2 Thessalonians 3:6-18

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fightLazinessNow 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. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us because we were not idle when we were with you, 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. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 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. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

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. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Observation

  • Paul commanded in the name of the Lord
  • The Thessalonians were to stay away from fellow Christians who were lazy.
  • The Thessalonians were to imitate Paul.
  • Paul worked hard when he was with the Thessalonians.
  • Paul did not accept charity or offerings for himself while he was with the Thessalonians.
  • Paul worked day and night when he was with the Thessalonians.
  • Paul did not want to be a burden to the Thessalonians.
  • Paul had a right to accept offerings from the Thessalonians when he was with them.
  • Paul did not accept offerings from the Thessalonians in order to set an example for them to imitate.
  • If anyone is unwilling to work they are not to receive charity.
  • Paul heard that some of the Thessalonians were unwilling to work.
  • The concept of those unwilling to work not eating was not a suggestion but a command.
  • Paul heard some of the Thessalonian were busybodies.
  • Paul commanded those who were busybodies to work and earn a living.
  • The Thessalonians were not to tire of doing good.
  • The Thessalonians were not to have anything to do with and fellow believers who will not obey what Paul commanded in the letter.
  • The reason they were not to have anything to do with those who will not obey the commands was so those persons would be ashamed.
  • The Thessalonians were to regard those who would not obey this command as a brother.
  • The Thessalonians were not to regard those who would not obey this commands as an enemy.
  • Paul prayed the Thessalonians would have peace in every way.
  • Paul prayed the Lord be with the Thessalonians.
  • Paul wrote the last paragraph to the letter with himself
  • Paul’s writing the last paragraph himself was a sign the letter was genuine.
  • It was a common practice for Paul to write the last part of all his letters.
  • Paul prayed the grace of Jesus Christ be with the Thessalonians.

Interpretation

Paul wrote this to the Thessalonians to clear up their confusion over Christ’s return. The error was this. Some believed, since Christ’s return would be soon, they did not need to work or prepare for the future. Of course, in the meantime, they needed to eat. So, they mooched off everyone else. Paul’s response to this was simple and straight forward. STOP IT!

Paul made to points. First, those not willing to work were to stop living off the labor of others. Second, those who were laboring were not to help those who refused to work. In fact, they were to hold them at arm’s length. They were not to have anything to do with those who were lazy.

There are natural consequences to laziness. If you don’t work you don’t eat. Paul is not saying to inflict on anyone any harm he is telling us not to enable them.

To help the Thessalonians come to their senses Paul uses himself as an example. When he was with them he worked. The work a Jew did with his hands honored him. There was a saying, “He who does not teach his son a trade, teaches him to steal.”

The Holy Spirit inspired this letter. The Holy Spirit inspires all scripture. So, the commandment to work is a commandment from Christ. So too is it a commandment from Christ to not enable those who refuse to work.

Paul says to, “take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” This is not a command to excommunicate the person or to discuss the issue in public. We are to have a private discussion. Paul says to warn him as a brother. We are still to regard him as a believer. But we are to let him know he is outside the will of God.

We are not to be idle but busy at work. Paul reminds us that he is writing under the instruction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are to encourage, “in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”

In this passage, Paul is talking about those who refuse to work, not those who cannot work. Those who cannot work we are to help. We are not to tire of doing good.

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