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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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2 Thessalonians 3

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

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Verse 1

2 Thessalonians 3:1.— The apostle now proceeds to the close of his epistle; and as he had so often and so ardently prayed for his Thessalonians, he here begs their prayers for him and his fellow-labourers in the gospel; and as having upon his mind a continual sense of their distresses, he again intimates, that under all their discouragements they ought to remember, that though so many of mankind would prove faithless, the Lord Jesus Christ would prove faithful; and they ought to imitate, obey, and depend upon him, as well as patiently wait for his second coming, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Instead of may have free course, some render the word τρεχη, may run: and they think that this and the next words allude to the applause given to those who made a speedy progress in the races, which constituted so important a part of the Grecian games.

Verse 2

2 Thessalonians 3:2. Unreasonable 'Ατοποι, absurd, contumacious persons, who are not to be fixed by any principles, and whom no topics can work upon. Some suppose that the unbelieving Jews are here meant. By faith, in this verse, some understand a principle of honesty, which may encourage a confidence to be reposed; but it seems rather here to mean that upright and candid disposition, which would engage men through grace to receive cordially the testimony of the apostles; and not particularly justifying or sanctifying faith.

Verse 3

2 Thessalonians 3:3. From evil. 'Απο του πονηρου ; from the evil one. The Hebrews commonly speak of the devil, as the source and author of all evil; and of God, as the author of all good: and when they would describe any great evil in a most emphatical manner, they mention the apostate himself. See 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Matthew 6:13. Joh 17:15. 1 John 5:18-19.

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 3:4. And we have confidence, &c.— "We have that opinion of you, as Christians, and our dear children, that you will persevere in duty; and that the things which we have recommended, you both practise already, and will continue to practise." See ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:15. 2 Corinthians 7:16.

Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 3:5. Into the patient waiting for Christ. The original, 'Υπομονην του Χριστου, may be rendered the patience of Christ, and may signify either Christian patience, or that patience with which Christ himself suffered the many injuries and afflictions through which he passed.

Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 3:6.— St. Paul, 1Th 4:11-12 had ordered the idle persons among them to work and maintain themselves in a creditable manner. As his directions had not been complied with, but, instead of reforming, they were rather grown worse, he here repeats what he had there said; rebuking with more severity such idle and officious persons as were a scandal to Christianity, and troublesome in civil society.

Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 3:7. For we behaved not ourselves disorderly, &c.— Ουκ ητακτησαμεν, we did not go out of our rank; an allusion to soldiers standing or marching in their proper ranks, out of which it is a great irregularity to depart in the least degree. The expression night and day, in the next verse, may possibly mean only continually: however, it seems to intimate that the apostle was sometimes obliged to sit up part of the night at his business as a tent-maker, that he might have the day at leisure, to preach to those who came to him for religious instruction.

Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 3:9. Not because we have not power; St. Paul would not here leave room. for any person to insinuate, as we find his enemies did at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1Co 9:27 that he knew himself not to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and therefore he abstained from takingor demanding any thing from their church, merely for want of such an apostolic power; but, so heartily concerned was he to spread genuine Christianity, and so cautious and prudent, in order to do it in the most effectual manner, that he refused a maintenance, in the rich city of Corinth, and thereby prevented the false apostle's demanding any thing under the pretence of his example; and, by maintaining himself at Thessalonica, he prevented the idle Christian brethren there from pleading the example of their great apostle in defence of their idleness.

Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 3:10. That if any would not work, &c.— This sentence occurs in many of the Jewish writings, and seems to have been proverbial: and both our Lord and his apostles frequently adopted those proverbs or sayings which were in general u

Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 3:11. Working not at all, but are busy-bodies. The original is, Not working, but going about as busy-bodies: not only idle, but officious; vices, which frequently accompany each other.

Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 3:12. And eat their own bread. That which they have earned themselves. Therefore Dr. Heylin renders it, and earn their bread by labour.

Verse 13

2 Thessalonians 3:13. Be not weary in well-doing. Faint not, nor be discouraged while you are engaged in a course of well-doing: though some may abuse your liberality, be not deterred thereby from works of charity. See Galatians 6:9.

Verse 14

2 Thessalonians 3:14. And if any man obey not, &c.— Some would render this verse, If any man obey not our word, signify, or take notice of him by your epistle to me,—that he may be reclaimed by shame.

Verse 16

2 Thessalonians 3:16. By all means. Dr. Heylin renders the clause, Grant you continual peace in all respects.

Verse 17

2 Thessalonians 3:17. Which is the token in every epistle: What was hinted before in this epistle, ch. 2Th 2:2 may be an intimation,—as we observed,—that some fictitious letters were early written in his name, by which St. Paul might be induced to add this token with his own hand.

Inferences. How earnestly ought we to pray for the success of the glorious gospel, and for the preservation and liberty of the ministers of Christ, that their preaching of it may not be obstructed by the violence of unbelieving, perverse, and wicked men! And what a pleasure is it, when they, to whom the care of churches is committed, have a satisfaction in their own minds, that the Lord is establishing their flocks in the faith, hope, and holiness of the gospel, and that their hearts are engaged through grace to do his commandments, as delivered to them in his name! But, alas! how grievous is it to find, that any members of a Christian society are disorderly walkers, lazy in their own proper affairs, and mischievous busy-bodies in other men's concerns, to the scandal of the Christian name! The societies, to which persons of these characters belong, ought, in case they cannot be reclaimed, to withdraw from them, and pass such a censure as may be a mark of disgrace upon them, and then shun all familiarities with them, to make them ashamed of the evil of their doings, which are directly contrary to the precepts and example of the holy apostles: and yet they should be treated, as far as the nature of things will bear, in a brotherly way, to bring them to repentance. How unreasonable is it, that idle and disorderly walkers should live upon the charity of others! But how cheerfully and generously should the industrious and helpless poor be relieved, according to their wants! May all the churches of Christ have peace among themselves, and prosperity of every kind, from the Lord Jesus, and salute one another with the sincerest Christian affection! May their hearts be directed into the love of God, and a patient waiting, under their various tribulations, for Christ's second coming: and may his grace be ever with them all. Amen.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle now draws to a conclusion, and,

1. Entreats their prayers. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and spread with increasing success, and be glorified, even as it is with you, in the mighty effects produced by our ministration of it; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, hardened in pride and prejudice against the truth; who use every violent effort to oppose its progress, and silence the ministers of the gospel; for all men have not faith; but even among professors of Christianity we often meet with the greatest opposers, and are in most danger from these false brethren. Note; (1.) The success of his labours lies exceedingly near the heart of every gospel minister. (2.) All who have tasted of the grace of God in truth, are bound in ceaseless prayer to beg that the same word which they have received, may, in defiance of all opposition, run and be glorified, to the conviction of sinners, the confusion of gainsayers, and the edification of believers. (3.) Unreasonable and wicked men abound in every age; and they who, though professors of Christianity, are themselves destitute of divine faith, cannot but now, as then, testify the same enmity against the zealous preachers of the gospel.

2. He expresses his confidence in them. But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil; whatever wiles seducers may employ, or however severely you may be exposed to the enmity of persecutors, the Lord will never fail you, if you cleave to him; and his grace shall then make you more than conquerors. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do, and will do the things which we command you, in his name, and by his authority. Note; When through faith we have the Lord at our right hand, neither the evil of sin shall prevail against us, nor the evil of suffering discourage us.

3. He adds a short prayer for them, containing two important requests. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, turning your affections, from every crooked path, and directly leading you to his blessed Self, and to that happiness which is to be enjoyed by the faithful, in a sense of his present and everlasting love to their souls; and into the patient waiting for Christ; enabling you with cheerfulness and submission to take up the cross, and to look for the coming of your Lord, when there shall be an end put to all the sufferings of the saints for ever.

2nd, Though the apostle had so highly commended them, and expressed his confidence in them in general, yet there were some among them who needed sharp rebuke.
1. He warns them to avoid the company of such as walked disorderly among them, whose ill characters he describes. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the apostolic power committed to us, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that pretends to be a Christian, but walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us, being a disgrace and a dishonour to his profession. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us, and remember the practices that we recommended to you, and the example which we set before you; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought, without paying for it; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, to earn our own maintenance, that we might not be chargeable to any of you, and might preach the gospel freely, without putting you to the least expence. Not because we have not power to demand our subsistence, as due to our ministerial labours; but we rather chose to wave our right, to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us, encouraging industry, and discountenancing idleness. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat, nor receive any relief from the church, whose charity should be applied, not to the maintenance of the slothful, but to the support of the sick, the infirm, and those who through age or accident are disabled from providing for themselves. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but depending on others for relief, and are busy-bodies, tattling from house to house, prying into the secrets of families, blowing up the coals of dissension, and the very pests of society. Note; (1.) When we can appeal to our people for the exemplariness of our own conversation, and for the conformity of our practice to our preaching, we may command and exhort them to their duty with confidence. (2.) Sloth and indolence are most opposite to the spirit of Christianity; and, though men may plead that they do no harm, yet if they neglect the duty of their calling and stations, God will reckon with them as with disorderly walkers. (3.) Idleness opens a door to every evil; and the devil will find sufficient employ for those who choose not to do their own work.

2. He addresses himself with authority to these disorderly walkers. Now them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, by every endearing argument which his love can suggest, or which the dread of his displeasure urges, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread; peaceably minding their own affairs with diligence, and providing for themselves and families a becoming maintenance from the produce of their honest industry.

3. He directs the pious and industrious how they should behave. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing, with diligence discharge the labours of your calling; and if you have more than your own necessities require, there are many deserving objects who crave your charity. And if any man among you obey not our word by this epistle, and change not his ways, note that man, and have no company with him; permit him not to be your intimate, nor admit him to the table of the Lord; that by your just censure of his conduct, he may be ashamed, and brought to repentance and amendment. Yet count him not as an enemy at once, nor deal roughly with him, but admonish him as a brother, that he may be reclaimed, and not be finally ruined. Note; (1.) We must not only walk orderly ourselves, but shew our disapprobation of those who behave dishonourably to their profession. (2.) Before more heavy censures are pronounced, except with gross sinners, every kind admonition must be attempted. Love will often shame those into ingenuous acknowledgments, whom severity would but have exasperated and hardened.

3rdly, The apostle concludes with,
1. His prayer for them. Now the Lord of peace himself, who purchased it by his blood, and by his Spirit seals it to the hearts of believers, give you peace always, by all means; meeting you in the use of every instituted ordinance; filling you with a comfortable sense of his reconciliation to you; and giving you a happy union and harmony among each other. The Lord be with you all; may his presence and blessing be ever in the midst of you; and where he manifests himself, there heaven is already begun in the soul.

2. His subscription. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle, of its genuineness, to prevent the forgeries of seducers: so I write in the close of every letter, when my amanuensis has finished.

3. The benediction. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all; may you share all the present and eternal blessedness included in his infinite love. Amen

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-thessalonians-3.html. 1801-1803.
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