H. Edward Lafferty
The opening words of this epistle contain a large number of couplets – sayings that have a common meaning or are juxtaposed concepts that add to the Believer’s faith. They are generally expressions of the commonality of faith and love that those of Thessaloniki had in the bonds of grace. But sometimes they set up meaningful contrasts of approach to faithfulness and fidelity to the LORD Jesus. I have highlighted these for easy recognition. These lend a quality of grace to the apostle’s greetings to his brethren.
Paul is writing his greetings from Athens. When he had attempted to teach the Truth in Athens he had encountered the Athenian spirit of aloofness to his teaching about the Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Christ ... and their importance to all men. The Athenians were too “intellectual” readily to comprehend or appreciate the gospel of salvation. Their interests lay in philosophy rather than in reality.
lthough Silvanus and Timotheus are believed to be yet in Thessaloniki at the time of this writing, they apparently have been decided to be couriers of this letter back to Thessaloniki once they arrive in Athens. But before they can arrive there, Paul has moved onward to Corinth, carrying in his script the already finished parchment that bears his loving message to them. After contacting those associated with Paul in Athens, they are given directions as to how to locate Paul in the city of Corinth which lies further south from Athens. Later they will travel back to Thessaloniki bearing the letter that Paul has written... 2Th 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this letter he expends most of his energy in support of and instructions o the new Ecclesia in Macedonia, confirming them in their newfound faith, which he observes “groweth exceedingly,” and their love toward one another which “aboundeth.” The second sentence of the Epistle as translated as surely one of the longest in the scriptures – verses 3 through 10.
His customary greeting usually contains wishes for these two vital elements: grace and peace from the Almighty and His Son.
As their reception of the Gospel has fulfilled Paul’s mandate toward them, he offers sincere thanks for their participation in the high calling of Christ making mention of another pair of similar blessings: their noteworthy faith and charity (love). These qualities are basic to the well-being of every small enclave of Believers – and these brethren are blessed with those abounding qualities of deep affection.
2Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith (moral conviction of spiritual truth) groweth exceedingly, and the charity (agape: unlimited love, without bounds) of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience (constancy, endurance) and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Here the quality of faith is again recognized, but faith is equated with the previous agape, in recognition of their close affinity for each other among brethren. Both these are more powerful and deeply embedded in one by the second couplet of the verse, persecutions and tribulations. Such assaults upon the character of a Believer should always lend strength and resolve to his resistance to temptations...
The Judgment at Christ's Coming
The apostle’s next words are proof of his deep conviction that such conditions are the result of the will of the Father to the end that His children are strengthened in the faithful prospects of the coming Kingdom – always the end result in Paul’s thoughts involving the victory over sin that is entailed for each one in the Gospel.
2Th 1:5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
Those words are said without bitterness, in the frank admission that trials that are overcome bring progress toward the ultimate goal of blessing in His Kingdom.
But their troublers are due to have their own troubles as recompense for their stress upon God’s little ones; He is their advocate in this matter of retribution – and for them there is no way of escape.
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And in the end, the troubled ones are given the great blessing of respite, or rest from the results of those earlier tribulations, for who can resist the redeeming power of the Lord Jesus with His mighty angels? In the end, it is their intervention that puts a firm end to the Believers’ earthly tribulations, bringing each of them to the resurrection to immortality in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ – an unassailable refuge of peace and security in that ultimate day of rest.
2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
Paul’s next phrase is generally misapprehended by general readers of the Word.
He is not referring to literal “flaming fire” in these words, but a degree of destruction of them that is equivalent to incineration of them and their challenges to the Believers!
That fate is either eternal residence in the death state for those who are not subject to His Judgment, or a return to the death state for those who are present (but are rejected) at that tribunal. Both suffer identical fates.
Those who “know not God and ... obey not the gospel of ... Jesus Christ” can merit no eternal blessing except the enigma of everlasting nothingness in their removal from His presence for eternity.
Many of these offenders are mere sons of Adam who have achieved no spiritual relationship to God or His offended ones at all; their fate is not to rise in the Judgment affair, but to remain in the grave for eternity. Their sentence is clearly written in these words: “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.” Isaiah 26:14.
But some of these offenders shall be present at the Judgment Bema of Christ, and shall personally hear His dolorous sentence, “Depart from me for I never knew you,” and shall be dismissed from His presence accompanied by “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30; Luke 13: 28). The apostle seemingly is addressing only this latter group of offenders when he gives this description of their fate:
2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
In so instructing those brethren of Thessaloniki, Paul gives a clear, unmitigated description of the Second Coming of the Lord from heaven – outlining the Judgment that shall proceed from His hand and mouth, banishing a great number of the “troublers” from His eternal presence ... and of the concrete time at which He shall come for the conclusion of His great Purpose: When he shall come to be glorified in His Saints and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony was believed) in that day.
It is a dreadful fate which the apostle describes. His readers will doubtless be encouraged by his fervent prayer for their being accounted worthy when they stand before Him in Judgment – that they may be accounted worthy of this station to which each has been summoned by His invitation to “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28). That in reality is the melding of the “good pleasure of His goodness” with “the work of faith with power” – another powerful couplet of His favor and grace to his little ones of faith...
In clearly stating this manifest destiny of believers, Paul vividly shows that the details of one’s convictions are all important: that what one believes makes all the difference between everlasting death and eternal salvation.
He assures them that “our testimony” stands level and true with the only truth that is acceptable to the Father. He can make that claim without fear or doubt, because from his first, troubled days in the service of Christ at Damascus, Paul was instructed by Him personally by His Spirit in the matters of salvation, and then sent specifically to instruct all the Gentiles who would listen.
We likewise can make that claim against the folk of today who oppose themselves, insisting upon other, “superior” paths which they claim lead to salvation.
But all the alternatives are spurious, and counterfeit – and lead only to destruction. Paul was proclaiming here the truth which Jesus taught: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but (except) by me.” John 14: 6.
That simple, direct teaching of the Lord Jesus excludes every other pathway to righteousness or lasting, incorruptible faith!
Otherwise, those who opposed the believers at Thessaloniki might have had a verifiable claim to salvation.
But they did not.
In the next two verses we see Paul’s overwhelming concern for the glorification of the Father and His Son – that the “name” of God (His nature and purpose with man and the earth – God Himself) be elevated among them, lifted up, and glorified in their own faithfulness to Him.
2Th 1:11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power
Paul’s next words serve all his readers the ultimate benefit that is gained by His gentle blessings of goodness to them ... that He may be glorified in each of them, and all of us in Him – another couplet of His blessings working in both directions toward the glorification of His holy name in His people, and all by His grace -
2Th 1:12 That the name (and therefore, the Person) of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace (the charis, or unlimited liberality) of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice carefully the last couplet in a long series – one in which glorification is ultimately exercised in both directions: from Him to His brethren, and in turn from them to Him!
By their faithful adherence to the truths which Paul had conveyed to them, and fidelity to the things of God, the brethren at Thessaloniki would be exonerated above their enemies, and elevated to life evermore at the coming appearance of the Lord. As such faithful Believers, they would stand head and shoulders above the “intellectuals” of Athens, advancing on their high road – morally and spiritually – toward the perfection that is in Christ Jesus.
It is likewise so with us today.
In the midst of the present pervasive circumstances of worldly pleasure, of hedonism and narcissism, of indulgence in every form of debauchery by many of our contemporaries – all of which are elements of the flesh and of sin – we are strongly admonished to hold fast to the old paths of faith and courage.
Yes – these lofty principles are considered passé and incongruous by all who are smitten by “today’s enlightenment;” but what care we for merely human standards of life?
<HEL> ~2,000 words. II Thessalonians Chapter One
The apostle now finds it necessary to introduce a note of warning to his brethren. A mind-wracking event is approaching which will bring trouble to the flock at Thessaloniki. It is a challenge that will test their mettle to the core as nothing could before the coming of the LORD. And when He comes, He will gather all of the faithful to Him as the sun draws up moisture from the lakes and seas of the world.
The Man of Lawlessness
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
The coming deception shall be pervasive and enveloping for the flock. Its deception could even be so strong as to seem like a “letter as from us,” meaning presumably a colossal forgery of impressive strength – and such it was.
The “man of sin” is at the core of its utterly fallacious assertions which shall precede the coming of the “day of Christ” in the earth again.
Who is this “man of sin,” this “son of perdition?” He is not identified by name, but his characteristics will be unmistakable. He has been in existence since the time of the Apostle John: 1John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. That mighty force would develop into the Romish system of “religion” in the coming years and persist until the end-time.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
In this particular phrase, “... that the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition,” Paul begins to elaborate and explain a troublesome, ruinous, rapacious System which was even then beginning to develop within the Household of Faith – one which reflected the pernicious deceits of ancient Babylon, which had persisted within the pagan religions of the world since that earlier time-honored (but erroneous) tradition of the Trinity of Deity, the concept of the Queen of Heaven, and the principle of evil as externally sourced from Satan, or the Devil (not internally generated by fleshly lust – James 1: 14, 15), and the concept of inherent immortality – all the basic lies embodied within the dogma of the Roman culture within which Paul and the apostles operated.
The Greek word Paul uses for “perdition” is apoleia – spiritual ruin or loss. It literally reveals that former holders of divine Truth shall suffer its loss due to their “falling away” from following His Gospel to the letter. The fatal errors that began to creep in were the same old “religious” traditions as those followers of Nimrod of Babylon. These became institutionalized in the dogmas of the emerging Roman papacy.
Paul’s poignant term of one’s “opposing and exalting himself above ... God” tells the whole story as it would unfold in future centuries – for the deception should be deep and wide – and extremely attractive to the flesh of mankind. It ultimately sets a man in a particular office above both God and His Word – expressing Church Law as supreme even above the authority of the Bible itself! He is referring to the germinal stages of the Church of Rome that even at that early time was fermenting in the body of Christ.
2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Note, please, that these carefully crafted phrases predate the erection of “St. Peter’s Basilica” in the target city, Rome, by many centuries – the structure to which we believe the apostle is alluding here. Paul was aware of the earliest beginnings of this cult of corruption, reflected in his later phrase of verse 7: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work” agreeing with the reference in I John above...
Paul reminds them that he had already warned the flock about this pernicious influence from outside the body of Christ – this apostasy, this corruption of the Gospel.
A snippet of text from Wikipedia gives these basic facts about “St. Peter’s” Basilica:”There has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter's Basilica of the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.”
The obscene breadth and height of this self-deception is apparent in the system which is here indicated.
You realize, of course, that we are forced to bring to mind and to concentrate upon one System where all these characteristics are readily apparent – the now well-developed and established Roman system of “religion” falsely, so-called – cf., I Timothy 6:20 – a phrase applied there to “science,” but applicable to “religion” as well, for both are bound in the same bundle by today’s philosophers.
Paul’s warnings had already been made known to the Thessalonians about this troubling worm of deceit now developing within the Body of Christ. Its presence should be so serious as to be destructive of future life, and of hope for the good things of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, for it should defame and destroy both these in favor of the lies of the fleshly man whose organization should propagate them and insist on their observance within the framework of his “religion.”
2Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
In his next sentence he informs the brethren that there is a force in place at that present time that is withholding the advance of the apostasy (that force was Pagan Rome which would now allow the true worship of God until the time of Constantine), but that at the appointed time the corruption should be seen fully revealed to their spiritual eyes ... or actually the spiritual vision of their progeny down through the coming years, for there is yet some time before it is fully revealed.
2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For emphasis, the apostle now describes the evil influence as a “mystery of iniquity” or a secret plot to induce wickedness into the body of Christ. Mystery is a key principle of a prominent “religion” of today – the Roman Catholic scheme of worship – and the word was prominently displayed on the pope’s crown for many years before it was noted by a Church scholar of its odious Biblical connotation (as here, and as in the Apocalypse), and was removed according to legend (cf., Revelation 17: 5, 7).
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (hinders) will let (hinder), until he be taken out of the way.
Pagan Rome had prevented the emergence of the corrupted brand of “Christianity” but it was now giving way to the “religious” influence of the “Christians” who were increasing in numbers daily.
That reference designates the overthrow of the pagan Roman Empire and its replacement with Roman Catholicism at the time of Constantine (c.313AD) and subsequent to that era. The entire process required nearly 200 years before Catholicism was firmly established as the state religion of Rome in the early sixth century.
From that date until 1517, when a priest named Martin Luther made public his 95 Theses at Wittenberg Cathedral, the Catholic religion reigned supreme.
The year 1517 is widely considered to be the concise end of a thousand year period of papal ascendancy and Roman Catholic hegemony over the minds and properties of men (cf., Revelation 20), and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which eventuated in the French Revolution in which the Church was discredited, dethroned, and ruined by the anarchy and lawlessness of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité ” as the universal slogan of that insurrection.
But to return to our earlier claim, the wickedness of the Romish system was revealed and came into power with Constantine, nominally, and over ten centuries of supreme power over the kings and nations of Europe, showed its true character sublimely – and by those activities proved itself worthy of being consumed by the Lord at His Second Coming.
This is a series of events about which we have written extensively in the content of The Prophecy Letters website and may be consulted there for deeper understanding.
Any reader may consult that website freely at ... http://sites.google.com/site/prophecyletters2013/
2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked (the “son of perdition”) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
The apostle’s further definition of that apostate one reveals an hideous personage with power over almost everyone in his time as to supposed faith in God and related matters – including the collection of unlimited monies obtained by nefarious means to spend as he would on every form of debauchery and trickery in the annals of “religion.”
2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan (the basic connotation is human nature!) with all power and signs and lying wonders, Think here of the “miracle” of Lourdes, the Shroud of Turin, the appearance of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, etc. – all of these supposed wonders being pure deception of the untutored masses of the ages of ignorance and superstition, myths still deeply believed and supported by “the faithful” of today...
Power and signs and lying wonders (mysteries) are the operative mechanism of the Mother Church of Rome. Her mysteries and myths are unchecked within her framework of “religion.”
The mystery of the Trinity itself is one of the chiefest of these, a concept being to any rational mind inexplicable and unworkable as to rational thinking, but above all, non-scriptural – and thus admitted to be “a mystery” by papists and multitudes of others – the “Protestants” who agree with them.
These inane, vacuous, meaningless claims are a reflection of the fragile, shaky foundation of the “faith” of those of that system.
In our understanding, the chief wonder (mystery of the Church) is the conversion of the wafer of Church “communion” into the actual flesh of Jesus when partaken of by each adherent attending and partaking of this rite of the Church.
This rises to the height of being the epitome of the deceit of evil which is featured in Paul’s next phrase … as we note that their end is to PERISH.
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish (the Greek word means to cease to exist in any form); because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
The apostle in these words elects to define with great simplicity, the elemental choice which is open to all men – that if they desire to have extended life hereafter, they must choose Truth over the deceivableness of unrighteousness.
That election on their parts has a profound consequence, specified as “FOR THIS CAUSE …”
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion (i.e., fraudulent, ungodly activity convinced them of the veracity of their “miracles”), that they should believe a lie:
Many claim that “it really doesn’t matter WHAT one believes, as long as he or she ‘loves the LORD;’” and is “sincere,”but is this factual?
The reasoning of verse 11 seems to indicate that errant doctrines or principles lead to further deviation from truth, not closure toward purer truth, and therefore to perdition (utter failure).
We must conclude, with the apostle, that one’s basic belief structure is the foundation stone of one’s faith; for belief in the false Gospel has eternal, unacceptable consequences to every true believer.
2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned (condemned) who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Thankfully, his brethren will not be overcome by such chicanery; they are made safe by the sanctification of the Spirit and their resolute confidence in God’s words of Truth.
Behold how “unrighteousness” here is deemed equivalent to “beliefs,” or doctrines!
The conclusion which we must reach is that an erroneous body of creeds or beliefs is equivalent to unrighteousness – which may also be compared and made equivalent to matters of the personal conduct of one’s life.
The deeper connotation here is that unbelief in matters of doctrine leads to a wishy-washy attitude toward morals as well – toward the unrighteous conduct of one’s life.
A rebuttal of one or both is defined here as FATAL – as unacceptable to the God of Heaven, Whose One Way of Salvation is the ONLY way of Salvation.
However, Paul’s confidence remains strong in his brethren of Thessaloniki – that within their number there are those who have been chosen to obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ – a general statement of worth which, of course, likely did not apply to every one of those to whom Paul was writing, but did apply to the majority.
2Th 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
2Th 2:14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note Paul’s emphasis on His having “called” them to His Gospel, to the end that they should obtain His glorious nature and Kingdom.
2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions (the precepts of Truth – not the works of the Law) which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
The following two verses are quite possibly the best known “benediction” in the scriptures – a word which connotes “bene” (well being) and “diction” (those words of) = those words of well being, or blessing upon the Thessalonians.
They outline and even define globally the limitless blessings which should fall upon them in their perseverance in God’s Way of Righteousness which Paul had established among them.
2Th 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,
2Th 2:17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
His emphasis on the grace of the Almighty should disavow all of any false pretense of their apprehension of His mercy on their own. It is always a matter of His calling – not our seeking – in the most primary considerations; that fact alone should effectively remove all arrogance or self-aggrandizement from any and every Believer.
<HEL> ~2,500 words. II Thessalonians Chapter Two
Pray for Us
2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
Paul’s respect for prayer continues to come through in his writings. It is a mark of trust in the LORD, and of humility before Him. Only through God’s impetus shall the word have “free course” among his hearers, and result in the glorification of the Almighty.
At the same time, Paul recognizes the inherent dangers from their enemies round about them – men of vile purpose, hurtful in every way to the natural man. Yet, even this nettlesome resistance makes for his hearers’ hardened resistance to their attacks, and their solidly-based foundation in His Gospel message – ultimately protecting them from the evil ones that harass them. That opposition to The Way which Paul preaches creates a firm, sturdy foundation upon which each recipient of the Gospel stands.
2Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
The concept is an enigma in a sense: the greater their opposition becomes the greater becomes their quality of purposefulness – the source of which steadfastness is only from the faithful LORD.
2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
The apostle confesses both faith and confidence in his hearers – that he knows how much he can rely on them to hold fast in the face of opposition, here impressing his hearers with his confidence in their present and future resistance to opposition.
2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching (as regards) you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
This level of stubborn persistence in the things of the Spirit will lead to one end: that their whole experience will be fortified with the quality of patient endurance. It is a quality which we find ourselves having to exercise in these last hours of Gentile dominion before the Advent of the Lord of Life, whose appearance we yearn for, whose indulgence (compassion) we seek in earnest.
2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
In this heartfelt phrase we perceive perhaps the most succinct desire of a teacher for his students. For it is ONLY the LORD who can direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ.
At the same time, it must be realized by all Believers that this is the highest calling of all – that we be always loving of our Father and His Son and thus patiently yearn for and wait for His appearing. That our yearning be not merely intellectual, nor our “waiting” merely ritualistic, but that we deeply feel the love of God and His Son in our hearts – that we become emotionally involved in the expected, anticipated process of Redemption and Justification, and of eternal service in the presence of the LORD Jesus Christ and the Almighty in the Kingdom age.
Our conviction is that, only to be intellectually involved in the Plan is essentially NOT to BE involved in it. Without an emotional component of fervent conviction there is little real, heartfelt participation.
These words are surely most applicable to those of the terminal generation of the dispensation of Adam – those expectant ones of our own day, whose chief hope and anticipation is the Return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom on the earth – those whose utter exasperation with the insane, troubled course of global human conduct of this day has brought us to the breaking point of our association with it or involvement in it.
Warning Against Idleness
In Thessaloniki as everywhere else, there were some who were “freeloaders” in the worst sense – people who would not employ themselves to provide their own support. They were always idle, and produced nothing that was of redeeming quality – not only their own self-support by having an occupation and working at it.
Paul’s approach to such was what some today call “tough love.” If you don’t work you also don’t dine; if you provide no shelter you shall have none of your own. In our own day we sadly see examples of this sort of conduct all about us in the “homeless” of every age range lying about in the larger cities and living on handouts.
His term for such was that they were idlers ... useless ... and to be shunned.
2Th 3:6 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.
The apostle’s inspired instruction here is not to be interpreted as an wholesale, heated separation from any- and every- one who makes any sort of “false move” within the Ecclesia, but at the same time, to recognize any patent, radical departure from the faith of Christ – that only then is a legitimate withdrawal from such to be contemplated.
It gives space and reason for dialog previous to such separation – for adequate warning and vital instruction to such as show the tendency to depart from the faith – before actual separation from them. The very quality of our love for the brethren requires such patience.
And now follows instruction which NONE of the modern followers of Christ might feel free to offer his fellow believers – that they “follow us” in nearly any initiative; for we of today are not the subjects of direct inspiration as were the authors of scripture such as Paul the Apostle and his companions.
On the other hand, our fellows should be able adequately to observe within our conversation (our conduct) the godly mien which illustrates in our observable lives the principles which He inculcated in His followers of ancient time.
In true import, the words which Paul now offers refer to his specific appointment as an Apostle, and the rights and privileges which that office brought with it to his followers.
In this description, the apostle describes a condition of self-support and self-sufficiency as nearly as can be accomplished in the face of the tasks at hand – which is not to claim that Paul received no assistance at all from the brethren for his help and instruction (for he did at the end require their help).
In verse 9, Paul makes it entirely clear that his reasoning for this instruction is for the purpose of creating followers who emulate his example to them in all these matters.
2Th 3:7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
Paul is asserting that he personally has always worked to produce his own livelihood, and has striven to be accountable to no one for his own needs. He was the example that they were to follow in their own lives.
2Th 3:8 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:
2Th 3:9 Not because we have not power (in the sense of ability, or privilege), but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
Yes ... as the spiritual leader among their congregation, he might have had some right to ask for subsistence; but he would not yield to that urge.
You see, Paul’s emphasis is always on doing, not merely seeing (observing) and understanding. He always leads by example, not by word only.
His exemplary work ethic is prominent in all the places where he has labored in the Spirit; he provides for his own needs as long as possible. But when he cannot (as when later imprisoned at Rome), the brethren provide what was needed for this diligent servant and spiritual leader.
2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Such a way of life is not only a burden for other members of the group; it also leads to the offenders becoming “busybodies.” We can visualize their being troublemakers of the first order – gossiping, complaining, carping, griping and generally discontent with their lives.
2Th 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
The apostle has one word for them: Get a job! ... and please be quiet while you provide for your own subsistence!
2Th 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Evidently, the congregation at Thessaloniki was diligent, each one working for his own livelihood; there were apparently only a few who were dilatory in providing for their own needs. But even their punishment (isolation) was not to be construed either by the perpetrators or by the victims, as the action of an enemy. Each one was still to be encouraged as a brother.
Animosity toward such would bring failing marks for the perpetrator – and his disapproval in the end.
2Th 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not (are not generally) weary in well doing.
2Th 3:14 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.
2Th 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
In these words of instruction, we see illustrated firmness tempered with mercy – resolve mixed with godly, heartfelt considerations – such that one’s recovery and restitution is diligently sought.
2Th 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
2Th 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
Although this second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens, as noted, we surmise that it was only transported to those brethren after Paul had left Athens and was now preaching in Corinth – that bustling, raucous port city to the south where he had discovered fertile grounds for sowing the seeds of the Gospel of Christ.
We are not informed of the name of the couriers of this letter here, but surmise they were Silvanus and Timotheus (Timothy) as in chapter 1:1.
2Th 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.
In considering each epistle of the Apostle Paul and others, we receive and digest the intimate details of The Plan which our Father had given them to communicate to His people of all ages and every culture and tongue.
In these richly endowed words of the Spirit of God (divinely inspired into each writer of the scriptures) we can discern the only standard body of behavior prescribed by our Father for the conduct of the lives of His children.
As such, they are precious to us, and of supreme purpose to each. In them lie life, longevity, happiness and health unto eternity!
<HEL> ~2,000 words. II Thessalonians Three. April 28, 2021.