2 Thessalonians 3:1-3
1. What is Paul’s first prayer request?
Paul was always thinking about and praying for his mission. His desire was that the good news of forgiveness in Jesus would spread to everyone everywhere.
2. What is a reality that will always exist in this world?
Wicked and evil people will always be with us. Paul makes it clear that anyone who does not believe in God is working against God’s plan. This is a hard truth for us to accept. We all know many nice people who do not believe in God. It was probably true in Paul’s time as well, but it was also true that there were people who were actively working to destroy the people who followed Jesus.
3. What characteristic of God does Paul highlight?
He emphasizes God’s faithfulness. God is completely reliable. When He promises something, He keeps His promise.
4. What does Paul promise the Thessalonians?
For the Thessalonians this meant that God would strengthen them so that they could endure the suffering they were experiencing. Notice, that Paul does not say that God would remove the persecution and the suffering. Instead, God’s promise is that the evil one, Satan, cannot separate us from God. (see Romans 8:35-39)
2 Thessalonians 3:4-5
1. How does Paul encourage the Thessalonians?
Paul expresses his confidence in the Thessalonians. It is like he is shouting, “You can do it.” We all experience doubts, especially when we face new or difficult situations. Encouragers are important as they help us overcome those doubts.
2. What is Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians expressed in this prayer?
Paul’s desire is that they be directed into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. To be directed into God’s love is to be reassured that there is a God who knows us and desires the best for us. He is aware of what we’re going through and wants to give us the strength to endure.
Christ’s perseverance is something we don’t think about often. We are tempted to think of Jesus as someone who could do anything and therefore had it easy. Jesus lived a very simple life. He had one focus and that was to do what the Father wanted Him to do. Simple is not easy. We can only imagine how tempting it must have been to give up when the crowds rejected His teaching and the disciples didn’t understand. Jesus persevered through the cross to the resurrection. This is Paul’s desire for us. We probably won’t experience crucifixion, but we will experience situations that tempt us to give up. When we experience these temptations, Paul wants us to look directly at Jesus and keep going.
2 Thesssalonians 3:6-12
1. How did Paul teach the Thessalonians?
We know that Paul taught by speaking and writing. Paul also taught by example. He lived his life out in the open so that people could see what he was doing and follow his example.
2. What should this look like in church leaders today?
Church leaders should invite people in their churches into their lives to see and experience a life being lived for Jesus. They should be able to say, “Listen to what I say and then watch how I do it.”
3. What were some of the believers doing?
Some of the believers had stopped working. They were relying on the church to provide for their physical needs. Since they were not working, they were getting involved in other people’s lives in ways that were destructive.
4. Why were they doing it?
They said that they were doing this because Jesus was coming very soon and there was no need to accumulate stuff.
5. What is Paul’s command?
Paul’s command and expectation are that everyone who can work will work. He even goes so far as to say that if someone will not work, they will not be provided for by the church. Paul sees work as a good thing. His desire is that whenever possible we be contributors to the common good. He wants us to be givers and not takers. (see Ephesians 4:28)
2 Thessalonians 3:13-15
1. How was the rest of the Christian community to respond?
One of the most powerful forms of discipline and correction in the New Testament is the concept of withdrawing fellowship. The strong and loving relationships developed within the early church were in striking contrast to the world around them. Christians valued these relationships and to be separated from the church was almost certain to get someone’s attention.
We are so independent today that this form of discipline doesn’t have the same impact that it did in Paul’s day. However, in a close community there is till power in not associating with someone. This was one of my father’s most creative forms of discipline. When nothing else would get our attention, he would instruct everyone in the family to ignore us until we decided to repent and ask to be restored to the fellowship of the family. Remember that the goal of all Biblical discipline is complete restoration of the broken relationship.
2. What was Paul’s goal in this response?
Paul wanted those who rebelled against his teaching to experience shame. He wanted them to feel sorrow for what they had done. (see 2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
3. How should we respond to Paul’s instruction today?
We need to care enough about those we love to correct them when they are clearly disobedient. We are to treat fellow believers as brothers and sisters as we work for reconciliation.
2 Thessalonians 3:16-18
1. What is peace?
The concept of peace for the Jew is expressed in the word shalom. Shalom describes a state of general well-being. It is more than the absence of conflict.
2. Why does Paul make special note of his signature on this letter?
There were many false teachers who were contradicting Paul and he wanted the Thessalonians to know for certain that this instruction came from him.