Pray for Us
3 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.
- “pray for us” – Paul considered prayer one means by which the church could participate with him in his ministry, and he frequently asked for prayers that his ministry might be accomplished and that those who would hinder him might be overcome (cf. Rom 15:30; 2 Cor 1:11; Phil 1:19).
- “word of the Lord” – not a common phrase for Paul. Probably used intentionally in contrast to the false teaching he is currently battling.
- “speed ahead” – Literally “to run” with effort. Here meaning able to spread without hindrance.
- “be honored” – Paul requested prayer not for himself but for the gospel that it might be spread even more rapidly than it had to date. But the proclamation of the word widely and rapidly does not guarantee its acceptance. Thus Paul also urged prayer that the gospel that spread rapidly also would be accepted (“honored”) by those who heard it. “Be honored” uses a word frequently translated “to be glorified.” In this context it indicates the response Paul desired from those who would hear the rapidly spreading gospel. He asked the church to pray that the hearers would respect the gospel.
- “we” – Paul, Silas, and Timothy
- “may be delivered” – Paul’s request for personal safety and rescue issued not from the desire for personal ease, but from his longing for the gospel to move ahead unhindered.
- “wicked” – generally describes actions that violate the laws of humankind.
- “evil men” – actions improper by human or divine standards.
- “For not all have faith” – the reason Paul prays for a rapid advance of the gospel, and also the reason it is often hindered.
3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
- v3-5 – Successful Christian living is when the power of God and the willful obedience of the believer join as one.
- “the Lord is faithful” -“His faithfulness guarantees that (a) our suffering has meaning, (b) our persecutors will reap their just reward, and (c) our future is secure in him. The conviction that God is faithful enables believers to look beyond the persecution of the faithless and continue in the faith” (Martin).
- Two Motivations for Faithful Devotion: 1) The love of God, 2)The steadfastness of Christ
- “love of God” – He desired for them a deep, experiential comprehension of God’s love.
Warning Against Idleness
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
- “walking in idleness” – These people were not only lazy; they were expecting others to support them financially by giving them food and other supplies. They were capable of supporting themselves, but they were looking to others for support, deliberately neglecting their own responsibilities.
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
- The missionaries had not exploited anyone; neither should they. Paul asked no more from the Thessalonians than he demanded of himself…Paul did not see working for the Lord as an excuse for a parasitic lifestyle which took advantage of the kindness of fellow believers.
9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
- ” even when we were with you” – While Paul, Silas, and Timothy were in Thessalonica, they must have seen indications that this lazy attitude and lifestyle posed a problem.
- “If anyone is not willing to work” – “The command did not apply to those who could not work for some debilitating reason, but to those who “will not work.” Paul directed his disdain toward those who sponge off others, whatever their stated reasons—misguided asceticism, work beneath their ability or desire, or too busy. Paul’s point was that no one within the Christian community should presume upon the charity of others, nor should they shrink from work. Every person was responsible to provide for himself and his family. For those capable of work, any other course was wrong” (Larson).
11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
- “some” – suggests this was not a widespread problem, but Paul wanted to address the issue before it spread. Sin has a way of doing that.
- “not busy at work, but busybodies” – “Paul described the offenders: They are not busy; they are busybodies. Paul used word play to give his portrayal a sharp edge. These people did not work in a beneficial or useful way; they worked in a useless manner. Busy with everybody else’s problems, they failed to tend to their own affairs” (Larson).
- “earn their own living” – (an idiom, literally ‘to eat one’s own bread’) to earn a living by one’s own efforts—‘to earn a living, to earn a livelihood.’
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
- “if anyone does not obey” – “Church discipline must be exercised without prejudice: If anyone does not obey our instruction … take special note of him. Do not associate with him. The obedient must set the disobedient apart for discipline” (Larson).
- “that he may be ashamed” – “Paul’s direction to not associate with the offending persons is peer pressure at its best. He counseled the church to exercise firmness in order to bring the brother back to repentance and right living. The purpose of this discipline was to make the offending persons feel ashamed. The result of such shame would be restoration and healthy participation in the church, It would benefit the believer by bringing him out of sinful living and setting him in the right direction. Shame can cause a person to reconsider his behavior, to look inward and think about his life” (Larson).
- “The act of disassociation tempts one to look upon the offending person with disdain and contempt. So Paul issued this warning to the faithful: do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother” (Larson).
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
- “give you peace” – Peace is the desire, but it is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who arrests our attention and captivates our thoughts. Paul directed our gaze toward the Lord, who intervenes on behalf of his children. From him comes the gift of peace. We cannot attain it on our own, but we wait for it in trusting anticipation—a peace born of God. The peace Paul prayed for exists apart from circumstance. Peace comes through pursuing the Lord of peace.
17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.