2Th_3:1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
A most important request. What can the ministers of the gospel do, if their people cease to pray for them? Even if their own prayers be heard, as they will be, and a measure of blessing be given, yet it will be but a scant measure, compared with what it would be if all the saints united in their intercessions. Whenever we see the word of God very mighty in one place it ought to encourage us to pray that it may be the same in another place, for it is the same word and the hearts of all men are alike. The same spirit can give the same blessing in every place. Hence Paul says, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified even as it is with you.” Now, if any of you in your church are enjoying rich prosperity, pray for others, that they may have the same. And, if you are without it, take courage from any church which you see prospering, and ask the Lord to do the same things for you. Very likely if we prayed more for ministers they would be more blessed to us. There is many a man who can not “hear” his minister and the reason may be that God never hears him pray for his minister.
2Th_3:2. And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
I really do not know which is the worst to put up with — an unreasonable man or a wicked man. A wicked man may do you all sorts of mischief, but you soon know him. But an unreasonable man — you do not know where to find him, and he can attack you from all sorts of places. Alas! there are some very unreasonable Christians — very good in some points, but very stupid; and a stupid man may set a village on a blaze quite as easily as a wicked man. The stupid man’s accident may be as dangerous as another man’s design. Pray also “that we may be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men, for all men have not faith,” and all men have not sense, I may also add.
2Th_3:3. But the Lord is faithful,
There is the mercy. Whether men be fools or knaves, the Lord is faithful.
2Th_3:3. Who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.
We are taught to pray for this grace. We are here told that we shall have it. Since God is faithful he will keep us from evil.
2Th_3:4. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
Our obedience to apostolic ordinances should be of the present and of the future. It should be fixed in our souls. What the Lord has commanded in his church by his apostles should be carefully regarded by us.
2Th_3:5. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
The two things go together. When we love God, we long for the glory and the appearing of his Son. The most loving spirits in the world have had most an eye to that glorious coming. Note Enoch who walked with God and prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh.” Note Daniel, “a man greatly beloved,” and a seer who looked into the future and saw the Ancient of Days. Mark also John who leaned his head on Jesus’ bosom, we may say of him that he spoke more of the second coming than all the rest of the apostles. When the heart gets right away from earth and is set upon God, then it is that we begin to long for the manifestation of the Lord from heaven.
2Th_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.
Paul had been to Thessalonica, and had given oral teaching, and now he commits to the book what he had spoken; but he bids them take care not to associate with those who wilfully broke the ordinances of the church which he had taught them. There are some brethren with whom it is ill for us to associate, lest they do us hurt, and it is ill for them that we associate with them, lest we seem to assist them in their evil deeds. Especially is this so in the case of brethren of the class that he is about to describe — mischief makers, troublers, people that can always tell you the gossip of a congregation, that can tear a neighbour’s character to pieces, that are able to perceive spots on the sun; people who delight in parading the fault of God’s own children, and are never so happy as when they are making others unhappy by what they have to retail. These are the kind of people to whom you should give a wide berth.
2Th_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.
The apostle had a right to be supported by those among whom he laboured. He always insists upon that right; but for their good, knowing the tendency of that age, he himself abjured that right; and he is indignant that there should be others who did nothing whatever as to Christian ministry, but who availed themselves of the charity of the church at Thessalonica so as to be able to live upon it without work.
2Th_3:10. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
A very capital rule, indeed. There are some so very spiritually minded that to soil their hands is also to soil their conscience. They are afraid of hard work. They think it is unspiritual; whereas there is nothing in the world, next to the grace of God, that is more likely to keep men out of mischief than having plenty to do.
2Th_3:11. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
Not doing their own business, and therefore putting their noses into everybody else’s business. If they had minded their own affairs, they would have left other people alone. There are such people alive now. We must not be surprised if we meet them seeing that they were alive in the apostle’s days; if they troubled him it must be small marvel if they trouble us.
2Th_3:12. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
The best bread and the sweetest, is our own. We are to work for it. We are to work with quietness. I suppose to some that is very hard work, but they must labour after it, for quietness is a Christian grace, it is indeed a high Christian attainment.
2Th_3:13-15. 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.
This kind of Christian discipline ought to be carried out still, in reference not only to this one ease of busybodies, but to all other cases. When a church grows large, there can be no efficient discipline from one man, or from all his officers with him. There must be the discipline of the whole church towards itself, each Christian, according to his measure of grace, seeking the good of the whole; for while every man must bear his own burden, yet is it said, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” “Look not every man upon his own things, but also upon the things of others.” The careful desire to promote the. Christian welfare of all our fellow members is a very different thing from being busybodies. We must have equal desire not in any way to interfere where we should not.
2Th_3:16. Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.
What a sweet benediction! And how he heaps the words together, as if peace was one of the greatest blessings a church could have. Indeed, dear brethren it is the essential to all other blessings. I am quite certain that we never should have enjoyed here the long years of perpetual prosperity which we have had, if it had not pleased the Lord to keep us always in peace. So may we be for many and many a year to come! May no root of bitterness ever spring up to trouble us, but may this text be fulfilled — “Now the Lord of peace give you peace always by all means.”
2Th_3:16-17. The Lord be with you all. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
I suppose he always wrote a part of each epistle. Probably through the failure of his eyesight he was unable to write the whole of it with his own hands, but employed some one of his brethren to be his amanuensis. But, in order that every one might know the epistle to be genuine, there was always a little of Paul’s writing, sometimes in big text-hand, as when he says to one church, “You see how large a letter I have written unto you with my own hand.”
2Th_3:18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
So with great courtesy and a comprehensive prayer he finishes his letter.