Well, the shoreline is in sight, and we are nearing the end of our journey together through 1&2 Thessalonians. In very Paul-like fashion, we’re going to finish strong! These letters from Paul are all about proclaiming the truth of Jesus’s coming for believers in the rapture, prior to the tribulation. Paul spent only a couple weeks there when the church was born, but he soon followed up with a letter (1 Thessalonians) encouraging believers to be watchful because Jesus promised to save us from the wrath that is to come. However, after false teachers came in and misled the new believers, Paul wrote another letter (2 Thessalonians) about a year later, confirming to them that they had not missed the rapture!
In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul contrasted the rapture with the Second Coming (which occurs after the tribulation), by describing what the rise of the Antichrist would look like, and reassuring them they would be raptured before that horrible seven year reign of the Antichrist (tribulation).
We moved, then, to chapter 3 where Paul, in closing, shared the most important things regarding living with the return of Jesus in view. He talked to them about prayer (verses 1-5), then he warned against being idle and disorderly. Now, we hear the rest of Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians. We’ll pick it up in verse 11, but please read the entire chapter of 2 Thessalonians 3.
As Paul winds down in message in verses 11-15, we hear his passion. He is not only proud of them, but he desperately desires that they walk worthy of their calling. As in previous verses, he addresses the idle and the busybodies. But also, the faithful Christians had been discouraged by the conduct of lazy Christians. Satan often uses Christians against Christians, and that was happening in Thessalonica.
So, Paul first exposes their conduct by calling out the idle and busybodies in verse 11. Two ancient proverbs might have come to Paul’s mind:
- A Roman proverb: “By a man doing nothing, he learns the way of evil.”
- A Hebrew proverb: “He who teaches not his son a trace, teaches him to become a thief.”
What instruction does Jesus give His servants in Luke 19:13? Are you “doing business” in the Kingdom? If so, what are you doing? Is that proving to be a blessing to others? 2 Timothy 1:6 tells us to stir up (fan into flame) the gift of God which is in you.
Paul does just that in verse 13 when he “stirs up” the believers by encouraging them to continue doing good deeds, and not to grow weary! In essence, “Don’t lose steam in doing what you know is right.” Is your flame stirred up? (Hint: in Scripture, flames and fire often represent the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer. If your flame is stirred up, the Holy Spirit is doing mighty things in you!)
But what should be done with the disorderly? Remember, Paul loved these new believers and he did not want stumbling blocks (such as disorderly, unruly people) tripping them up. So, he spoke forth wisdom in how to discipline them. Verses 14-15 tell us how to respond to those people. Jot down the things that come to mind as you read those two verses.
Though not addressed in depth here in 2 Thessalonians, the Bible gives instruction for at least four types of disorder that require discipline, not from a pastor, but from the body of Christ. Consider each, according to the Scripture references provided.
- Personal differences between Christians.
- Teaching or promoting doctrinal error.
- A believer overtaken by sin.
- Galatians 6:1 – How are we to treat a Christian brother or sister who is overtaken by sin? How would you like to be treated? BTW – “restore” means to reset the bone. Have you ever had a broken bone reset? It hurts like crazy to allow a medical professional to do it, but once done, you are set free from the handicap and the perpetual pain. What else do you learn from that verse?
- A repeated problem child.
- Titus 3:10 – “Heretic” is one who gets others to side with him (a divisive manipulator). Often, they have desire to be important in the church, they like to be seen by others, they swell up when recognized and they need to be in control. Do you know fellow Christians like that? What are you to do, according to Titus 3:10?
- 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – What happens to the wicked among us?
- 2 Corinthians 2:6 – Once a person has been disciplined, how are we to restore them back to the fold?
Finally, having taught them how to live while awaiting the return of Christ, Paul signs off in verses 16-18. According to verse 16, what part does God play? Yes, Paul reiterates to his dearly beloved friends that the Lord has got this! He is peace, and will give you peace. He is with you, and will forever be with you! He then ends with “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.“
Is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with you today as you traverse through a world that is not your home? Do you sense His grace lifting you up out of the chaos of our world? I think His message to each of us is the same: His grace is sufficient, so watch diligently, for the day of redemption from this earth is near!
You have stayed the course all the way to the end! Way to go, fellow travelers. I am so proud of you! I hope you will continue to stick around. Just because our study has ended doesn’t mean we are totally done with our America, Israel and the Church focus. We will continue to look at today’s events through the lens of Scripture, and the goal is to always draw you to truth and into confidence that, indeed, our King is coming soon. Are you ready?