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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 3

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Finally (το λοιπον). Accusative of general reference. Cf. λοιπον 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

Pray (προσευχεσθε). Present middle, keep on praying. Note περ as in 1 Thessalonians 5:25.

That the word of the Lord may run and be glorified (ινα ο λογος του κυριου τρεχη κα δοξαζητα). Usual construction of ινα after προσευχομα, sub-final use, content and purpose combined. Note present subjunctive with both verbs rather than aorist, may keep on running and being glorified, two verbs joined together nowhere else in the N.T. Paul probably derived this metaphor from the stadium as in 1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 2:2; Romans 9:16; Philippians 2:16; 2 Timothy 4:7. Lightfoot translates "may have a triumphant career." On the word of the Lord see on 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Paul recognizes the close relation between himself and the readers. He needs their prayers and sympathy and he rejoices in their reception of the word of the Lord already,

even as also it is with you (καθως κα προς υμας). "As it does in your case" (Frame).

Verse 2

And that we may be delivered (κα ινα ρυσθωμεν). A second and more personal petition (Milligan). First aorist passive subjunctive of ρυομα, old verb to rescue. Note change in tense from present to aorist (effective aorist).

From unreasonable and evil men (απο των ατοπων κα πονηρων ανθρωπων). Ablative case with απο. Originally in the old Greek ατοπος (α privative and τοπος) is out of place, odd, unbecoming, perverse, outrageous, both of things and persons. Πονηρος is from πονεω, to work (πονος), looking on labour as an annoyance, bad, evil. Paul had a plague of such men in Corinth as he had in Thessalonica.

For all have not faith (ου γαρ παντων η πιστις). Copula εστιν not expressed. Παντων is predicate possessive genitive, faith (article with abstract substantive) does not belong to all. Hence their evil conduct.

Verse 3

But the Lord is faithful (πιστος δε εστιν ο κυριος).

But faithful is the Lord (correct rendition), with a play (paronomasia) on πιστις by πιστος as in Romans 3:3 we have a word-play on απιστεω and απιστια. The Lord can be counted on, however perverse men may be.

From the evil one (απο του πονηρου). Apparently a reminiscence of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13 ρυσα ημας απο του πονηρου. But here as there it is not certain whether του πονηρου is neuter (evil) like to πονηρον in Romans 12:9 or masculine (the evil one). But we have ο πονηρος (the evil one) in 1 John 5:18 and του πονηρου is clearly masculine in Ephesians 6:16. If masculine here, as is probable, is it "the Evil One" (Ellicott) or merely the evil man like those mentioned in verse 2 Thessalonians 3:2? Perhaps Paul has in mind the representative of Satan, the man of sin, pictured in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, by the phrase here without trying to be too definite.

Verse 4

And we have confidence (πεποιθομεν). Second perfect indicative of πειθω, to persuade, intransitive in this tense, we are in a state of trust.

In the Lord touching you (εν κυριω εφ' υμας). Note the two prepositions, εν in the sphere of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:1) as the ground of Paul's confident trust, εφ' (επ) with the accusative (towards you) where the dative could have been used (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:3).

Ye both do and will do ([και] ποιειτε κα ποιησετε). Compliment and also appeal, present and future tenses of ποιεω.

The things which we command (α παραγγελλομεν). Note of apostolic authority here, not advice or urging, but command.

Verse 5

Direct (κατευθυνα). First aorist active optative of wish for the future as in 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 from κατευθυνω, old verb, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:11 (there

way , here

hearts ) and Luke 1:79 of

feet (ποδας). Perfective use of κατα. Bold figure for making smooth and direct road. The Lord here is the Lord Jesus.

Into the love of God (εις την αγαπην του θεου). Either subjective or objective genitive makes sense and Lightfoot pleads for both, "not only as an objective attribute of deity, but as a ruling principle in our hearts," holding that it is "seldom possible to separate the one from the other." Most scholars take it here as subjective, the characteristic of God.

Into the patience of Christ (εις την υπομνην του Χριστου). There is the same ambiguity here, though the subjective idea, the patience shown by Christ, is the one usually accepted rather than "the patient waiting for Christ" (objective genitive).

Verse 6

Now we command you (παραγγελλομεν δε υμιν). Paul puts into practice the confidence expressed on their obedience to his commands in verse 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (εν ονοματ του κυριου Ιησου Χριστου).

Name (ονομα) here for authority of Jesus Christ with which compare

through the Lord Jesus (δια του κυριου Ιησου) in 1 Thessalonians 4:2. For a full discussion of the phrase see the monograph of W. Heitmuller, Im Namen Jesu. Paul wishes his readers to realize the responsibility on them for their obedience to his command.

That ye withdraw yourselves (στελλεσθα υμας). Present middle (direct) infinitive of στελλω, old verb to place, arrange, make compact or shorten as sails, to move oneself from or to withdraw oneself from (with απο and the ablative). In 2 Corinthians 8:20 the middle voice (στελλομενο) means taking care.

From every brother that walketh disorderly (απο παντος αδελφου ατακτως περιπατουντος). He calls him "brother" still. The adverb ατακτως is common in Plato and is here and verse 2 Thessalonians 3:11 alone in the N.T., though the adjective ατακτος, equally common in Plato we had in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 which see. Military term, out of ranks.

And not after the tradition (κα μη κατα την παραδοσιν). See on 2 Thessalonians 2:15 for παραδοσιν.

Which they received of us (ην παρελαβοσαν παρ ημων). Westcott and Hort put this form of the verb (second aorist indicative third person plural of παραλαμβανω, the -οσαν form instead of -ον, with slight support from the papyri, but in the LXX and the Boeotian dialect, Robertson, Grammar, pp. 335f.) in the margin with παρελαβετε (ye received) in the text. There are five different readings of the verb here, the others being παρελαβον, παρελαβε, ελαβοσαν.

Verse 7

How ye ought to imitate us (πως δε μιμεισθα ημας). Literally, how it is necessary to imitate us. The infinitive μιμεισθα is the old verb μιμεομα from μιμος (actor, mimic), but in N.T. only here (and verse 2 Thessalonians 3:9), Hebrews 13:7; 3 John 1:11. It is a daring thing to say, but Paul knew that he had to set the new Christians in the midst of Jews and Gentiles a model for their imitation (Philippians 3:17).

For we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you (οτ ουκ ητακτησαμεν εν υμιν). First aorist active indicative of old verb ατακτεω, to be out of ranks of soldiers. Specific denial on Paul's part in contrast to verse 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Verse 8

For nought (δωρεαν). Adverbial accusative, as a gift, gift-wise (δωρεα, gift, from διδωμ). Same claim made to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:7), old word, in LXX, and papyri. He lodged with Jason, but did not receive his meals gratis, for he paid for them. Apparently he received no invitations to meals. Paul had to make his financial independence clear to avoid false charges which were made in spite of all his efforts. To eat bread is merely a Hebraism for eat (verse 2 Thessalonians 3:10). See 1 Thessalonians 2:9 for labour and travail, and night and day (νυκτος κα ημερας, genitive of time, by night and by day). See 1 Thessalonians 2:9 for rest of the verse in precisely the same words.

Verse 9

Not because we have not the right (ουχ οτ ουκ εχομεν εξουσιαν). Paul is sensitive on his

right to receive adequate support (1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:1 where he uses the same word εξουσιαν in the long defence of this

right , 1 Corinthians 9:1-27). So he here puts in this limitation to avoid misapprehension. He did allow churches to help him where he would not be misunderstood (2 Corinthians 11:7-11; Philippians 4:45). Paul uses ουχ οτ elsewhere to avoid misunderstanding (2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 4:17).

But to make ourselves an ensample unto you (αλλ' ινα εαυτους τυπον δωμεν υμιν). Literally,

but that we might give ourselves a type to you . Purpose with ινα and second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμ. On τυπον see on 1 Thessalonians 1:7.

Verse 10

This (τουτο). What he proceeds to give.

If any will not work, neither let him eat (οτ ε τις ου θελε εργαζεσθα μηδε εσθιετω). Recitative οτ here not to be translated, like our modern quotation marks. Apparently a Jewish proverb based on Genesis 3:19. Wetstein quotes several parallels. Moffatt gives this from Carlyle's Chartism: "He that will not work according to his faculty, let him perish according to his necessity." Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 314) sees Paul borrowing a piece of workshop morality. It was needed, as is plain. This is a condition of the first class (note negative ου) with the negative imperative in the conclusion.

Verse 11

For we hear (ακουομεν γαρ). Fresh news from Thessalonica evidently. For the present tense compare 1 Corinthians 11:18. The accusative and the participle is a regular idiom for indirect discourse with this verb (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1040-2). Three picturesque present participles, the first a general description, περιπατουντας ατακτως, the other two specifying with a vivid word-play,

that work not at all, but are busy-bodies (μηδεν εργαζομενους αλλα περιεργαζομενους). Literally,

doing nothing but doing around . Ellicott suggests,

doing no business but being busy bodies . "The first persecution at Thessalonica had been fostered by a number of fanatical loungers (Acts 17:5)" (Moffatt). These theological dead-beats were too pious to work, but perfectly willing to eat at the hands of their neighbours while they piddled and frittered away the time in idleness.

Verse 12

We command and exhort (παραγγελλομεν κα παρακαλουμεν). Paul asserts his authority as an apostle and pleads as a man and minister.

That with quietness they work, and eat their own bread (ινα μετα ησυχιας εργαζομενο τον εαυτων αρτον εσθιωσιν). Substance of the command and exhortation by ινα and the present subjunctive εσθιωσιν. Literally,

that working with quietness they keep on eating their own bread . The precise opposite of their conduct in verse 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Verse 13

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing (υμεις δε, αδελφοι, μη ενκακησητε καλοποιουντες). Emphatic position of υμεις in contrast to these piddlers. Μη and the aorist subjunctive is a prohibition against beginning an act (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 851-4). It is a late verb and means to behave badly in, to be cowardly, to lose courage, to flag, to faint, (εν, κακος) and outside of Luke 18:1 in the N.T. is only in Paul's Epistles (2 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13). It occurs in Polybius. The late verb καλοποιεω, to do the fair (καλος) or honourable thing occurs nowhere else in the N.T., but is in the LXX and a late papyrus. Paul uses το καλον ποιειν in 2 Corinthians 13:7; Galatians 6:9; Romans 7:21 with the same idea. He has αγαθοποιεω, to do good, in 1 Timothy 6:18.

Verse 14

And if any one obeyeth not our word by this epistle (ε δε τις ουχ υπακουε τω λογω ημων δια της επιστολης). Paul sums up the issue bluntly with this ultimatum. Condition of the first class, with negative ου, assuming it to be true.

Note that man (τουτον σημειουσθε). Late verb σημειοω, from σημειον, sign, mark, token. Put a tag on that man. Here only in N.T. "The verb is regularly used for the signature to a receipt or formal notice in the papyri and the ostraca of the Imperial period" (Moulton Milligan's Vocabulary). How this is to be done (by letter or in public meeting) Paul does not say.

That ye have no company with him (μη συναναμιγνυσθα αυτω). The MSS. are divided between the present middle infinitive as above in a command like Romans 12:15 Philippians 3:16 or the present middle imperative συναναμιγνυσθε ( and often being pronounced alike in the Koine). The infinitive can also be explained as an indirect command. This double compound verb is late, in LXX and Plutarch, in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:11. Αυτω is in associative instrumental case.

To the end that he may be ashamed (ινα εντραπη). Purpose clause with ινα. Second aorist passive subjunctive of εντρεπω, to turn on, middle to turn on oneself or to put to shame, passive to be made ashamed. The idea is to have one's thoughts turned in on oneself.

Verse 15

Not as an enemy (μη ως εχθρον). This is always the problem in such ostracism as discipline, however necessary it is at times. Few things in our churches are more difficult of wise execution than the discipline of erring members. The word εχθρος is an adjective, hateful, from εχθος, hate. It can be passive,

hated , as in Romans 11:28, but is usually active

hostile , enemy, foe.

Verse 16

The Lord of peace himself (αυτος ο κυριος της ειρηνης). See 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for

the God of peace himself .

Give you peace (δοιη υμιν την ειρηνην). Second aorist active optative (Koine) of διδωμ, not δωη (subjunctive). So also Romans 15:5; 2 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:18. The Lord Jesus whose characteristic is peace, can alone give real peace to the heart and to the world. (John 14:27).

Verse 17

Of me Paul with mine own hand (τη εμη χειρ Παυλου). Instrumental case χειρ. Note genitive Παυλου in apposition with possessive idea in the possessive pronoun εμη. Paul had dictated the letter, but now wrote the salutation in his hand.

The token in every epistle (σημειον εν παση επιστολη). Mark (verse 2 Thessalonians 3:14) and proof of the genuineness of each epistle, Paul's signature. Already there were spurious forgeries (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Thus each church was enabled to know that Paul wrote the letter. If only the autograph copy could be found!

Verse 18

Salutation just like that in 1 Thessalonians 5:28 with the addition of παντων (all).

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/2-thessalonians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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