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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
2 Thessalonians 3



Verses 3-5



3. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and keep you from the evil one.Unfortunately, the E.V. translates this evil, giving the abstract; whereas the Greek gives the concrete. Instead of the prayer of Paul and Christ for all the Christians to be delivered from “evil,” the true rendering is the “evil one;” i.e., the devil himself. We have this petition in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6), and in his valedictory prayer for the sanctification of all that should ever follow him in this world. So, here we see Paul and Jesus both praying that their followers shall be delivered from the devil, setting forth the glorious reality that it is the happy privilege of all true Christians to get rid of the devil altogether; not that we will be free from his temptations, for they can never hurt us, but are really in the victorious grace of God made a great source of blessing to us, in the discipline of our virtues, the trial of our faith, and the development of our gifts and graces, as the soldier who fights no battles wins no victories; but while Satan roars like a lion (and his roaring can never hurt us), he is not allowed to touch us. Truly, he can never get in gunshot of us. Though he shoots at us day and night, he only wastes his ammunition. Though he fishes all day in our pond, he will never catch anything, because entire sanctification has taken everything out of our hearts that wants the devil’s bait, so he toils all day, catches nothing, and goes home at evening with weary leg and hungry stomach. You must have faith in Christ for justification s a sinner, and faith for sanctification as a Christian. But you have an awful battle to fight, if you ever stand on the mount of victory. In this war with the devil, you have all the world against you. Hence, you are sure to fall and sink into hell, unless you turn the battle over to the Omnipotent Jesus, who is a million times stronger than the devil and all the world combined. You do this by faith after you have been sanctified. If you have faith in Jesus for victory every moment, you have victory every moment; if you have faith in Jesus to keep the devil from ever putting his black hand on you, he will never touch you. What a glorious privilege to get rid of the devil forever! Then his temptations will all be sanctified to your good, and turned into a blessing to you. The battlefield makes the hero, who wears the victor’s wreath forever.

4. I have confidence in the Lord, that you do and will do the things which we command.What a glorious experience had Paul at Thessalonica! You can be there, where Paul would thus command you if he were on the earth today.

5. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ.God’s love sent his Son to die for us. We can have the same love, filling us with the spirit of martyrdom. Christ was perfectly patient amid the insults and tortures of a most cruel death. He died praying for his murderers. We can have the same patience.

Verse 6



6. I command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not according to the instruction which he received from us.One rotten potato will rot a whole barrel. Truly, the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.If we did not separate the rotten from the sound, all of our fruits and vegetables would rot in a pile. How sadly this was verified in the Churches! One dancing damsel will lead all of the young people into Satan’s fandangos. No wonder so many Churches are rotten masses of spiritual putrefaction. The forfeiture of disciplinary power is the saddest phenomenon of the age. It simply illustrates the deplorable fact that the popular Churches are past redemption. Luther, Wesley, and Bunyan tried it, and failed. They saved many individuals. But history is silent on the reclamation of a fallen Church. Bishop Key says that it easier for God to raise up a new one than resurrect a dead one. If all of the Churches in this city (Los Angeles, California) would obey this plain and positive commandment, it would bring a Pentecost on California. If one should try it alone, the excommunicated would simply unite with other Churches, and the effect on them for their salvation would be largely counteracted. I knew a Methodist Church where Judge J wore the bell, and presided over the Official Board. Still he was a notorious sinner, as all knew and frankly admitted. Revivals came and went, but could not touch him. He would feed and pay the preachers, and do everything but get religion. So eventually the Conference sent a simple-hearted little man to that circuit. On arrival, he began revivals, and went round his circuit like a fiery cyclone. When he got through, he turned and excommunicated all that did not get religion (that was in the olden time). He did not begin with the little folks, but walloped the big horse first of all. The excitement was intense. Many said, “The Church is ruined.” The stewards told the preacher he would starve, as Judge J collected more money than all the balance. He said he would rather starve for God, than fatten for the devil. The judge roared like a lion, and said he had spent his money freely for the Church, and they had treated him like a dog. So he went out with a rage, vociferating that he would never be a Methodist again. Other Churches had their eye on him. Three years roll away. Of course, his mad spell wore off. A revival of unusual power visits the Methodist Church. Many hard reprobates are gloriously saved. The revival runs about three months. Erelong the judge, who never entered the house since his expulsion, is seen in the vestibule. He comes on, and nightly gets a little nearer, till, to the surprise of all, he comes and falls full-length at the mourner’s bench. Night after night for two whole weeks he is heard groaning at the altar. Finally he comes through as a sunburst. I conversed with his widow (a paragon saint) after his death, about ten years subsequent to his conversion. She told me he passed out of the world in glorious triumph. She said she believed he would have been lost if they had not turned him out of the Church. He was not a bad man; had no evil habits. About all that could be said was, that he had no religion, and did not claim to have. He depended on the prayers of his wife, the preachers, and the good people to save him. But they turned him out. On the abatement of his wealth, he began to soliloquize, “Who cares for poor me? They have given me over to the devil” The simple fact is, Judge J has to do something for himself, or the devil will get him. Conviction seized him. He cried to God nigh and day, and doubtless is this moment playing on his golden harp.

Verses 7-13



7-12. Here we see that while the apostles earned their bread by manual labor, they certify (2 Thessalonians 3:9) that they have a right to their temporal support while preaching the gospel. This is certainly the feasible basis for the evangelization of the world. Delinquency in reference to our temporal support does not excuse us from the commission, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.We are to go and preach just as if we had a bushel of gold lying in the Bank of England to draw on ad libitum, trusting God, with or without human agency, to feed us like he feeds the birds. Thus we are to push the conquest to the ends of the earth, evangelizing all nations under the commission,

“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20.)

With his presence we can certainly trust him for our bread. All this so strikingly contrasts with the financial policy of modern ecclesiasticism, hiring the preacher like a rail-splitter.

Verse 10

10. For when we were with you, we commanded this to you, that if any one does not wish to work, let him not eat.The Bible is the plainest of all books, solving every problem of duty so clearly as to leave al without excuse. Well are we assured that “he who runs may read,” and the “wayfaring men, though fools, may not err therein.” (Isaiah.) On this great problem of material sustenance, O how plain and simple, “If any one is not willing to work, let him not eat!” When the first American settlement, founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, having consumed the supply brought over from England, and finding the Indian resources exceedingly meager, starvation began to look them in the face, their only hope is to fell the forest, and cultivate the rich virgin soils. But how can they do this, when nearly all of their colony are goldsmiths, having come over in search of the precious metals, and their tender hands never hardened by the ax, maul, and hoe. In their emergency, fortunately they elect Captain John Smith president, whose first law proclaimed in the Colony is a transcript of this laconic mandate of the apostle Paul, “Those who do not work shall not eat.” Soon cloth coats are stacked, sleeves rolled up, and all hands blistered while the Colony is vocal with the roar of the ax, the thunder of the maul, and the crash and smash of falling trees, whose burning brush lights the firmament by night; and they are all feasting on peas, potatoes, and roasting-ears. With the enforcement of this simple law of heaven, earth teems with plenty, and beggary takes her everlasting flight; hireling preachers all transformed into shouting evangelists.

Verse 13

13. Brethren, be ye not weary doing well.What a salutary guarantee against dissatisfaction, and what a stimulant to indefatigable perseverance in every laudable enterprise!

Verses 14-18



14. If any one does not hearken to our Word through the epistle, spot him; have no fellowship with him, in order that he may be ashamed.All the doctrines of grace in the Bible are beautifully focalized in the apostolical epistles. Consequently these plain, concise, inspired letters give you a miniature Bible, infinitely to your convenience and profit. Suppose this law were enforced in the Churches of the present day, what would become of bejeweled, gaudily-appareled, frolicking anti-holiness members? They would move out like a landslide, leaving the faithful few, who, like Zacharias and Elisabeth, are walking in all the commandments and ordinances blameless.We never can redeem the Church from sin, Satan, and hell, unless we enforce New Testament discipline. It is the imperative duty of every pastor this day to read these letters to every member, and see that they accept them, and govern their lives accordingly, with a distinct understanding that all recusants and delinquents forfeit their membership. Paul even obligated the Thessalonians, in a sacred oath, to read these letters to every member. What will the pastors do in judgment-day, when God shall hold them to a strict account for the souls committed to their care, whom they, by willful neglect of known duty, have permitted to slip through their fingers into hell? Here we see a plain commandment in the New Testament, to withhold fellowship from every brother and sister who do not hearken to the plain Word of God revealed in the Bible.

15. Do not treat him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.This excommunicated man is your brother in Adam, and may, by the grace of God, become your brother in Christ. Hence, when non-fellowshiped for disobedience, do not give him up, but pray for him and admonish the more faithfully that the Lord may use the severity of Church discipline to convict him and bring him to repentance.

17. These people had been troubled with a false letter by an enemy, bearing Paul’s counterfeit signature. Therefore, when Luke wrote the letters responsive to his dictation, Paul gave his autograph.

18. This benediction is commendable for its beauty, brevity, and grace. Use it freely in the dismission of your meetings.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 27th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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