2 Thessalonians 3

Finally, the Thessalonians were to pray for Paul himself, and that not only in regard to his personal safety but in regard to the work with which he was entrusted. The history recorded in Acts 17 shows us how greatly prayer for his safety was needed at this juncture, yet he gave the first place to the work. The word had had full course amongst the Thessalonians and consequently it had been glorified in the wonderful results it produced in them. Paul asked prayer that thus it might be wherever he went. He prayed unceasingly for his converts but he was also not ashamed to ask for their prayers for himself. The most advanced saint or servant may well be thankful for the prayers of the youngest convert or the humblest believer.

As to the Thessalonians themselves the Apostle had confidence in the Lord concerning them that they would be governed by his directions, only he desired that the Lord Himself might direct their hearts into the enjoyment of God's love and into the patience of Christ. This is what we all want, and especially so seeing that the end of the age is upon us. If our hearts enter into Christ's patience, as He waits at God's right hand, and are tuned into sympathy with Him, we shall not chafe at what to us may seem a long delay. God's love will meanwhile be our enjoyed portion and we shall be able to display it to others while passing through the world.

From verse 6 of this third chapter and the succeeding verses it is evident that the erroneous ideas concerning the coming of the Lord, which had been pressed upon the Thessalonians, had already borne evil fruit. It is ever the way that evil communications corrupt good manners. Some amongst them had become fanatical in their minds, under the impression that the day of Christ was upon them, and had thrown up their ordinary employment. Having done this they began to expect support from others.

They became disorderly busybodies, doing nothing themselves and preying upon others who quietly went on with their work.

As to this the Apostle was able to hold himself up as an example. He had laboured night and day for his own support, though he might justly have been chargeable to them. God had ordained that "they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel" (1 Cor. 9: 14). Yet he had not claimed this right. As to all others the divine rule is, "that if any would not work, neither should he eat."

In verse 12 we have Paul's word to these busybodies. He commands them to work for their own living. Then in verse 13 he turns to the rest of the assembly at Thessalonica and tells them not to be weary in well-doing, We can well imagine how tired they must have got of these disorderly brethren who were continually trespassing on their kindness. If now they were to be relieved of this burden let them not cease their benevolence but still be hearty and cheerful givers in the interests of the Lord.

Verses 14 and 15 give instructions in case any of the disorderly brethren were contumacious and refused obedience to God's word through the Apostle's letter. Such were to be disciplined. The displeasure of God was to be manifested in His people withdrawing their companionship. The offender would thereby be made to feel the unenviable notoriety of his isolation. His links with the world without were broken and now there would be no happy companionship within the Christian circle. This would be a well-nigh impossible position and calculated to bring him to his senses. He was not however to be put right outside the Christian circle as though he were an enemy, which was the dealing that had to be taken with the offender of whom we read in 1 Corinthians 5.

All this should be done that peace might reign in their midst. Only the Lord Himself however could really give this. Paul desired that it might be theirs at all times and in every way.

As the Thessalonians had been troubled with an epistle falsely represented as coming from Paul, he was very careful that there should be no doubt about the authenticity of this epistle which really did come from him. This explains verse 17.