this suggest that his hand writing for some reason is
much different than normal? In
Galatians 6:11 he mentions the big letters he was using.
Were these big letters the distinguishing mark that everyone
would recognize? Once again,
this is only speculation, but an interesting idea. I
mention this because many people say that Paul's thorn in the flesh was
bad eye-sight, and the big letters would suggest that.
The distinguishing mark probably was meant to be his signature.
ends his letter by saying, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all”. Again, these people needed both peace and grace from God
just to survive. It is only
by the Grace of our Lord that we can possibly succeed in our lives as