2 Thessalonians 3


The apostle recommends himself and his brethren to the prayers

of the Church, that their preaching might be successful, and

that they might be delivered from wicked men, 1, 2.

Expresses his confidence in God and them, and prays that they

may patiently wait for the coming of Christ, 3-5.

Gives them directions concerning strict discipline in the

Church; and shows how he and his fellow labourers had behaved

among them, not availing themselves of their own power and

authority, 6-9.

Shows them how to treat disorderly and idle people, and not to

get weary in well doing, 10-13.

Directs them not to associate with those who obey not the orders

contained in this epistle, 14, 15,

Prays that they may have increasing peace, 16,

And concludes with his salutation and benediction, 17, 18.


Verse 1. Finally, brethren] The words τολοιπον do not mean

finally, but, furthermore-to come to a conclusion-what remains is

this-I shall only add-any of these phrases expresses the sense of

the original.

Pray for us] God, in the order of his grace and providence,

has made even the success of his Gospel dependent, in a certain

measure, on the prayers of his followers. Why he should do so we

cannot tell, but that he has done so we know; and they are not a

little criminal who neglect to make fervent supplications for the

prosperity of the cause of God.

May have free course] They were to pray that the doctrine of

the Lord, ολογοςτουκυριου, might run, τρεχη, an allusion

to the races in the Olympic games: that, as it had already got

into the stadium or race course, and had started fairly, so it

might run on, get to the goal, and be glorified; i.e., gain the

crown, appointed for him that should get first to the end of the


Verse 2. Unreasonable and wicked men] The word ατοπων, which

we translate unreasonable, signifies rather disorderly,

unmanageable; persons out of their place-under no discipline,

regardless of law and restraint, and ever acting agreeably to the

disorderly and unreasonable impulse of their own minds.

For all men have not faith.] The word πιστις is without doubt,

to be taken here for fidelity or trustworthiness, and not for

faith; and this is agreeable to the meaning given to it in the

very next verse: But the Lord is faithful, πιστοςδεεστινο


There are many, even of those who have received a measure of

the Divine light, in whom we cannot confide; they are irregular,

disorderly, and cannot be brought under regular discipline: to

these we cannot trust either ourselves or any thing that concerns

the cause of God. But the Lord is worthy of your whole

confidence; doubt him not; he will establish you, and keep you

from any evil to which you may be exposed by these or such like


Verse 3. From evil.] αποτουπονηρου may be translated, from

the devil or from the evil one. They had disorderly men, wicked

men, and the evil one or the devil, to contend with; God alone

could support and give them the victory; he had promised to do it,

and he might ever be confided in as being invariably faithful.

Verse 4. And we have confidence] We have no doubt of God's

kindness towards you; he loves you, and will support you: and we

can confide in you, that ye are now acting as we have desired you,

and will continue so to do.

Verse 5. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God]

The love of God is the grand motive and principle of obedience;

this must occupy your hearts: the heart is irregular in all its

workings; God alone, by his Spirit, can direct it into his love,

and keep it right; κατευθυναι, give a proper direction to all its

passions, and keep them in order, regularity and purity.

The patience of Christ.] Such patience, under all your

sufferings and persecutions, as Christ manifested under his. He

bore meekly the contradiction of sinners against himself; and when

he was reviled, he reviled not again.

Verse 6. That ye withdraw yourselves] Have no fellowship with

those who will not submit to proper discipline; who do not keep

their place; ατακτως, such as are out of their rank, and act

according to their own wills and caprices; and particularly such

as are idle and busybodies. These he had ordered, 1Th 4:11, 12,

that they should study to be quiet, mind their own business, and

work with their hands; but it appears that they had paid no

attention to this order, and now he desires the Church to exclude

such from their communion.

And not after the tradition] This evidently refers to the

orders contained in the first epistle; and that first epistle was

the tradition which they had received from him. It was,

therefore, no unwritten word, no uncertain saying, handed about

from one to another; but a part of the revelation which God had

given, and which they found in the body of his epistle. These are

the only traditions which the Church of God is called to regard.

Verse 7. We behaved not ourselves disorderly] ουκ

ητακτησαμεν. We did not go out of our rank-we kept our place, and

discharged all its duties.

Verse 8. Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught] We

paid for what we bought, and worked with our hands that we might

have money to buy what was necessary.

Labour and travail night and day] We were incessantly

employed, either in preaching the Gospel, visiting from house to

house, or working at our calling. As it is very evident that the

Church at Thessalonica was very pious, and most affectionately

attached to the apostle, they must have been very poor, seeing he

was obliged to work hard to gain himself the necessaries of life.

Had they been able to support him he would not have worked with

labour and travail night and day, that he might not be burdensome

to them; and, as we may presume that they were very poor, he could

not have got his support among them without adding to their

burdens. To this his generous mind could not submit; it is no

wonder, therefore, that he is so severe against those who would

not labour, but were a burden to the poor followers of God.

Verse 9. Not because we have not power] We have the power,

εξουσιαν, the right, to be maintained by those in whose behalf

we labour. The labourer is worthy of his hire, is a maxim

universally acknowledged and respected; and they who preach the

Gospel should live by the Gospel: the apostle did not claim his

privilege, but laboured for his own support, that he might be an

example to those whom he found otherwise disposed, and that he

might spare the poor. See 1Co 9:1, &c.

Verse 10. If any would not work, neither should he eat.] This

is a just maxim, and universal nature inculcates it to man. If

man will work, he may eat; if he do not work, he neither can

eat, nor should he eat. The maxim is founded on these words of

the Lord: In the sweat of thy brow thou shall eat bread. Industry

is crowned with God's blessing; idleness is loaded with his curse.

This maxim was a proverb among the Jews. Men who can work, and

will rather support themselves by begging, should not get one

morsel of bread. It is a sin to minister to necessities that are

merely artificial.

Verse 11. For we hear that there are some] It is very likely

that St. Paul kept up some sort of correspondence with the

Thessalonian Church; for he had heard every thing that concerned

their state, and it was from this information that he wrote his

second epistle.

Disorderly] ατακτως. Out of their rank-not keeping their

own place.

Working not at all] Either lounging at home, or becoming

religious gossips; μηδενεργαζομενους, doing nothing.

Busybodies.] περιεργαζομενους. Doing every thing they should

not do-impertinent meddlers with other people's business; prying

into other people's circumstances and domestic affairs; magnifying

or minifying, mistaking or underrating, every thing; newsmongers

and telltales; an abominable race, the curse of every

neighbourhood where they live, and a pest to religious society.

There is a fine paronomasia in the above words, and evidently

intended by the apostle.

Verse 12. With quietness they work] μεταησυχιας. With

silence; leaving their tale-bearing and officious intermeddling.

Less noise and more work!

That-they work, and eat their own bread.] Their own bread,

because earned by their own honest industry. What a degrading

thing to live on the bounty or mercy of another, while a man is

able to acquire his own livelihood! He who can submit to this has

lost the spirit of independence; and has in him a beggar's heart,

and is capable of nothing but base and beggarly actions. Witness

the great mass of the people of England, who by their dependence

on the poor rates are, from being laborious, independent, and

respect able, become idle, profligate, and knavish; the

propagators and perpetrators of crime; a discredit to the nation,

and a curse to society. The apostle's command is a cure for such;

and the Church of God should discountenance such, and disown them.

Verse 13. Be not weary in well-doing.] While ye stretch out

no hand of relief to the indolent and lazy, do not forget the real

poor-the genuine representatives of an impoverished Christ; and

rather relieve a hundred undeserving objects, than pass by one who

is a real object of charity.

Verse 14. If any man obey not] They had disobeyed his word in

the first epistle, and the Church still continued to bear with

them; now he tells the Church, if they still continue to disregard

what is said to them, and particularly his word by this second

epistle, they are to mark them as being totally incorrigible, and

have no fellowship with them.

Some construe the words διατηςεπιστολης with τουτον

σημειουσθε. Give me information of that man by a letter-let me

hear of his continued obstinacy, and send me his name. This was

probably in order to excommunicate him, and deliver him over to

Satan for the destruction of the body, that the spirit might be

saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The words of the original

will bear either construction, that in the text, or that given


Verse 15. Count him not as an enemy] Consider him still more

an enemy to himself than to you; and admonish him as a brother,

though you have ceased to hold religious communion with him. His

soul is still of infinite value; labour to get it saved.

Verse 16. The Lord of peace] Jesus Christ, who is called our

peace, Eph 2:14;

and The Prince of peace, Isa 9:6.

May he give you peace, for he is the Fountain and Dispenser

of it.

Always] Both in your own consciences, and among yourselves.

By all means.] παντιτροπω. By all means, methods, occasions,

instruments, and occurrences; peace or prosperity in every form

and shape.

Instead of ενπαντιτροπω, in every way, &c., ενπαντιτοπω,

in every place, is the reading of A*D*FG, some others; with the

Vulgate and Itala. Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, Augustine, and

others, have the same reading: May God grant you prosperity

always, and everywhere.

The Lord be with you all.] This is agreeable to the promise of

our Lord: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;

Mt 28:20. May the Lord, who has promised to be always with his

true disciples, be with you! Christians are the temple of God,

and the temple of God has the Divine presence in it. May you ever

continue to be his Church, that the Lord God may dwell among you!

Verse 17. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand] It is

very likely that Paul employed an amanuensis generally, either to

write what he dictated, or to make a fair copy of what he wrote.

In either case the apostle always subscribed it, and wrote the

salutation and benediction with his own hand; and this was what

authenticated all his epistles. A measure of this kind would be

very necessary if forged epistles were carried about in those

times. See Clarke on 1Co 16:21, and see Col 4:18.

Verse 18. The grace] The favour, blessing, and influence of

our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you all-be your constant companion.

May you ever feel his presence, and enjoy his benediction!

Amen.] So let be! God grant it! This word in this place, has

more evidence in favour of its genuineness than it has in most

other places; and was probably added here by the apostle himself,

or by the Church of the Thessalonians.

The subscriptions to this epistle are various in the MSS. and

VERSIONS. The latter are as follows:-

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written from

Athens.-Common Greek text.

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, which was written at

Laodicea in Pisidia, was sent by the hands of Tychicus.-SYRIAC.

The end of the Epistle; and it was written at Athens.-ARABIC.

To the Thessalonians.-AETHIOPIC.

Written from Athens, and sent by Silvanus and Timotheus.-COPTIC.

No subscription in the VULGATE.

Written at Corinth.-Author of the SYNOPSIS.

--------- sent by Titus and Onesimus.-Latin Prologue.

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, written from Rome.

-No. 71, a MS. of the Vatican library, written about the eleventh


The chief of the MSS. either have no subscription, or agree

with some of the above versions.

That the epistle was neither written at Athens, Laodicea, nor

Rome, has been sufficiently proved; and that it was written, as

well as the first, at Corinth, is extremely probable. See the

preface, and what has been said on the preceding epistle.

I have often had occasion to observe that the subscriptions at

the end of the sacred books are not of Divine origin; they are

generally false; and yet some have quoted them as making a part of

the sacred text, and have adduced them in support of some

favourite opinions.

Finished correcting this epistle for a new edition, the shortest

day in 1831.-A. C.

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