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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 3

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Th 3:1. Finally is defined "moreover" in Thayer's lexicon. It merely indicates that the apostle has some additional instructions to give the brethren, and not that it was to be the final or last of his remarks. Pray for us. In 1Th 5:25 Paul makes this same request. (See the comments at that place.) It is sufficient here to say that not even an inspired man has any special immunity against temptation. Us is the plural form of the first personal pronoun. It is true that all of the apostles needed the prayers of the faithful, and Paul could properly include them in his request. However, this use of a plural pronoun is like that of "we" which is a form of "editorial modesty" with reference to one's personality. In this verse the request is not for some favor to Paul especially, but for the word of the Lord. Have free course means that it may not be obstructed by any foe. Be glorified denotes that it would receive its proper recognition from those who heard it. As it is with you. The Thessalonians had given such respectful attention to the word of the Lord, and it was the wish of Paul that others accord it the like treatment.

Verse 2

2Th 3:2. Be delivered. Be rescued or be protected from falling into the hands of them. Unreasonable literally means "out of place"; men who do not keep their place in society. Wicked has the regular meaning, referring here to the men who do not stay in their proper places nor mind their own business. All men have not faith. Paul regards this as the explanation of why some men are unreasonable and wicked. If a man does not believe the word of the Lord, he will not have any motive for respecting righteous people.

Verse 3

2Th 3:3. Lord is faithful. We usually think of the term faithful as applying to one who is true and obedient to another to whom he is obligated. Yet it would not be appropriate to regard the Lord in that light; hence it means that He will make good all his promises. Among the things God has promised to do for his obedient servants is to stablish or make them firm. A means of doing so is to protect them from evil, by not suffering them to be tempted beyond endurance (1Co 10:13).

Verse 4

2Th 3:4. Confidence in the Lord touching you. This phrase combines Paul's estimate of the steadiness of the brethren, and his feeling of assurance that the Lord will perform his part of the relationship as the preceding verse states. The outward proof of the truths the apostle here expresses is the present life of obedience among the Thessalonians, which he is sure will be continued.

Verse 5

2Th 3:5. This verse is a prayer of Paul for the Lord's direction of their hearts. Under His guidance, they will come under the enjoyment of God's love, which can never be obtained except by faithful service to Him (Joh 14:23). Such a degree of devotion to God will beget in the mind of a true disciple the quality of patience as the apostle desires him to have. The word is from HUPOMONE, and Thayer defines it at this place, "a patient, steadfast waiting for." It means that while faithful disciples will be eager for the coming of Christ (2Pe 3:12), they will not become fretful and wavering because of their desire for it.

Verse 6

2Th 3:6. The command is in the name of Christ which means by his authority; hence to disobey would constitute disobedience against Him. Disorderly is from ATAKTOS, which Thayer defines as follows: "disorderly, out of ranks; irregular, inordinate, deviating from the prescribed order or rule." The word originated in the conduct of soldiers who got out of line in the march. When used in religious affairs, it applies to any kind of misconduct, although Paul is here specifically dealing with indolent persons, who are neglecting to perform the manual labor necessary for a living. But he states the rule by which any conduct may be classified, namely, the tradition that had been delivered by him. This word is explained by the comments at chapter 2:15. Any conduct that is not in harmony with apostolic tradition is disorder; and when such is continued it constitutes walking disorderly. Withdraw yourselves is from the single Greek word STELLO, and Thayer's definition at this place is as follows: "To remove one's self, withdraw one's self, to depart; to abstain from familiar intercourse with one." It would be impossible to obey this command without excluding the guilty one from the congregation. Opponents of formal discipline claim this command can be obeyed without excluding the party; that it only requires the faithful to abstain from friendly association with him. But that would be out of the question if he is retained in the fellowship of the congregation, for that would entitle him to partake of the Lord's supper and other parts of the congregational services. It is certain that such an association would require great intimacy, the very thing that the command for withdrawal forbids.

Verse 7

2Th 3:7. The apostle now comes to the specific case of disorderly walking that he introduced in the preceding verse. There were some brethren who would not perform manual labor to obtain the necessities of life, and all such were guilty of disorderly conduct and subject to final discipline. The apostle reminds the congregation of his own example that he set when among them, saying they ought to follow (imitate) him--be willing to perform labor.

Verse 8

2Th 3:8. This verse is another refer ence to Paul's practice when he was among the brethren in Thessalonica. The subject is mentioned in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 2:9, which shows that he labored for his own support very diligently, in order to relieve the brethren of that burden.

Verse 9

2Th 3:9. Power is from EXOUSIA which also means right or authority. Paul had the right to live from the support of the brethren, since the Lord has ordained that "they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel" (1Co 9:5 1Co 9:14). However, he had voluntarily refrained from using that privilege, in order to set an example of getting one's living from his own labor.

Verse 10

2Th 3:10. When we were with you refers to the time after coming from Philippi. The teaching now put in writing in this epistle, was given to them in person when among them, which is referred to in his first epistle, is very severe on people who are lazy; such have no right to the provisions produced by others. Of course we know the apostle does not expect these idlers to go on a "hunger strike" and die of starvation. However, he does lay the command before them that they go to work, and as a means of enforcing the order, he states that if they are not willing to work, they have no right to eat. This brings the brethren into the command, forbidding them to feed those who are not willing to work.

Verse 11

2Th 3:11. In this verse Paul makes it plain whom he especially means by the ones walking disorderly in verse 6, namely, the idlers. One might wonder why Paul would call an idler a busybody. The term is from a Greek word that Thayer defines as follows: "To bustle about uselessly, to busy one's self about trifling, needless, useless matters." Our own observation will verify this definition. Men who will not work, are often seen intruding into the affairs of those who are willing to work, even to the extent of trying to interfere to prevent them from working.

Verse 12

2Th 3:12. The idlers are first given a command which makes the thing under consideration a positive obligation. Then the exhortation is given which is an appeal to the conscience, to persuade them to do their duty in the case. This command and exhortation did not come from the personal impulse of the apostle, but it was by our Lord Jesus Christ. Quietness is from HESUCHIA, and the one word "quietness" is Thayer's definition of the Greek word. He then adds by way of explanation at this place, "descriptive of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others." Eat their own bread shows Paul means for them to work at something to earn a living.

Verse 13

2Th 3:13. Weary does not pertain to the body or material part of our being, for if we exercise ourselves we cannot avoid becoming tired; such result is beyond our control. God never forbids that which is unavoidable; the original word refers to the mind and not to the body. A man may become literally worked down or "worn out" by his trials for the Master, but if he has the proper interest in the work he will never become tired in mind, but will always feel keen and alert in the duty for Christ. This thought is treated by Paul in 2Co 4:16-18.

Verse 14

2Th 3:14. When Paul was with these brethren he gave them instructions about the evils of idleness, but we are not told what commands, if any, he gave the congregation as to how the idle persons should be treated. Here the information is given that the same command is delivered in this epistle and that it must be obeyed as if the apostle delivered it in person. Note that man means to pay particular attention to him, to make sure that he comes under the classification of men whom Paul has been condemning. If it is seen that he does, then the brethren were to have no company with him. Since the apostle is writing about the same case that he has been for several verses, we know the words in italics have the same meaning as "withdraw yourselves" in verse 6. Let the reader consult the comments at that place in connection with the present one. The purpose for the discipline upon the disorderly one is that he may be ashamed. Indeed, the first object of discipline is the salvation of the guilty one (1Co 5:5), and the second is to save the church (verses 6, 7 of the same chapter).

Verse 15

2Th 3:15. In a sense, every person who does wrong is an enemy of righteousness and of the church. The idea here is that this man is not an enemy in the same rank as an outsider who has always been in the army of the toe. He has been in the congregation, but had to be dealt with on the principle of discipline, hence he should be regarded in the light of a member of the family who has gone wrong. By such a token, the admonition should be as to a wayward brother and not as to a member of a foreign family. The word admonish implies that some undesirable result may follow if the wayward member does not return to the government of the Father's family.

Verse 16

2Th 3:16. Peace is from EIRENE. As it pertains to individuals, Thayer gives a very complete definition of the word, and it is in full agreement with the teaching of the New Testament; the defintion follows: "The tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is." This certainly describes something that is good; and since all good things come from the Lord (Jas 1:17), it is appropriate for Paul to refer to Him as the Lord of peace. He adds his wish that the Thessalonians be given such peace from Him. The Lord be with you all is another form of the wish for His peace to be with them.

Verse 17

2Th 3:17. Some impostors had forged the name of Paul to their letters, and thereby had deceived the brethren. (See 2Th 2:2-3.) However, the uniformity of his handwriting would finally make them acquainted with his genuine signature. As a safeguard against further deception, Paul states that his signature would be seen at the the end of every one of his epistles, and it was to be understood as a token or sign of the genuineness of the epistle. So I write. This is to call their attention to his style of writing, for his signature would be done in the same manner, which would help them to recognize it and know it to be genuine. For a discussion further into the subject of the actual writer of his epistles, see the comments at Gal 6:11.

Verse 18

2Th 3:18. This is a closing benediction to indicate Paul's personal concern for the happiness of the brethren. The grace of the Lord is his favor to be given to them as a gracious gift, for the word means something that is not received upon the principle of merit. For the significance of amen, see the comments at Rom 16:24, in volume 1 of the New Testament Commentary.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-thessalonians-3.html. 1952.
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