1 ¶ Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
Anyone who has ever placed a gospel tract in some location where he thought it would be picked up, only to have someone come after them with the tract in hand, cursing, and throw it at them knows what Paul means in verse one. Anyone who has ever worn a shirt with a gospel message on it or had a verse sign on their car only to have someone angrily or sarcastically confront them knows what Paul means. Any military chaplain who has ever been upbraided for praying, “in Jesus name,” knows what Paul means. Paul asks for prayer that, “the word of the Lord may have free course.”
In our modern society much talk is made about offending someone with your faith. Now, I can agree that screaming Bible verses at people hurrying to work may not be the most effective witness. But in today’s world you can be sharply criticized, even threatened, just for offering to share the gospel message with a stranger.
Paul has joy because of the word of the Lord was glorified in the Thessalonians’ belief and faith. He prayed for success with that word in the world as it was successful with the Thessalonians. Let us pray that the word of God has an effect on others who don’t know Christ as it did with us.
The phrase, “unreasonable and wicked men,” can be taken a couple of ways. Some will take it as a reference to atheists and unbelievers in general who oppose the preaching of God’s word. But, I haven’t seen as much opposition to God’s word among atheists, who can ignore you most of the time, as I have seen from others who call themselves Christians.
In Paul’s day the Jews tried to suppress the spreading of the gospel among the Gentiles. Remember what Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians.
1Thessalonians 2:13 ¶ For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
For unreasonable and wicked men to attempt to thwart the spreading of God’s word door to door and person to person today in America they would have to do so through the courts and the law. Christians must oppose every effort to limit or ban free speech that is not threatening or suggesting violence against persons. Local politicians, especially, must know that the right of all Americans, regardless of religion or political views, to speak freely in public places with minimal regulation is to be protected.
In the end, though, it is God alone who is capable of protecting Christians as they spread the gospel through peaceful means. Pray for His making the way smooth for spreading His word and be sure your elected representatives know you will not tolerate limits on reasonable, free speech that doesn’t promote physical violence.
Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it 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.