Evening Bible Study
The church in Thessalonica was started under difficult circumstances. (Acts
Paul had been there maybe a month when the Jews of Thessalonica rose up
against Paul and drove him out of town.
The new church continued, but they were under constant persecution.
In a way, they’ve been going through their own “tribulation”.
Paul wrote his two letters from Corinth to deal with some of the situations
he had been hearing about from Timothy who had been visiting the Thessalonians.
We think that this second letter was written shortly after the first,
perhaps as soon as a year later.
In this second letter, Paul deals with two issues:
1) Bad teaching about the Lord’s return.
Some strange doctrine was being taught that somehow the Thessalonians had
“missed it” the Lord’s return.
Paul taught them that the antichrist had to appear on the world scene
before Jesus came back.
2) Paul was also concerned about a growing group of people who had quit
their jobs and weren’t working.
3:1-5 Pray for us
:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly
and be glorified, just as it is with you,
:1 that the word of the Lord may run swiftly
This is one of Paul’s prayer requests he’s making of the
Thessalonians. This is what he’s asking
them to pray for.
run swiftly – trecho – to run; of those who run in a
race course; a metaphor taken from runners in a race, to exert one’s self,
With the Thessalonians, Paul had only been with them for a few months, yet
despite all the persecution they were experiencing, God’s Word was very much at
work in them. It was running a race in
their lives, not sitting on the sidelines of their lives.
Well maybe not like that (man slowly walking), but like this (man running).
God’s Word can have different results in different people.
The principle of differing results is in the parable of the sower where the
word of God is the “seed”.
Jesus talked about seed landing on four different kinds of soils and how
each soil reacted differently to the seed.
Jesus went on to explain.
NKJV) —18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone
hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the
wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is
he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears
the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but
endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of
the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word,
and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and
he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the
word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a
hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
So what kind of affect is God’s Word having in your life?
Is it bearing fruit in your life, or are you just keeping
things shallow with God? Are you
allowing other things to be a priority to you and choking out the Word’s effectiveness?
Is it “running its course”? Is it on the “sidelines”? Are you allowing it to affect the way you
actually live your life?
:2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not
all have faith.
:2 that we may be delivered from unreasonable …
When Paul was writing 1&2 Thessalonians, he was writing from Corinth.
Look at what he was dealing with when he was writing:
(Acts 18:1–18 NLT)
—1 Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he
became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently
arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius
Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as
Note that Paul worked as a tentmaker in Corinth. that comes into play with the Thessalonians.
4 Each Sabbath
found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5 And after
Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching
the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
It was after this time that Paul began writing his letters to the
6 But when
they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said,
“Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach
to the Gentiles.”
Sounds like some of those “unreasonable and wicked” men.
7 Then he left
and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived
next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household
believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers,
and were baptized. 9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t
be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many
people in this city belong to me.”
Doesn’t this sound parallel to what Paul was asking in verse 1, “that the
word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified”?
Paul may have been asking the Thessalonians to pray in response to what
Jesus had said to him, or it could be that he asked them to pray, and this is
how Jesus replied.
11 So Paul
stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God. 12 But when
Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and
brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading
people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.” 14 But just as
Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said,
“Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious
crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15 But since it
is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it
yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16 And he threw them out of the
The Roman governor Gallio might have listened further if Paul was teaching
against Roman law, but this was a matter of Jewish religious law.
17 The crowd
then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there
in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.
Perhaps Sosthenes was one of the men behind the accusations against
Paul. If so, it seemed that God used the
crowd to answer Paul’s prayer of deliverance from “unreasonable and wicked”
18 Paul stayed
in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and
sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea…
Paul was writing to the Thessalonians from a real place, with real issues
on his plate.
:3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you
from the evil one.
:3 the Lord is faithful
Establishing (strengthening) and guarding are things you can count on the
Lord to do.
He won’t let you down
People will let you down, but Jesus never will.
Paul learned this in Corinth. God
kept His promises to Paul.
Have you ever heard of the unusual account of how the news of the battle of
Waterloo reached England? Waterloo was
the place of the last battle of the French Emperor Napoleon’s attempt to
conquer Europe. He fought against the
Duke of Wellington who led the allied armies in defense of Europe.
The word was carried first by sailing ship to the southern coast of England. From there it was relayed by signal flags to
London. When the report was received at
Winchester, the flags on the cathedral began to spell it out: “Wellington
defeated...” Before the message could be
completed, however, a heavy fog moved in.
Gloom filled the hearts of the people as the fragmentary news spread throughout
the surrounding countryside. But when
the mists began to lift, it became evident that the signals of Winchester
Cathedral had really spelled out this triumphant message: “Wellington defeated
Too often we allow the future to be colored by what we understand at the
moment. We have a tendency to become so
absorbed with our current difficulties that we forget God's faithfulness in the
4:16–18 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is
perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our
light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are
seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are
About 13 years ago we faced a crisis with a church. We were meeting in the Old Ice House near the
train station. Our lease was about up for renewal. Our landlord had been in the process of
selling the entire block off to a developer, and though he didn’t sell our
building off, he did sell the parking lot to the developer. We would have no parking during weekday
So we decided we were going to need to move. We initially had a verbal agreement with our
landlord to give each other 3 months notice should either of us find a new
tenant or we find a new place to move.
But when the landlord didn’t follow up with the agreement in writing, he
announced to us we had 6 weeks to move.
Two weeks before this crisis I had coincidentally met Pastor Larry at the
Fullerton Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
Larry told me about how his church was declining and he only had a year
left before they were going to close their doors. When our crisis hit, I gave Larry a call on a
whim, and we had a place to move. And
our rent was half what it was at the Ice House.
God is faithful. We can count on
:4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and
will do the things we command you.
:4 will do the things we command you
command – paraggello – to
transmit a message along from one to another, to declare, announce; to command,
This word appears 30 times in the New Testament, and FOUR of them are right
here in this chapter (3:4, 6, 10, 12).
It also appeared once back in the first letter:
4:11 NKJV) that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own
business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
Paul has something he’s very serious about.
Each mention of his “command” is about the same subject.
:5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the
patience of Christ.
3:6-15 Idleness Warning
:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the
tradition which he received from us.
Here’s where we get the content of Paul’s “command”.
:6 withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly
withdraw – stello – to
diminish; to remove one’s self, to depart; to abstain from close relationships
disorderly – ataktos –
disorderly, out of ranks (often so of soldiers)
Used in Greek society of those who did not show up for work.
The “disorderly” person is at the heart of Paul’s commands to the
Some people just don’t want to go along with the plan…
Limits to fellowship
We have this idea that we ought to get along with, love, and accept everyone
who calls themselves a Christian.
I think Paul is saying that there are going to be some limits to this.
We’ll see in a minute what Paul is concerned about with the Thessalonians.
Paul had a different set of concerns when he wrote to the Corinthians:
5:9–11 NKJV) —9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually
immoral people. 10
I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people
of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then
you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named
a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler,
or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
I think we need to be careful in how we approach this and just what things
we choose as our reasons for disconnecting with people.
Yet when a person is claiming to be a believer, and is clearly living
outside of God’s ideas of what a believer looks like, we need to be willing at
some point to confront the issues.
As a church, we’ve approached some of these issues by putting limits on how
a person might serve in the church if they are living in open, unrepentant
sin. We’ve had to lovingly tell people
that they won’t be allowed to serve in certain capacities until they turn an
area of their life around.
:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not
disorderly among you;
:7 how you ought to follow us
Paul is going to describe what “disorderly” looks like.
Paul is reminding them that he actually had set an example for them to
:8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and
toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,
:8 worked with labor and toil night and day
labor – kopos – a beating;
intense labor united with trouble and toil
toil – mochthos – a hard
and difficult labor, toil, travail, hardship, distress
This was Paul’s example to the Thessalonians. He was a hard worker.
:9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example
of how you should follow us.
:9 not because we do not have authority … but an example
example – tupos (“type”) –
the mark of a stroke or blow, print
As an apostle, Paul had the authority and the right to ask the church to
Yet he didn’t do this because he was intending on giving them an example to
He wanted to leave an “impression” on their lives.
:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will
not work, neither shall he eat.
:10 If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat
Work or go hungry
will – thelo – to will,
have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to
wish; to love; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in,
This is the word used when Paul says that God “desires” all men to be saved
Timothy 2:4 NKJV) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the
If you do not have a will or desire or a love to work, then you don’t eat.
Note that Paul doesn’t say, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”, but
instead, “If you do not want to work,
you don’t eat”.
There are going to be folks who want to work, but have a
hard time finding a job, or who have some sort of disability. Those people are not Paul’s concern.
Apparently, there were folks in the Thessalonian church who didn’t work for
a living, but who expected the church to support them.
They feel like the world owes them a living.
Paul is saying that a person who is able to work ought to work.
If they don’t work, then they ought to experience a little bit of hunger.
:11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly
manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
:11 not working at all, but are busybodies
Too much time on their hands
When someone has no desire to work, they will find that they have too much
time on their hands, and that leads them into trouble.
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
Speaking of busybodies, I heard of a parrot that was quite a nuisance …
High Seas Parrot
There was this magician who was working a cruise ship on
the high seas. His audience was always
different, so he took advantage, allowing himself to do the same tricks over
and over again.
There was only one problem... the Captain’s’ Parrot! The
Captain’s Parrot saw the show week after week after week! Soon the parrot began to understand how the
magician did every trick, and once he understood... he began to shout in the
middle of the magician’s act. “Look... different hat... different hat!” “Hiding the flowers... hiding the flowers, in
his coat... in his coat!” “Hello, ALL
aces... ALL aces... Look... All aces!”
The magician became absolutely livid with the parrot and
secretly wanted to make soup of him... however since he was the Captain’s Parrot, there was nothing he
One day the ship had an unfortunate accident, broke up,
and sank! As luck would have it... the
magician found himself floating on the same
piece of wood as the parrot. There they
floated... the middle of the ocean... staring at one another in complete
silence... the magician still filled with anger.
They spoke not a word to one another, and this continued
for a day, and another, and another, and another. After a week the parrot broke the silence
with... “OK, I give up... where’s the boat?!”
One of the dangers of not working when you should is becoming a busybody.
:12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus
Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
:12 work in quietness and eat their own bread
Instead of getting involved in other people’s business, they should do
their work in “quietness”.
Instead of always eating everyone else’s bread, they need to learn to eat
their own bread.
It sounds exactly like what Paul had told them in their previous letter,
but apparently they hadn’t yet learned the lesson.
4:11 NKJV) that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own
business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you
:13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing
:14 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.
:14 that he may be ashamed
be ashamed – entrepo – to
shame one; to be ashamed; to turn about
When you separate yourself from a person like this, there is a goal in
mind, to cause them to think about their actions and maybe even turn around.
:15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a
:15 admonish him as a brother
Enemy or brother?
When it comes to bringing any form of “discipline” into our relationships,
we need to examine why we are doing things.
If it’s because we’re mad at the other person, we are not being helpful.
If it’s because we care about the other person and are trying to affect a
healthy change in their life, then we’re headed in the right direction.
If you care about the other person, you will “admonish” them, or explain
what you’re doing.
That’s the way we ought to be disciplining kids. Don’t just spank them, but explain why they
are experiencing a consequence to their actions. The goal is a change of behavior, not
punishment for some crime.
:16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.
The Lord be with you all.
:17 The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every
epistle; so I write.
:17 with my own hand
Paul often dictated his letters to someone else. He would then write a short line at the end
to show that it was actually from him.
:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.