Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 3

Lipscomb's Commentary on Selected New Testament BooksLipscomb's Commentary on Selected NT Books

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

2 Thessalonians 3:1

Finally, brethren, pray for us,—Paul here shows his faith in the efficacy of true and earnest prayers of the Christians. [It was a strength to know that he was remembered by those who loved him in the presence of God. It was no selfish interest that he had in view when he asks a place in their prayers; it was in the interest of the truth with which he was identified. How much a Christian teacher’s power, increasing as time goes on, comes from the accumulation of intercession from his spiritual children! Paul left Christians praying for him everywhere. (Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18-19; Colossians 4:3.) In all these cases the request is for active help in his work of evangelizing.]

that the word of the Lord may run—This evidently ex­presses the desire that they pray that the gospel might not meet with obstruction, but that it might be spread abroad with great rapidity. The gospel would spread rapidly in the world if all the obstructions that men have erected were removed; and he exhorts them to pray for their removal.

and be glorified,—He was anxious that the gospel should not go halting and picking its steps, but like "a strong man to run his course,” overlapping all barriers and prejudice and hatred, may meet with no check in its onward course, but spread ever further and wider, from city to city, from country to country, till “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9.)

even as also it is with you;—The word was glorified among them by their receiving it as the word of God and trusting it. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-7.) It was glorified by the manifest influence it had on their conduct and by their work of faith and patience of hope.

Verse 2

2 Thessalonians 3:2

and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men;—This clause is an amplification of the words “may run and be glorified.” The impediments to the gospel prog­ress wereexcept when they were overruled for goodsuch persecutions as these. [When Paul expressly requests the Ephesians (6:19, 20) and the Colossians (4:13) to pray that he may have boldness, and when God, on the very occasion of which Paul is now speaking, sees it needful to address him in the words, “Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee,” we need not scruple to ascribe to him so much apprehension of danger as would prompt him to ask the Thessalonians to pray for his deliverance. The actual circumstances in which Paul was, and what the dangers were, may be learned from Acts 18:9-17, this Epistle having probably been written during the latter part of Paul’s resi­dence in Corinth. It was perhaps in direct answer to the prayers for which Paul here asked that he received the vision of assurance of our Lord, and Gallio was moved to quash so abruptly the proceedings of the Jews.]

for all have not faith.—In this the apostle refers to the Jews who boasted of their faith in the true God, who assumed to themselves the appellation of lovers of wisdom and truth. [But perhaps the Jews were not the most serious enemies of faith. It is not a want of susceptibility of faith in the most desperate class of sinners of which Paul speaks, but of the actual destitution of faith in some to whom the gospel came. And the fact is stated in general terms as something that holds good, as with the force and regularity of a law wherever the gospel is preached. Perhaps these are the most serious ene­mies of faith. With many their hostility, often bitter in its tone and manifestly anxious to wound, creates a feeling of sorrow and shame rather than of alarm or doubt. They may do less harm than those who, without denying Christ, render him no true service. For these create an atmosphere of in­difference to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his service. Un­reasonable and wicked men may often escape public notice, while the influence of their characters and lives is wholly hos­tile to faith. We need, then, to watch, not only against the open and confessed adversary, but also against the unsuspected and secret source of danger.]

Verse 3

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful,—While we cannot trust men, God is faithful to his promises and purposes. We can always trust in him; and when men are unbelieving and perverse and disposed to do wrong, we can always go to him and always find in him one in whom we may confide. [We often come to know, to our deep sorrow and disappointment, that “all have not faith.” We see how they turn away from the truth. Many who once gave promise of faith and zeal in the cause of Christ abandon it. At such times how consoling it is to be able to turn to the Lord who is faithful, and who never fails his devoted followers.]

who shall establish you,—He will make you firm and stead­fast.

and guard you from the evil one.—He will keep you from all the evil these unbelieving men wish to bring upon you. [Their safety is insured by the Lord’s fidelity, but it requires their own obedience.]

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 3:4

And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command.—He had confidence that the Lord would so lead them that they both then did and would continue to do what he commanded them to do.

Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,—The Lord directs the hearts of those who trust and pray the Lord to direct their hearts. He prays also that their hearts may be willing to receive and act upon the directions the Lord gives. These Christians already cherished the love of God in their hearts more and more into the reception of that love which moves God. Paul’s desire was that they should have the same love that God had, and unto the patient waiting under the evil threatened, that marked the course of Christ.

and into the patience of Christ.—Christ was patient under all trials and persecutions. Paul desired that Christians might love as God loved man and be patient under all persecutions as Christ was in his.

Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 3:6

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,—To do a thing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is to do it for him and as he directs. Do it by his authority; do it as his servant, for his honor and glory.

that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walk­eth disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us.—To walk disorderly was to violate any of the teachings they had heard from the apostle. He had given the true teachings of God, and any other walk was disorderly. From these disorderly persons he commands all Christians to with­draw themselves. (Verse 14.) The withdrawing from them meant more than a public announcement of the elders—that “ye withdraw” from them.

Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 3:7

For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;—Paul endured all the trials and sufferings, but never sought deliverance from any of them. Probably the most intense suffering that he endured was the anxiety and care for the churches; the sympa­thy he had for the weak, the anxiety for maintaining the truth, and the deep anguish and sorrow he felt over the Christians turning from the truth. I can claim this much in common with Paul, the most oppressive care that comes upon me, the deepest suffering I endure, far above all physical pain, is the anxiety I have to see the children of God stand firm to his truth, the oppressive sorrow that comes to my soul, when I see those who know the truth lightly turn from it and from God to the weak and beggarly institutions and provisions of men. These things certainly being true, the apostles and their associates are examples to all others for all time and all coun­tries as to how the truth of God is to be spread abroad.

Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 3:8

neither did we eat bread for nought at any man’s hand,When an evil prevailed, Paul was ready to show his condem­nation of it by both precept and example. Because of their sin in this direction he was more careful to set them an example of industry that he might not be dependent upon them. That prevented his being an example to others in his labor in spreading the gospel.

but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you:—This he did lest his influence should be weakened and the gospel hindered. Of his course at Corinth he said: “When I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.’’ (2 Corinthians 11:9.) He certainly intended this to be an example to the preachers as well as to others, and shows that he did not regard his inspiration as placing him on a plane that prevented his being an example to others in his labor of spreading the gospel.

I do not believe he intended this as an example to others, that they were not allowed to accept help in their preaching, for he here asserts his right to receive help and in other pas­sages reproves Christians for not aiding him, and approves them for helping him as a means of securing their own salva­tion so as to place it beyond doubt that a teacher may receive help and that it is a duty, the neglect of which imperils their salvation, laid on Christians to help him who teaches the word.

Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 3:9

not because we have not the right,—[Paul had the right of maintenance from the churches among whom he labored, but for the sake of those who became obedient to give them an example of diligent working, and to remove every impedi­ment to the progress of the gospel, he often waived his rights. This he did at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:9); at Corinth (Acts 18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:9); and at Ephesus (Acts 20:34); in all these places he labored for his maintenance as a tent-maker.]

but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us.—He says this to encourage them to cultivate a habit of industry and self-reliance, that he might cast out the disposition of idleness and begging, which are wholly incom­patible with the spirit of Christ.

Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 3:10

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat.—There was and is no obligation resting on a Christian or a church to help or feed an idle, lazy sponge who is able to work. This is true of both men and women. The obligation is imperative to help the helpless. Christ is personified in these. In so doing we help Christ. But Christ never was personified in an individual, man or woman, able but unwilling to work for a living. Christ has no sympathy for such people, every true Christian, like Paul, is unwilling to be a tax, to be a burden upon others when it is possible to help self. Cases present themselves frequently that are difficult to determine what to do. An able­-bodied, lazy father and husband leaves a worthy and strug­gling wife and children to suffer. It is impossible to help them without helping him in his laziness. One course seems right in this case to relieve the personal and present needs of the wife and children as far as possible, show a sympathy for them, and withhold from him, while dealing candidly and firmly with him. It will work a cure if anything will.

[Paul saw that the gospel was to be propagated chiefly by its splendid effects on the lives of all classes of society, and he realized that almost the first duty of the church was to be respected, and so he not only exhorts the individual members to independence, but he lays down the principle that no eco­nomic parasite is to be tolerated in the church. This forms an important complement to the teachings of Jesus.]

Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 3:11

For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly,—[This explains how he came to speak upon the topic. Hitherto he has only been giving directions without assigning any reason for so doing. It was not simply that he heard that there were such persons at Thessalonica; he knew about them, who they were and how they were deporting themselves. Further word had reached him since the first Epistle was written. (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.) Now he singles out the offenders and severely censures them.]

that work not at all, but are busybodies.—Busybodies are busy only with what is not their own business. This is, as a matter of fact, the moral danger of idleness in those who are not otherwise vicious. “And withal they learn also to be idle, going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1 Timothy 5:13.) [Where men are naturally bad, it multi­plies temptations and opportunities for sin; Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do. But even where it is the good who are concerned, as in the passage before us, idleness has its perils. The busybody is a real character, who, having no steady work to do, which must be done whether liked or dis­liked, and is therefore lonesome, is very apt to meddle with other people’s affairs; and meddle, too, without thinking it is meddling. One who is not disciplined and made wise by reg­ular work has no idea of its moral worth and opportunities nor has he, as a rule, any idea of the moral worthlessness and vanity of such an existence as his own.]

Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 3:12

Now them that are such we command—He directs this command, though indirectly and in the third person, to those very persons; it was to be expected that all would be present at the reading of this Epistle (1 Thessalonians 5:27), and that all would be listening to it. The term command is a severe word and is used four times in this chapter. (Verses 4, 6, 10.)

and exhort—This word would break the seeming sternness, and introduces the grounds on which the appeal was made.

in the Lord Jesus Christ,—When Paul was in Thessalonica he taught them what their daily life should be in order to please God; and he exhorted them, as those who abode to­gether in living fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that now they should more and more strive to excel therein. (1 Thessalonians 4:1.)

that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.—Paul had already bidden these mischief-makers to quietly do their own work and eat their own bread (1 Thessalonians 4:11), and not that of their honest and laborious brethren. Honesty, in­dustry, attention to one’s own business, freedom from tattling, and mischief-making are cardinal and essential virtues in the religion of Jesus Christ. To follow these adds so much to the happiness of a community.

Verse 13

2 Thessalonians 3:13

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.—While Paul commands all who are able to eat their own bread, be quiet, and not meddle, he cautions them not to cease to render assistance to the needy, to do good to all, as the opportunity affords. This is in perfect harmony with the foregoing in­structions. Nothing discourages giving to the needy like having the lazy and meddlesome seeking support.

Verse 14

2 Thessalonians 3:14

And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle,—Paul makes obedience to the things he teaches in this Epistle a test of discipleship. He did the same in the first Epistle. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7.) He did this because he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to obey that which was thus taught is to obey God.

note that man,—The first step was to discriminate between those who obeyed and those who did not. The second was to note him as disobedient.

that ye have no company with him,—Refuse him that social companionship that would encourage him in the wrong way. While refusing to regard him as walking as an orderly Chris­tian should, they were yet to admonish him as a brother to return to an orderly walk in the Lord.

to the end that he may be ashamed.—While they were re­quired to keep no company with them, they were not to count him as an enemy, but to entreat and admonish him as a brother. The apostle says: “I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat.” (1 Corinthians 5:11.) Discipline consists in admonishing, warning, and persuading; in separating them for a time from the fellowship of the church, yet continuing to admonish as a brother before the final exclusion comes. Cutting one off is not discipline; it is the end and failure of discipline. The steps taken to save one is the discipline.

Verse 15

2 Thessalonians 3:15

And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.—[Though deprived of church privileges, and shut out from fellowship with the members of the church, he was not to be counted hopeless. This discipline was to be ex­pected to terminate in his repentance and restoration. And for this end, he was to be admonished as a brother.]

Verse 16

2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.—The Lord of peace signifies not only that he can bestow peace, but also and primarily that it is his own tribute. He has peace because he sees the end from the beginning, and is unassailable in his righteousness and sov­ereignty. He gives his own peace by enabling men to rely upon him, to accept his will—that will which shall certainly be accomplishedand by lifting them up above anxiety into his own security.

The Lord be with you all.—[The prayer is based upon the promises of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20), and accords with his name—“and they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us” (Matthew 1:23), and indeed, just a short while before this Epistle was written Paul had heard the Lord say unto him: “I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee” (Acts 18:10). Thus with the comfort wherewith he himself had been comforted, Paul sought to comfort others. (2 Corinthians 1:4.)]

Verse 17

2 Thessalonians 3:17

The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand,—Paul's letters were usually written by an amanuensis. These last few verses, that he calls the salutation, or expression of his personal feelings in and for them, were written by his own hand.

which is the token in every epistle: so I write.—This is given in every letter as the token of his love for them.

Verse 18

2 Thessalonians 3:18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.—In the Epistle to the Colossians it was: “Grace be with you." In that to the Galatians it was: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren." But it was a solemn invocation of grace which Paul always wrote with his own hand. With this invocation of grace he begins and with this he ends. For the one thing which he held was that all men needed to make them holy and happy here and hereafter is grace.

Bibliographical Information
Lipscomb, David. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". "Lipscomb's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dlc/2-thessalonians-3.html.
Ads FreeProfile