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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, February 26, 2021

2 Thessalonians 3:6-18 (L 07)

 

Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                             Published: February 26, 2021

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

*********************************************************************************************** 

Welcome to HBS.

Please open your Bible at 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18.

FYI: I anticipate finishing our study of Paul’s Thessalonian letters this week.

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.  For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 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: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.  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.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.  Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord  be with you all.  The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” 

Verse 3:6.

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.

In these verses you’ll find the only instance (in either of the Thessalonian letters) of any cause for reproof from our Apostle Paul directed to these Believers.  But the “disorderly” conduct referred to here is not the same as the disorderly conduct you’ll find on a police officers’ report today.  The Greek word “disorderly” means a lack of order, so Paul’s saying some of these Believers ignored or disregarded the “tradition” (teaching) he had handed down to them and we’re acting “irresponsibly.”  

On the flip-side of this issue, we find Paul commending the Grace Church at Colosse for their order and the stedfastness of their faith: “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ” (Colossians 2:5). 

But he rebuked the carnal Corinthians when he wrote, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33).  Disorder, then, is the opposite of “order” is it not.  I certainly hope y’all said “Yes.”  So, the disorderly behavior at Thessalonica had resulted (in some cases) from a few among them who in anticipation of Lord’s return, gave up their jobs and went visiting from house to house.  Undoubtedly, they soon found themselves discussing the Lord’s return or their “blessed hope.”  It’s a reasonable assumption, therefore, that many or most of these folks whom they visited invited them to stay and eat a meal with them.  The people who invited them into their homes were not behaving disorderly.  Paul’s referring to the “unruly” Believers that quit working for a living and were sponging meals, and what not, from those who remained gainfully employed.  This activity caused friction in the assembly, resulting in unrest and ill will amongst the brethren and this is why Paul issued his command “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly” (3:6).

Verse 3:7-9.

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 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: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

In this section of Scripture Paul contrasted their “disorderly walk” with the “tradition” they had taught and applied to themselves, so that their “orderly” conduct might be “an ensample” to all, “…for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 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: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

As the Lord’s “called” Apostle, Paul had the “power,” or the right, to expect to be paid for his labor among the Believers.  Yet we find him “laboring with his own hands” as a tent-maker (Acts 18:1-4, 20:34), so that he might not be “chargeable” to anyone, so that no one could accuse Paul and his co-workers of making a good living off of them and have the “charge” stick (verse 3:8; 1 Corinthians 9).

Religious-minded teachers down through the centuries have known something in common, namely, that religion can be profitable, for them, at least.  They have proved that you can make a good living in the religion business.  It’s a sad fact that many  evangelists and preachers live rather well today at their congregation’s expense, but express little sensitivity or gratitude over such expense.  Paul avoided this touchy issue with great care and perseverance, opting to take no one’s bread “for nought,” not because his position as an apostle did not give him this right, but to make himself, “an ensample (example) to them” that they should follow.  This unselfish act not only reveals consideration on Paul’s part, but also his generous heart; in other words, he would rather give then receive.  Thus, we have the biblical account in Philippians 4:13-18 written while Paul was experiencing stress as a prisoner in chains or “in bonds.”   The brethren in Philippi sent gifts to both sustain and encourage him.  Paul referred to those gifts, as “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 

Paul wasn’t able to remain in Thessalonica for very long, if you recall.  Upon his arrival,  he entered the Jewish synagogue and for three Sabbaths preached out of the O.T. to show the Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  They had to accept this truth before they’d be willing to listen to what he had to say about salvation by faith (alone) in the finished work of the cross, or the “tradition” Paul had received from the ascended and risen Lord by revelation (Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 2:8-9).  While some folks believed, most of the Jews rejected both Paul and his gospel.  They hired some of the town thugs, formed an angry mob, and provoked a riot in the city.  They sought to capture Paul, but only succeeded in dragging a new convert named Jason before the officials.  They accused him of troubling the city, but these officials did nothing more than make Jason post bond.  Thus, the Jews in Thessalonica, essentially, imitated the behavior of Saul of Tarsus before he became known as Paul, God’s called Apostle to the gentiles (Acts 17:1–15).

So then, soon after he departed the city he became aware of an emerging problem within this assembly.  Some of the saints had decided to quit working in anticipation of the Lord’s coming in the clouds above for them.  Since these disorderly brethren were not working for a living one thing is certain they had a lot of extra time on their hands.  It’s also true idle hands are the devil’s workshop (Proverbs 16:17-19).  Paul has already revealed what they did with their time?  He said they went about the city visiting other Believers in their homes, as “busybodies” (3:11).  But it was an error in judgement on their part to use the “blessed hope” of the Rapture as justification for their “disorderly conduct,” for it could also be said that the Lord might, in grace, decide to tarry for an indefinite period of time (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8).  Thus, Paul reminds them: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (3:10). 

In verse 3:10 Paul’s saying these wrongdoers should be disciplined.  How so?  He said don’t invite such a person into your home, instead, “withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition which he received from us” (3:6).  While it is charitable to invite those that “walketh disorderly” into your home, when you do so you’re actually encouraging their freeloading behavior.  So, instead of doing that, Paul urged these saints to reserve their generosity for those who are truly in need and for the brethren in your assembly who “walk orderly” or  according to the “tradition” they had taught them.  

Regarding those who “walketh disorderly,” Paul goes on to say, “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (3:12).

Here Paul asserts the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ when he commanded and encouraged the disorderly and idle Believers to return to work “with quietness… and eat their own bread.  Think this through, Paul’s implying that this proper conduct would stave off the complaints and criticism of the unbelievers in their community who would most likely, at the first opportunity, wag the finger of shame at this Church saying, “What hypocrites!  They do not practice what they preach.”  We note that Paul had previously given this command (1 Thessalonians 4:11), but apparently some of the Believers had disregarded it or they did not take Paul seriously.  Therefore, he issued the command again, but this time he hammered the point home by citing the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ for doing so. 

Thus we learn every Believer should go about their work at a job or career in a diligent, industrious manner.  Why?  Realistically speaking, it’s possible your above reproach conduct might win an unbelieving boss or co-worker to the Lord.  And then there’s Paul’s command to the saints at Colosse to consider: “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22–24).  Paul obviously knew something that these disorderly walking Believers did not know, namely, a good work ethic not only meshes with their need to be spiritually active in their community (Hebrews 5:11-6:1), it provides them with a good reputation and a strong testimony to the world outside of Christ who are most certainly watching them (1 Peter 2:12).

So, this discipline, which was not only justified but necessary where indolents and “busybodies” were concerned, should not produce a hard, uncaring attitude among Believers.  Paul suggests this danger when he wrote: “But ye, brethren, be not weary in doing good” (3:13).  Here Paul acknowledged the fact that most of the Thessalonian Believers were doing the right thing, but they needed to maintain that effort, in spite of the fact that some of the brethren were falling well short of the goal.  Paul exhorted them not to become burnt out or frustrated from “doing good,” which often results in becoming tired of “doing good.”  I say this because it’s quite likely the Believers that continued working at their jobs in Thessalonica might have been tempted to walk away from those jobs and follow after those that were “walking disorderly.”  For as long as we live in a cursed and fallen world (Genesis 3:1-19), we’ll be tempted to ask why we should do a lot of things, such as work for a living, while others sit back and take life easy.  It’s worth mentioning, again, that like water and electricity it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance or “go with the flow.”  But Paul said that should not be the case for those who have trusted in the Lord for their salvation for we now walk not by sight but by faith. 

Paul had the same message for the bewitched and bothered assembly at Galatia.  In Galatians 6:9-10 he wrote: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Paul’s implying that it is important in our service for the Lord that we do the right thing, regardless of what others around us are doing.  We need to recognize that we are individually accountable to the Lord, knowing that the day is coming when we’ll stand before Him and receive a reward or suffer loss for those things we did or did not do.  As Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15).  This temptation Paul spoke of is not reserved only for those who are new, or weak, in the faith, as were some of the Thessalonians.  For it appears that Demas, one of Paul’s saved co-workers, spurned the missionary life and its hardships in favor of that aforementioned path of least resistance or the easy road for Paul wrote: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;” (2 Timothy 4:10a)

Verses 3:14.

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.”

Here Paul instructed the Thessalonian Believers about how they should treat a stubborn, disorderly walking, and idle member of their assembly.  He referred to that person as someone who does “not obey” what he had written in his “epistles.”  That being the case and because the content of those “epistles” was inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), Paul’s inferring they carried the full authority of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Paul, as the Lord’s apostle, commands the faithful Believers to clearly identify a disobedient walking individual, and withhold social contact from him or her until they heeded and obeyed his command to return to work.  This clearly implies a less severe form of reproof than what Paul prescribed for profound sin in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5: “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, hat one should have his father’s wife.  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Thus, disorderliness is irresponsibility, hence the importance of orderly thinking and conduct in the Believer’s life.  It’s evident that Paul was very pleased with the order among the Colossian Believers and deeply concerned over the lack of order among the Corinthians.  Bearing this in mind, it was then consistent of Paul to instruct the saints in Thessalonica to reject the company of those who persisted in their disorderly walk, so that they might be “ashamed.”  That truth takes us to the next verse.

Yet (here Paul again cautions the Believers against a cold, hard-hearted heart) count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (3:15).

Here Paul cautions these Believers against adopting a calloused attitude toward the “unruly” brethren in their assembly for they are called to fellowship with each other (Hebrews 10:25), and not ostracism.  Disconnection from other Believers is not meant to be taken lightly.  As in all such instructions in the N.T., the purpose of social separation is to spur the offender to recognize their disorderly conduct and to make the necessary change(s) in their life.  This begins with a sense of shame.  The disciplinary action was intended to be corrective seeking to heal rather than punitive which seeks to inflict pain.  Parallel to this idea, Paul outlined the course of action they should take when a brother is caught in a transgression.  The pattern is to "restore him in a spirit of gentleness," while keeping watch on themselves so they too would not be tempted (Galatians 6:1).  This need for compassion is also reflected in the next section.

Paul’s Closing Salutation

Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord  be with you all.  The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

There’s a phrase in verse 3:18 that stands out and I wonder if y’all caught it.  But I’m more than happy to point it out to you; it’s “…the Lord of peace himself.”  At least six time in Paul’s epistles we find the phrase, “the God of peace,” but here it’s “the Lord of peace,” the One who is over all.  He is on the proverbial throne; and He controls the tempest, and He can give you peace “always by all means” in spite of persecutions and sufferings.  In both of these letters to the Thessalonians the word “himself” is used four times in this connection, and it always gives the impression of God’s, or Christ Jesus,’ personal concern for all the saints:

Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you” 1 Thessalonians 3:11).  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).  And here: “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means” (3:16).

This knowledge enriches the phrase that follows: “The Lord  be with you all” and serves to make His presence with them (and us) all the more tangible. 

Verse 3:17.

The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

In every one of Paul’s epistles, he added a personal touch by signing his name, always at the opening and three times at the close (See 1 Corinthians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians).   He learned to do this early on in his writing career, for it was at Thessalonica that someone had forged his name to a letter making it appear that he had written it. 

And now we come to the closing words of this epistle so filled with God’s grace and His comfort, especially the solemn, precious comfort of our Lord’s coming for His own to snatch them away from this wicked world before He returns, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans  2:15, 16:25-27; Ephesians 5:16).

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen” (3:18).

(To be Continued)

© Copyright 2011/GJ Heitzman’s Ministry/All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 19, 2021

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (L 06)

 

Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                             Published: February 19, 2021

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

***********************************************************************************************

Welcome to HBS and thanks for being with us today. 

Please open your Bible at 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.  And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.  And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.  

Paul’s Oneness with the Thessalonian Saints

Verse 3:1-3.

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may (literally, run or) have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

With the word “Finally” Paul added his commands, exhortations, requests, and the practical applications of what he has been teaching the Thessalonians in this letter.  His request for prayer in this case is not for boldness to preach the gospel of grace or strength to endure life’s troubles it’s “that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified,” (3:1).  He’s referring to the spread of the gospel the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him and called him to preach to the gentiles or all nations (Romans 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:11). 

It should be further observed that he asked for their prayers that it might be with him “even as it is with them” (3:1b).  With that comment we pick up on the fact that there are variations in persecution.  The Thessalonian saints were suffering fierce persecution themselves and we looked at this topic not that long ago, but in actuality this served “to spread the gospel of God’s grace” throughout Macedonia and beyond (1 Thessalonians 1:8) it did not hinder it much to the dismay of the persecutors.  In Paul’s case, however, he and his co-workers suffered from a different kind of persecution.  We pick up on this from these words in his prayer request “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men:” who “have not faith” (3:2).  Thus, we conclude from this statement that certain Jews continued to plot and scheme against Paul and those men that labored with him in the cause of Christ (See Acts 18:1-17; 20:3, 23:11-22). 

We get some idea of the kind of persecution Paul endured while at Corinth, Greece, when we realize that a concerted effort was made by the unbelieving, religious Jews of the synagogue in that city to have him condemned by the Roman proconsul and cast into prison.  His antagonists meant to restrain both Paul and his message.

His request for prayer that the Word might have “free course” serves to remind us of two of his other requests for prayer from the saints.  1) In Ephesians 6:19-20, that he might be given “utterance” and “boldness,” and 2) in Colossians 4:3, that God would open to him “a door of utterance,” to proclaim, “the revelation of the mystery,” for which he had been imprisoned.  Paul’s one deep passion was to make known the gospel of God’s grace to all and for this he suffered greatly (Acts 9:10-16; Romans 1:13-17, 10:1, 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 1:17-24, 2:6-8; Philippians 1:12-21).

Paul asked the members of every grace church he wrote to pray for him, except the Galatians, and that’s not difficult to understand.  When you put others under the law, you bite and devour them (Galatians 5:15), you don’t pray for them.  But Paul knew the assembly in Thessalonica was a loving assembly (1:4-9), and so he asked them to pray for “us” (2:3:1), that is, himself, Silas, and Timothy (1:1).

It’s okay to ask other people to pray for you, especially since Paul said you should pray for “all the saints,” and you are one of the saints (Ephesians 6:18) if you’ve believed Paul’s gospel.  It is also okay to pray “in every thing” (Philippians 4:6).  But Paul didn’t ask the saints to pray for him so he could have an easier life, he asked for their prayers so he could continue to serve the Lord faithfully (Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:3).  When he prayed for his “thorn in the flesh” to be removed it was because he thought it would enable him to serve the Lord better, but the Lord had to explain otherwise (2 Corinthians 12:9).  So while it is okay to pray for yourself and those things that concern you, the more you mature in the faith and learn to pray like Paul, the more likely your chief concern will be aligned with Paul’s, i.e., serving the Lord and others. 

The word of the Lord” (3:1) to Israel was nothing short of a threat of judgment (Ezekiel 6:3), but today the word of the Lord is found in Acts 13:38-39, 49.  The Greek word for “free courseis translated “run” elsewhere in the N.T. which means Paul was asking them to pray “the word of the Lord” would be able to runfree” of the hurdles he’d seen runners jump at the Isthmian games in Corinth.  We should, therefore, pray this too, and then make sure we are not one of the hurdles.  You become a hurdle when you live your life in such a way as to damage your testimony and God’s, by refusing to serve the Lord and others, and by criticizing His Word.

The word of the Lord” is “glorified” (3:1) when it is believed and acted upon (Acts 13:48).  The Word didn’t have “free course” with the Thessalonians (3:1) when Paul established the church (Acts 17:1-9), but it did now that he was gone.  So, he’s asking them to pray that it would now have “free course… with him as it was with them.”  Of course, Paul knew he’d be delivered “from unreasonable and wicked men,” knowing he couldn’t die till he’d finished running the course set before him, as did John (Acts 13:24,25) and the two witnesses (Revelation 11:7).  Paul also had a course to complete and a testimony to tell (Acts 20:24) and he knew God wouldn’t call him home until he until finished both (2 Timothy 4:6-7).

But if he knew he couldn’t die till then, why did he ask the Thessalonians to pray for his deliverance?  Paul was asking them to pray in accordance with God’s will.  We see the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians, where he knew he’d be delivered, but asked the Corinthian saints to pray for it (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

Verses 3:2-3.

And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.  But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.

These “unreasonable and wicked men” Paul speaks of are unsaved Jews who won’t respond to God’s offer to “reason” with them (Isaiah 1:18).  Paul also reasoned with Jews who didn’t believe (Acts 17:1-4l 18:1-6), but unsaved religious-minded gentiles also presented a problem for him (Acts 19:29-34).

But we know Paul was also asking to be delivered from saved religious men when he adds, “for all men have not faith, but the Lord is faithful” (3:2-3).  Since the word “faith” can mean faithful (Romans 3:1-3), Paul was comparing the Lord’s faithfulness to the faithlessness of Believers, who can be just as “unreasonable and wicked” as unsaved men and in some cases even more so. 

In declaring that God will be “faithful” to do what He says He will do 100% of the time, the thing that Paul said God would faithfully do is to “stablish” them (3:3).  That word, as any other word in the Bible, has different meanings depending on the context.  In 2:16-17 “the blessed hope” of the Pre-tribulation Rapture could “stablish” them, but we know that depended on their being “faithful” (2:1-2).  Paul’s saying the Lord will “stablish” the true Believer, “unblameable in holiness before God” (1 Thessalonians 3:13), when He returns to heaven with every member of the Body of Christ.  That return will be before the Tribulation, and that is how the Lord plans to “keep (them) from evil” (3:3), i.e., the evil of the Tribulation.  Please know the Scriptures offer us no guarantee that we will be saved from any other evil in this life.  

Verses 3:4-5.

Paul’s Confidence in the Lord

And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.  And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

To put “confidence” in someone (3:4) means to put your trust in them (Psalm 118:8). Since the Lord is trustworthy, Paul had “confidence in the Lord” (3:4) concerning many things.  For example he was “confident” he was saved (2 Corinthians 5:6-8), because he was “confident” that the Lord would continue that good work He had begun in him: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (or the Rapture):” (Philippians 1:6).

When Paul wrote: “And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” please note he did not say, “We have confidence in you. He said, “we have confidence in the Lord.”  Paul's statement about the Thessalonians in this verse must have been encouraging.  He expressed “confidence in the Lord” that they are doing and will continue to do what He commands.  This confidence was not based on human effort or merit.  It was based "in the Lord."  What does this mean?  Left to themselves, most likely, the Thessalonians would not be able to carry out Paul's commands, which are the very commands of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37).  But the Lord was working in and through them, i.e., helping them live a  life that pleases God: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).  We note that Paul exhorted the Philippians to “work out” and not "work for" their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

When you study your Bible, rightly divided, never forget what the settings for these various letters from our Apostle Paul are.  For instance, the Thessalonian letters were the first two letters he wrote to grace Believers.  They were not the last in line, as the N.T. presents them.  As near as I can tell, Paul was with these people for about three weeks and that’s not a long time considering the fact that this small group of Believers had been living lives that were steeped in paganism before Paul presented the gospel to them.  Paul gives us some idea what this means in Romans 1:18-32.  For the sake of time I’m not going to go over all that in detail, but suffice to say it’s required reading in order for your understanding to be complete.  To say pagans lived amoral lives is a gross understatement.  And so, these were the kind of communities our Apostle Paul entered simply preaching the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and the Lord opened their hearts to receive His message (Acts 16:14; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). 

While studying this Scripture passage I came across an article from one of the early church writers re: two pagan women that were slaves.  Evidently, these women became Believers of Paul’s gospel and soon after came under bitter persecution, but here’s the thing, their faith never wavered.  This is hard for most people to understand.  I say this because a “stablished” Believer of many years is more likely to endure persecution than a new Believer fresh out of an immoral lifestyle.  Human nature dictates choosing the path of least resistance; this is where most people are “comfortable.”  But for these two women to be so transformed that they were willing to suffer persecution, in its many forms, without recanting their faith is truly remarkable and stands as a testimony of faith to all.   

These and other concerns like them are the situations that Paul had to address as he wrote these letters.  He was with the Thessalonians for only a few weeks, and I’m certain that time was well spent, but when you start from zero knowledge there’s a lot to  learn.  That being said, in his absence other “gifted” men were on the scene to help them grow in knowledge of the Lord and in the faith (Ephesians 4:11-13).  And so now we know why Paul wrote these letters so soon after leaving them.  Before I let this go just let me say this is what the diligent Bible student must always keep in mind.  What was the purpose of Paul’s letters to these assemblies?  When were they written and to whom were they written?  When you approach the Scriptures with this mindset, you’re well on your way to be “a workman approved of God” (2 Timothy 2:15).

And then, with the same passion that had overtaken him ever since his Damascus RD conversion, Paul expressed further “confidence” that “…the Lord will direct their heartsinto the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (3:5).

The first thing I want to mention is in all of Paul’s writings he never once mentioned his deep love for God or for the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather he speaks of God’s love for him and every lost sinner.  For to him, the chief of sinners, was given the greatest revelation of the love of Christ (Romans 5:8-9).  It was this appreciation of this great love that set and kept Paul on fire for the Lord and strengthened his resolve.  This alone helps to explain the utter abandon with which he labored and suffered for the cause of Christ.  For he admits to being “pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life;” (2 Corinthians 1:8), and would have given up, but he could not, he would not, for the love of Christ bore him along as an ocean tide.  This is the sense of the word “constrains” in 2 Corinthians 5:14.  God’s infinite love for the lost sinner, demonstrated in the grace that had saved him, continually overwhelmed him and was to him a constant source of contentment and strength to endure persecution and suffering in its many forms (Philippians 4:11-14).  This is what he wanted for the Thessalonians, i.e., that their hearts might be directed, not “to love God,” but rather, “into the love of God.”

In closing this section of Scripture Paul encourages these saints, despite or in view of all their persecutions, to continue what they had begun.  They had “turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and now he prays that “the Lord will direct their hearts “into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ” (3:5), clearly indicating that patient waiting is what should be expected of them and every true Believer in view of God’s grace and longsuffering toward all.    

(To be continued)

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