Setting

In the first two chapters, Paul wrote extensively about the coming judgment and the Lord’s return in order to reassure the believers and to discredit any false claims that might have shaken them. Now he turns his attention to practical Christian living. He teaches them how they ought to conduct themselves in their daily lives and in the church, stressing the importance of order and responsibility.

Key Verse

(3:4)

Did You Know...?

  1. “Bread” (3:8): “A Hebraism for “make a living” (see, e.g., Gen 3:19; Am 7:12).” [ref]
  2. “Own hand” (3:17): “Paul had probably dictated this letter to his secretary, as was his custom. He adds his name and a closing sentence in his own handwriting to confirm that this letter is unquestionably from him (see 2:2).” [ref]

Outline

  • Request for Prayer
    (3:1-2)
  • Confidence in the Lord
    (3:3-5)
  • Dealing with Brethren Who Are Disorderly
    (3:6-15)
  • Benediction
    (3:16-18)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    What word indicates that this passage is a new section?

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    “Finally” (3:1).

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-2

    1.

    What are Paul’s prayer requests? Explain what these requests mean.

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    Paul asks the believers to pray for them for the following:
    1. that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it was with the Thessalonians. This means that the preaching of the gospel would be effective and fruitful, as it was in Thessalonica (cf. 1Thess 1:6), and God’s name may be exalted.
    2. that they may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men. Through the prayers of the believers, the preachers may be free from the hands of those who oppose the gospel and intend to do harm to the preachers.

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  • 2.

    Why does Paul add the words “for not all have faith” in verse 2?

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    The reason the unreasonable and wicked men oppose the gospel was that they did not have faith. They have been given the chance to accept the gospel with faith but they chose to reject it. Their renouncement of faith is what leads to the vehement opposition and persecution.

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  • 3:3-5

    3.

    How does verse 3 stand in contrast with verse 2?

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    While not all have faith, the Lord is faithful. While wicked men may persecute believers, God will establish the believers and guard them from the evil one.

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  • 4.

    What is the basis of Paul’s confidence that the believers will obey what he commands them?

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    Paul is confident that the believers would do what he commands them because he knows that the Lord is faithful and that He will accomplish His good purpose in them (cf. verse 3; Php 1:6).

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  • 5.

    In view of the context, why are the love of God and the patience of Christ in our hearts so essential?

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    In order to carry out what the Lord has commanded us, it is essential that we have the love of God and the patience of Christ. The love of God motivates us to do what is right and good, and the patience of Christ enables us to endure hardship and persist in doing God’s will. In the context of this passage, Paul is about to command the believers to correct the brothers who were disorderly. In order to do so, they need the love of God in their hearts to act out of sincere love for these brothers, and they need the patience of Christ in their hearts to bear with the weaknesses of these brothers.

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  • 3:6-15

    6a.

    What problem does Paul address here?

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    Certain brothers in the congregation are disorderly and do not act according to the tradition (teachings) which they have received from the apostles (6). They do not work at all, but are busybodies (11).

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  • 6b.

    What is Paul commanding the believers to do concerning the disorderly?

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    He commands them to withdraw from these brothers (6), refuse them subsistence (10), and not keep company with them (14).

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  • 6c.

    What is the purpose of this command?

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    The purpose of such withdrawal is to let those who are disorderly feel ashamed (14). Paul is not asking them to is not to drive these brothers out of the church (cf. 15) but to discipline them so they may stop their disorderly behavior.

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  • 3:6-15

    7.

    What examples did Paul and his companions leave with the Thessalonians?

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    They were not disorderly or idle among the Thessalonians, but they worked with labor and toiled night and day to supply for their own needs (7-9; 1Thess 2:9).

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  • 8.

    How does the command in verse 13 relate to the context?

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    Paul is asking those believers who work diligently not to be discouraged by those who were idle and disorderly. Instead, they ought to keep on doing what is right and thereby become positive examples to these brothers.

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  • 9.

    In verse 15, Paul places a restraint on the extent of the disciplinary action against the disorderly. Under what circumstances should we cast someone out of the fellowship completely? And when should we apply restraint in disciplinary action?

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    When a brother has done wrong, it is our responsibility to correct him. We must do so gently and patiently because our goal is to restore him (cf. Mt 18:15; Gal 6:1; 2Tim 2:24-26). If personal encouragement is ineffective, the church may take disciplinary action against him, as is the case in the Thessalonian church. But if the brother refuses to heed correction and discipline, he is to be expelled from the fellowship of believers and be regarded as a heathen (Mt 18:15-17; 1Cor 5:1-7,13)

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  • 10.

    What lessons can we learn from this passage regarding our personal responsibilities in the fellowship of believers?

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    1. Keep on doing what is right in order to set good examples for others and exert positive influence on them.
    2. Discourage disorderly behavior by not joining the company of the disorderly. Admonish such people in the hopes that they would be restored.

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  • 3:16-17

    11.

    What do you see in the words “always,” “every,” and “all” in Paul’s benediction?

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    These words suggest perfection and abundance. Paul prays that God’s peace and abidance can be given to the believers so richly that not one of them would lack God’s grace at any time or in any way.

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  • 12.

    Why does Paul call attention to the fact that He wrote the salutation with his own hand?

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    While Paul might have written his letters through amanuenses (people who write from dictation), he would write the salutation with his own hands to mark the letters as genuine. He calls the readers’ attention to this fact to prevent any attempt by others to forge letters in his name.

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