Paul asks his readers to pray for him. He calls them to be productive members of society instead of freeloaders. Paul himself made tents. And he concludes. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, even as also with you,
Finally. This transitions us to the final part of this Letter.
pray for us. For what does Paul solicit their prayer-support? The next phrase tells us.
that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly. In other words, that their evangelism will have great success.
not all have faith. Without faith in Jesus Christ, you cannot understand Jesus Christ. The hostility of these enemies was due to their lack of faith in him.
guard you from the evil one. Our ultimate security is not in ourselves but in God. We may fail ourselves, but God will never fail us. He will strengthen us and guard us from evil.
VERSE 4. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you both do and will do the things we command.
VERSE 5. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love, and into the perseverance of Christ.
VERSE 6. Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us.
VERSE 7. For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we didn’t behave ourselves rebelliously among you,
you ought to imitate us. Paul and his missionary companions set the example for the believers in Thesaloniki.
VERSE 8. neither did we eat bread from anyone’s hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you,
neither did we eat bread… without paying for it. In those days, there were lots of religious people who did nothing but ask for money. They stopped contributing anything to society. Paul did not want people to see Christians as yet another type of religious beggars.
worked night and day. In Thessaloniki, Paul and his missionary companions had secular jobs. They earned an income by the sweat of their brow.
In all likelihood, the secular job they did was to make tents. In his former secular career, Paul was a tentmaker.
When a Christian leader has a secular job instead of being supported by donations, people call it “tentmaking.” That term goes back to this case of Paul “making tents” in Thessaloniki.
that we might not burden any of you. Paul’s goal was that Christian missionaries not be seen as religious beggars. So in Thessaloniki, they did not ask for money.
That was a rare exception. In almost all other cases, Paul did indeed ask for money. A Christian leader has the right to ask for financial support, as we see in the next verse.
VERSE 9. not because we don’t have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us.
not because we don’t have the right. Paul did indeed have the right to ask for money. He simply did not exercise it in Thessaloniki.
but to make ourselves an example to you. The goal was to be an example of working hard, and not being seen as a religious beggar.
VERSE 10. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: “If anyone will not work, don’t let him eat.”
If anyone will not work, don’t let him eat. Paul is referring to Christian believers who become like the despised religious beggars. Paul does not want the Christian faith to be portrayed in such an unfavorable way.
In our day, some Christian believers interpret this out of context, as if to mean that food should be withheld from anyone who is not productive enough.
However, many people are unable to work. Perhaps they are chronically ill or mentally incapable. Maybe they lack the skills needed for a new job. Perhaps they cannot speak the language.
The history of the Christian faith is enriched by believers who feed the poor. The Lord Jesus Christ says our final judgment will be based on how we take care of poor people.
Matthew 25:35-36. for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’
VERSE 11. For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion, who don’t work at all, but are busybodies.
some … are busybodies. These are the believers who became religious freeloaders.
VERSE 12. Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they work with quietness and eat their own bread.
they work, and eat their own bread. Paul absolutely does not want them to tarnish the reputation of the Christian faith by becoming religious freeloaders.
VERSE 13. But you, brothers, don’t be weary in doing what is right.
VERSE 14. If any man doesn’t obey our word in this letter, note that man, that you have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed.
VERSE 15. Don’t count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
VERSE 16. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all.
VERSE 17. The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write.
In those days, letters were often dictated to a scribe. However, the author might add a greeting in his own hand. Paul did that:
Colossians 4:18. The salutation of me, Paul, with my own hand: remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:21. This greeting is by me, Paul, with my own hand.
Galatians 6:11. See with what large letters I write to you with my own hand.
2 Thessalonians 3:17. The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write.
VERSE 18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.