2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 - Homilies By T. Croskery
He had prayed for them; he now asks them to pray for him.
I. MINISTERS NEED THE PRAYERS OF THEIR PEOPLE . "Finally, brethren, pray for us."
1 . Because their work is a great work.
2 . Because it is weighted down with opposition and hinderance.
3 . Because ministers feel their need, not only of human sympathy, but of Divine grace, wisdom, and strength.
4 . Because such prayers knit the hearts of pastor and people more closely together.
II. THE DOUBLE PURPORT OF THE PRAYER FOR THE APOSTLE . It was for no mere personal or selfish object, but had exclusive reference to the furtherance of the gospel. To pray for ministers is to pray for the gospel.
1 . It was a prayer for the rapid spread of the gospel. "That the Word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as it is also with you."
2 . It was a prayer for deliverance from obstructive enemies. "And that we may be delivered kern unreasonable and wicked men." The impediments to the free progress of the gospel were evil men. They were his Jewish enemies at Corinth who rose against the apostle and brought him to the judgment seat of Gallio ( Acts 18:12 ).
He dismisses all thoughts about himself, and returns to the thought of comforting his converts.
I. THE DOUBLE BLESSING IN STORE FOR THEM . "Who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."
1 . An essential factor in their Christian comfort was establishment
2 . An equally essential factor was their preservation from evil, either
II. THE ARGUMENT TO ASSURE THEM OF THIS DOUBLE BLESSING . "The Lord is faithful." He will be true to his promises, and not suffer one of them to fail. The Lord Jesus is at once the Author and the Finisher of our faith. "We are complete in him;" we are "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" ( 2 Timothy 2:13 ). "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" ( Philippians 4:13 ).
III. THE CONFIDENCE OF THE APOSTLE BASED ON THIS ASSURANCE . "But we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that you are both doing and will do the things which we command you."
1 . The ultimate ground of his confidence touching them was in the grace and strength of the Lord, not in themselves, or their wisdom, or strength.
2 . The matter of his confidence— their present and future obedience to his commands. There must be a patient continuance in well doing; a ready, universal, perpetual obedience to the commands he had already given them by the authority of Christ, and to those which he was now about to give to them.—T.C.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 . — The apostle's further prayer for his converts.
They needed grace to enable them to discharge all these duties.
I. THE LORD JESUS IS THE TRUE DIRECTOR OF THE HEART . "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patience of Christ."
1 . The heart needs direction. It is the fountain of life and feeling and action. But it is often wayward in its impulses.
2 . The heart that is self-led is misled. We cannot direct our own hearts, neither can apostles do it for us; the Lord only can do it. He directs us by his Spirit, not only into all truth, but into all right feeling and all acceptable obedience. He only can change us into his own likeness.
II. THE RIGHT DIRECTION OF THE CHRISTIAN HEART . "Into the love of God, and the patience of Christ."
1 . The love of God is the spring of all evangelical obedience, and the motive force of all spiritual power. The Thessalonians had love already, but the apostle prays for fuller measures of it, that they may be prepared for yet more exact and thorough and unquestioning obedience.
2 . The patience of Christ, which so characterized him, is to be copied in the lives of his followers exposed to similar persecutions. His sufferings are their sufferings; and they need his patience to enable them to endure thrum, as well as to sustain that "patient continuance in well doing" in the midst of evil which will keep them free from restlessness and disorderly walking.—T.C.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 .—The apostle's method of dealing with the idle busybodies of the Thessalonian Church.
This is one of the leading objects of this Epistle.
I. THE NATURE OF THE OFFENCE REBUKED BY THE APOSTLE . "Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition they received from us."
1 . It was a habit of idleness caused by the unsettling tendency of the belief that the day of the Lord ' s coming was near at hand to wind up all human affairs. They were, therefore, "working not at all," allowing themselves to be ignobly dependent either upon richer brethren or upon ecclesiastical funds.
2 . Linked with this idle habit was the disposition to be " busybodies "—concerning themselves with matters that did not belong to them. "Bishops in other men's dioceses," as the figure of the apostle elsewhere describes the same class ( 1 Peter 4:15 ); like the younger widows who "were wandering about from house to house, and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies" ( 1 Timothy 5:13 ). This unworthy habit of life was a serious annoyance and interruption to neighbours, as well as an unwarranted tax upon the generosity of their rich patrons.
3 . It was an aggravation of the offence that the offenders were not only " brethren ," but were living in deliberate disregard of the apostle ' s oral instructions during his first visit to Thessalonica. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither let him eat." Thus they showed a reckless defiance of apostolic counsel. This was surely to "break rank," as the word "disorder" suggests.
II. THE APOSTLE 'S COMMAND TO THE CHURCH RESPECTING THESE OFFENDERS .
1 . The time was past for mere requests or exhortations. He had addressed them in this milder tone in the First Epistle: "We beseech you that ye study to be quiet, and do your own business" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11 ). But his request had been disregarded.
2 . The command he now addresses to them was backed by Divine authority. "We command you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
3 . It was a command to the body of the Church to " withdraw themselves " from the disorderly brethren.
2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 .—The example of the apostle himself as a support to his command.
I. THE APOSTLE 'S EXAMPLE . "For we were not disorderly among you, nor did we eat bread for nought from any one, but in toil and weariness, working night and day." Though there were rich people in the Church, he accepted no gift from them, but laboured at his craft assiduously to earn a living for himself.
1 . His refusal of support from his converts did not invalidate his right to it. "Not because we have not authority"—an authority which he fully expounds in 1 Corinthians 9:1-27 .—for "the labourer is worthy of his hire," and has he not "a right to forbear working"?
2 . It was based upon a supreme regard to Thessalonian interests.
II. THE APOSTLE 'S INJUNCTION TO THE DISORDERLY . "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any one will not work, neither let him eat."
1 . This does not apply to those who cannot work, but to those who will not. The command does not touch cases of charity.
2 . It is a command based on the original law of Eden. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" ( Genesis 3:19 ). Work is a Divine order, not repealed by Christianity but lifted up to higher blessing and dignity. The idle man ought, therefore, to be allowed to suffer the effects of his idleness.
3 . It is a command which, when obeyed, will introduce tranquillity into life, and at the same time conduce to an honest self-respect. "That working with quietness they eat their own bread."
2 Thessalonians 3:13 . — Exhortation to well doing.
"Brethren, be not weary in well doing."
I. THIS IMPLIES THAT THEY HAD BEEN HITHERTO ENGAGED IN WELL DOING . "Walking honestly to them that were without" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ).
II. IT IS AN INJUNCTION NEEDED BY THE VERY CONDITION OF THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH . Their charity might have been abused by the idle, but they were not to be discouraged by these examples of fanatical restlessness from the practice of beneficence.
III. IT IS AN INJUNCTION POWERFULLY RECOMMENDED ALL THROUGH THE GOSPEL .
1 . It was putting into practice the patience of Christ, for which the apostle prayed in their interest.
2 . God is glorified by well doing. ( John 15:8 .)
4 . A blessing attends it. ( James 1:25 .)
5 . It follows us into our final rest. ( Revelation 14:13 .)—T.C.
The apostle returns to this subject again.
I. HIS REITERATED COMMAND . "If any man obey not our word by this Epistle, note that man, and have no company with him." Let him be a marked man, like a leper in your midst, standing wholly isolated in a heathen city. This would be a social extrusion deeply felt by a "brother" who would be cut off from the cordial greetings of the Church.
II. THE DESIGN OF THIS SOCIAL EXCOMMUNICATION . "That he may be ashamed." It is not "for destruction," but for edification; it is to bring the offender to a due sense of his sin, and to a resolution for its abandonment.
III. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE COMMAND IS TO BE CARRIED OUT . "Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
1 . It is an injunction not to regard him as your enemy, or as an enemy of Christ, as if he had denied the faith, or sunk into profligacy, or relapsed into heathenism. There must be neither hostility nor carelessness on your side, but rather "the love that suffereth long, and is kind."
2 . It is an injunction to affectionate admonition. "But admonish him as a brother." How this would be consistent with the withdrawal of all intercourse it is unnecessary to speculate. There was to be a faithful dealing with him that he might be won back, and "Satan have no advantage" over him.—T.C.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 .—A prayer for peace.
"Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always in every way."
I. THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLESSING . "The Lord of peace himself"—Jesus Christ.
1 . He is our abiding Peace. ( Ephesians 2:14 .)
2 . He gives it as his legacy to the Church . ( John 14:27 .)
3 . He guides into the way of peace . ( Luke 1:79 .)
4 . He is the Prince of peace . ( Isaiah 9:6 .)
II. THE PEACE IN QUESTION INCLUDES :
1 . Reconciliation, with God .
2 . Peace with one another .
3 . Peace in all the relations of life .
4 . Peace in the midst of speculative disturbances .
5 . Peace in the midst of persecutions .
6 . Peace in the prospect of death .
III. IT WAS A PRAYER FOR A CONTINUOUS PEACE . "Always." It was to be as uninterrupted as a river ( Isaiah 48:18 ), with no breaks made in it by the world, the flesh, or the devil. None but the Lord of peace could sustain such a peace in power.
IV. IT IS PEACE TO BE ACQUIRED IN EVERY WAY — BY PRAYING , BY PREACHING , BY CONVERSATION .
V. THE PENDANT TO THIS HAPPY PRAYER . "The Lord be with you all." A comprehensive benediction upon the disorderly as well as the orderly brethren of Thessalonica. "Be with you all"—"by his presence to comfort and refresh; by his power to keep and preserve; by his grace to assist; and by his Spirit to counsel, advise, and direct."—T.C.
"The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every Epistle: so I write." He takes the pen out of the hand of his amanuensis and writes the closing words himself.
I. IT WAS IMPORTANT TO AUTHENTICATE THE EPISTLE . There were letters falsely attributed to him ( 1 Thessalonians 2:2 ). It is essential for Christians to know the distinction between the human and the Divine. The Thessalonians would be able to identify his large, bold handwriting ( Galatians 6:11 ).
II. THE SALUTATION WAS NOT A MERE SYMBOL OF FRIENDSHIP , BUT A PRAYER FOR HIS BELOVED CONVERTS . "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
1 . His Epistles began with prayer; they end with prayer— "fencing round that which he said with mighty walls on either side."
2 . All the good he desires for his converts is included in the grace of the God-Man. The prayer implies the Divinity of Christ. His name alone appears in his parting supplication.
3 . It is a parting request for all the brethren without exception, including even those who received his rebukes.—T.C.
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