Translations: Chinese GB Big5

2Thessalonians 3 (web)


3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us,
that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified,
even as also with you;
3:2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for not all have faith.
3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one.
3:4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you,
that you both do and will do the things we command.

3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.

Commands Dealing with the Idle

3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion,
and not after the tradition which they received from us.
3:7 For you know how you ought to imitate us.
For we didn't behave ourselves rebelliously among you,
3:8 neither did we eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it,
but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you;
3:9 not because we don't have the right,
but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us.
3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this:
"If anyone will not work, neither let him eat."

3:11 For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion,
who don't work at all, but are busybodies.

3:12 Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ,
that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

3:13 But you, brothers, don't be weary in doing well.

3:14 If any man doesn't obey our word in this letter, note that man,
that you have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed.
3:15 Don't count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.


3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.
The Lord be with you all.

3:17 The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand,
which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write.
3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  • Recall a number of Christian workers involved in the communication of the gospel and pray that they may be protected from evil men and that the word may spread rapidly through them.
  • What kind of strengthening and protection do we have from Satan?
  • Where does obedience to commands come in your practice of the Christian life, or do you feel that such a concept is too legalistic?
  • What would be an example of a brother who choses to be "idle" in the sense Paul means?
  • How should Christians treat such a brother in Christ?
  • How does this conflict with the popular idea of "love" in the modern Christian community?
  • After reading this chapter, if you were really serious about "entering the ministry", what view would you have towards secular work?
  • What does it mean in vs 11 by "? (xref Tim 5:13)
  • What additional things besides being idle would a basis upon which to disassociate from other Christians?

  • How would you practically carry out Paul's commands?


    A Missionary Prayer

    2Thess 3:1,2  Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.

    While it's interesting to speculate about how exactly God involves himself in the process of causing the message to spread rapidly and be honored as it had been in Thessalonica, the fact is that these are legitimate and indeed authorized and recommended subjects of prayer. We should not be content with the slow dissemination of the gospel, but rather should pray for its rapid spread.

    However, in saying "rapidly" Paul did not mean to imply shallowness to the communication of the message. In this fast-paced world we should be careful not treating the gospel like fast-food. Rather the gospel is to be communicated clearly and comprehensively. (If you asked the apostle John to preach his gospel he would go on for 21 chapters) And it should be communicated boldly, with an effort made to win a hearing. And when embraced, there should be a concerted effort to establish it in the lives of the believers. Paul would often spend years in a location preaching and discipling individuals. So while we pray that the message may spread rapidly, we pray also that it may preached and understood comprehensively, and that those who spread the message may be respected and committted to the establishment and maturing of those who accept the message, as Paul set forth in his example with the Thessalonians.

    Likewise, pray that the message may be embraced not simply as an interesting idea, but as a life-changing conviction, as it had been among the Thessalonians. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. These days such an embracing of the gospel is yet to be experienced among many, even among "Christianized" countries, let alone those cultures which are closed and hostile to the gospel in which Christians seemingly cower in secrecy. How far have we come from the example of New Testament Christianity! So there's plenty of room for prayer along these lines.

    And pray that the messengers may place their confidence in God in protecting them from wicked and evil men, and that God would show himself to be strong on their behalf in this regards.

    Faithfully protected from Satan

    2Thess 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

    This is one thing that the Lord has committed himself to in hs relationship with believers. He protects us from the devil and strengthens us in the process. This does not mean that we will not be subject to the devil's hand, but it means that we need not be damaged by it. For example at one time he said to Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:13,32 In the process God strengths his people. He also helps them to maintain a proper level of humility. Paul writes, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." 2Cor 12:7 Thus due to the Lord's faithfulness, rather than being harmed, believers actually benefit from such attacks of Satan.

    Among other things, to enhance this protection is prayer.

    Firstly the Lord prays for us:
    Joh 17:15  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
    And we also pray for ourselves
    Mt 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

    And "in addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Eph 6:16

    Confident of your Obedience

    2Thess 3:4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command.

    Elsewhere Paul wrote to a Christian slave owner requesting him to free his slave, saying,  "Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask." Phm 1:21 Of the Christians in Galatia of whom he was correcting concerning matters of doctrine, he writes,  "I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view." Gal 5:10 And to the Corinthians who complied to his first letter he wrote, "I am glad I can have complete confidence in you." 2Cor 7:16

    It is not that Paul had confidence in men. But rather that Paul recognized that once a person has gone through a genuine conversion experience, being born of God, having exercised the faith that saves through their repentance, their public acknowledgement of Christ and allegience to him, God takes a hold of that person's heart and conscience in such a persistent manner that it is inevitable for such people to conform their lifestyle to his ways. I am "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Php 1:6

    If we are preaching the Word of God we can be confident that "whoever knows God listens to us." 1John 4:6b And likewise if you are in the faith, then you can be confident that you will continue in it living accordingly. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 Of that you can be confident.

    May the Lord direct your hearts

    2Thess 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

    "direct" = "kateuthuno" means to make straight, guide, direct and is also used to refer to the removal of the hindrances. While the believer's heart is inclined to love and persevere in living out the Christian life, there may be hinderances to doing so. In his parable of the sower Jesus noted a category of believers where the Word for them "fell among thorns which stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Lk 8;14 Consequently in conjunction with the Word, Prayer, and Fellowship as the believers strive to live out the Christian life, God will direct their hearts away from such influences, though circumstances may or may not change.

    And now "may he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father  when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1Th 3:13

    Shun the Lazy Christian

    2Thess 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.

    Besides the issue of "Bad company corrupts good character." 1Cor 15:33, shunning the idle is a way of correcting their behavior. Too much toleration of idleness is not love; it is neither edifying to oneself nor to the idle. So in 1Thess 5:14 Paul wrote, "we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle." It is written that "If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks." Ecc 10:18 Let that not be the state of your local Christian fellowship. For applications of faith require diligence. Consider the parable of the Talents in which the lazy man simply hid his talent, burying it in the ground, rather than applying it. The master said of him, "you wicked, lazy servant!" Mt 25:26 So, "we do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Heb 6:12

    Work to free others up

    2Thess 3:7-10 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. 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 do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

    Now it is true that "the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." 1Cor 9:14 This is their legitimate entitlement. But Paul says, "I have not used any of these rights." 1Cor 9:15 While there were those who did get paid for ministry as Jesus allowed, there were also those who ministered just for financial gain. But Paul took no financial profit from his ministry. He says, "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit." 2Cor 2:17 In fact he instructs the Ephesian elders saying, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:33-35

    It is an act of generosity to not require payment for one's ministry. And better yet is to do Christian ministry free of charge while also working at a secular job in order not only to supply your own needs, but those of others. And by not unnecessarily burdening other Christians with one's financial needs, you also free up their resources to practice generosity to the truly needy. Though not all have an opportunity to do so. But in fact Paul viewed that scenario as what should have been the norm. And so he lived it out as an example to follow.

    From his writings in his two letters it appears that much as the Thessalonians were enthusiastic with regards to the Christian life, they were prone to laziness with regards to secular matters. So don't let your flesh mislead you into thinking your spirituality can be an excuse for laziness.

    Now as for "If a man will not work", it does not mean "If a man does not work". "will" is the greek word "thelo" which speaks of intention. There are those who do not work because they cannot work, whether because of opportunity or ability. These are not the people he is referring to. But there are those who are simply lazy and refuse to work. I remember taking in a homeless man and urged him to find a job. He got a job driving a taxi. It lasted one day. He left it because he was bored. Work can be hard. And contrary to the world's philosophy, it is not the objective to demand that we feel "fulfilled" with our jobs. Work can be hard, that's why it's called "work". Paul spoke of "laboring" night and day. Just because it may not be fun, it's no excuse not to work.

    Settle down and get a job

    2Thess 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.

    A "busybody" has two concepts to it. One is "to busy one's self about trifling" or to avoid working in the sense of procrastination and the other is used of a person officiously inquisitive about other's affairs, in other words a meddler. For example Paul speaks of the characteristic trend of younger widows saying:

    "they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 1Tim 5:13
    There's a saying that goes: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop". It is often when we are idle that sin creeps in. So "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1Thess 4:11,12

    Disassociate to Sanctify

    2Thess 3:13-15  And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. 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.

    Again he brings up this matter of shunning fellow Christians who don't obey the Word. And yet one is not to regard them necessarily as enemies, though that may turn out to be the case. But that will become more clear by their reaction to being shunned or warned. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27, though prodding may be required to differing degrees. Such was the case of the man in 1Corinthians who was involved in sexual immorality. Paul commanded, "You must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat."1Cor 5:11 Apparently from what we've read in 2Thess, such a list is to include the lazy as well. Jesus also affirms this idea of disassociation in Matt 18:17 saying, "if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."

    Now we learn in 2Corinthians that this process worked. The man repented. In fact 2Corinthians brings up another issue regarding this process of shunning fellowing Christians. Paul goes to great extents in 2Corinthians to see that, having repented, the man is welcomed back into the fellowship fully forgiven. There are those who may find it hard to disassociate with sinning Christians who may be friends of theirs. But then there are also those who might find it hard reconciling with the repentant. Both need to understand that this is a process of discipline to help sanctify sinning Christians and is not intended to cut off Christian fellowship in a permanent sense. Upon repentance, such Christians MUST be welcomed back into the fellowship.

    Peace in Every Way

    2Thess 3:16-18  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

    What are some areas in which the Lord brings peace?

    Peace with God
    Rom 5:1 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"

    Peace with our fellow Christians
    Rom 14:19  "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification"
    2Cor 13:11 "Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

    Peace with our enemies
    Pr 16:7 "When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."
    Heb 12:14  "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."
    Rom 12:18  "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

    Peace of mind
    Php 4:6,7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    And he has called us to be peace makers
    Jas 3:18 "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

    As for his signature, Paul dictated most of the content of his letters. This was possibly due to an eye disease he may have contracted early in his ministry. (See note Gal 4:13) But the salutations he wrote with his own hand so as to further personalize the letters.

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Jul 29,2015