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2 Thessalonians 3 - Pray for the Spread of the Word of the Lord

INTRODUCTION: Paul brings his letter to a close as he turns his emphasis to the need to see the gospel spread abroad as it is supported by the prayers of Christians. There will be opposition to the truth of the word of God, and the Lord is able to bless the work as it is carried out despite even the strong threat of the evil one. However, there will be physical dangers from hostile unbelievers for some of those who openly spread the gospel; and prayer is a valuable element for the success of those who labor for people in unreached areas to hear the word of God.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible.


2 Thessalonians 3 "1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, even as also with you; 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you both do and will do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ."

COMMENTS: Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for him that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, as it had been with them. He had been under affliction in Thessalonica, and many other places, and he knows they too have suffered as they have remained there. So, his second matter of prayer for them all to share is that they will be protected from unreasonable and evil men, while at the same time they fully recognize that the Lord is faithful, who has already established Christians in eternal safety from the more serious threat of the deceptions of the evil one that will keep people from receiving eternal life.

Paul expresses his confidence that the Thessalonians have been doing, and will continue to do, the things he has commanded. The final prayerful thought in this passage is that the Lord will direct their hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ. This is very similar to the opening in his first letter to them. 1 Thessalonians 1 "2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father."

Paul followed a pattern throughout his ministry of asking various communities of believers to pray for him. Romans 15 "30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;"

Jesus made this prayer for his disciples just before they went out with him to the mount of olives. John 17 "14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one." God's love for us is through Christ to eternal life as these other scriptures declare. 1 John 4 "9 By this God's love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." Jude 1 "21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."


2 Thessalonians 3 "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. 7 For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we didn't behave ourselves rebelliously among you, 8 neither did we eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it, but in labour and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you; 9 not because we don't have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: "If anyone will not work, neither let him eat." 11 For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion, who don't work at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But you, brothers, don't be weary in doing well. 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. 15 Don't count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

COMMENTS: Paul has already expressed confidence that the Thessalonians will follow his previous instructions, and now he addresses a very practical matter about some who are not following an orderly lifestyle consistent with his own example while he was with them. He worked night and day rather than being dependent on others to supply his daily needs as he preached and taught. As an apostle, he could have considered that alone as his occupation, thus receiving all of his income from those who benefited from his ministry. This was an Old Testament principal related to the Levites who served at the Lord's tabernacle. Paul expressed this PRINCIPAL in his letter to Timothy. 1 Timothy 5 "17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the word and in teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain.' And, 'The labourer is worthy of his wages.'" The Lord Jesus demonstrated this principal in an even more striking manner when he sent out his twelve apostles to spread God's word, and he gave this instruction to them. Matthew 10 "9 Don't take any gold, nor silver, nor brass in your money belts. 10 Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the labourer is worthy of his food. 11 Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on."

Paul gives instructions in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he directs the believers to withdraw themselves from every brother that is rebellious by not continuing to work at their occupation. He refers to them as busybodies, and also states that he who will not work also should not eat. But to the brothers who are receptive to his letter, Paul encourages them not to be weary in doing good. Another letter that Paul wrote says this, Galatians 6 "9 Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith." Peter said this about doing good, 1 Peter 2 "15 For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God." Paul closes his discussion of this matter with a firm instruction that is born out of his love for brothers in Christ. The faithful at Thessalonica are to have no company with any man who doesn't obey Paul's word in this letter. But Paul wants this to be put forth to bring change in such a one if he becomes ashamed of his own actions. The tempering in these steps Paul wants to be applied is that the person who is rebellious be not counted as an enemy, but be admonished as a brother.


2 Thessalonians 3 "16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all. 17 The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul realizes that many times the Christians who experience persecution find it very difficult to feel peaceful. He has told them of the future hope secured for them by their salvation to eternal life with Christ, and now he prays that the Lord of peace himself will give them peace at all times in all ways. He desires for them that The Lord will be with them all, and this is another indication of the assurance he wants for them. Paul closes his letter with his greeting in his own hand writing, which he says is the sign in every letter he writes. the last line then expresses his desire that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of them, and he punctuates that with an amen.

Peace from the Lord of peace, and grace from the great giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ, are both incomparable gifts. Isaiah knew the source of true peace for the heart of man. Isaiah 26 "3 You will keep whoever's mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you." The Lord Christ gave this to us from his own lips. John 14 "27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful." May we express such encouraging words as these to each other as blood-bought children of the Lord.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, help me through your Spirit to continue in prayer for all those who make the spread of the gospel their primary occupation, and for myself to share within my own sphere of influence, that your name will be glorified. I ask your protection for any Christians who may face physical threats as they share your word, and I praise you that Satan has been defeated so no one can ultimately snatch any believer from your hand. Lord please guide my thoughts and actions through the love of God and the patience of Christ if I encounter any from whom I may need to withdraw myself because of their rebellious or disorderly conduct as described in Paul's letter. I also pray Lord that I will not become one of those myself, but will consider that I need to continue in the pattern of work set by the example of the apostle Paul, and to keep myself from being a person who meddles or pries into the affairs of others. May any of my efforts to bring another to realize how they might be straying into the rebellion of unproductiveness, be fully motivated by your love, and the desire to see them restored to the goal of living for the Lord, while waiting patiently for your return. Thank you Lord Jesus that you have promised by your grace, to give a peace that the world cannot give, as each of us as Christians move along the path of life you have determined for us until we reach our eternal home with you! Amen.

Published 29 May 2012