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2 Thessalonians Chapter Three, Living What You Learn

In our study of 2 Thessalonians chapter three, we will look at Paul's teaching on how important it is to not only learn the Word but to actually live it. Paul always preached the gospel with words but also with action and he ends this letter to the Thessalonian believers by urging them to follow his example.

2 Thessalonians 3:1

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.

Paul begins to close this letter by asking for prayer for the ministry. It is interesting to note what he prays for as he does not pray for finances or the like but instead asks them to pray that the Word of God would quickly spread and be followed. Sadly, today, more time is spent praying for money and things like that than actually praying for lives to be changed. We need to follow Paul's example too.

2 Thessalonians 3:2

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.

The better translation of the word "evil" here is unreasonable and Paul is asking for prayer that they would be able to overcome the schemes of those that are servants of darkness (wicked) and those that simply will not accept facts no matter what. When you are trying to serve the Lord, there will be those that want to oppose you and many times they profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. They will not listen to the Word of God and if you ask them to open up the Bible to check to see what it says they will probably refuse.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Paul asks for prayer to be delivered from wickedness but he is also quick to point out that the Lord is in charge. Just as the Lord was with Paul through his many struggles, He will also be with us. This is the same thing that Peter was talking about in 1 Peter 1:5.

2 Thessalonians 3:4

We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command.

Paul was confident that God would cause to grow the seeds of the Word that were planted in the believers at Thessalonica. He is also confident that the Holy Spirit will convict their hearts of the need to not only hear and study the Word but to put it into practice. That is the same thing that James was talking about, in James 1:22-25 when he spoke about the man and the mirror.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

Paul follows his request for prayer with a prayer for them. His prayer for them is that God will remind them of His love even as they patiently await the returning of Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 3:6

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

Paul now warns the believers to stay away from those who are not willing to work. In Genesis 3, we see that, for man, the result of sin was that we are required to work to obtain food. That was not so before Adam sinned and will not be so in the new heaven and new earth but, for now, that is what we as men must do. Today, it seems like men want to sit around with their hands out and let a government or someone else take care of them and their family's needs but this is not of God.

2 Thessalonians 3:7 & 8a

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it.

Paul reminds them that he not only shared the gospel with words but also with his actions. He reminds them of the fact that he did not consider it his job to share the gospel but he used his job as a tentmaker to support his sharing of the gospel. He could have taught the Word for a couple of hours each week or even each day and sat back to collect a tithe but he did not.

2 Thessalonians 3:8b & 9

On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we did not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.

Paul continues by saying that they worked night and day to support themselves while they ministered to the people. There are many pastors today that work a full time job and then tend to the group of believers that God has placed in their care. This is the pattern that Paul hoped the Thessalonians would see and follow. The pastor has the right to be supported by the tithe but it is much better if they follow this pattern. One reason for this is that, when a man starts receiving a paycheck for serving the Lord, many look at him as if all the work of the "church" is his to do because he gets paid for it.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.

At first glance, these words may seem kind of harsh but the simple fact of the matter is that all men must work for their food. That was a curse that came through Adam's disobedience (see Genesis 3:17). You see, before the fall, Adam and Eve had all that they needed as they were in the very presence of God. With the fall and the banishment from Eden, came the need to work for their food. There is coming a time when this will no longer be necessary (see Revelation 22) but, for now, we must work for our food.

2 Thessalonians 3:11 & 12

We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

There were some in the body of believers that just hung on and survived by the handouts instead of working. As we see here, they spent a lot of time in other people's business and in talking about others instead of getting a job to buy their food. Paul gave them a strong command "to settle down and earn the bread they eat". The same thing is happening even more today as there are so many that do not want to work but want to sit around and gossip until the Lord comes back. That is not what we are called to do as the giving out of the food should be a tool to reach the lost and not a tool to empower people to sit around and gossip.

2 Thessalonians 3:13

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Now, Paul urges them to continue to work and share the good news of Jesus Christ. He is not saying that they shouldn't get physically and mentally tired as that is going to happen when we are working. What he is saying is that we do not stop doing the right thing because we are tired and it is easier to do the wrong things.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 & 15

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Now, Paul gives specific instructions on how to deal with the lazy Christian. He tells the believers to in effect shun the brother in hopes that he will be ashamed and repent. Paul also reminds them that they should not treat him as an enemy since he, too, is their brother. One of the biggest problems today in the body of Christ is that we often forget the last part of this instruction and treat those that we do not agree with as enemies.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

Paul begins to close his letter to the Thessalonians by reminding them that peace comes from God and asking for the Lord to grant them that peace. This is a good reminder for us today as well with all of the turmoil in the world. There is much talk of peace and peace negotiations but no mention of the Prince of Peace which is the source. We must be wary of anyone that hopes to bring peace to the world without Jesus Christ because it is not possible.

2 Thessalonians 3:17

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.

At first, this verse may seem kind of strange as Paul reassures the people that he has written this letter but we must remember that there was a false report being circulated among the believers there. Paul, is basically telling them that they can recognize his writing because it has been consistently based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. This also is a reminder that Paul stayed humble even as God used him to start the greatest spread of the gospel that the world has ever seen. Even with all that going on, Paul wrote this letter "in my own hand" instead of getting someone to do it for him. Today, there are many who start out humbly serving the Lord but when the blessings come they forget the humility. We should remember that God will lift up the humble and the proud will be brought low.

2 Thessalonians 3:18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Paul closes this letter with the prayer that God's grace would be with them. Paul was a man that deeply understood grace because of his life before he accepted Christ. He wanted them to also understand the extreme nature of that grace and the fact that it is sufficient for all things.

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