II Thessalonians 3
v. 1 – Paul does not ask the Thessalonians to pray specially for himself, but
for the unimpeded diffusion and success of the gospel, and for himself only
in so far as that he might be freed from all hindrances in preaching the gospel
— that God would be pleased to crown his labors with success.
The command of God to pray for all men should constrain us – to make intercession
for the lost that they might be saved, for believers that they may be confirmed in
the faith and kept from evil, and for ministers that their ministry might be blessed,
and that the gospel may be effective and God be glorified in it all!
Prayer is a mighty power; we must use it. We must not stand by indifferent and
uninterested, and leave the progress of the gospel to missionaries abroad or to
God’s ministers at home. We must all take our part in the work. Success in that
work depends in large measure on the prayers of the faithful. All who pray earnestly
for the work of missions are really helpers, though not in the same degree, as
the most hardworking missionaries. Faithful prayer is as necessary as faithful preaching.
The Lord has committed the progress of Christianity to the prayers
of His people.
Remember, Jesus said “Men ought always to pray and not to faint” - Luke 18:1
“that the word of the Lord may have free course” – literally – may run – that all
obstacles to its progress may be removed.
Paul bids us pray that the Word of the Lord may run, that it may meet with no check
in its onward course, but spread ever further and wider, from city to city, from country
to country, till “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover
the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9) This is the only limit. The Church must not be stationary; it must
be always in movement. The water of life is living water, ever welling up fresh and clear;
it is a running stream.
Isaiah 6:11 gives its duration – “until the cities be wasted without inhabitant,
and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate”
Psalm 147:15 – “He sendeth forth His commandment upon earth: His word runneth very swiftly”
The promise of God in Isaiah 55:11 is – “my word……shall not return unto me
void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing
whereto I sent it”
“and be glorified” – namely in conversion of souls (Acts 13:48)
The allusion may be to the applause given to the victors in the foot races which
constituted so considerable a part of the Grecian games. This personification of the Word
of the Lord is a favorite figure with the
film between the Holy Ghost, the Divine personal Spirit, and the spirit in the believer’s
inmost being. And so in
preached and the living Word of God, who is God”
v. 2 – Pray that “we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men”
“unreasonable” – a word whose original meaning is “out of place;” then used in an ethical
sense, “wicked,” “absurd,” “unreasonable;” perhaps here applied to persons who will not
listen to arguments.
“for all men have not the faith” - a sad comment about a segment of the human race for
“the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” – Titus 2:11
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it
unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so
that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE” - Romans 1:19-20
“Some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not” – Acts 28:24
“Whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” – Romans 10:13
“God is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that
ALL should come to repentance” – II Peter 3:9
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” – John 3:16
v. 3 – “the Lord is faithful” – may these words be engraved on our hearts and in our
psyches – His faithfulness is the center of our hopes, and the strength
of our souls.
As if Paul was saying, “man may be faithless but the Lord is faithful”
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without
effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou
mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. Romans 3:3-4
In contrast to the infidelity of man, he praises the fidelity of God.
“who shall stablish you”
“and keep you from evil” – what a wonderful blessing whether “guarding from the
evil one” or from evil things, evil persons or evil in general!
v. 4 – “we have confidence in the Lord” – in His grace and strength – the obedience
of the Thessalonians flowed from Christ – their doing was in Christ – living
in the sphere of Christ, whether our natural life or our religious life – there
is no difference – we are sanctified in Him!
“that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” – human effort
and Divine assistance.
God has built his Church upon a rock; the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The rain may descend, the flood may come, the stream of adversity may beat vehemently
will keep them from the evil — from the evil which surrounds them in the world, from the
power of the evil one. The words sound like a reminiscence of the Lord’s prayer. Compare
also 2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve
me unto His heavenly kingdom.” St. Paul, it seems, was accustomed to use the same holy
words which we say in our daily prayers. How many generations of Christians has that prayer
helped in their heavenward journey! They are safe now with Christ. We are marching
onwards to that rest which they have reached. We have the same helps which they had.
v. 5 – “The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God” – the apostle prays
that the Thessalonians may be directed into the love of God as the source
of all acceptable obedience.
“and unto the patient waiting for Christ” - The words simply mean “Christ’s patience,”
or “the patience of Christ” (Revised Version), the patience which He exhibited under His
unparalleled sufferings. The Thessalonians were exposed to persecutions, and therefore
the apostle prays that they might be directed into the patience of Christ, as this would enable
them to bear all their sufferings with composure. Love and patience comprehend the active
and passive virtues of Christianity.
A contemplation of the patience with which Christ endured His unparalleled
sufferings is the best antidote against impatience under any sufferings
which we may be called upon to endure.
Now follows a warning against the disorderly life and conduct which the
expectation of the immediate advent of Christ had produced. On account of
the supposed nearness of the day of the Lord, great disorders had arisen in
about in fanatical idleness. The apostle had censured this conduct in his
former Epistle (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12), but the evil had rather
increased than diminished; and, accordingly, he severely rebukes this spirit,
and sets himself to correct the disorders occasioned by it.
v. 6 – “we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
….in the Name and authority of the great Head of the Church; not we, but Christ Himself
commands you. That ye withdraw yourselves. A nautical expression, denoting to “shorten
the sails;” hence metaphorically to keep out of the way, to withdraw; that ye avoid intercourse
and fellowship with; no allusion as yet to excommunication. From every brother — follow
Christian — that walketh disorderly; literally, out of the ranks (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Avoidance of evil company. The apostle commands us to withdraw ourselves from every
brother that walketh disorderly, and to have no fellowship with those who obey not his
instructions. We must avoid making wicked men our companions, otherwise we shall
soon be led astray and contaminated by their evil principles. The happiness or misery
of the young for time and for eternity is, humanly speaking, dependent upon those whom
they now choose as their intimate companions.
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Proverbs 1:10-19 – gives very sound advice for those thinking about going down the
wrong road – especially getting involved with gangs
vs. 7-9 – the Apostle Paul relates how he has set an example concerning behavior,
working night and day to support himself, so as not to be chargeable unto
them, although “the laborer is worthy of his hire” and “the ox is not to be
muzzled that treadeth out the corn”. (In other words, God has designed
for those who preach the gospel to be supported by those who hear the
v. 10 – “if any man would not work, neither should he eat” - There is here a
reference to the sentence
pronounced on man in
disobedience: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19).
Labor, indeed, may in one point of view be considered as part of the curse,
but it is also a blessing adapted to man’s fallen nature. Labor is the law of
God; IDLENESS IS THE PARENT OF MANY CRIMES AND IS
PRODUCTIVE OF MISERY. He who has no business allotted to him ought
to choose some useful occupation for himself.
The Sanctity of Labour. True religion hallows earthly labour. Christianity is not designed
to draw a man out, of the world, to cause him to neglect his earthly duties, or to
make him idle; but to consecrate and sanctify his worldly employments; to cause him to
perform them in a religious spirit, and to look up to God as his chief Master. Paul himself
wrought at the occupation of a tent maker; and a far greater than Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself, was for the greater part of His life engaged in the occupation of a carpenter. “Earthly
things,” observes Dr. Arnold, “are precious when we use them as the materials with which we
may build for ourselves a heavenly habitation; and the humblest and most ordinary trade or
employment may be carried on with such a temper and such a spirit that it may advance us
daily on our way to heaven; and the angels themselves may behold us engaged in it with respect
It is a command based on the original law of Eden. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread” (Genesis 3:19). Work is a Divine order, not repealed by Christianity but lifted up
to higher blessing and dignity. The idle man ought, therefore, to be allowed to suffer the
effects of his idleness.
Work promotes peace and self respect in our lives. “That working with quietness they eat their
own bread.” They would thus be eating their own bread, not the bread earned by others’ toil,
nor that reserved by the same toil for the use of the really destitute and poor.
They would thus carry more quietness into their own lives as well as those of their neighbors,
for there would be no time for intermeddling with other people’s concerns. We should live
“quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).
v. 11 – “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly,
working not at all, but are busybodies”
“Busy only with what is not their own business” (Jowett); “Working at no business,
but being busybodies” (Ellicott); “Not busy, but busybodies” (Wordsworth). The word
“busybodies” denotes busy in useless and superfluous things, about which one need not
trouble himself — occupied about trifles. The apostle refers to the fanatical excitement
in the Church on account of which the Thessalonians, instead of occupying themselves
with the fulfillment of the duties of their earthly calling, busied themselves about matters
which were unprofitable and vain.
Busybodies are idle, yet busy; idle as regards their own work, but busy with the
business of others; ever meddling with what belongs not to them; always counseling others
and interfering with their concerns, whilst neglecting their own; — a character at once mean
and degrading, the cause of much annoyance to themselves and of mischief to others.
v. 12 – “Now them that are such we command and exhort by (or, as the best
manuscripts read, in) our Lord Jesus Christ”; in Him, as the source
of authority; “In his Name.” “That with quietness”. In contrast to being
busybodies, with calmness of spirit, freedom from excitement. “they work,
and eat their own bread” -not the bread of others, but their own, for which
they have labored and earned. They would thus be independent of the liberality and
generosity of others. (For similar exhortations, see 1 Thessalonians 4:11; Ephesians 4:28.)
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v. 13 – “be not weary in well doing” – faint not – lose not heart in well doing –
Though there may be many that are undeserving and abuse our liberality,
we must not on this account leave off helping those who are in need of our
aid: let not the sloth of those disorderly persons hinder or dampen our
charity – let not their example lead you astray; be not weary in well doing
of what is right and proper.
In Galatians 6:9 the same exhortation is given – “And let us not be not weary in
well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not”
The causes of weariness in well doing: a love of ease and a wish not to put ourselves
to trouble; a lack of self-denial; the monotony of the work; a want of cooperation and
sympathy; a lack of apparent success; a want of realization of Christ’s claims on our
lives and services.
Motives for doing our best: our duty as Christians; the bright example of Christ;
the reward which awaits us — the REST which remains for the people of God
In view of the coming of Christ, an event so awful, makes the little details of daily occupation
seem trivial and insignificant. The whole course of life, with all its complex interests, might any
moment be abruptly checked by the sudden coming of the Lord. It was hard to descend from
the contemplation of a topic so absorbing to the little duties of work and everyday life. But the
apostle commands, and that with the greatest earnestness. It is just in those little duties that our
responsibility chiefly lies. It is in the small matters of daily life that the battle between good and
evil is fought out for each individual soul. “The daily round, the common task,” is the field in
which we are trained for heaven; or, if not for heaven, it must be for hell. Ordinary lives are
commonplace; they do not present opportunities for showy action; there are few emergencies, little
excitement in them. The lives of most of us are, by God’s appointment, ordinary and commonplace;
it is the discipline for eternity which he has provided for us. The quiet, faithful performance of those
common duties is the best preparation for the coming of the Lord. He cannot find us better employed
than in the work, whatever it may be, which His providence has given us to do. And, in truth, those
commonplace lives afford ample opportunities for self-denial, if only we will use them; a road for
drawing daily nearer to God, if only we will take the path pointed out by His providence, not some
self-chosen way of our own. A commonplace life may be in the eyes of the holy angels full of beauty
and heroism. To do each little duty, as it comes, faithfully and thoroughly; to keep the thought of
God’s presence constantly before us, and to try in all things, great and small alike, to please Him;
to persevere all the day, and every day, in the quiet life of duty; — this involves a sustained effort,
a lofty faith, a holy love, which are in the sight of God of great price. The life of duty, however humble
and quiet that duty may be, is the life of holiness.
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v. 14 – “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and
have no company with him, that he may be ashamed”
“Note that man;” that is, set a mark upon him, note him for the sake of avoidance,
excommunicate him from your society. And have no company with him. Exclude him
from your fellowship meetings, your love feasts. “That he may be ashamed”; the design
or object of thus noting him. As if the apostle had said, “Bring the force of Christian
opinion to bear upon him. Show your moral indignation by excluding him from the Christian
community.” The noting or excommunicating was more of the nature of a correction than of
a punishment, and its design was the reclaiming of the offender.
withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh
not issuing a sentence cf excommunication, as in 1 Corinthians 5 and 1Timothy1:20. The
conduct of these Thessalonians was not so utterly wicked as that of the incestuous person
they were neglecting the duties of their station; they were living in disobedience. It was not
right for Christians to recognize such men as brethren; their lives were a scandal; they were
bringing discredit upon the Christian name. True Christians must be jealous for their
Master’s honor; they must sometimes show openly their disapprobation of inconsistency.
It is a difficult and painful duty. It is necessary, in performing it, to keep a very careful watch
over our own motives; to speak and act in deep humility and real charity; to cast first the beam
out of our own eye; to remember the Savior’s rule, “Judge not.” But though a difficult duty,
it is a duty. A true Christian must not live on terms of intimacy with men who disgrace their
Christian profession. He will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of
sinners. (Psalm 1)
THE LACK OF CHRISTIAN EXAMPLE AND THE LACK OF DISCIPLINE IN THE
CHURCH TODAY IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT THE CHURCH HAS LESS
INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD THAN IT ONCE DID – We are to be the “SALT OF
THE EARTH” - Matthew 5:13
v. 16 – “Now the Lord of peace Himself” - In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 it is “the God of
peace” who is invoked: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly.” Here it
is Christ who is named as “the Lord of peace.” He is the Lord of peace, as the Author,
the Procurer, the Mediator of peace. Peace is here to be taken in its widest
sense — peace with God, and complete salvation. “give you peace always by all
means” - Some manuscripts read “in every place,” but the reading in our version
is best attested — “always by all means;” “at all times and in every way;” whether
it be outward or inward, for time or for eternity. The apostle could desire no
higher blessing for his converts. “The Lord be with you all”
IT WAS A PRAYER FOR A CONTINUOUS PEACE. “Always.” It was to be as uninterrupted
as a river (Isaiah 48:18), with no breaks made in it by the world, the flesh, or the devil. None but the
Lord of peace could sustain such a peace in power.
THE PENDANT TO THIS HAPPY PRAYER. “The Lord be with you all.” A comprehensive
benediction upon the disorderly as well as the orderly brethren of Thessalonica. “Be with you all”
— “by His presence to comfort and refresh; by His power to keep and preserve; by His grace to
assist; and by His Spirit to counsel, advise, and direct.”