2 Thessalonians 3:6–18 (NKJV)
6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.II Thessalonians 3:6-9
Paul follows up his teaching to stand fast in the traditions the Thessalonians had learned from him by saying further that Christians should withdraw from anyone who does not walk according to those traditions. If a brother or sister conducts themselves in a disorderly manner, and not according to the traditions of the faith, they are not a valid part of the church. Paul set the example of orderly conduct, not freeloading but rather working hard day and night so as not to be a burden to anyone within the church. They would have been right in asserting their authority as leaders of the churches in the region, but chose rather to set an example of how the Christians in Thessalonica should live.
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.II Thessalonians 3:10-15
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Paul goes further to explain that his former commandment was still in force: if anyone will not work, neither should they eat! He condemns the lazy busybodies who refuse to work, and commands that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. As for those who are doing good, he instructs them not to grow weary while doing good. Perseverance is the key to success and pleasing God. Again, he calls upon the Christians to mark those who do not obey the commands of this letter and have no fellowship with them. Although he is not an enemy, but a brother, this ostracism will serve to make him ashamed of his ungodly conduct, thus bringing him back to right relationship with God and the church.
16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.II Thessalonians 3:16-18
17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Paul’s final word to Thessalonica is a blessing of peace, presence, and grace. Paul calls God the Lord of peace and offers the Thessalonians the peace of God in all things. He blesses them by praying that the Lord be with them all, thus offering the blessing of presence. He then blesses them with the promise of grace, offering them the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for their sins and is uniquely qualified to offer such grace. This blessing rings true to the normal words of Paul’s blessings with slight nuances in place. Paul loved the Thessalonians, was proud of their lives in Christ, and longed to bring them hope in the midst of the threats from within and without. Paul’s pastoral love led him to warn the church about those who would exhibit disorderly conduct and would further instruct instead to work hard and live a life that would glorify God in all things. We could take Paul’s advice to heart and live like the Thessalonians: hard-working, true to the word of God, and looking for the return of Christ.
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