Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Thessalonians 3

Verse 1

Finally (το λοιπονto loipon). Accusative of general reference. Cf. λοιπονloipon 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

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

That the word of the Lord may run and be glorified (ινα ο λογος του κυριου τρεχηι και δοχαζηταιhina ho logos tou kuriou trechēi kai doxazētai). Usual construction of ιναhina after προσευχομαιproseuchomai 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 note 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 (κατως και προς υμαςkathōs kai pros humas). “As it does in your case” (Frame).

Verse 2

And that we may be delivered (και ινα ρυστωμενkai hina rusthōmen). A second and more personal petition (Milligan). First aorist passive subjunctive of ρυομαιruomai old verb to rescue. Note change in tense from present to aorist (effective aorist).

From unreasonable and evil men (απο των ατοπων και πονηρων αντρωπωνapo tōn atopōn kai ponērōn anthrōpōn). Ablative case with αποapo Originally in the old Greek ατοποςatopos (αa privative and τοποςtopos) is out of place, odd, unbecoming, perverse, outrageous, both of things and persons. ΠονηροςPonēros is from πονεωponeō to work (πονοςponos), 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 πιστιςou gar pantōn hē pistis). Copula εστινestin not expressed. ΠαντωνPantōn 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 κυριοςpistos de estin ho kurios).

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

From the evil one (απο του πονηρουapo tou ponērou). Apparently a reminiscence of the Lord‘s Prayer in Matthew 6:13 ρυσαι ημας απο του πονηρουrusai hēmas apo tou ponērou But here as there it is not certain whether του πονηρουtou ponērou is neuter (evil) like to πονηρονponēron in Romans 12:9 or masculine (the evil one). But we have ο πονηροςho ponēros (the evil one) in 1 John 5:18 and του πονηρουtou ponērou 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 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 (πεποιτομενpepoithomen). Second perfect indicative of πειτωpeithō to persuade, intransitive in this tense, we are in a state of trust.

In the Lord touching you (εν κυριωι επ υμαςen kuriōi Ephesians' humas). Note the two prepositions, ενen in the sphere of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:1) as the ground of Paul‘s confident trust, επEphesians' (επιepi) 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 και ποιησετε̣kaǐ poieite kai poiēsete). Compliment and also appeal, present and future tenses of ποιεωpoieō

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

Verse 5

Direct (κατευτυναιkateuthunai). First aorist active optative of wish for the future as in 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 from κατευτυνωkateuthunō old verb, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:11 (there way, here hearts) and Luke 1:79 of feet (ποδαςpodas). Perfective use of καταkata Bold figure for making smooth and direct road. The Lord here is the Lord Jesus.

Into the love of God (εις την αγαπην του τεουeis tēn agapēn tou theou). 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 Χριστουeis tēn hupomnēn tou Christou). 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 υμινparaggellomen de humin). Paul puts into practice the confidence expressed on their obedience to his commands in 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (εν ονοματι του κυριου Ιησου Χριστουen onomati tou kuriou Iēsou Christou).

Name (ονομαonoma) here for authority of Jesus Christ with which compare through the Lord Jesus (δια του κυριου Ιησουdia tou kuriou Iēsou) 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 (στελλεσται υμαςstellesthai humas). Present middle (direct) infinitive of στελλωstellō old verb to place, arrange, make compact or shorten as sails, to move oneself from or to withdraw oneself from (with αποapo and the ablative). In 2 Corinthians 8:20 the middle voice (στελλομενοιstellomenoi) means taking care.

From every brother that walketh disorderly (απο παντος αδελπου ατακτως περιπατουντοςapo pantos adelphou ataktōs peripatountos). He calls him “brother” still. The adverb ατακτωςataktōs is common in Plato and is here and 2 Thessalonians 3:11 alone in the N.T., though the adjective ατακτοςataktos equally common in Plato we had in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 which see. Military term, out of ranks.

And not after the tradition (και μη κατα την παραδοσινkai mē kata tēn paradosin). See note on 1 Thessalonians 2:15 for παραδοσινparadosin

Which they received of us (ην παρελαβοσαν παρ ημωνhēn parelabosan par hēmōn). Westcott and Hort put this form of the verb (second aorist indicative third person plural of παραλαμβανωparalambanō the οσαν̇osan form instead of ον̇on with slight support from the papyri, but in the lxx and the Boeotian dialect, Robertson, Grammar, pp. 335f.) in the margin with παρελαβετεparelabete (ye received) in the text. There are five different readings of the verb here, the others being παρελαβον παρελαβε ελαβοσανparelabonparelabeelabosan f0).

Verse 7

How ye ought to imitate us (πως δει μιμεισται ημαςpōs dei mimeisthai hēmas). Literally, how it is necessary to imitate us. The infinitive μιμεισταιmimeisthai is the old verb μιμεομαιmimeomai from μιμοςmimos (actor, mimic), but in N.T. only here (and 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 (οτι ουκ ητακτησαμεν εν υμινhoti ouk ētaktēsamen en humin). First aorist active indicative of old verb ατακτεωatakteō to be out of ranks of soldiers. Specific denial on Paul‘s part in contrast to 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Verse 8

For nought (δωρεανdōrean). Adverbial accusative, as a gift, gift-wise (δωρεαdōrea gift, from διδωμιdidōmi). 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 (2 Thessalonians 3:10). See note on 1 Thessalonians 2:9 for labour and travail, and night and day (νυκτος και ημεραςnuktos kai hēmeras genitive of time, by night and by day). See note on 1 Thessalonians 2:9 for rest of the verse in precisely the same words.

Verse 9

Not because we have not the right (ουχ οτι ουκ εχομεν εχουσιανouch hoti ouk echomen exousian). Paul is sensitive on his right to receive adequate support (1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 9:4 where he uses the same word εχουσιανexousian 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 4:15.). Paul uses ουχ οτιouch hoti 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 υμινall' hina heautous tupon dōmen humin). Literally, but that we might give ourselves a type to you. Purpose with ιναhina and second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμιdidōmi On τυπονtupon see note on 1 Thessalonians 1:7.

Verse 10

This (τουτοtouto). What he proceeds to give.

If any will not work, neither let him eat (οτι ει τις ου τελει εργαζεσται μηδε εστιετωhoti ei tis ou thelei ergazesthai mēde esthietō). Recitative οτιhoti 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 ουou) with the negative imperative in the conclusion.

Verse 11

For we hear (ακουομεν γαρakouomen gar). 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 ατακτωςperipatountas ataktōs the other two specifying with a vivid word-play, that work not at all, but are busy-bodies (μηδεν εργαζομενους αλλα περιεργαζομενουςmēden ergazomenous alla periergazomenous). 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 και παρακαλουμενparaggellomen kai parakaloumen). 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 εργαζομενοι τον εαυτων αρτον εστιωσινhina meta hēsuchias ergazomenoi ton heautōn arton esthiōsin). Substance of the command and exhortation by ιναhina and the present subjunctive εστιωσινesthiōsin Literally, that working with quietness they keep on eating their own bread. The precise opposite of their conduct in 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Verse 13

But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing (υμεις δε αδελποι μη ενκακησητε καλοποιουντεςhumeis deυμειςadelphoiΜηmē enkakēsēte kalopoiountes). Emphatic position of εν κακοςhumeis in contrast to these piddlers. καλοποιεωMē 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, (καλοςenτο καλον ποιεινkakos) 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 αγατοποιεωkalopoieō to do the fair (kalos) or honourable thing occurs nowhere else in the N.T., but is in the lxx and a late papyrus. Paul uses to kalon poiein in 2 Corinthians 13:7; Galatians 6:9; Romans 7:21 with the same idea. He has agathopoieō to do good, in 1 Timothy 6:18.

Verse 14

And if any one obeyeth not our word by this epistle (ει δε τις ουχ υπακουει τωι λογωι ημων δια της επιστοληςei de tis ouch hupakouei tōi logōi hēmōn dia tēs epistolēs). Paul sums up the issue bluntly with this ultimatum. Condition of the first class, with negative ουou assuming it to be true.

Note that man (τουτον σημειουστεtouton sēmeiousthe). Late verb σημειοωsēmeioō from σημειονsēmeion 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 συναναμιγνυσται αυτωιmē sunanamignusthai autōi). 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 συναναμιγνυστεsunanamignusthe (αι̇ai and ε̇e often being pronounced alike in the Koiné{[28928]}š). 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. ΑυτωιAutōi is in associative instrumental case.

To the end that he may be ashamed (ινα εντραπηιhina entrapēi). Purpose clause with ιναhina Second aorist passive subjunctive of εντρεπωentrepō 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 εχτρονmē hōs echthron). 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 εχτροςechthros is an adjective, hateful, from εχτοςechthos 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 ειρηνηςautos ho kurios tēs eirēnēs). See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:23 for the God of peace himself.

Give you peace (δοιη υμιν την ειρηνηνdoiē humin tēn eirēnēn). Second aorist active optative (Koiné{[28928]}š) of διδωμιdidōmi not δωηιdōēi (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 (τηι εμηι χειρι Παυλουtēi emēi cheiri Paulou). Instrumental case χειριcheiri Note genitive ΠαυλουPaulou in apposition with possessive idea in the possessive pronoun εμηιemēi Paul had dictated the letter, but now wrote the salutation in his hand.

The token in every epistle (σημειον εν πασηι επιστοληιsēmeion en pasēi epistolēi). Mark (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 παντωνpantōn (all).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.