2 Thessalonians 3:13-18: Final Thoughts and Benediction

December 30, 2016

 

Well, we’ve come to the end of 2nd Thessalonians, these are the final six verses. Paul is encouraging them to the end. In these closing verses, the great apostle is exhorting this beloved fledgling church to keep on keeping on! This church was established during Paul's second missionary journey. It was a church of believers who suffered for their faith (Acts 17:5-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16; 2:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10). Even though Paul had been with them for only three Sabbaths (Acts 17:2), he had clearly seen them remarkably established in solid biblical doctrine (2 Thessalonians 2:5).

 

The persecution these believers endured was not isolated to the beginnings of the church. Rather, they seem to have continued sometime after Paul’s initial visit, since he mentions in his second letter, their “persecutions and the afflictions that they were enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Therefore, we see that the Thessalonians knew nothing but persecution.

 

Paul has many pleasant memories of the days he spent with this church. Their faith, hope, and love in the face of persecution were a great testimony to their perseverance. In his letters he commends them for remaining steadfast in affliction. Paul refers to them as “his hope, joy and crown of rejoicing" (2:19,20). Paul’s work among this infant church was richly rewarded. His affection for them is seen in his letters, as he encourages them to grow in their new-found faith, to increase in their love for one another, to rejoice, pray and give thanks for all things. He gives them clear instructions about Jesus’ return, consoling them about their loved-ones who have died in Christ.

 

Now to his concluding thoughts…

 

Verse 13: “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.”

 

Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

 

The Greek word for “weary” is ekkakeo is a very expressive word. It is used in the sense of being in the midst of misfortune, or to be unfortunate. It is often translated “to lose heart.” It also implies, “despair, a beating,” or “being beaten down.”

 

“This is not about being tired; it is about being ‘weary,’ about being beaten down!  Weary is spiritual exhaustion. Although tired and weary may at times feel closely related, they are worlds apart. Tired is physical; weary is spiritual. When you’re tired you are dealing with the physical realm. Being tired means you need physical rest or a break, some sleep and quite possibly a vacation. Weary does not respond to the same treatment as tired. You can go away for a month to rest and relax but you may still be weary.” –Adapted from Charisma Magazine

 

It is used in reference to suffering: 2 Corinthians 14:1 and Ephesians 3:13, we are not to “lose heart…” Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

 

The Thessalonian Christians had been “beaten down” by continual persecution. Another meaning for “weary” is, to be utterly spiritless. These believers were in danger of becoming spiritless, they could very easily lose heart or  their motivation to hang in, to stay the course!

 

“Doing good,” is doing what is right would include being examples themselves by working, thereby reprimanding the disorderly busybodies and by refusing to support those who refused to work. To continue to support those who refuse to work is wrong for all concerned.

 

“But ‘well doing’ consists in taking down the shutters and selling your goods; tucking up your shirt sleeves and doing a good day's work; sweeping the carpets and dusting the chairs, if you happen to be a domestic servant. ‘Well doing’ is attending to the duties that arise out of our relationships in life - attending carefully to them, and seeing that in nothing we are eye-servers and men-pleasers, but in everything are seeking to serve God.” –Spurgeon

 

This was a proper encouragement for those who were working as they should. Few things are more wearying than seeing others take advantage of Christian generosity. But we should never let the manipulations of some discourage us from doing good to the truly needy.

 

Allow me to say a word about your pastor’s work: In my own ministry, I would go like a race horse for weeks at a time. Every summer for many years I spoke at 4-7 High School Camps. That involved, flying out every Monday, preaching Monday night, then preaching twice a day through Friday, plus counseling with teenagers all week, while trying to prepare at least two messages and an adult Bible School lesson for Sunday. Saturday, I would fly home, preach and teach two or three times on Sunday, then start the whole process again on Monday morning. Needless to say I was totally drained almost all the time. One of my favorite expressions those days was, “If one more drop goes into my stress bucket it’s going to overflow!”  And even “normal” weeks when I wasn’t traveling were filled with study, counseling, church activities and a feeble attempt to squeeze in some time for my family. I went through periods when I would zone out! Marlena said I would come home from the office and just sit and stare into nothing, (I don’t remember that). I was “weary,” and “beaten down!” I was running on adrenalin!

 

Your pastor needs rest! Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources gives five reasons why every pastor needs a sabbatical:

 

1. A pastor has emotional highs and lows unlike most other vocations. In the course of a day, a pastor can deal with death, deep spiritual issues, great encouragement, petty criticisms, tragedies, illnesses, and celebrations of birth. The emotional roller coaster is draining. Your pastor needs a break—many times a break with no distractions.

 

2. A pastor is on 24-hour call. Most pastors don’t have an “off” switch. They go to sleep with the knowledge they could be awakened by a phone call at any time of the day. Vacations are rarely uninterrupted. It can be an exhausting vocation, and a sabbatical can be a welcome time to slow down.

 

3. Pastors need time of uninterrupted study. It doesn’t usually happen in the study at church or home. There is always the crisis or need of the moment. Church members expect sermons that reflect much prayer and study. The pastor’s schedule often works against that ideal. The sabbatical can offer much needed, and uninterrupted, study time.

 

4. Pastors who have sabbaticals have longer tenure at churches. Though my information is anecdotal, I do see the trend. And while I cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship, I feel confident that pastors who have sabbaticals are much more likely to stay at a church because they are less likely to experience burnout.

 

5. Pastors who have sabbaticals view the time off as an affirmation from their churches. I have heard from many pastors who share with me a sentence similar to this one: “I know my church loves me because they give me a sabbatical.” Pastors need affirmation. Sabbaticals can accomplish that goal.

 

I estimate that only about five percent of churches offer sabbaticals. In almost every case where I am familiar, the relationship between pastor and congregation is very healthy. I do think at least one of the reasons is the sabbatical. (This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on February 1,2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer).

 

Verse 14,15: “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.”

 

Paul commands that those who disregard his instructions must be dealt with by the community. But they are to be dealt with, not as enemies but as brothers. Christianity is lived out one Christian at a time. But it is also lived out simultaneously within a community of other believers. Those who seek to live a life pleasing to God are encouraged by the hope of His peace. Serve God individually; keep a watchful eye on one another; and enjoy the presence and peace of Jesus.

 

Church discipline is applied to those who refuse to obey their God-appointed teachers, which clearly illustrates a rebellious spirit and a wrong relationship to Christ Himself.

 

Christians are simply not to mix with persons living in open rebellion against the teachings of Christ and His appointed teachers. The purpose of such an ostracism is that it might produce shame and repentance on the part of the offender and result in his restoration.

 

“Note that person (that man).” “He desires that they may be reported to him, that he may reprove them by his authority.”–Calvin

 

Failure to discipline the idle busybody after having received the further warnings in this epistle should result in increased ostracism.

 

“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them” (Romans 16:17 NLT).”

 

“If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11 For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them” (Titus 3:10-11).

 

This discipline would, hopefully, embarrass the offender into changing his or her ways. “…allowing a believer to persist in blatantly unchristian, exploitive, and disruptive behavior is not a kindness-neither to the church nor to the errant believer nor to the watching non-Christian public." –Martin

 

Jesus gives us the method for church discipline:

 

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

 

Verse 15: “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

 

“This shows the true spirit in which discipline is to be administered in the Christian church. We are not to deal with a man as an adversary over whom we are to seek to gain a victory, but as an erring brother - a brother still, though he errs.” –Barnes

“The purpose of church discipline is the spiritual restoration of fallen members and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord. When a sinning believer is rebuked and he turns from his sin and is forgiven, he is won back to fellowship with the body and with its head, Jesus Christ. The goal of church discipline, then, is not to throw people out of the church or to feed the self-righteous pride of those who administer the discipline. It is not to embarrass people or to exercise authority and power in some unbiblical manner. The purpose is to restore a sinning believer to holiness and bring him back into a pure relationship within the assembly. In Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, ‘And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.’” –John MacArthur

 

Verses 16-18: Paul’s Benediction:

 

Verse 16: “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

 

“The Lord of peace…” Jesus Christ. The same title is given to Him as to the Father, “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33). Jesus Christ, who is called our peace, “For He Himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14); and The “Prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He has promised to give his peace to his people, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27). This is an inner peace that nothing can take away.

 

Peace here is to be taken in its widest sense, peace with God, our perfect salvation. The benediction may not be read therefore as a mere plea for God to quiet the disorders in Thessalonica, although of course that would be included in the perfect fulfillment of it.

 

“The peace of the Lord of Peace is perfect. ‘Give you peace always.’ That points to perpetual, unbroken duration in time, and through all changing circumstances, which might threaten a less stable and deeply-rooted tranquility. Christ's peace is perpetual and multiform, unbroken, and presenting itself in all the aspects in which tranquility is possible for a human spirit. The Lord of Peace gives it by giving His own presence. When He is in the vessel the waves calm themselves. So, if we are conscious of breaches of our restfulness, interruptions of our tranquillity, by reason of surging, impatient passions and hot desires within ourselves, or by reason of the pressure of outward circumstances, or by reason of our having fallen beneath our consciences and done wrong things, let us understand that the breaches of our peace are not owing to Him, but only to our having let go His hand [sic]. It is our own fault if we are ever troubled; if we kept close to Him, we should not be. Keep inside the fortress, and nothing will disturb.” –Alexander Maclaren

 

Do you have peace with God?  One deals with justification, while the other deals with sanctification. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have “peace with God” through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the “peace of God,” which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6).

 

When we accept Christ as Savior we receive “peace with God.” There’s only one way to make peace with God: by faith. The good news is that Jesus Christ has already done everything you need to make peace with God. All you need to do is surrender and accept it by faith.

 

When we fully trust Him, giving Him control we experience the “peace of God.” In other words, the more we rejoice, pray, trust, obey, give thanks, and present various requests to God, the more the “peace of God” seems to fill our soul. There is a strong correlation between our choices and our peace, or lack thereof. Sometimes our heart is tranquil. At other times, our emotions are tossing and turning.

 

“The Lord be with you all.” This shows Paul’s affection to them all, though he had sharply reprimanded the disorderly busybodies in their midst. This should remind these brethren that problems in a congregation, does not inherently imply that God is not with them. God is with these brethren and He is even with them when they withdrawal from the disorderly.

 

Verse 17: “The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.”

 

“The salutation, with my own hand.” This was both a personal demonstration of affection, and proof that the letter was authentic.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:2 suggests that some fictitious letters were written in Paul’s name, by which he might be induced to add this token with his own hand.

 

"It was no uncommon thing in ancient letter-writing for the sender, having dictated the bulk of the letter, to write the last sentence or two in his own hand. This is the best explanation of the change of script at the end of several papyrus letters which have been preserved. This practice would help to authenticate the letter (for readers who recognized the sender’s writing); a more general purpose would be to make the letter look more personal than one written entirely by an amanuensis." –Thomas Constable

 

“Here again he provides against the danger, of which he had previously made mention — lest epistles falsely ascribed to him should find their way into the Churches. For this was an old artifice of Satan — to put forward spurious writings, that he might detract from the credit of those that are genuine; and farther, under pretended designations of the Apostles, to disseminate wicked errors with the view of corrupting sound doctrine. By a singular kindness on the part of God, it has been brought about that, his frauds being defeated, the doctrine of Christ has come down to us sound and entire through the ministry of Paul and others. The concluding prayer explains in what manner God aids his believing people — by the presence of Christ’s grace.” –Calvin

 

Verse 18: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

 

The Bible assures us of an inexhaustible fountain of rich grace in Christ, and the streams of spiritual blessings which flow from it are more than sufficient for every believer, and yet there still remains enough for ourselves. Paul is here assuring the Thessalonians that God’s grace was more than enough both for himself and them: therefore he closes this letter saying: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

 

God’s amazing grace!

 

“There is a magnificent Greek word used 155 times in the New Testament. That word is charis, it is translated grace. It means a favor bestowed. It means a generous benefit freely given. The sense of it in the New Testament is that it means a favor bestowed by God through His power to transform a person's life starting at salvation and going on from there…Grace is a dynamic force, a dynamic and benevolent power that applies the goodness of God and the resources of God to our lives to save us, to keep us, to enable us, to deliver us, to sanctify us, to glorify us. All of God's good favors to His children are given through the means of this benevolent goodness called grace. In Ephesians chapter 2 it says, ‘God being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.’” –John MacArthur

 

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe!

You that are longing to see His face, will you this moment His grace receive?

 

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!

–Julia H. Johnston–

 

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

 

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