Finally, the Thessalonians were to pray for Paul himself, and that
not only in regard to his personal safety but in regard to the work
with which he was entrusted. The history recorded in Acts 17 shows us
how greatly prayer for his safety was needed at this juncture, yet he
gave the first place to the work. The word had had full course amongst
the Thessalonians and consequently it had been glorified in the
wonderful results it produced in them. Paul asked prayer that thus it
might be wherever he went. He prayed unceasingly for his converts but
he was also not ashamed to ask for their prayers for himself. The most
advanced saint or servant may well be thankful for the prayers of the
youngest convert or the humblest believer.
As to the Thessalonians themselves the Apostle had confidence in the
Lord concerning them that they would be governed by his directions,
only he desired that the Lord Himself might direct their hearts into
the enjoyment of God's love and into the patience of Christ. This is
what we all want, and especially so seeing that the end of the age is
upon us. If our hearts enter into Christ's patience, as He waits at
God's right hand, and are tuned into sympathy with Him, we shall not
chafe at what to us may seem a long delay. God's love will meanwhile be
our enjoyed portion and we shall be able to display it to others while
passing through the world.
From verse 6 of this third chapter and the succeeding verses it is
evident that the erroneous ideas concerning the coming of the Lord,
which had been pressed upon the Thessalonians, had already borne evil
fruit. It is ever the way that evil communications corrupt good
manners. Some amongst them had become fanatical in their minds, under
the impression that the day of Christ was upon them, and had thrown up
their ordinary employment. Having done this they began to expect
support from others.
They became disorderly busybodies, doing nothing themselves and preying upon others who quietly went on with their work.
As to this the Apostle was able to hold himself up as an example. He
had laboured night and day for his own support, though he might justly
have been chargeable to them. God had ordained that "they which preach
the Gospel should live of the Gospel" (1 Cor. 9: 14). Yet he had not
claimed this right. As to all others the divine rule is, "that if any
would not work, neither should he eat."
In verse 12 we have Paul's word to these busybodies. He commands
them to work for their own living. Then in verse 13 he turns to the
rest of the assembly at Thessalonica and tells them not to be weary in
well-doing, We can well imagine how tired they must have got of these
disorderly brethren who were continually trespassing on their kindness.
If now they were to be relieved of this burden let them not cease their
benevolence but still be hearty and cheerful givers in the interests of
Verses 14 and 15 give instructions in case any of the disorderly
brethren were contumacious and refused obedience to God's word through
the Apostle's letter. Such were to be disciplined. The displeasure of
God was to be manifested in His people withdrawing their companionship.
The offender would thereby be made to feel the unenviable notoriety of
his isolation. His links with the world without were broken and now there would be no happy companionship within the
Christian circle. This would be a well-nigh impossible position and
calculated to bring him to his senses. He was not however to be put
right outside the Christian circle as though he were an enemy, which
was the dealing that had to be taken with the offender of whom we read
in 1 Corinthians 5.
All this should be done that peace might reign in their midst. Only
the Lord Himself however could really give this. Paul desired that it
might be theirs at all times and in every way.
As the Thessalonians had been troubled with an epistle falsely
represented as coming from Paul, he was very careful that there should
be no doubt about the authenticity of this epistle which really did
come from him. This explains verse 17.