Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 3

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you [Here, as elsewhere, Paul asks for the prayers of the disciples (1 Thessalonians 5:25; Ephesians 6:19); the request at Col 4:2-3; being very similar. The unselfishness of his request should be noted. He asks nothing for himself, but desires that the truth may prosper in his hands elsewhere, as it was now prospering in Thessalonica. He speaks of the Word as a thing of life (comp. Psalms 19:5; Psalms 147:15; 2 Timothy 2:9); for the Word, being energized of God, approaches a living personality. The Word is glorified when it saves souls (Acts 13:48). Possibly there is here an allusion to the applause of the people when a racer wins his race];

Verse 2

and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith. [i. e., all professed Christians are not really such. A phrase answering to that at Romans 9:6]

Verse 3

But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil one. [Evidently Paul, while at Corinth, met with some of the false brethren of whom he speaks (2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Corinthians 11:26). These refused to be moved by argument or persuasion, and were evil and without faith; that is, faithless, insincere, as the word means at Matthew 23:23; Titus 2:10 . These false brethren no doubt added greatly to Paul’s distress, though he was already suffering, or about to suffer, persecution at the hands of the Jews (Acts 18:12). In asking prayers for deliverance from these, Paul joyfully pauses to contrast this his fellowship with false brethren, with the condition of the Thessalonians who were in the fellowship of that faithful God who would establish them and guard them from the evil one.]

Verse 4

And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command. [The faithfulness of God to supply power and protection gave the apostle confidence that the Thessalonians were living in obedience to his instructions, and would continue to so live.]

Verse 5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ. [From expressions of confidence in God, Paul easily passes to prayer to him, that the Thessalonians may be led to love him, and to exercise in their trials and persecutions the patience which Christ exhibited under unparalleled suffering. To love God, together with the brotherly love which they already possessed (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10), constituted a fulfillment of the law (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:10), and hence led to acceptable obedience.]

Verse 6

Now we command you [because confident, as we have just said, that you will obey], brethren [not the officers, but the whole church], in the name of [by the authority of] our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from [abstain from your habitual fellowship with] every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition [Christian rules of life] which they received of us. [Paul does not specify any particular disorder, but the next verse shows that he had a special reference to parasitical idleness.]

Verse 7

For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

Verse 8

neither did we eat bread for nought [gratis, without compensation] at any man’s hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you [1 Thessalonians 2:9]:

Verse 9

not because we have not the right [to demand support while preaching-- Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:1-18], but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us. [Many of the Thessalonian converts were from the laboring classes. Now, laborers in that day were brought into competition with slave-labor, and hence were disposed to look upon all manual work as degrading. This false view of life was the main influence which produced that vast multitude of parasites that then swarmed in every large city of the empire. To correct this mistaken pride, and to restore labor to its just dignity, Paul had made tents and supported himself by his hands while at Thessalonica. For these and other reasons he had also waived his right to support and had sustained himself while at Corinth (Acts 18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:9) and at Ephesus (Acts 20:34). But notwithstanding his example and instruction, and despite his written rebuke (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12), idleness appears to have increased rather than diminished; so the apostle here devotes some space to it.]

Verse 10

For even when we were with you [and so even before we wrote you our first epistle], this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. [This precept is founded on Genesis 3:19 . It forbids the Christian to exercise that false charity which genders beggary and becomes the parent of manifold crime.]

Verse 11

For we hear [probably by the returning messenger who carried his first epistle] of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busybodies. [A paranomasia, or play on words; "work" and "busybodies" being cognate; so it may be translated, "who have no business, and yet are busy with everybody’s business"--such as lead a lounging, gadding, gossiping, meddlesome life.]

Verse 12

Now them that are such we command and exhort [mixing entreaty with authority] in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own [this word is emphatic] bread.

Verse 13

But ye [who stand in contrast to the disorderly], brethren, be not weary [lose not heart] in well-doing. [A general exhortation as to all well-doing. As applied to the parasites, it might mean that disgust at them should not discourage true charity. The great body of commentators, including the ablest, attribute this idleness to the erroneous notion that the Lord was about to come; but there is no hint of this in the text; and we find the idleness existing when Paul wrote them his first Epistle, though there was then no such exciting expectation. Moreover, such expectations as to the Lord’s coming have often been repeated in history, and have not been found to be very productive of idleness, and certainly not in that "busybody" form which is here rebuked. On the whole, it is best to suppose that the Christian spirit of love opened the hearts of the wealthy to liberal charities, and the parasitical tendency, always strong, took advantage of it.]

Verse 14

And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company [fellowship] with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. [By noting your moral indignation, and seeing his conduct repudiated by the church.]

Verse 15

And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. [They were not to give him the complete estrangement of Matthew 18:17 . The purpose of discipline is to save (1 Corinthians 5:5). It is medicine for curing, not poison for killing; it is not to gratify the hatred of the judge, but to admonish the offender who is judged (Galatians 6:1). Yet the safety of the church sometimes demands complete excommunication.]

Verse 16

Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. [Peace outward and inward, for time and for eternity.] The Lord be with you all.

Verse 17

The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. [I. e., this is my penmanship.]

Verse 18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. [This, like most of Paul’s Epistles, was dictated. Verses 17 and 18 were written by Paul’s own hand, this being a guarantee of the Epistle’s genuineness, just as our signatures are to-day. With some slight variation of form, "grace" closes all Paul’s Epistles, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/2-thessalonians-3.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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