Saturday, July 12, 2014

2Thessalonians 3:3-18 comments: closing remarks

3  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 4  And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. 5  And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.


Paul emphasizes again that God is faithful, who will do what He has promised to do.


1Thessalonians 5:23 ¶  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.


Paul is confident that God will establish the Thessalonians’ faith and make it sure and certain, keeping them from the wicked and unreasonable men who oppose the gospel of Christ, mentioned previously. I have spoken before about how the word “evil,” is used to refer to not only sinful iniquity, but to malice and violent intent.


1Thessalonians 3:13  To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.


2Thessalonians 2: 16 ¶  Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17  Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.


Paul now prepares them for some difficult statements as he is about to give them some marching orders. He is confident that they will do the things he is about to tell them to do through their love  of God and their expectation of Christ’s return.


6 ¶  Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.


It appears that some of the Thessalonian brethren are walking disorderly, a word mentioned three times in this short passage through verse eleven, the only times the word is used in the Bible. Someone in the Thessalonian church was not living in the way prescribed by Paul that Christians should live, not after the doctrines for living laid down by the apostle.


1Thessalonians 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.



7  For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8  Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9  Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.


Paul had previously asserted a right to live from preaching the gospel in answer to a challenge from someone in the church at Corinth.


1Corinthians 9:3 ¶  Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, 4  Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5  Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6  Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7  Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

8  Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9  For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10  Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12  If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13  Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.


But, even as he did at Corinth, so he did at Thessalonica.


1Thessalonians 2:9  For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.


Paul did not exercise his right to earn a living from preaching the gospel for the purpose of setting an example for those people to whom he preached.


 10  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 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. 15  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.


While it is certainly a good principle for a society whose government offers support to the poor, that if you refuse to work you shouldn’t receive assistance, this is not about society at large but about within the Christian community.


In a community that offered assistance and welfare to its poorer members this was a standard that Paul insisted upon in regard to helping. If you wanted help you had to be, at least, willing to work. There was a problem, it seems from reading, with people not trying to help themselves and others but spending their time in idle gossip and meddling in other persons’ affairs.


In another context Paul complained to Timothy about a similar problem.


1Timothy 5:3 ¶  Honour widows that are widows indeed. 4  But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 5  Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. 6  But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 7  And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 9  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. 11  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; 12  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. 13  And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. 14  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15  For some are already turned aside after Satan. 16  If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.


Unlike today’s church which casts off its widows and poor to be supported by the state the early church took care of its own. Paul admonishes everyone, though, to work and provide for themselves when possible.


1Thessalonians 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.


Were these people expecting the Lord to return immediately and just giving up on supporting themselves, making themselves a burden to the Christian community? It appears that way to me because of the tone of this second letter, warning them about events which must take place before the end of human history as we know it.


16 ¶  Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with  you all. 17  The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. « The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens. »


Paul closes by confirming that this letter was from him and offers proof by comparing the salutation in this letter with others he has written. You can look at the endings of his letters or epistles such as 1Corinthians or Colossians to see what Paul means. Tradition has it that this letter was also written from Athens although that may not be part of the text given by inspiration.


So, these two letters to the Thessalonians, written, not as dictated by God, but given by inspiration, with the wisdom that Paul was given (2Peter 3:15), are finished. The doctrine given in these letters did not require an extensive knowledge of the Old Testament and much was directed toward how the church was supposed to live. There was also enough prophecy sprinkled in here to tickle the ears of the modern fundamentalist who loves prophecy but holds in benign contempt the instructions on attitude and behavior toward the world.


My favorite parts of these letters affect me every day and are part of what I have memorized for reflection and prayer. I’ll close with some of those verses.


1Thessalonians 5:14  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

    16 ¶  Rejoice evermore. 17  Pray without ceasing. 18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19  Quench not the Spirit. 20  Despise not prophesyings. 21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

    23 ¶  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.



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