As in the first epistle, so the apostle again asks for their prayers: first for the positive blessing of the Word of God which thy proclaimed that it might have free course to go forward and be glorified, and secondly on the negative side, that they might be delivered from the oppression of unreasonable and wicked men, for all men had not faith, as indeed his previous reference to "the son of perdition" had fully shown. But it is precious to think of the apostle's so valuing the prayers of these young saints: he well knew that God delights to work by such means.
(V. 3) These saints, too, knew that all men had not faith, for they had themselves suffered persecution, and the cruel efforts of Satan in this way were intended to drive the saints back into evil. But the apostle shows them that they may depend fully upon the Lord. He was faithful; He would use the persecution to establish them; He would keep them from evil. A real work of God would not be abortive, and Paul was confident of its reality in the Thessalonians. His confidence was in the Lord concerning them that they would be diligent in following the commandments left them by the Lord's servants, not forgetting them since they were no longer present.
But though verse 5 had already been true of them in good measure, yet how needful that its truth should again and again be pressed upon them, and us: "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." It is divine workmanship that does this, for our hearts naturally tend to be directed in any other way and must be recalled and directed rightly. His love is the proper home of our souls in which we should find purest satisfaction, comfort and encouragement. And the calm, settled endurance that truly waits for Christ is a precious accompaniment of this.
(V. 6) In the first epistle (ch. 5:14) there is a serious exhortation to "warn the disorderly." Not to do so would be to ignore a manifest responsibility to show godly care for his soul and for the welfare of the assembly. But this chapter is far more strong in its language: "we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." When men have been warned as to their disorderly course and yet persist in it, then much more serious measures of discipline must be used. This would be more painful to have to put into practice, but it is true kindness - the brother who walked disorderly must be withdrawn from. He was not put out of fellowship, but the saints were to have no personal fellowship with him, to maintain a reserve that would be decidedly felt by the offender. There is no thought in this of mere personal impatience or anger, but rather of desire for the true recovery and blessing of the guilty party. The object of all discipline is to be restoration. Consequently it must be wisely exercised, with care not to exceed in punishment, but nevertheless with the firmness of true love.
(V. 7) The Lord's servants had left them a most important example as to orderly conduct and in this the saints were to follow them. They did not depend upon others for their support but worked night and day with labor and travail. What an example indeed! Besides their diligence in preaching the Word of God, which would take no little time, they worked also with their hands for their temporal support. If this were true of the Lord's servants, who were at Thessalonica for so brief a time, how shameful for others who resided there permanently to be guilty of sponging from others for their support! It would have been a perfectly right thing for Paul and his fellow-workers to be supported by the means of those to whom they ministered the Word, but they did not use this in order that they might be a more effective and striking example.
Moreover they had commanded the disciples that if any would not work neither should he eat. This should have been plain enough for all of them, whether for the disorderly or for those who might be inclined to be lenient in giving them food or support of any kind.
(V. 11) It is possible that some had so wrong a viewpoint in reference to the nearness of the Lord's coming that they considered it not necessary to work at all. But this reasoning is sinful. Though I am not to be doubtful or worried as to the future, yet I am to labor, working with the hands that which is good in order to have to give to others who may be in need. Work is not simply to be a means of amassing provision for the future on earth but of providing things honestly in the sight of all men, at present. What utter disgrace for a Christian to decide that since Christ is coming soon, therefore he need not work at all, but take his support from others who do work! Nor will it end there. They also become "busybodies," for since paying no attention to their own business, they shamefully interfere in the business of others. The apostle both commands and exhorts such "that with quietness they work and eat their own bread." For one to despise this was to despise the commandment of God.
(V. 13) Though we feel "well-doing" to be a boring, unrewarding occupation, yet we must not become weary in it. If we should take to heart the exhortation of Colossians 3:23, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men," this certainly would lift every responsibility far above the thought of drudgery. But all the saints are seriously admonished not to have company with any brother who persisted in being disorderly. This was with the object of making him ashamed of his indolence in order to work for his restoration. Not that they were to be haughty or cruel to him, but faithful in both their actions and words, never forgetting that he is their brother. If this were fully and graciously carÂried out by all the saints it would work almost invariably for restoration, unless, of course, the offender were not actually born again, in which case this would likely be exposed.
(V. 16) The designation "the Lord of peace Himself" would be peculiarly comforting to those who had been so troubled both by persecution and by false reports. How good to have the heart directed to Him who had said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). But the desire of the apostle is that the Lord may give them this peace "always" and "by all means." Not that the Lord willingly withholds it, but our state of soul may be such as not to enjoy it, and the answer to this is the drawing of our hearts and eyes to Himself. "By all means," too, would infer that every circumstance He allows may be the means used of God to make this peace a constant reality to the heart. "The Lord be with you all" implies the desire that they should be obedient to Him, for His presence cannot be expected where there is disobedience.
The apostle signs the epistle with his own hand, his unvarying practice, though he employed an amanuensis to do the writing. This would protect them from accepting spurious letters claiming to be from him. The first epistle had closed with the words "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you," but the second adds the words "all," as though to include even those believers who were walking disorderly, for his desire for their blessing too has not changed. The precious pastoral character of these epistles is maintained to the end.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany