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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 3

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-5

Exhortations to Pray: Readiness of Spirit Paul then asks for their prayers that God would establish his ministry and deliver him from wicked men (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2), and in turn, the Lord would do the same for them (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Paul expresses his confidence in their willingness to be sanctified as they obey his charges (2 Thessalonians 3:4) and he prays for them to walk in love in their hearts while being mindful of Christ’s Return (2 Thessalonians 3:5). This passage emphasizes a readiness of heart for Christ’s Second Coming.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Comments - Paul’s Prayer for the Gospel to be Proclaimed Freely - Paul’s prayer in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 was for the Word of God to be preached freely and to be received and glorified in the hearts of his hearers. Now, Paul knew that not every single hearer would receive his message. Years of evangelism had taught him that many would receive if they could only hear. The Jews in Thessalonica, who also followed him to Berea, and the merchants in Philippi had of recent troubled Paul’s efforts in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for when they came against him, Paul had no legal recourse. He was able to stand in his Roman citizenship to protect himself, but the Gospel had no legal protection. Ultimately, this legal battle would be fought in a courtroom at Caesarea Philippi and a legal appeal would take him before the Emperor Caesar. At this time in history, the Roman Empire recognized Judaism as a legal religion that could be practiced freely in every town, while Christianity was little known, and when it was, it was perceived as an extreme sect of Judaism, or a new religion. It would take three hundred years before the Roman Empire would officially bow to the Christian faith and Constantine would declare it as the official religion.

Verses 1-15

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Preparing the Church for the Second Coming (Their Sanctification) - After Jesus Christ finished His eschatological discourse to the disciples He instructed them to watch and to pray (Luke 21:36).

Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

This is what Paul does in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 to 2 Thessalonians 3:15, which emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in preparing the Church for Christ’s Second Coming, and its opening verse refers to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.

Outline - Note the following outline:

1. Exhortations to Watch (Readiness of Mind) 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

2. Exhortations to Pray (Readiness of Spirit) 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

3. Exhortations to Work (Readiness of Body) 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Verses 6-15

Exhortations to Work: Readiness of Body Paul then deals with the issue of idleness among some of the brethren in the church. As in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul does not immediately present their errors to them, but rather, prepares them to receive his correction by first giving them a positive note of encouragement and clarification of doctrine. This passage emphasizes a readiness of body for Christ’s Second Coming.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 he charges the believers to remove themselves from every brother who is walking disorderly and idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Paul then gives himself as an example of proper work ethics (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10). He then informs them of the negative report that he has heard concerning idleness among some members of their congregation (2 Thessalonians 3:11). He charges them to work quietly with their hands and not be weary in well doing (2 Thessalonians 3:12-13). He then repeats his charge a second time for to remove themselves from such idle people (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

Idleness in the Church - Note how a passage on idleness follows a message of Jesus’ return here in this epistle. Many people have predicted the Lord’s return and they have become idle. For example, I met two ladies in 1983, Gene Shepherd and Francis Scott, who would spend half a day sitting at a restaurant prophesying and not be at home keeping house. They had become idle. They eventually began to prophesy and tell others that Jesus was coming on a certain day.

Paul Uses Himself as an Example - When Paul, the apostle, began a new work, he did not live off of the new believers' offerings, but worked and supported himself and them in order to be an example to the new believers. Later, in established churches, at Corinth (2 Corinthians 8-9) and Philippi (Philippians 4:0), Paul began to receive gifts from them and thus, he taught them how to give and receive. Thus, he is able to use himself as an example in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10 of how to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming.

In this passage of Scripture Paul explains how he laboured among them, not eating anyone’s bread for free. He did this in order to demonstrate good work ethics. We know that he did receive love gifts from the believers in Philippians while in Thessalonica.

Philippians 4:15-16, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”

Paul expressed the same motive for working with his hands to the Ephesians, which was to be an example to them of good work ethics.

Acts 20:34-35, “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Goodspeed, citing Justin Martyr, makes an important note that the Jewish rabbis taught without pay, while the Greek lecturer expected a fee from his class. [40]

[40] Justin Martyr writes, “I left him and betook myself to another, who was called a Peripatetic, and as he fancied, shrewd. And this man, after having entertained me for the first few days, requested me to settle the fee, in order that our intercourse might not be unprofitable.” ( Dialogue of Justin 2.3) See Edgar J. Goodspeed, An Introduction to the New Testament (Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937), 49.

2 Thessalonians 3:8 Comments - In his book God’s Armor Bearer: Book II, Terry Nance says that the Lord revealed to him the key to seeing the fulfillment of the call of God on his life. It is by intimacy, pregnancy, travail and birth. He explains that spiritual birth on this earth follows the same pattern as natural birth. As we become intimate with God, He plants within us a seed that we nurture and develop into His plan and purpose for our lives. As we labour and travail to follow this plan, we will see the manifestation of His plan for our lives. Paul understood this principle, as he alludes to it in this verse. [41] Paul refers to his labour and travail for the churches in other passages (Galatians 4:19, 1 Thessalonians 2:9).

[41] Terry Nance, God’s Armor Bearer: Book II (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, Inc., c1994), 19-21, 25.

Galatians 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”

1 Thessalonians 2:9, “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”

2 Thessalonians 3:11 Word Study on “walk” Strong says the Greek word περιπατε ́ ω (G4043) literally means, “to tread all around, to walk at large,” and figuratively, “to live, deport oneself, follow.”

2 Thessalonians 3:11 Word Study on “disorderly” - Strong says the Greek word ἀτάκτως (G814) literally means, “irregularly.”

2 Thessalonians 3:11 Word Study on “busybodies” Strong says the Greek word περιεργάζομαι (G4020) means, “to work all around, bustle about, meddle.”

Comments - It means working oneself to try and get out of hard work.

1. Thayer “To bustle about useless, busy oneself with needless matters.”

2. Webster A busybody is “A person who mixes into other people’s affairs.”

2 Thessalonians 3:12 “that with quietness they work” Comments - A man who will set his mind on work will not be as prone to think and gossip about others.

2 Thessalonians 3:12 “that with quietness they work” - Comments A person cannot get much work done with a lot of talking going on.

Illustration - A man on the job site at the M&O Waste Management Company shop worked hard, said very little and was recognized for his hard labour.

Proverbs 14:23, “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.”

2 Thessalonians 3:12 “and eat their own bread” - Comments Eat the fruit of their labour (Ecclesiastes 2:24), and not live off of other people.

Ecclesiastes 2:24, “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”

Verses 16-18

Closing Remarks Paul closes this epistle by speaking God’s blessings of peace upon them (2 Thessalonians 3:16), by confirming the genuineness of this epistle (2 Thessalonians 3:17) and by commending them unto the grace of God (2 Thessalonians 3:18).

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Comments The underlying theme of 1 and 2 Thessalonians is the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification. The manifestation of this process as work in the life of a believer is the peace that he is able to walk in despite such persecutions. It is interesting to note how Paul opened this second epistle with comments on their hardship because of persecution. Despite such hardships, we can live in peace if we will allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and sanctify us.

2 Thessalonians 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

2 Thessalonians 3:17 Comments In 2 Thessalonians 3:17 Paul assures these believers of the authenticity of this epistle by closing it with his own handwriting. He had made a reference in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 to a false epistle, as well as false words and information, which appears to have been delivered in his name. This information had misled this church into believing that Christ’s Return was eminent. Thus, when Paul writes to correct this error, he felt a need to seal this letter with his own signature. Thus, he says, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle.”

2 Thessalonians 2:2, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity (2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters.

Romans 16:22, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 16:21, “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.”

Galatians 6:11, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

Colossians 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.”

2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

Philemon 1:19, “I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

2 Thessalonians 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 3:18 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” - Comments (1) In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host (Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God’s peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God's peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

This practice of speaking blessings upon God’s children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. Now Paul closes his epistle to the Thessalonians by restating the blessing that he opened his epistle with in 2 Thessalonians 1:2.

Comments (2) In 2 Thessalonians 3:18 Paul basically commends them into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, in much the same way that he did in the book of Acts. We find this statement at the end of all of Paul’s epistles.

Acts 14:23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

2 Thessalonians 3:18 Amen ” - Comments In the Textus Receptus the word “Amen” is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul’s epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to the General Epistles of Hebrews , 1 and 2 Peter , 1 and 2 John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because “Amen” is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added “Amen.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/2-thessalonians-3.html. 2013.
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