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
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
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
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
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.