Prayer and Discipline

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

This passage was written by the apostle Paul not long after the first letter to the Thessalonians. It was written to correct some errors that the church there had adopted, or that some members were practicing. As usual, Satan steps in wherever he can cause confusion or dissension to a true Christian setting.

VERSES 1-5: "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.
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 asks that he, as well as those with him, be free from the restraint of unbelievers so “that the word of the Lord may have free course" and that God's Word would “be glorified” “even as it is with you.”

In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, he mentioned that they had received God’s Word “not as the word of men but, as it is in truth, the word of God.” He asks their prayers that his present labors have the same result where he is preaching now that it did with them.

Paul depended on the Lord to meet his every need and to work God's work through him for God's glory and not reward of human effort. This produces much fruit for eternity, it isn't just something that makes lives better for a time and then fades away. It's eternal.

Paul was more concerned about the Word of God being hindered than about his personal safety. 1 Corinthians 16: 9-10 shows that Paul needed God's encouragement at this very time. All through his Epistles his main concern was that the will of God be done, no matter what the cost to him.

He had confidence that, with the Lord's help, the Thessalonians would do the things he had taught them, and do them because of their love for the Lord. This would "stablish them" and "keep them from evil." (The Evil One, Satan).

Ecclesiastes 9:1, “the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God.” Nothing surprises God. Nothing happens to us except by His permission. Satan is behind anyone who opposes us as Believers and our lives are perpetual warfare with Satan. We need the spiritual weapons of God described in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4.

Paul had confidence the Thessalonians were doing God's will and would continue to do so in spite of opposition from the Judaizers and other non believers.

"Patiently waiting for Christ" probably refers to both serving Christ here until His return and waiting for His return to meet the saints in the air.

VERSES 6-10: "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.
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 not power, but to make ourselves an ensample to you to follow us.
10: For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."

Verse 6. On the authority of the Lord Jesus they were to “withdraw themselves from every brother that walketh disorderly.” Don't encourage them. Those who refused to earn their own living were not following the tradition they received from Paul.

Paul makes it clear that gainful secular employment was not only desirable, but mandatory. It provided “things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17) and it gave a good testimony to unsaved persons while it also enabled the Christian to share in “distributing to the necessity of the saints” (Romans 12:13) and other ways in the work of the Lord.

They had been taught that they ought to “follow us” (verse 7). Paul and his companions had given them an example. Paul provided his own support by engaging in tent making with Aquila (Acts 18:3).

Verses 8-9. In ministering to their spiritual needs, it would have been both honest and spiritually proper for him to have received support at their expense, but he wanted to avoid any charge of seeking to make a profit from them. He served them at his own expense, and on their part, this gave them a poor spiritual image. From Philippians 4:15-16, it's evident that the Philippian assembly didn't consider it a burden to minister to Paul’s needs even when he was serving others.

Paul renounced his own right to be supported but defended the right of others, and makes it clear that this is an ordinance of God (1 Corinthians 9). They were not to assume from his example that they were exempt from this responsibility.

Verse 10. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."

This means that neither the common fund of the assembly nor the private generosity of any of the saints, was to feed those who wouldn't work for a living.

Where there was a case of need due to circumstances beyond one’s control, Paul urged that help be given, as he states in Galatians 2:10.

This doesn't mean that we are bound to give to every beggar we meet. It teaches that where there is real need and giving is in order, Christians should be those who give freely, as the outflow of the love of God shed abroad in their hearts.

Where the need grows out of neglect of one’s responsibility, the instructions are clearly stated that these needs are not to be met.

Verses 11-18: "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.
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.

Verse 11. "For we hear" explains why Paul brought up the topic of busybodies. News had been brought that some of the Thessalonians were meddling in the affairs of others. They hadn't taken up idle speculation and false doctrines, like the Colossians did. “Some are walking among you” suggests wandering from house to house or place to place, “Working not at all, but are busybodies," minding everybody’s business but their own.

Work is a blessing and has therapeutic value. A quiet life and a steady job usually leads to physical health and peace of mind that you won't get from idleness. “Free time” often leads to trouble for the young and old.

Verse 12, “That . . . they work” is the opposite of being idle, and “eat their own bread” would eliminate living at the expense of others, whether from the public funds or the charity of other believers.

Paul writes in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Verse 14-15. "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."

Paul is speaking of believers who disobey God’s Word, not of one who isn't yet a believer.

In his First Epistle to the Thessalonians (2:12) he honored their faith because, when they heard his preaching, they “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.”

Some were disregarding what Paul had taught them; but now he was putting his teaching in written form and there was no excuse for such disobedience.

Verse 15 indicates his expression of disapproval was to make the ‘loafers’ ashamed of themselves and correct their ways.

We sometimes think that holiness consists in strongly condemning sin in others; actually it's judging sin in ourselves first. We're more likely to be merciful in dealing with others if we examine ourselves first. Here, while the brother was to be avoided, he was not to be counted an enemy but admonished as a brother.

--The Lord Of Peace!

Verses 16-18: "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 only time the expression “the Lord of peace” occurs is here in verse 16.

In 1 Corinthians 14:33 we read of God as “the author of peace.”

Five times He is called “the God of peace” 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philippians 4:9; Hebrews 13:20.

In 2 Corinthians 13:11, He is called the “God of love and peace.”

The harmony of the church was being interrupted by the disorderly. “The Lord of peace” is an appropriate title here. When we serve the Lord in one body, there will be harmony. Colossians 3:15. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

Paul's prayer covers a wide area. "Give you peace always, by all means" could mean “in every place” as well as “in every way.” His prayer is that God would give peace to His people “at all times” “and in every circumstance,” in all aspects of life. This would include the peace of God in their hearts and peace with those around them in the world as well as harmony of the believers in the assembly. 1 Corinthians 14:33. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

Romans 5:1 states that by coming to Christ in faith for salvation we “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then, 1 Peter 5:7 states, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." When we cast our cares on Him in prayer as children of God, we have the peace of God guarding our hearts.

Philippians 4:6-7. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

God is “the God of peace.”

Philippians 4:9. "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." This peace, both outward and inward, is for time or for eternity.

Paul closes his prayer with “The Lord be with you all.” May He bless you with His peace and with His presence. This also includes the disorderly ones Paul spoke of, since they were counted among the brethren, and the apostle includes “all” in his prayer. But, in order to experience the blessing asked for here, they would have to submit to the Holy Spirit to be cleansed and restored to fellowship with God.

Do you have that peace from God right now?
God's free gift of salvation includes the peace that passes all human understanding.
Christ died on the cross and took the punishment for your sins in His own body there so that you wouldn't have to, but you must admit to God that you are a lost sinner and can do nothing to save yourself.
Then, in simple faith, accept God's forgiveness of your sins that His Son, Jesus Christ, paid for on your behalf.
You will be saved from the wrath of God in hell and will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.