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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
2 Thessalonians 3

 

 

Verses 1-5

III

Closing Exhortations

1. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

The Apostle seeks their prayers, and commends to them generally a faithful perseverance in the true Christian spirit

1Finally, brethren, pray [Greek order: pray, brethren,] for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course [may run][FN1] and be glorified, even as it is with you [also with you];[FN2] 2And that we may be delivered from unreasonable [perverse][FN3] and wicked men: for all men have not faith [not all have faith].[FN4] 3But the Lord is faithful [faithful is the Lord],[FN5] who shall stablish [establish] you, 4and keep you from evil [or: the evil one].[FN6] And [But][FN7] we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do[FN8] and will do the things which we command you.[FN9] 5And the Lord direct [But may the Lord direct][FN10] your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ [the patience of Christ].[FN11]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2.) Finally, pray, &c.—Τὸ λοιπόν (here the article is wanting only in F. G.), equivalent to λοιπόν, 1 Thessalonians 4:1 [Ellicott: “but, owing to the article, slightly more specific.” Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Exeg. Note1.—J. L.]. Grotius: Vox properantis ad finem. It might be understood temporally: henceforth; but here it is better to take it in the sense of furthermore, moreover, what I have still to say, after the leading instruction on the subject of the last things. Pray for us (see 1 Thessalonians 5:25, and the note there), as we for you. These words also show the conclusion to be near. The subject of the prayer is again expressed in the form of purpose. It is a thoroughly disinterested prayer that he contemplates; not for his own personal concern, but for a main object of his apostolic calling (comp. Ephesians 6:19); not, that God would strengthen him in faith;—Paul did not, indeed, assume any such lofty position, as that he himself could not be a castaway ( 1 Corinthians 9:27); yet it would have been contrary to decorum, to ask his children for their prayers in that regard [?];—but, that the word of the Lord may run; the word of the Lord ( 1 Thessalonians 1:8), or the word of God ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13), is the gospel. At 1 Thessalonians 4:15 the phrase had a somewhat more specific meaning. To run is to fulfil its course swiftly and without hindrance; not bound ( 2 Timothy 2:9); to spread itself to where it is not yet; and, where it is already, to bestir itself, and come into proper circulation. [Comp. the Sept. Psalm 147:15 : ἕως τάχους δραμεῖται λόγος αὑτοῦ.—J. L.]—And be glorified, not merely commended, and its glory recognized ( Acts 13:48), but really glorified by its fruit, and actual demonstration of its Divine power and truth; Calvin: in the renewal of men into the image of Christ; whereby, certainly, are called forth many praises to God (comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:12; Romans 11:13).—Even as it is also with you ( 1 Thessalonians 3:4); be thus cheers them (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Your prayers are to help the missionary work. The two present tenses after ἵνα denoted something continuous; whereas the aorist subjunctive with the second ἵνα: and that we may he delivered, marks a single occasion, deliverance from an actually existing peril. Here now in the second instance is a question of personal preservation, but here also again with a view to his office, that he may be kept safe for that. We may mean I Paul, or else I and Silvanus and Timothy; but certainly not, I and you Thessalonians, since he reverts to them again at 2 Thessalonians 3:3. Theodoret remarks that the prayer seems to be twofold, and yet is but one; for when the ungodly are subdued, the word of the message also has unobstructed course. Theophylact: He prays thus, not that he may run no danger, for to that he was even appointed. But we cannot understand the deliverance as does Calvin: sive per mortem, sive per vitam; for his desire here is to be preserved to his earthly office. The ἄτοποι are properly such as are not in their place; the neuter denotes at Luke 23:41 a criminal act; the masculine is here rendered by the Vulgate, importunis; Cicero explains it once by ineptus; but here it signifies not merely people who act improperly, but such as hinder and resist Divine and human order; Wetstein: facinorosus, flagitiosus. Still there is rather couched in the expression a certain reserve, though it does denote perverse, base men; Berlenb. Bibel [Bengel]: ungereimte [absurd]; and then πονηρός has a more forcible import: bad, wicked. Paul has in his mind deliverance from snares, as at Romans 15:31; for it would be a mistake to think of the contradiction of heretics (Chrysostom, Theophylact: such as Hymenæus and Alexander; Zwingli thinks that Paul intends hypocrites and false brethren; Calvin: at least faithless Christians in name, along with furious Jewish zealots). The early date of the Epistle does not accord with the idea of false teachers, but very well with that of fanatical Jews, who expressly laid wait for the Apostle at Corinth (De Wette and the moderns generally); Acts 18:9-10 answering perfectly to our 2 Thessalonians 3:1, and Acts 18:12 sqq. (the accusation before Gallio) to our 2 Thessalonians 3:2. This again is a fine stroke of unstudied, artless coincidence with the apostolic history; a proof of genuineness.—For not all have faith. He thus gives the reason why he is compelled to speak of such men, from whose hands the point is to be delivered, and for whom one cannot simply pray: Convert them! (comp. John 17:9 with John 5:20). Some allege that Paul cannot be bringing forward the common-place: All do not believe, and thence infer that we must understand his meaning to be: It is not all who pass for Christians, that have true faith (so Calvin [Jowett] and others); they therefore think that the adversaries are (Calvin: at least in part) false Christians. But there is thus introduced what is not found in the expression, πίστις meaning Christian faith absolutely, not true faith in opposition to that which is merely pretended. However, the sentence is no bare commonplace; nor yet is it suitable, as the phrase is abused for a frivolous excuse; and as little is it an assertion of the absolute Divine decree, as if God were unwilling to give faith to all; but a grievous charge: There are even people too ἄτοποι καὶ πονηροί, treacherous and impure, to be susceptible of faith.[FN12] It is a fine remark of Bengel, how appropriately Paul writes thus to those very Thessalonians who had been so prompt to believe: Be not surprised, if this is not the case with all.

2. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:3.) But faithful is the Lord.—Not in German, but in Greek [and English] there is observable an antithesis between πιστός and πίστις of 2 Thessalonians 3:2 (comp. 2 Timothy 2:13). But this is no reason for translating that πίστις by faithfulness; πίστις denotes Christian faith; but this is essentially faithfulness to God, trust in His faithfulness, whereas unbelief is faithlessness, distrust of His grace. There is peril in having to live amongst such unbelieving and therefore also faithless men. To this grief, therefore, he at once opposes the consolation—to man’s unfaithfulness the invariable faithfulness of God. The faithful Lord suffers not the ἀτόπους καὶ πονηρούς to get the upper hand. The Lord (according to the best reading) is Christ. That it can here, as in the Septuagint, mean only God (namely, the Father), is asserted by Hilgenfeld in the interest of the spuriousness of the Epistle, but without any valid reason (comp. 1 Corinthians 16:7 along with Romans 1:10). It is to be observed that Paul does not dwell on his own distresses, but the reflection, that the Thessalonians in their locality have the same experience of human wickedness as himself in Corinth, leads him at once back again to his own afflicted spiritual children, who are, indeed, as yet less experienced than he.—Who shall establish you (not simply may, 2 Thessalonians 2:17), so that such as have not faith shall not be able to drag you off with them; and keep you from the evil. How this last word is to be taken is doubtful, as in Matthew 6:13; John 17:15, and elsewhere. It may be that it is to be understood as neuter, as at Romans 12:9 : from the evil with which perhaps bad men threaten you; the Lord will keep you, so that whatever is done to you outwardly shall do you no inward hurt, and that which is properly πονηρόν shall not come to you, nor shall you be worsted in the conflict; and He will also so far avert outward harm, that the trial become not too severe ( 1 Corinthians 10:13).[FN13] Possibly, however, it is to be regarded as masculine; πονηρός, the Prince of evil, whose instruments evil men are, dares not touch you (comp. Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 2:13; 1 John 5:18). It is at any rate improper to take the singular: the evil (man) as collective for evil men [the Dutch Annotations, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, allow this interpretation.—J. L.]. But Lünemann’s assertion that it must be understood as neutral, on account of the opposition to 2 Thessalonians 2:17 [a point which Alford also makes.—J. L.], is groundless; especially after the separation made by τὸ λοιπόν ( 2 Thessalonians 3:1), of which, indeed, Lünemann generally makes too little account (see the close of the Introduction). In favor of the masculine are Calvin, Bengel, Rieger, Von Gerlach, Olshausen [and very many others, from Œcumenius and Theophylact to Ellicott and Wordsworth.—J. L.], also Hofmann: From the evil man he comes to the Evil One, who might rob him of the fruit of his labor; we add, by persuasion or else by seduction, and refer to 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. Whether it be neuter or masculine, Paul’s promise is: God will establish you for the conflict, and protect you in it.

3. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:4-5.) But we have confidence in the Lord touching you.—After reliance on God, there now follows again (as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15) an exhortation, expressed in the delicate and winning form of confidence. Theodoret: For he is not forcing them, but seeking their free conviction: keep yourselves worthy of this good opinion. You can surely do Song of Solomon, since the Lord strengthens and guards you. This at once leads to, and prepares for, the special exhortation of 2 Thessalonians 3:6 sqq. In the Lord, the same expression as in Galatians 5:10; comp. Philippians 2:24; Romans 14:14. In Him our confidence in you has its strong foundation; we boast not of the flesh, and place not our hope in you as men, but only in the Lord; and yet in the Lord touching you;[FN14] because ye stand in Him as we do; ye will thus receive the exhortation in the name of the Lord, and the Lord in whom ye stand will guide your hearts, and make you willing and able. The verb παραγγέλλειν is found also at 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and the substantive παραγγελλία at 1 Thessalonians 4:2; it is synonymous (at least on the practical side) with παράδοσις, 2 Thessalonians 2:15. As faith originated only in an act of obedience, so likewise it is only in this way that it can be maintained. Obedience is thus connected with preservation. By understanding the verse in this way: What we command and ye do, that ye will also do, we should rend asunder what belongs together. Far more natural is this: what we command you, ye both do and will do (henceforward and with a constant improvement). This exhortation he immediately seals again by a precatory benediction: But may the Lord direct, &c. Theodoret: We need both, purpose and strength, from above.[FN15] The Lord alone can give you success. The Lord Isaiah, as always, Christ; not, as Hilgenfeld again decides, God (the Father). Basil the Great, Theodoret, Theophylact [Wordsworth], would have it, that Paul is speaking of the Holy Spirit, because it could not be said: May Christ direct your hearts into the patience of Christ (were this valid, it would hold still more strongly, inasmuch as it concerns the first member of the verse, that it could not be said: May God direct your hearts into the love of God). But the argument is not convincing. It were contrary to the whole usage of the New Testament, to understand by the Lord the Holy Spirit; 2 Corinthians 3:17 (to be explained by 2 Thessalonians 3:6) is of quite another sort. Rather, Christ is repeated at the end of the second member, because it is remote from the subject, and separated from it by θεοῦ (comp, moreover, 1 Corinthians 1:7-8). Thus Christ, the Faithful ( 2 Thessalonians 3:3), who alone can make you do what is right, in whom alone we have confidence in you ( 2 Thessalonians 3:4), may He plainly direct ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11, our way; here) your hearts ( 2 Chronicles 12:14, Septuagint), so that they reach out sincerely towards the mark. But the passage in Chronicles is not an irrefragable proof, that here also the mark of the κατευθύνειν must necessarily be a proceeding of the Thessalonians; the mark itself might be a Divine concernment, to which their hearts are to reach out in faith and trust. In the case of the first member, the love of God, it would no doubt be simplest to regard the genitive as a genitive of the object: love to God [De Wette, Lünemann, Alford, Lectures, Ellicott, Webster and Wilkinson, &c.], not the love which God gives or prescribes, though, of course, our love is awakened by a discernment of the love which God has to us. But in the second member a similar explanation does not present itself as quite so natural. Calvin translates: expectationem Christi, and explains it still more distinctly to be the hope of the coming of Christ, under the constant endurance of the cross. Already Chrysostom proposes this view amongst others. And so Hofmann: It denotes the waiting, of him who holds to Christ as his hope; but what he alleges for this,—that, for example, in Jeremiah 14:8 Septuag. God is called the ὑπομονὴ Ἰσραήλ,—is a different expression from what we read here. Even the ἀναμένειν Ἰησοῦν ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10), or the ὑπομονὴ τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ κυρ. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:3 there), does not support the assumed sense of ὑπομονὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Proof is wanting, that the last phrase denotes a waiting for Christ. Revelation 3:10 likewise is probably to be understood differently. Moreover, patientia propter Christum præstita (Bengel) goes beyond the simplest genitive. Nor can we well judge otherwise of the interpretation: “patient, steadfast adherence to Christ.” De Wette appeals on behalf of his explanation: “steadfastness in the cause of Christ,” to παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ( 2 Corinthians 1:5, and similar phrases in Colossians 1:24; Hebrews 11:26), which, however, is by no means quite homogeneous with the expression before us. But if we explain, as Pelt would have us do (and as Calvin holds to be possible): patience as coming from Christ or as wrought by Him, or with Grotius: cujus causa est Christus, we then exchange the genitive of the object for the genitive of the author. Even the first member Pelt would actually understand in a corresponding way: love, which God infuses into our hearts; but such a sense of ἀγάπη θεοῦ he cannot establish even by his appeal to δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ. Is it necessary, then, that both genitives be taken in the same way? Lünemann rids himself of the parallelism, and understands the matter thus: love to God (object) and the steadfastness of Christ (genitive of possession); the latter in the sense that it also is ours, in so far as the Christian’s endurance in affliction for the gospel’s sake is essentially the same with the steadfastness that was peculiar to Christ Himself in His sufferings. To this would belong the idea which Chrysostom also admits as possible: endurance as Christ endured.[FN16] For our own part, we did not consider ourselves bound by the parallelism at 2 Thessalonians 2:13; but there πνεύματος and ἀληθείας were really more heterogeneous than the parallel genitives in our text. Inwardly, also, the latter are too strictly coördinate, for us to venture on quitting the parallelism. We should therefore prefer with Olshausen to understand both genitives as genitives of the subject. Nor indeed is it said: May the Lord fill your hearts with love, &c. (which could then be nothing but a dispositon of heart in the Thessalonians), but: May He direct them, according to our understanding, into the love which God has to us, and has especially manifested in the work of redemption, and into the patience of Christ, to wit, that with which He resigned Himself for us to suffering, and at all times supports us. May He direct your hearts to this centre, from which proceeds all the Christian’s strength: the love of God, as most fully revealed in the patience of Christ. This will be to you not merely an example, but a source of strength for withstanding the evil ( 2 Thessalonians 3:3). The Thessalonians particularly needed this admonition to humility in order to check their eschatological impatience, which showed itself practically in their ἀτάκτως περιπατεῖν and περιεργάζεσθαι ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11). The address thus introduces in the most natural way the exhortation that follows.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:1.) That the word of God have free course and be glorified is not a thing that happens of itself, but is in part committed also to our fidelity. Every praying person, even though he himself has not the teaching faculty, is on his part a co-worker therein, [Scott: The success of the gospel is as really promoted by fervent prayer, as by faithful preaching.—J. L.] We are not indeed to see life and movement in the Church only where extraordinary phenomena are making a stir. On the in-conspicuous advance of quiet, faithful labor there rests a constant blessing. And yet the drowsy state of nominal Christendom must weigh upon our hearts, and raise the question whether we have been as assiduous as we ought in that spiritual work, which the Apostle requires from Christians.

2. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:2.) Faith is not every man’s affair—this is a word which, like that other, prove all things ( 1 Thessalonians 5:21), is often enough subjected to frivolous abuse. Many an individual takes shelter in the subterfuge, that he is not at all organized for faith; for others faith may be the right thing, perhaps even honorable in them; but for him it is impossible to believe; nay, the Apostle himself says, &c. It Isaiah, however, of perverse and wicked men that he says, that faith is not for them (see the Verantwortung des christlichen Glaubens, 2d ed, p16 sq.). Roos: What is here spoken of is not that natural unaptness for faith, which exists in all men, but an unaptness which a man brings on himself by a prolonged departure from God, and by contracting a Satanic obduracy and wickedness.[FN17] Stockmeyer: Faith is not a thing that a man has so completely in his own power, that he can say at any moment when he pleases: Now I will believe; there is required a certain preparation of soul, that is not found in every man. But it is a very perverse application of this, to say: “I too belong to the very class that has no concern with faith. What, then, can I do in that direction? And if faith is not every man’s affair, is it Song of Solomon, that so much really depends on faith? is it Song of Solomon, that one can be saved only by faith? Surely God will not be so unjust!” But the Apostle does not say that a man can do nothing in this direction, so that he is innocent in the matter. Whence comes it that the disposition of many men is unsusceptible of faith? Did God make them so? Is it God, who to some only will grant what is necessary to faith, while he refuses and withholds it from others, however earnestly desirous even they may be to obtain it? That be far from Him![FN18] The Apostle teaches us to derive all want of susceptibility from a quite different source, even men’s own fault (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). He will by no means apologize for unbelief, as if it were an unmerited fate from which some men cannot at all escape. He rather refers us to their own guiltiness, namely, their destitution of love for the truth, and that from the pleasure they have in unrighteousness.—At the commencement especially of a living Christian state we readily suppose, as the truth has become too strong for us, that others also should in like manner yield to it. Or, if that does not happen, we readily fall to blaming our elders and teachers for not having testified the truth with sufficient fervor. They, indeed, are required earnestly to examine themselves, whether they are not chargeable with some neglect or mismanagement. But the example of the Apostles, yes, of Christ Himself, shows us, that even the most faithful preaching is resisted by the natural heart of man. To this fact we must learn, with whatever loving sorrow, to reconcile ourselves, and least of all are we to try by means of false concessions to make the truth plausible to the enemies of the faith. Roos: A preacher of the gospel tries with all fidelity to set such people right. But, if he has a clear insight into the state of their souls, he finds personal relief even when seeing no fruit of his labor. He knows that God will not require their blood at his hand. Such is the consolation of Jesus Himself, Matthew 13:14-15.

3. Roos: Deliverance from the wicked did take place, but not in such a way as the human sense might have desired; for Paul and other servants of God were often until their death harassed with such people; and yet God saved them from them by restraining their fury (frequently by means of the Roman authorities), by letting many, blasphemers die at the right time, by humbling the whole Jewish people through the destruction of Jerusalem, and lastly by so ordering all things, that the Apostles, harassed and persecuted by the Jews in a daily trial of their faith, were only the more widely driven around in the earth.

4. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:4.) Roos: Paul wrote and did everything in the Lord and by the Lord (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; and elsewhere). These were not in Paul’s case mere customary pious phrases; he had the feeling of them, and was convinced that in nothing did his commands, hopes, and instructions go beyond the power, and at the same time the light and inward impulse, given him by the Lord Jesus. He knew that he was not left to his natural reason and discretion, but that, being in, Jesus, he saw by His light, worked in His strength, and by Him was held and controlled. Happy is Hebrews, of whom this is the experience. Whatsoever he doeth prospers [ Psalm 1:3].—In the Lord we may also have confidence in others, who likewise stand in the Lord. To trust in men out of the Lord leads astray, and one must often learn, that all men are liars ( Romans 3:4). The idealism of faith in humanity is then easily changed into that Song of Solomon -called knowledge of men, which looks for nothing but baseness in every one. Love, on the contrary, hopeth all things, and believeth all things ( 1 Corinthians 13:7), without being blind to the corruption of nature; but it knows God who is greater than our heart [ 1 John 3:20], and believes in His power to save and subdue. Relying on the Lord for everything, it believes also in the perfecting of His work in the hearts of His own, and throughout all interruptions still hopes for it. [Barnes: Not primarily in you, &c. He must be a stranger to the human heart, who puts much confidence in it even in its best state.—J. L.]

5. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:5.) Our heart must be directed to the love of God, as the foundation of all faith, and to the patience of Christ, as the chief manifestation of that love;—the latter, not merely in order to the contemplation of that greatest exemplar, but from this direction towards the character of God and Christ faith itself receives something of this Divine nature [ 2 Peter 1:4], participates in these primary forces of life, so that it now does everything according to this rule, and from this impulse. Love enkindles love in it; the patience which Christ learned and practised, yea, with which He continually bears with us, brings this seed into the heart of the believer and from this vine there grows as a branch the patience of the Christian (Rieger). Patience must not be wanting to love; otherwise the latter also would soon cease.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

2 Thessalonians 3:1. Diedrich: He had brought them by means of the word to faith; a stream of blessing should now also through their prayers and love flow back again to him, so that he may be able to deliver his testimony with ever-growing efficiency.—Chrysostom: Let no one from an excessive humility defraud us of this assistance.—Starke: Since upright teachers carry the word of God amongst the people, it is reasonable that they be remembered in prayer; but, if they do not at once see fruit, they should labor on, and call to mind the Divine promises.—Heubner: The Christian Church should not be a motionless sea; stagnation brings corruption and death. The gospel must keep moving; it must run; this running produces everywhere, even where the gospel is not a stranger, new life and vivacity.—The missionary spirit knows no other goal than that described in Isaiah 11:9.

2 Thessalonians 3:2. Faith is not every man’s, though God offers faith to every Prayer of Manasseh, Acts 17:31 (Berlenb. Bibel).[FN19]—Grotius: Such as take pleasure in vice will not believe us; because they love the works of darkness, they hate the light.—Rieger: (We must have this told to us) partly that under a similar experience we may be less frightened, partly also that we may escape the frequently plausible temptation to refine and cut and carve at the doctrines of the faith, till every one should be able to find himself suited.—Paul strove to become all things to all men, but still he hoped for nothing more from it, than by all means to save some ( 1 Corinthians 9:22).—Starke: Patiently to undergo suffering for Christ’s sake, and yet to pray God for deliverance therefrom, are not inconsistent with each other; especially when the deliverance has for its object not so much our own ease as the glorification of the Divine name.

[Lectures: ἀτόπων καὶ πονηρῶν ἀνθρώπων· οὐ γὰρ, κ.τ.λ. So far, then, from there being any ground for exalting reason against faith, it is only faith that can either restore the dislocation, or rectify the depravity, of our fallen nature.—The Same: No man can reject the Divine testimony concerning Christ, when fairly and fully presented to him, without thereby inflicting immediate and serious damage on his whole inward life—without, in fact, becoming, whatever appearances there may be to the contrary, a worse Prayer of Manasseh, as well as a guiltier Prayer of Manasseh, than he was before.—J. L.]

2 Thessalonians 3:3. The faithfulness of the Lord is the only ever sure refuge.

2 Thessalonians 3:4. Chrysostom, Theophylact: We have confidence in the Lord, that is opposed to pride; touching you, that is opposed to indolence.—Bengel: Nulli homini per se fidas.—Calvin: Authority and obedience have here their limits: Nothing except in the Lord!—[ Burkitt: The character of that obedience which the gospel directs; it must be universal and perpetual.—J. L.]

2 Thessalonians 3:5. Diedrich: Truly Christ Himself is all patience with us, and so He teaches us in Him also to be all patience.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Heubner: Exhortations to prayer and faithfulness.

2 Thessalonians 3:4-5. That heart is well disposed, and capable of all that is good, which through the grace of the Lord is directed into the love of God and into the patience of Christ1. The most natural thing for us would be, to abide with all love by the love of God, to which we owe ourselves and all things. But, as regards God, we are truly unnatural children, have little need of intercourse with Him, are frequently able to go a long time without Him, readily suffer ourselves to be withdrawn from Him by His gifts instead of being thereby led to Him, become altogether disheartened under the strokes of His discipline, do not love what He loves, His will, His commands. He gives effect to his love by sending His Son to save us from the fleshly temper of our heart. Not until our hearts allow themselves to be turned towards this love proceeding from God ( 1 John 4:10; Romans 5:8), does there rise in us also love to God. But, 2. that this spirit may take full possession of us, there is need of continual labor and effort; our hearts must allow themselves to be directed to Christ, the perfect pattern of patience, as He practised it throughout His whole life even to the cross towards His disciples, towards the people, towards His wicked foes. We must be thankful to Him, that He becomes not weary of bearing also with us. Thus we too learn patience, and receive strength for it out of His strength; thus do we learn to wait for His help, and patiently to hold fast the hope of His glorious coming (after Stockmeyer.)

Footnotes:

FN#1 - 2 Thessalonians 3:1.—[τρέχη. Revision: “E. V. margin, and everywhere else. Here it combines Tyndale, Geneva, Bishops’ Bible: have free passage, with the Rhemish: have course.”—J. L.]

FN#2 - 2 Thessalonians 3:1.—[καὶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς. Ellicott: “The καί gently contrasting (?) them with others where a similar reception had taken place.” Rather, the καί compares them with—puts them alongside of—others, where, in answer to their prayers, a similar reception should yet take place.—J. L.]

FN#3 - 2 Thessalonians 3:2.—[ἀτόπων. The English margin, Hammond, Wordsworth: absurd; Benson, Scott, Conybeare, Alford’s English Test, Ellicott, Am. Bible Union: perverse; Riggenbach: verkehrten. See the Exegetical Note.—J. L.]

FN#4 - 2 Thessalonians 3:2.—[οὐ γὰρ πάντων πίστις. Riggenbach, after De Wette and Lünemann: nicht Alter (Sache) ist der Glaube; Ellicott: it is not all that have faith. See the Exegetical Note, and the Revision of this verse, Note e.—J. L.]

FN#5 - 2 Thessalonians 3:3.—There is a preponderance of authority (including the Sin.) for κύριος; against the reading θεός [A. D1 F. G. Vulg. Lachmann.—J. L.] is likewise the fact, that according to parallel passages, such as 1 Corinthians 1:9, it is the more obvious. [The Greek order should be retained in the translation, as it is by Riggenbach, Ellicott, Am. Bible Union, and others, making πιστός the instantaneous echo of πίστις.—Sin 2 Thessalonians1 : κύριός ἐστιν; but corrected into ἐστ. κύρ.—J. L.]

FN#6 - 2 Thessalonians 3:3.—[τοῦ πονηροῦ. See the Exegetical Note.—J. L.]

FN#7 - 2 Thessalonians 3:4.—[δέ. Revision: “Not only do we rely on the faithfulness of the Lord, but we have a gracious confidence also in you; nor, indeed, can you expect the promised confirmation and security, apart from your own obedience, and patient continuance in well-doing, but only in and through that.”—J. L.]

FN#8 - 2 Thessalonians 3:4.—The reading varies between ποιεῖτε and καὶ ποιεῖτε [Riggenbach’s translation follows the former, which is that of Sin1, while Sin 2 has the other.—J. L.]; the insertion of καὶ ἐποιήσατε before καὶ ποιεῖτε is too feebly supported (B. F. G, but not Sin.).

FN#9 - 2 Thessalonians 3:4.—ὐμῖν is wanting in Sin. B. D 1 Vulg. [It is cancelled by Alford and Ellicott; Lachmann brackets it, as he does also the words καὶ ἐποιήσατε καὶ.—The latter half of the verse is arranged in Greek thus: that the things which we command you ye both do and will do.—J. L.]

FN#10 - 2 Thessalonians 3:5.—[ἁ δὲ κύριος κατευθύναι. Ellicott: “A gentle anithesis (δέ) to what precedes;—‘I doubt you not, my confidence is in the Lord; may Hebrews, however, vouchsafe His blessed aid.’ ”—J. L.]

FN#11 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—Before ὑπομονήν all the uncials give the article τήν, which is omitted by the Elzevir after a few late authorities. The English Version translates ὑπομονή, patience, here in the margin, and always elsewhere, 31times, except Romans 2:7 and 2 Corinthians 1:6. Here it follows the Bishops’ Bible.—J. L.]

FN#12 - für den Glauben empfänglich—the expression employed also by De Wette and Lünemann. It is not, however, of a want of susceptibility of faith in the most desperate class of sinners, that Paul speaks, hut of the actual destitution of faith in some to whom the gospel came. And the fact is “stated in general terms; not so much as something that had just transpired in the particular city or region where the Apostle was now laboring, but rather as something that holds good, as with the force and regularity of a law, wherever the gospel is preached” (Lectures, p560). Comp. Matthew 19:11.—J. L.]

FN#13 - Taken as neuter, τοῦ πονηροῦ might perhaps have “a special reference to the great current of evil which had already begun to flow, and which in the second chapter had been traced; onward to its fatal issue.” Lectures.—J. L.]

FN#14 - ἐφ̓ ὑμᾶς; towards and upon you, in regard to you; Germ, auf euch.—J. L.]

FN#15 - Wir bedürfen beides, Vorsatz und Kraft, von oben—sound doctrine, but scarcely an accurate rendering of: ἀμφοτέρων ἡμῖν χρεία, καὶ προθέσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ τῆς ἄνωθεν συνεργείας.—J. L.]

FN#16 - So—besides Lünemann—Alford, Ellicott, Lectures, “patience such as Christ exhibited.”—J. L.]

FN#17 - See the foot-note to p156.—No doubt, there are degrees of wickedness in unrenewed men, as there are degrees of grace, faith, and holiness in Christian men. But in the case of every Christian man it is true, that his faith is “the gift of God” ( Ephesians 2:8); and of every unrenewed man to whom the gospel comes it is no less true, that his unbelief is the sinful product of a sinful and blinded heart ( John 3:18-20; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 : &c.—J. L.]

FN#18 - Das sei ferne!—the German version of μἡ γένοιτο, which in our English Testament Isaiah, God forbid! Comp. E. V. Genesis 18:25.—J. L.]

FN#19 - Luther’s version of πίστιν παραχῶν πᾶσιν: Jedermann vorhält den Glauben; English margin: offered faith.—J. L.]


Verses 6-16

2. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16

He gives impressive directions as to the treatment of those, who will not desist from a pragmatical idleness

6Now [But][FN20] we command you, brethren, in the name of our[FN21] Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh [walking, περιπατοῦντος] disorderly, and not after the tradition [according to the instruction][FN22] which he [they][FN23] received of [from, παρά] us 7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow [imitate][FN24] us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly [were not disorderly, οὐκ ἠτακτήσαμεν] among you; 8Neither did we eat any man’s bread [bread from any one, ἄρτον παρά τινος] for nought, but wrought with labor and travail night and day [but in toil and travail, working night and day],[FN25] that we might not be chargeable [burdensome][FN26] to any of you: 9Not because we have not power [authority],[FN27] but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us [that we might give ourselves for a pattern unto you to imitate us].[FN28] 10For even [For also],[FN29] when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any [any one] would [will, θέλει] not work, neither should he eat [let him eat, ἐσθιέτω]. 11For we hear that there are some which walk [hear of some walking, ἀκούομεν γάρ τινας περιπατοῦντας] among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies [being b, περιεργαζομένους]. 12Now them that are such [Now such, τοῖς δὲ τοιούτοις] we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ [or: in the L. J. C.],[FN30] that with quietness they work, and eat [working with quietness, they eat, μετὰ ἡσυχίας ἐργαζόμενοιἐσθίωσιν] their own bread 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in[FN31] in well-doing 14 And if any man [But if any one, εἰ δέ τις] obey not our word by this epistle [the ep.],[FN32] note that man, and[FN33] have no company 15 with him, that he may be ashamed [shamed].[FN34] Yet [And][FN35] count him not as an enemy, but admonish him, as a brother 16 Now the Lord of peace Himself give [But may the Lord of peace Himself give, αὐτὸς δὲ Κύριοςδῴη] you peace always by all means [in every way].[FN36] The Lord be with you all.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6.) But we command you, &c.—An adequate foundation having been laid, he conies now to speak of the matter specially in hand. The order is addressed to all the brethren, not, as Olshausen supposes, to the presbyters; Theodoret says merely, that the leaders of the Church must follow this rule. But the meaning of the Apostle Isaiah, in regard to all who are not themselves ἄτακτοι—all on whom he can rely, ὅτι ποιεῖτε καὶ ποιήσετε, &c. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:4)—now to tell them what they have to do.—In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is this command given; as representing Him, standing in Him, we command, have confidence to do so; Chrysostom: It is not we that say it, but the Lord speaks by us; He who has the right to enjoin, and the strength for execution; equivalent to 2 Thessalonians 3:12 : in the Lord, or by the Lord; for the Lord Himself and His name are inseparable. Again, ὑμᾶς is not the object of στέλλεσθαι (this would not suit the middle voice), but the subject in the case of an accusative and infinitive; this occurs elsewhere only when the infinitive has a different accusative from the accusative or dative governed by the finite verb [comp. Acts 1:4 with 1 Corinthians 7:10]; but here ὑμᾶς stands, because παραγγ. ὑμῖν is already somewhat too far removed from the infinitive. The expression στέλλεσθαι Hesychius explains by φοβεῖσθαι; Theodoret by χωρίζεσθαι. The idea starts from a sensuous point of view: timidly to withdraw; hence: to be afraid; 2 Corinthians 8:20, with τοῦτο; but in Malachi 2:5 Sept. with από, in the sense: to be in fear of. Here this meaning is not suitable, since he is not exhorting them to fear, but directing a course of proceeding, the breaking off of intimate intercourse; Galatians 2:12, ὑπέστελλεν ἑαυτόν (because in this case the middle is not used; the ὑπ implies secrecy[FN37]); akin to Romans 16:17, ἐκκλίνατε ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.—From every brother; no such discipline is to be exercised towards those without ( 1 Corinthians 5:11-12), but only towards those who desire to be called brethren. According to Matthew 18:15 sqq. likewise a brother only is the object of Church discipline.—Walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition [instruction] ( 2 Thessalonians 2:15) which they received from us, namely, the brethren, even those ἄτακτοι; comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1. The receiving was through the medium of oral instruction, and this was confirmed by example ( 2 Thessalonians 3:7). On the ἀτάκτως περιπ. see already at 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Here as little as there does it denote a life altogether unregulated by Divine law, and utterly vicious; 2 Thessalonians 3:11 shows that those are rather meant, who without any occupation bustled around in fanatical idleness. Before giving this more precise description of them, he prefixes a still more exact confirmation of his demands. Disorder, connected probably with eschatological excitement ( 2 Thessalonians 2:2), and with this Ewald would also join a mistaken appeal to a fraternal community of goods ( 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12), must with some at least have been on the increase, in spite of the Apostle’s exhortation. For this reason Paul, over against the tender, lenient words of the First Epistle, now applies a second and sharper course of discipline. The point Isaiah, to act vigorously against the unreformed, in order to arrest the contagion, preserve the church, and, if possible, exert by means of the stronger measures a saving influence on the obstinate offenders themselves.

2. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9.) For ye yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6); ye know it by word and deed on our part; he thus justifies the reproach which he makes against them in regard to the παραδόσεις, by setting forth what they themselves knew.—For we were not disorderly (without occupation) among you; he thus confirms the assertion: ye know; we might also connect this, as well as πῶς, &c, and as an explanation of that, with οἴδατε: that we (that is to say) were not disorderly;[FN38] so [Am. Bible Union] Hofmann, who even (clumsily) makes 2 Thessalonians 3:9 still governed by ὅτι.—Neither did we eat bread from any one[FN39] for nought; for nought, as a gift [Alford: there seems to be an allusion in the construction to the original sense of δωρεάν.—J. L.], without paying for it; he speaks humbly, as if labor in the gospel were no labor; that is the way, moreover, in which the worldly mind judges. It is a remark already of the Fathers, that it would not have been δωρεάν, had Paul even performed no manual labor. [See Matthew 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:10.—J. L.] Bread is the plain and main article of food; to eat bread, a Hebraism, אכל לחם ( Genesis 43:25; Luke 14:1), equivalent to the simple ἐσθίειν ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Moreover, the German proverb also says: Whose bread I eat, &c.—But working in toil and travail night and day [But in toil and travail, working night and day],[FN40] that Isaiah, we ate bread, De Wette would needlessly assume that the participle is used irregularly for the finite verb, or that ἦμεν is to be supplied, as at 2 Corinthians 7:5. Much more obvious in the present instance is the supplement ἐφάγομεν, so that ἐργαζόμ. form the antithesis to δωρεάν.—That we might not be burdensome to any of you; comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 sqq.—(What I mean is) not that, or still better: (We did this) not because we have not authority, that Isaiah, to live of the gospel, or here, τοῦ δωρεὰν ἄρτον φαγεῖν, as in 1 Corinthians 9:6, τοῦ μὴ ἐργάζεσθαι; comp. the discussion in 1 Corinthians 9:4-14; Luke 10:7, the laborer is worthy of his hire.That we might give ourselves for a pattern unto you ( 1 Thessalonians 1:7) to imitate us; such was his object, comp. Acts 20:35. Hilgenfeld will have it, that to give the churches in this way an example was merely the result of the apostolic labor, but could not be the original design, as the forger here asserts. But really one cannot see why the Apostle, who represents to us details of his life as providential, as in 1 Corinthians 1:14-15, might not much more readily say with perfect truth, that he had wished to train his churches also by his own example.

3. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10.) For also when we were with you; in confirmation of the example he says: For indeed we also (καὶ γάρ [see Critical Note10]), when we were with you, commanded you that which our example showed you; command and example were harmonious. Lünemann [Alford] puts an improper emphasis on the τοῦτο, when he interprets thus: “For also this we commanded you”; with what other things? This distinction of several commands is here altogether an interpolation, and is besides contradicted by the verbal arrangement. Were we required by καί to seek for some other antithesis than the one indicated by us, it would be far more proper to understand the matter with Hofmann thus: For even when we were with you, already at that time, we commanded you; we do not now for the first time lay upon you a new yoke. At all events we perceive that already at his first visit Paul with keen pastoral insight saw the necessity of the warning. We commanded you, he speaks in the imperfect; this was our repeated order: that, if any one will not work, neither let him eat; if one would not work, as well as the Apostle who did double work, he did not at all deserve that food should be given him. If one will not, although he could; no reproach is cast on those unable to work; nolle vitium est, says Bengel. The word is a proverbial sentence, to which Grotivs and Wetstein adduce many parallels from the Greeks and Rabbins. We are not at ἐσθίειν to think in the first instance of the Holy Supper.

4. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12). For we hear, &c.—Paul explains why the command ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10) was given.—Of some (not many, but even a few are a hurtful leaven, 1 Corinthians 5:6) walking among you disorderly; this is now explained, and that in an earnest word-play, already imitated, by Zwingli in the Swiss dialect: Sy thund nüt und thund zuvil [They do nothing, and do too much.—J. L.]; Calvin: nihil operis agentes, sed curiose satagentes; Ewald: nicht arbeit treibend, sondern sich herumtreibend.[FN41] The περιεργάζεσθαι, Isaiah, in fact, the phantom of a dutiful ἐργάζεσθαι; the giving up of one’s self to idle roving, to aimless bustle, to by-matters and other people’s concerns, with which we have properly nothing to do; instead of, as we ought, τὰ ἴδια πράσσειν ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11). The adjective περίεργος is found 1 Timothy 5:13; comp. Acts 19:19, τὰ περίεργα πράσσειν. Thus already in that time of freshest life there appeared this frivolous humor under the pretext of activity for the kingdom of God. A further stage of degeneracy is afterwards described in Philippians 3:19; Romans 16:18.—Now such (those who are of this sort) we command; addressing himself, though indirectly and in the third person, to those very persons; it was to be expected that all would be present at the reading of the letter ( 1 Thessalonians 5:25), and that no one would avoid listening to it. He at once softens his language, and speaks still in a more kindly tone, as he also requires at 2 Thessalonians 3:15 : and exhort; αὐτούς is now to be taken out of the dative τοιούτοις, by an obvious zeugma: in the Lord Jesus Christ; in Him our exhortation has its strength. If we read διά, then it is: by means of Him, while we avail ourselves of His name, and by His sacred person give impressiveness to our words: as you love the Lord Jesus, and fellowship with Him. The subject of the exhortation is expressed in the form of the object: that working with quietness they eat their own bread; ἡσυχία, comp. ἡσυχάζειν, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, denotes rest, inward composure, retiredness, and avoidance of show, and stands opposed to περιεργάζεσθαι; their own bread, that is honestly earned, obtained by faithful and diligent labor with God’s blessing, not begged bread, implies therefore ἐργάζ., and stands in opposition to the δωρεάν of 2 Thessalonians 3:8.

5. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:13.) But ye, brethren; he thus turns once more to those free from blame, and them only he accosts with cordial address.—Be not weary, dispirited ( 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16); in all the New Testament instances we find the variation ἐγκακεῖν (written also ἐνκακεῖν) given by the oldest authorities, instead of ἐκκακεῖν. The sense, as developed by Passow, is at the most according to the etymological genesis slightly different (to be cowardly in anything, or to turn out cowardly),[FN42] but in the end both come to the same thing; ἐκκακεῖν not being common elsewhere, the copyists probably introduced their familiar ἐγκ.—Become not disheartened in well-doing. Calvin, Estius, Pelt, De Wette, Ewald, Von Gerlach, and most others, refer the word to beneficence, and without question this thought would suit very well. That is to say, the Apostle, having in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 forbidden a mistaken almsgiving, now glances also at the opposite danger. After many disturbing, discouraging experiences of dishonesty, unworthiness, sloth, abuse of kindnesses, it is necessary to check the growth of displeasure and distrust, lest those who are in real distress should have to suffer innocently. Chrysostom even remarks particularly, that Paul’s meaning is that the idle should be punished, but not left to famish; Theodoret: Bodily support is not to be withdrawn from the delinquents, any more than from sick members; others: They should be dealt with patiently, till they are trained to self-dependence. But Grotius, Bengel, Rieger, Olshausen, Lünemann, Hofmann [Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott], properly object, that the meaning of καλοποιεῖν is wider and more comprehensive, namely, to act honorably; Lünemann: as is right and proper; Bengel: bene facientes, etiam manuum industria; comp. Galatians 6:9; and in our Epistle substantially 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:17. The same expositors, however, do again partially restrict the meaning in another way. Lünemann thinks that, since 2 Thessalonians 3:14 shows that the discourse still turns on the same theme, we are to understand it thus: Be not discouraged, but persist in not allowing yourselves to be tainted by the evil example. Hofmann finds this too exclusively negative, and therefore takes the more exact definition this way: Become not weary in doing what is befitting, whatever, that Isaiah, conduces to the welfare of the moral community. To this we are able to assent, only with the remark, that we understand the phrase as comprehensively as possible—as including, therefore, both their own unblamable walk, steady, loving, earnest discipline ( 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15), and also a due beneficence. Suffer not yourselves by any means to become weary in the performance of your duty; act in every way as followers of God ( Matthew 5:45; Starke).

[Lectures: After the solemn command and exhortation in the 12 th verse to the idlers, the Apostle immediately turns round again to the sound portion of the church, and seeks first, before proceeding with his disciplinary instructions, to confirm them in their more consistent course. But ye, brethren, whatever others may do, and great as are your discouragements within the church, as well as from without, be not weary in doing what is right. Unaffected by these examples of a restless fanaticism and ignoble indolence, do still as you have done hitherto. Lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty. And, in particular, see to it that nothing in your own opinions or sentiments be suffered to interrupt the diligent prosecution of your lawful callings.—J. L.] Wisely, plainly, in few words, Paul says whatever is needful in all directions.

6. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.) But if any one obey not, &c.—What has just been said is not to be understood in the sense of a spurious complaisance that does not do what is really good. Paul speaks with the authority of truth, though not so strongly moved, because the case is not so frightful, as in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. The words διὰ τῆς ἐπιστ. are annexed by [Erasmus] Calvin, Luther, Grotius, Bengel, Pelt [the English margin], and others, to what follows. Luther: Note that man by a letter; and Winer as late as the 6 th edition (189, Note3) marks this as at least a possible interpretation. But Olshausen, De Wette, Lünemann, Ewald, Hofmann [and most others] are with reason opposed to it, and connect the words (as is already done by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Beza) with what precedes. There are these objections to the first-mentioned interpretation: 1. The article, διὰ τῆς ἐπ. (wanting only in F. G.) is not naturally explained; Winer’s account of it: in the letter which you have then to write, which I then hope to receive from you, is certainly too artificial; and this the more Song of Solomon, because2. διὰ τῆς ἐπ. from its prominent position would have an altogether unaccountable emphasis. But again, 3. the middle σημειοῦσθε would not be very suitable, since ἡμῖν might rather have been expected. And lastly, 4. as to the matter itself, it would be very strange, that Paul should have kept the churches in such a state of dependence, as to require an epistolary record of every offender, as if it were necessary that he should pronounce or at least sanction the punishment. Von Gerlach thinks that this happens only on account of the newness and inexperience of the church. Still what a paralysis of all self dependence would this have involved! How difficult also would it have been even to comply with the injunction, since Paul certainly was not stationary always in the same place. And having just told them how they were to proceed, is it to be supposed that he again takes the matter out of their hand? Hebrews, who in a far worse case reproaches the Corinthians for not having themselves interfered ( 1 Corinthians 5:2)? Everything, then, concurs against this explanation. But that of Bengel and Pelt is not tenable: By means of this letter (this very Second Epistle to the Thessalonians), relying on it, holding it forth to him, proceed against him; Bengel: notate (hunc) nota censoria; but this is not at all the import of σημειοῦσθε. Accordingly, διὰ τῆς ἐπιστ. must be closely connected with τῷ λόγῳ ἡμῶν, although the article τῷ is not repeated; it might be omitted (Winer, § 20:2), because the whole from τῷ to ἐπιστ. forms together but one idea. ἐπιστ. is the present Second Epistle, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 it is the First. Hence: If any one obey not our word announced to him by the reading of this Epistle (especially 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:12); or (Lünemann): my command renewed by means of this Epistle; that man σημειοῦσθε. This word in the middle signifies, to note for one’s self; it is used of physicians who mark the symptoms of disease; also of grammarians who make remarks: σεμείωσαι, note this. Hence: Note him for yourselves, mark him down, as one to be avoided. Bengel compares the synonymous παραδειγματίζειν; Chrysostom adds as a statement of the object: that he may not remain hidden. The meaning is not simply: “Make him known by all withdrawing from him;” but: “Point him out by an agreement in the church, in order that this may be done.” The sense is essentially the same, whether we read καὶ μὴ συναναμίγνυσθε, or μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι (the latter reading is perhaps to be explained by the influence of 1 Corinthians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:11). The passage runs more correctly, if we read: Mark him for yourselves in order μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι, &c, καὶ μὴ ὡς ἐχθρὸν ἡγεῖσθε, without αὐτόν, because here likewise belongs still the previous τοῦτον; whereas the omission is not so natural, if a separate imperative with the dative has intervened. Still this is far from being conclusive. With the other reading the inaccuracy is not greater than perhaps at 2 Thessalonians 3:12.[FN43] The Apostle’s command Isaiah, not to mix themselves up, that Isaiah, to have no dealings, with such a one, to cultivate no fraternal intercourse with him. It is essentially the same as had already been enjoined in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, στέλλεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπό, &c.; except only that what was there indicated as the act of individuals appears in this instance to be a general proceeding of the great majority; if nearly all did Song of Solomon, and that by agreement, it was no longer an act merely of individual members, but of the church. The design of it was: that he may be shamed; Ewald: that he may repent and reform. The active is found at 1 Corinthians 4:14; here we have the passive (not middle), as in Titus 2:8; the middle with τινά (in classical Greek, πινός) signifies, to regard one, fear him ( Luke 18:2). The passive, on the other hand, will mean: that he may be brought to the point of turning in upon himself; that he may be led by disapprobation to a knowledge of himself.—And count him not as an enemy; that is to say, as an enemy of God and the church; ὡς might be dispensed with; it makes more strongly prominent the subjective side of the conception [Ellicott: “ὡς being used (here almost pleonastically …) to mark the aspect in which he was not to be regarded.”—J. L.], and is indeed a Hebraism, comp. חָשַׁב כְּ, Sept. ἡγ. ὥσπερ ( Job 19:11). The connection with what precedes is made by καί, not δέ. No doubt, καί like the Hebrew וְ frequently serves for a connection that is loose in form, while yet really marking opposition. But here it is still more simple to understand Paul as having in his eye as the main exhortation what follows ὰλλά, and as merely in the first instance removing with μὴ ὡς, &c. what might stand in the way of wholesome admonition. [Ellicott: “καί …, with its usual and proper force, subjoins to the previous exhortation a further one that was fully compatible with it, and in fact tended to show the real principle on which the command was given: it was not punitive, but corrective.” Revision: “That the moral result aimed at (ἵνα ἐντραπῇ) may not be hindered, this, of course, must be the spirit and style of your discipline: count him not,” &c.—J. L.] Accordingly: Admonish him as a brother; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:12; properly: set his mind right. Theophylact: νουδετεῖν is not ὀνειδίζειν. The Apostle immediately repeats his warning against an excess of human severity. Due admonition belongs to brotherly love ( Leviticus 19:17). Inconceivably capricious is the assertion of Hilgenfeld (p262), that disorderly idlers did not attain to this superior importance until the rise of Christian heresy, or that the later writer endows mere idlers with the features of error in Christian doctrine. But in truth there is not in the text a single hint of this sort. For it would be a groundless and arbitrary abuse of 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, to regard it as a proof of the heretical character of the ἀτάκτως περιπατοῦντες. Thus too we lose the instructive fact, that Paul already expresses himself with wholesome rigor against things, which we perhaps judge too loosely.

7. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:16.) But may the Lord, &c.—This closing prayer is the fourth solemn desire in this short Epistle; Paul is full of prayer and supplication. The turn of the phrase is the same as in 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:16. In opposition to your doing, the Lord Himself must show you and impart to you what is right. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 the word is: θεὸς τῆς εἰρ.; but here: the Lord of peace; and that is not the Father, as Wetstein thinks, and Hilgenfeld, who sees therein a trace of spuriousness! but Christ, who has this peace, and authority to dispense it, the Prince of peace ( Isaiah 9:5, 6]; John 14:21; John 20:19 sqq.) Why should it not have been just as possible for Paul to call Him Song of Solomon, as κύριος τῆς δόξης ( 1 Corinthians 2:8)?—Give you peace; that is something greater than merely agreement amongst yourselves, though the taming of the refractory (Calvin) is included in it. But, in particular, the article shows that we are here to understand peace in the whole compass of its meaning—everything pertaining to it—above all, peace with God, inviolate life and salvation, and the full, joyful sense of that; finally, a peace that overspreads the entire world. Lünemann remarks, as Theodoret before him, that to wish one peace at the conclusion of letters is the Christian modification of ἔῤῥωσθε.—May He give you this always (so διὰ παντός is to be understood likewise at Romans 11:10) in every way; comp. Philippians 1:18, παντὶ τρόπῳ without ἐν; the import of the last phrase is: in every sense, and therefore to a larger extent than simply in the last-mentioned relations; this thought is given with specifications in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. He concludes in the briefest style with the benediction: The Lord be with you all; therefore also with the erring.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9.) On the manual labor of the Apostle, see at 1 Thessalonians 2:9, the Doctrinal and Ethical Note6. There the question is primarily about obviating suspicion, as if he sought his own profit; here he completes what was there said with the positive consideration, that his aim in that matter had also been to train them by his example to Christian diligence. In the preacher everything preaches, says Harms; and many things are better taught by example than by word. Paul clearly recognizes the right of preachers of the gospel to be paid; but in his Gentile mission he ordinarily waived it, that he might be burdensome to no one, keep no one by it from the gospel, avoid even the appearance of selfishness (I seek not yours, but you, 2 Corinthians 12:14), and make the gospel without charge ( 1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 11:1), so that it should appear as really a gift of free grace. It is still in our day a surprise to the heathen, when missionaries do not like merchants seek for gain amongst them. The Apostle thus continued free from a dependence injurious to the gospel, kept under his body ( 1 Corinthians 9:27), and gave the churches an example of industry in union with godliness. His conduct formed a very marked contrast to the proud Roman contempt for manual labor, and is also a rare instance of a Divinely refreshed elasticity of spirit. It is a great thing so to walk, that the appeal can be made to the glory of God: Imitate us. It is important that the pastor and his house should in all respects preach also to the eye, and should feel a joy in setting an example. This requires a self discipline, before which arrogance disappears. The last and highest point no doubt is: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 11:1).

2. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13.) Here the Apostle states the principles of a sound Christian support of the poor (comp. on 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, Doctrinal and Ethical Notes4–6). The rule in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 goes back to the primary command in Genesis 3:19, that curse which yet is equally a blessing ( Psalm 128:2), and which is not to be nastily set aside under a pretence of spirituality, but in fact through fleshly indulgence and sloth. An excitement that does not go deep easily brings with it such disdain of outward activity, that a person fancies himself raised in heavenly rapture above labor, almost as if it were dishonorable. Here, then, the test is very soberly applied: Art thou raised also above eating? like the angels (Bengel)? In the Old Testament, especially the Proverbs (comp. also Psalm 37:21), industry is more largely spoken of; in the New Testament the heavenly calling preponderates, but this, wherever it is necessary, with a very plain and sober protest against misapprehension and abuse. The gospel Cannot be degraded into a mere hod-carrier for civil uses, but no less does it repel all such noxious perversity as would bring1. an unmerited reproach on Divine truth, and2. damage to the heart of the erring themselves, a sore recovery from a brief debauch. God, it is true, cares for the birds and the lilies, but for them according to the nature of birds and lilies, and for men, in the way that is good for men. In our text the sharpest discipline is appointed for idleness, even of the refined, seemingly pious sort: it is to reap its natural fruit, namely, want and hunger. So then, you are to work; not all with your hands; head-work also is work. Even those who give should observe the principle of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, and not by an improper bestowal of charity out of their own or the public means injure the recipient, and confirm him in his sin. Alms is ἐλεημοσύνη); but it is an evil tenderness, to foster an immoral mendicity. What a repudiation is there in our passage of the mendicant orders, who made their τάξις to consist in living ἀτάκτως! Bengel inquires: What would Paul have said to such vows? not to mention that such beggars affect to be the greatest saints. The dignity of the individual, and inevitably also his religious independence, are depressed and enslaved by the enjoyment of alms received in indolence. A different thing is innocent poverty; as a Divine humiliation, it may exert a salutary influence. Stockmeyer: The Apostle does not say that whoever does not work shall not eat. That were harsh and unmerciful. For many a man does not work, who yet should eat; the old, who have passed their life in labor, and whose strength for labor has thus been exhausted, these have an honorable place reserved for them at the table of the prosperous; those in like manner, who through bodily or mental infirmity are incapacitated for work, have a free seat at the table of love; and, lastly, such as would fain labor, but just at present they find no work; they themselves beg: “Give us not bread, give us work; we desire to eat our own bread;” to them work should be given, but, until that is found, they should not be left to perish. Only to those who will not work does the Apostle’s injunction apply. There is no reason to fear that any one will thus die of hunger. Before it comes to that, hunger will drive to labor, and for the idler that is the greatest kindness, indeed his salvation. To give blindly, wherever we are applied to, is frequently to do, not a favor, but an injury. It is true, however, that little is done by merely turning away from the idler, and regarding him as an enemy of society. He is still a brother, though an erring one, who deserves to be shamed and censured in earnest ( 2 Thessalonians 3:15), and, if we are not yet at liberty to open to him the liberal hand, we are not to refuse him the hand of brotherly compassion, that seeks to lead him in the right way.—Amongst those who are suffered to eat, without having to work, children also are to be numbered; not, however, the rich. Stockmeyer explains how the blessing of a quiet, orderly condition becomes ours only through faithful, unassuming labor. Many persons, indeed, are so burdened with work, that we might well desire for them more leisure for the tranquil culture of the inner man. Still, less depends on freedom in that respect, than on the right direction of the heart. And when labor itself exerts a whole some influence on the soul of Prayer of Manasseh, it leads it from dissipation into a state of collectedness, from caprice to orderliness, from bustle to calmness, so that indeed during labor it finds time for self-introspection, and for sanctifying and strengthening itself in looking upwards to God. Idleness, on the other hand, has precisely the opposite effect. Though the body enjoys a lazy quiet, the spirit roves the more restlessly to and fro, and becomes the prey of the most unregulated thoughts and desires. And then there is work of the most various kinds, from the cultivation of the soil into fruitful fields, on through all the relations of life, to the culture of man’s spirit and heart itself. In this task every one should be interested, every one on his part by orderly activity contributing to the good of the whole. Those, therefore, to whose lot wealth has fallen, without their having needed to earn it, have before men a certain right to eat their bread even without labor; but not before God, if they would be His good stewards, nor yet before themselves, if they desire their own profit. This must be urgently impressed on their heart: Find work for yourselves along with your bread; if you have no need to work for yourselves, work for others, work for the general good; only then will the blessing rest on your bread.—Amidst the many disappointments which one experiences in intercourse with the indigent, it may become a difficult thing for the naturally selfish heart to preserve its love. It must be made a matter of earnest study, to be evermore a cheerful giver. But on the whole (Stockmeyer) there is so much to make us weary in well-doing. Sometimes it seems to us that the work required of us is really too much; sometimes it seems to be as it were in vain, and crowned with no result; sometimes even, instead of encouragement, we meet with nothing but misconception and ingratitude. But how is it that the Apostle can forbid us to become weary? We become so without wishing to do so. Yes, but one may wish to get the better of his weariness, and in this we are aided by the fountain of refreshment and strength, to which we are pointed in that reference to the love of God which appoints unto us an eternal Sabbath, and to the patience of Christ, who had to experience still greater ingratitude, and seemed to labor with even less result, than we ( 2 Thessalonians 3:5).

3. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.) The injunction here given by the Apostle Isaiah, after the extraordinary judgment on Ananias and Sapphira, and the penal sentence on Simon the sorcerer, the first example of Church discipline. It is the more worthy of notice on account of the Apostle’s subjecting to it an error, which we probably should not have regarded so seriously. With a keen spiritual insight he practises the principiis obsta, as in 1 Corinthians 11:3 sqq.; where he resists with such marked emphasis the first stirrings of a Women’s Emancipation. On Church discipline comp. Godet’s Report in the Swiss Reformed Preachers’ Association at Neuenburg, 1850, and Fabri on Kirchenzucht im Sinn und Geist des Evangdiums, Stuttgard, 1854. Both agree in proving Church discipline of a genuine and thoroughly evangelical kind to be an act of severity proceeding from love, and in recognizing in the historical development of excommunication a very unevangelical penalty, and one rather befitting the police. Both incline somewhat too much towards reducing all Church discipline to a cure of souls. The ground-text from which they properly start is Matthew 18:15 sqq. As we are to give no offence to our neighbors ( Matthew 3:6 sqq.), so just as little are we to sin against them by neglecting to admonish them. It is a brother who is liable to censure. If he will be a Christian, and still persists in a sin that is inconsistent with his Christian profession, he should be convicted of this contradiction, first privately, and, if that does not avail, then by taking with us one or two witnesses. Neither in the case of the first complainant, nor of these further witnesses, is there any assertion of the need of an official character. Only they must be Christians, whose hearts are affected by the injury done to the Christtian calling. If again he hear not the two or three, then tell it to the Church,—her, namely, whose establishment and invincibleness were spoken of in Matthew 16:18. And if he hear not the Church also, let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican. In the earlier stages a protest was made from his confession against his sin, but now it is from his sin, since he will not forsake it, against his confession. Let him be to thee as a heathen, that Isaiah, to thee, the first complainant; nor is this to be at once generalized. But certainly there is now further connected herewith a promise given by the Lord to His disciples, that whatever they bind or loose on earth shall be ratified likewise in heaven. They have made God’s cause theirs; God now makes their cause His; and, if they have no other weapons than the prayers of two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus, He will hear their prayers, and will cause the binding and loosing to act with power.

In 1 Corinthians5. we meet with a case, in which Paul reproaches the church for not having taken measures against a peculiarly grievous scandal. There too he by no means makes the office bearers especially responsible. There too the Prayer of Manasseh, whom discipline should have reached, is one who desires to pass for a brother, and nevertheless holds fast stubbornly to his sin ( 2 Thessalonians 3:11). In that instance Paul omits the first and second exhortations, because in a notoriously bad case these were no longer admissible. But he insists that the church, to be free from participation in the guilt, should have broken off all intercourse with the impenitent sinner ( 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:11); and he further declares, by virtue of his apostolic authority, yet in such a way that it appears to be the rule which the Corinthians should have executed, that he delivers that wicked person unto Satan; he does not mean, to damnation, but, if possible, for salvation, namely, for the destruction of the flesh, to a bodily disease, or some such trial, that the spirit may be saved ( 2 Thessalonians 3:5; comp. 1 Timothy 1:20 [ 1 Corinthians 11:30]). The suspension of intercourse answers to the word, let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican; the delivery to Satan, on the other hand, is a special mode of binding, and is effected through the prayer of faith, invoking, when necessary, a terrible punishment as a means of salutary discipline. This, of course, can be imitated in a very evil and fleshly style; but however often fanatical priests may have practised such an abuse, this does not annul the legitimate use, that keeps within the limits of the word and spirit of Scripture. Men are required, who really have the Spirit ( John 20:22-23), or who pray sincerely in the name of Jesus ( Matthew 18:19-20); only such can practise especially this extreme measure. And then it is just as important, not to neglect a timely restoration; as the Apostle sets us the example, when he will not allow that the unhappy man be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, and so destroyed by Satan ( 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:11).

In Thessalonica the question was not about anything so unusually wicked, as there in Corinth. For this reason, there is as yet in the meanwhile no mention of a delivery to Satan, but simply of the rupture of brotherly intimacy. As Bengel says, the affair was a labes quæ non nisi lautas animas tentat. And therefore the offenders here are not to be regarded as publicans and heathens, but as brethren who must be admonished, and who accordingly must even be told what there is against them. They must be dealt with as diseased, not as amputated, members.

It has been asked whether in the suspension of brotherly intercourse, which according to 1 Corinthians 5:11 was a refusal to eat together, carried with it an exclusion from the Holy Supper. Godet will not admit of the inference, that, if not even ordinary fellowship at table was granted to him, then much less was the Supper; this he thinks not at all self-evident, the first being a matter of personal allowance, the second not so. But the distinction is perhaps too nice, and for the apostolic age especially untenable. A publican or a heathen might be present at the preaching of the word, but he had no part in the fraternal repast. The shrine of the covenant was for no one who was delivered unto Satan. Nor indeed was the Supper at that time observed as a separate act of worship; it formed the conclusion of the love-feast or agape, and the two together were called δεῖπνον κυριακόν. If the one half of this was refused, then, of course, so was the other. On this point, therefore, Fabri also does not agree with Godet. What most readily admits still of a doubt in our passage Isaiah, how far the discipline reached, since it is here said expressly: not as an enemy, but as a brother admonish him. At any rate, however, the apostolic writings do not anticipate an insolent demand for the Supper on the part of those under censure, but repentance unto life.

Then as to the manner in which the church declares itself, that is not, it is true, clearly defined. When Jesus says: Should he not hear the church, the church must have found some way of expressing its mind. The mode is left undetermined; but our passage shows that, as soon as the church as a whole, or by a large majority, obeyed the word of the Apostle, the στέλλεσθαι, an individual affair in the first instance, came to be a σημειοῦσθαι on the part of the church. Because nowadays we do not generally have churches, that could in this way harmoniously express themselves in the Spirit of the Lord, we are not at liberty to deny the existence of such a state of things even in the apostolic age. At present there may be no possibility of anything much beyond the private care of souls; but this does not prove that church discipline is essentially nothing but the private care of souls. Nor is the design of it by any means solely the reformation of the offender. When the Basle Confession says: es bannet die christenliche Kylch nit dann umb Besserung willen [the Christian Church does not excommunicate for the sake of amendment], it also supplements this onesidedness by exhibiting the other object: damil die Kilch jr Gestalt sovil möglich on Masen (ohne Flecken) behalte [that the Church may preserve its aspect as free from blemishes as possible). In other words, the restoration of the erring person is certainly the first thing aimed at by the genuine earnestness of love; but whether he repents or not, it is just as important to save the church from a spreading scandal, and the church conscience from moral stupefaction; and not less Song of Solomon, finally, is the removal of any such stain as would imperil the outward missionary calling of the church ( 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 10:32). Discipline, therefore, contemplates something beyond the mere influence on individuals. It Isaiah, as Nitzsch says, a judicial act. So it is understood likewise in the Articles of Schmalkald, III:9, where the lesser excommunication is very briefly spoken of, for the purpose, chiefly, of pressing the distinction between it and civil penalties; and just so in the Heidelberg Catechism, Quest85.

How is it with us to-day? By a manifold unchristian banning and cursing; by an admixture of civil penalties, of such, in particular, as by disgracing exasperated; and by a wicked distinction of classes, there has so much damage been done to the practice of ecclesiastical discipline, that a zealous rigorism, which would reëstablish the old methods, has here the least possible prospect of any result whatever. But, while in our circumstances the setting aside of an unevangelical Church police merits the highest approval, it is not so with the widespread relaxation of all discipline, and the resentment of many against whatever looks like it. When an officer of Berne was required to see that his soldiers, after a night riotously passed in drinking and whoring, were on the next morning without any rebuke whatever ordered to the Holy Supper, it is conceivable that the wounded conscience might be driven even to separation. And yet it is not said that this expedient was the right one. But a private proceeding, which without arrogance testifies an unwillingness to be made a partaker of another’s guilt through intercourse with the sinner, as if we favored his sin ( 2 John 1:10-11), that is the duty incumbent first of all on the individual. It will be blessed, the more one is willing to suffer for the truth. The στέλλεσθαι, performed by one or a few, when many are not yet ripe for it, is an act of fidelity to the apostolic word; and a prayer of two or three has in this case a special promise from the Lord. Roos: The directions are left still standing in the Bible, if peradventure it may be possible for small societies here and there to make use of them; and we wait for better times, when their use will be more complete and general.

4. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:16.) Roos: When animosity was mingled with exhortation, or self-willed people despised it, it might produce discord. Paul therefore wishes for them peace in the heart, in the family, and the church; peace with the Lord, with their stumbling brethren, and also, so far as possible, with those without.—Not by covering up what is evil, but by overcoming it, is true peace to be obtained. The sin that troubles it must be extinguished. But that we should have to contend with our neighbors should not cease, however necessary it may be, to be painful to us. Peace must ever be our aim. A cheerful warfare in the spirit of peace only the Lord of peace can give.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

2 Thessalonians 3:6 sqq. in connection with 2 Thessalonians 3:5. Roos: A directing of the heart into the love of God is necessary, when we are to denounce something that is opposed to the glory of God, and abolish it in ourselves or others; and a directing of the heart into the patience of Christ is necessary, if, according to the injunction in 2 Thessalonians 3:15, zeal is not to be carried too far.

2 Thessalonians 3:6. Disorder may arise in the best churches.—Berl. Bib.: To command in the name of Jesus Christ requires the humility and long-suffering of Jesus.

Calvin: Those live disorderly, who reflect not on the end of their creation; those orderly, who walk according to the commandments of God.—Roos: These people were not idle, but they did not attend to their own business, but meddled with the affairs of others, and so did not maintain the necessary quietness. Their work, accordingly, was no work, but a restless occupation that was troublesome to others. They ran around (Diedrich) in restlessness, excitement, inaction, and eccentricity.—Calvin calls such sponging drones.—Heubner: If one found no companions, that of itself must be an end of his enjoyment.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9. Calvin: Our teaching has much more weight, when we lay no burden on others but what we bear ourselves.—Chrysostom: Talking is easy for every one; the difficulty is in acting, when there is need for it.—Heubner: A position of high consideration often misleads into taking undue liberties.—Diedrich: (The Apostle acted thus) that they might see, that a Christian should work and earn his own bread.—Mental labor is by many not reckoned to be really labor.—Calvin: All men are not so reasonable, as to acknowledge what is due to a minister of the word; many grudge them their living, as if they were idlers.—Paul insists on the right, but shows them (Diedrich) that he would rather do double work, than accept of a gratuitous support.—Heubner: The common maxim is: I do not put myself to inconvenience for the sake of others.—The same: True freedom restricts itself.

2 Thessalonians 3:10. Heubner: Every morsel admonishes: Dost thou deserve to taste?

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12. Περιεργάζεσθαι is in French: faire des riens.—Diedrich: Such fanatical, labor-shirking folks fancy that they are beyond all others zealous, pious, and holy. At such fanaticism weak people are accustomed readily to stare.—Stähelin: It is sinful indolence, when one does not Christianly labor in an honorable calling. But that calling is honorable, which in itself is not displeasing to God, nor scandalous to our neighbor, but in which we are led by God to stand, and to which we are permitted to ask His assistance. Idleness and Christianity do not agree. The more pious the Christian, the more diligent the worker.—Starke: He who without necessity eats other people’s bread is no better than a thief.—Diedrich: Our glory and our heavenly treasure we have within; we can therefore perform all outward labor, and should do so willingly, that we may serve our time by what is temporal. They who belong to the eternal Lord should not beg or steal what is temporal. Thus (in such a seemingly lowly way) will God perfect us for the highest glory.

[Scott: A slothful man is a scandal to any society, but most to a religious society.—Lectures: What a practical, reasonable, orderly thing Christianity is! It would have every man at work—at work of some kind—and every man at his own work.—The same: And cat their own bread! How often has that one noble phrase quickened the pulse, and nerved the arm, of honest industry! It has done more for the, poor of Christendom, in Protestant countries at least, than all the devices of philanthropy and all the provisions of law.—J. L.]

2 Thessalonians 3:13. Zwingli: Many call those good works, which are not at all good. Nothing is good, but what comes from God.—Diedrich: Become not weary in this good way of a sober, discreet walk.—Roos: (Paul’s wish is that) they should not drive this precept ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) too far, and, if those brethren should perhaps be unable fully to earn their own bread, they are not to be reluctant to help them.—Chrysostom: It is not the giving, but the misconduct of the beggar, that should cause us pain.—Berl. Bib.: Fret not thyself because of evil-doers ( Psalm 37:1; Psalm 37:8).—Rieger: The Apostle had frequent occasion to warn against despondency ( 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 3:13).

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. Apostolic Church discipline presupposes genuine churches, wherein the rule of God’s word is recognized, and those who have the Spirit decide. Chrysostom already bewails the decay of discipline.—Roos: Paul demands obedience, and hints at still greater severity. He writes at one time mildly, at another sharply, according to the exigencies of persons and cases as they occurred. He desires to draw the upright Thessalonians also into fellowship in his zeal.—Church discipline should not merely exclude gross scorners, but should also hold members living in the dissipation of inactivity to quietness and work.—Roos: Penitent shame makes all right again.—It looks well, when the few disorderly persons blush at being put to shame by the reserve of others.—Rieger: Many a man in his self-love and fond fancy supposes that he hits it far better than others; but by the withdrawal of confidence and intercourse he must be made to feel, that he has reason to be ashamed.—Calvin: Not flattery, but exhortation, is the true sign of love.—Roos: Matters stand ill in a Christian church, when we are not able and willing to shame disorderly persons by withdrawing from them, and treating them with reserve. In such a case love has not salt enough.—In how many places is the mass composed of the listless or the malevolent!—Roos: Who will make them blush, when they are defiant, and not ashamed of wickedness?

2 Thessalonians 3:16. Rieger: We need peace in the Church, in the commonwealth, in households, marriages, families, trades, in regard to eating one’s own bread, in regard to opinions, wherein one is often puffed up against another. But (Von Gerlach): Peace, not at the cost of the holy war against impurities, but just by means of such a conflict.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-16. Stockmeyer: The word of God would especially take under its discipline and care our inner Prayer of Manasseh, and implant in us a heavenly mind, but not as if earthly relations were something altogether indifferent, or even something so low, that the Christian is not at all to meddle with them. Rather, the heavenly mind is to show itself in those very things ( Luke 16:10).

Footnotes:

FN#20 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—[δέ. Revision: “So far is it from being true, however, that the love of God and the patience of Christ are incompatible with the maintenance of a proper discipline, &c.” Ordinarily, indeed, this δέ is regarded as merely μεταβατικόν. Webster and Wilkinson think it refers to παραγγ. in 2 Thessalonians 3:4=Now the command I have to give you is.—J. L.]

FN#21 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—Only B. D1 E 1 omit ἡμῶν; the great majority of authorities have it; also. Sin. [It is bracketed by Lachmann, and cancelled by Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott.—J. L.]

FN#22 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—[κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν. See 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Critical Note22, and 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Critical Note7.—J. L.]

FN#23 - 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—The third person plural, if not genuine, would least of all have come by correction presenting as it does a slight inaccuracy of style;—παντός points to a plurality, and so the sequel treats of the ἀτάκτοις in the plural. The Recepta παρέλαβε has scarcely any support at all; παρελάβετε [Lachmann] is given, indeed, by B. F. G, but obviously as a correction; we have therefore to read either παέλαβον (with Sin2 D. E. K. L, &c. [approved by Mill, and edited by Bengel, Knapp, Scholz, Schott.—J. L.]), or still better παρελάβοσαν (with Sin1 A. D1 [Griesbach, Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott, &c.—J. L.]), the rarer (Alexandrian) form; see Winer, § 132; Romans 3:13; and the Septuagint often.

FN#24 - 2 Thessalonians 3:7.—[μιμεῖσθαι: comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:6.—J. L.]

FN#25 - 2 Thessalonians 3:8.—[ἀλλ’ ἐν (Sin.: ἀλλὰ ἐν κόπῳ καἱ μόχθῳ, νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι. See foot-note to p162.—Lachmann reads νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, after Sin. B. F. G.—J. L.]

FN#26 - 2 Thessalonians 3:8.—[As in 1 Thessalonians 2:9.—J. L.]

FN#27 - 2 Thessalonians 3:9.—[ἐξουσίαν. This word is rendered authority 29 times in our Common Version, and so here in nearly all the older, and in many modern, English Versions. Others have right.—J. L.]

FN#28 - 2 Thessalonians 3:9.—[ἵνα ἐαυτοὺς τύπον (see 1 Thessalonians 1:7, Critical Note7) δῶμεν ὑμῖν εἰς τὸ μιμεῖσθαι ἡμᾶς.—J. L.]

FN#29 - 2 Thessalonians 3:10.—[καὶ γάρ. Revision: “And you cannot well doubt that such was our design. For not only by our example did we inculcate this rule, but also by express precept.” Ellicott makes this γάρ “coördinate with the preceding γάρ in 2 Thessalonians 3:7” (so Lünemann), and finds here a “second confirmation of the wisdom and pertinence of the preceding warning that they ought to avoid those that were walking disorderly.”—The τοῦτο before παρμγγέλλομεν is wanting in Sin1, but supplied, by correction.—J. L.]

FN#30 - Sin2 D3 E2 K. L.], is moreover the more usual with παρακαλεῖν.

FN#31 - 2 Thessalonians 3:13.—[For ἐκκακήσητε, Schott, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott, read ἐγ (Sin.) or ἐνκακήσητε.—J. L.]

FN#32 - 2 Thessalonians 3:14.—[τῆς ἐπιστολῆς; Revision: ‘ ‘which I have just written, and which he will soon hear read.” Ellicott, however: “This, perhaps, may remain as one of the few cases in which idiom and euphony may justify us in retaining the pronominal translation;” as does likewise Alford.—J. L.]

FN#33 - 2 Thessalonians 3:14.—The καί is wanting in A. B. Sin. D2 E. [Lachmann], and with this is connected the fact, that nearly the same authorities give the infinitive συναναμίγνυσθαι, [Lachmann]; many codd, to be sure, are constantly confounding as and e, as the Sin. also just before gives σημειοῦσθαι; see the exposition. [Riggenbach brackets καί.—J. L.]

FN#34 - 2 Thessalonians 3:14.—[See 1 Corinthians 4:14; and so Ellicott here.—J. L.]

FN#35 - 2 Thessalonians 3:15.—[καί. See the exposition.—J. L.]

FN#36 - 2 Thessalonians 3:16.—[ἐν παντὶ τρόπῳ. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.—J. L.] The only suitable reading τρόπῳ is sufficiently supported by A2 B. Sin. D3 E. K. L, Versions and Fathers; τόπῳ (A1 D1 F. G. [Vulgate]) arose probably from such places as 1 Corinthians 1:2, and was improperly favored by Beza and Grotius. [Lachmann alone edits it.—J. L.]

The other various readings— 2 Thessalonians 3:8, νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, instead of νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν; 2 Thessalonians 3:11, a different position of the word περιπατοῦντας; 2 Thessalonians 3:13, ἐνκακήσητε, instead of ἐκκ.—are of no consequence whatever to the sense.

FN#37 - So Matthias and Olshausen explain π έστελλεν, whereas Ellicott agrees with De Wette in regarding that rather as the initial Acts, which led to the second—the separation.—J. L.]

FN#38 - Ellicott: “in that we behaved not disorderly.—J. L.]

FN#39 - παρά τινος. Webster and Wilkinson quote the provincial English idiom: off any man.—J. L.]

FN#40 - Riggenbach’s construction is the more common; but the other, which makes ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθῳ the positive complement, in opposition to δωρεάν, of αρτον ἐφάγομεν, and then adds νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι as an explanatory parallel” (Revision), is adopted by the Dutch Version, De Wette, Winer, Conybeare, Ellicott, Am. Bible Union, and others. Ellicott: “The emphatic position of δωρεάν apparently suggests the sharper antithesis, which the separation of the members here seems to introduce.”—J. L.]

FN#41 - Estius: “Quasi dicas, nihil operantes, sed circumoperantes.” Robinson: “Doing nothing, but over-doing; not busy in work, but busy-bodies.” Conybeare: “Busy bodies who do no business;” Jowett: “busy only with what is not their own business;” “Webster and Wilkinson: “working nothing but overworking.”—J. L.]

FN#42 - Ellicott, on Galatians 6:9 : “If ὲκκακ. exist, the difference will be very slight; ἐκκακεῖν may perhaps mean, ‘to retire from fear out of any course of action’ (nearly ἀποκακεῖν); ἐγκακεῖν ‘to behave cowardly,’ ‘to lose heart,’ when in it.—J. L.]

FN#43 - The two cases are by no means parallel, and in neither case can the construction properly be called inaccurate.—J. L.]


Verse 17-18

3. 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18

He concludes with a parting Salutation and Benediction under his own hand

17The salutation of Paul with mine own hand;[FN44] which is the [a] token[FN45] in every epistle: so I write 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.[FN46]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. ( [Ellicott: “Apparently with reference to every future epistle (τῆ̣ πρὸς οὕστινας δήποτε, Theoph2) which the Apostle might hereafter deem it necessary so to authenticate,—not merely those he might have contemplated writing to Thessalonica (Theoph1, Lünem.); for consider 1 Corinthians 16:21 and Colossians 4:18. If it be urged that these last mentioned are the only Epistles in which the autograph attestation seems to have found a place, it may be reasonably answered that the πάσῃ must be understood relatively of every Epistle that was sent in such a way or under such circumstances as to have needed it. All the other Epistles (except 1 Cor, Colossians, which have the σημεῖον, and 1 Thess, which was sent before circumstances proved it to be necessary) are fairly, shown both by De Wette and by Alford in loc. to have either been delivered by emissaries (2Corinth, Phil.), to bear marks ( Galatians 6:11, and perhaps the doxology in Romans, Eph.), or to be of such a general character (Rom.? Eph.? and those to individuals) as to have rendered such a formal attestation unnecessary.”—J. L.]—So I write; not, that Isaiah, these words, as if there were cause for surprise, if we meet with them again only in 1 Cor. and Col.; it is not ταῦτα, but οὕτως, and De Wette’s inquiry, why the words recur in the smallest number of the other Epistles, is quite superfluous. He says merely: This is my handwriting (see the Introduction to Thess, p114). Grotius, Bengel and others, thought of an intricate monogram, difficult of imitation; but that is untenable, and not consonant to antiquity. It may be further asked, whether by the autograph salutation Paul means 2 Thessalonians 3:17, or 2 Thessalonians 3:18, or both together. Very improbable is Diedrich’s idea: The salutation and benediction in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 are written by my hand. The word is referred to 2 Thessalonians 3:18 by Chrysostom (ἀσπασμὸν καλεῖ τὴν εὐχήν), Theodoret, Theophylact; by Lünemann, on the other hand, only to 2 Thessalonians 3:17, ἀσπασμός, he thinks, being something different from a benediction. But probably this is to distinguish too nicely, and besides it is scarcely to be supposed, that Paul should have written 2 Thessalonians 3:17 with his own hand, and then again have dictated 2 Thessalonians 3:18. Nor does Lünemann assume this, but regards both verses as autographical. In that case, however, the separation between salutation and benediction also fails, as Hofmann properly remarks. The closing salutation might be compressed, or extended. The Apostle wrote it himself, but not always in the same words, nor always expressly drawing attention to it: ἀσπ., &c. In this place it is the salutation of love, and at the same time a precautionary measure for the future. After what has been said, Lünemann’s other inference is likewise untenable, that, if Paul here says for the first time: οὕτως γράφω, and thus shows that his handwriting was still unknown to the Thessalonians, then in the First Epistle he had not written the salutation. But he might there too have written the words of benediction, and merely not have found occasion to make express reference to his handwriting. So Hofmann with reason. Utterly groundless is it, when Grotius also infers from our passage that this Epistle was the first, since, had they already received one at an earlier period, this notice would have been unnecessary.—A thorough knowledge of Paul’s customary procedure could only be got from the original letters. But we know enough to say, that to regard the warding off of a pernicious forgery, as just a mark by which a forger betrays himself, is the most perverse abuse of our passage.[FN47]

2. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:18.) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all; as in the First Epistle, only that here all is expressed; no one, therefore, even of the delinquents is excluded.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

( 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18.) Paul takes great pains even for the fides humana of Scripture. The interest which faith has in scientific criticism consists in this, that it must be of importance for us to place confidence in nothing that is precarious. Now the original apostolic manuscript is not accessible to us, but we are referred to a series of intermediate processes, through which copies of the original are delivered to us, and, were we obliged to verify the trustworthiness of these mediums, we should remain in a painful uncertainty. But, on the whole, it is only through the fides divina that the fides humana first receives its full authentication. Only because this Epistle also bears the stamp of the Spirit of God, is the assertion of the writer, which we read at 2 Thessalonians 3:17, worthy of credit, and it becomes a moral impossibility for us to impeach it as a falsehood. Not the Apostle’s handwriting, which we no longer have before us, but the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, which pervades the Epistle, is for us the decisive seal of authenticity.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Stähelin: Truly this is also the mark of all those who are a living epistle of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 3:2-3), that the grace of their Lord Jesus, whom they have received in faith and love to their justification, sanctification, and salvation, is by them continually embraced and held fast as their souls’ only comfort and joy.

THE END OF THESSALONIANS.

Footnotes:

FN#44 - 2 Thessalonians 3:17.—[The Greek is: ἀσπασμὸς τῆ ἐμῆ χειρὶ Παύλου, which Riggehbach renders: Der Gruss mit meiner Paulushand. Our English Version gives it in three forms: “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand” ( 1 Corinthians 16:21; and so Ellicott in our text); “The salutation by the hand of me Paul” ( Colossians 4:18); “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand” ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17). The second mode was adopted in my Revision of this Epistle.—J. L. ]

FN#45 - 2 Thessalonians 3:17.—[σημεῖον, without the article; and so De Wette, Lünemann, Conybeare, Ellicott, and others.—J. L.]

FN#46 - 2 Thessalonians 3:18.—Most authorities give ἀμήν; it is wanting in B, Sin. à prima manu, and some others. Grotius decides, that Amen was added by the church, when the Epistle was read. [It is cancelled by Tischendorf and Alford. Riggenbach likewise omits it.—J. L.]

FN#47 - Webster and Wilkinson: “We have here a strong proof that St. Paul regarded himself and desired the churches to regard him as the sole author of his Epistles, whatever might be the association of the superscription, or the corresponding phraseology of the composition.”—J. L.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/2-thessalonians-3.html. 1857-84.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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