Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2 Thessalonians 3:13-18

V13-18 – 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. 14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 16Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 17I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

After saying not to share bread with the idle, in order to make sure that the Thessalonians didn’t take this command too far, Paul exhorts them to perseverance in good deeds in v13. Calvin says, “Paul admonishes us, that, although there are many that are undeserving, while others abuse our liberality, we must not on this account leave off helping those that need our aid. Here we have a statement worthy of being observed – that however ingratitude, moroseness, pride, arrogance, and other unseemly dispositions on the part of the poor, may have a tendency to annoy us, or to dispirit us, from a feeling of weariness, we must strive, nevertheless, never to leave off aiming at doing good.”

Next, Paul teaches in v14 that the goal of removing oneself from the presence of an unrepentant professing Christian is repentance (1 Timothy 5:20). “Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.” This shame would hopefully, by God’s grace and kindness, lead the sinner to repent and be restored into fellowship. Calvin says, “I have no doubt that [Paul] refers to excommunication; for, besides that the disorder to which he had adverted deserved a severe chastisement, contumacy is an intolerable vice. He had said before, Withdraw yourselves from them, for they live in a disorderly manner (2 Thessalonians 3:6). And now he says, Keep no company, for they reject my admonition. He expresses, therefore, something more by this second manner of expression than by the former; for it is one thing to withdraw from intimate acquaintance with an individual, and quite another to keep altogether aloof from his society. In short, those that do not obey after being admonished, he excludes from the common society of believers. By this we are taught that we must employ the discipline of excommunication against all the obstinate persons who will not otherwise allow themselves to be brought under subjection, and must be branded with disgrace, until, having been brought under and subdued, they learn to obey.” Yet at the same time, this discipline must be meted with comfort (2 Corinthians 2:7); therefore, Paul adds to treat these idle, professing brothers as brothers, not as enemies (v15).

After such a conflict of excommunication and comforting a straying believer, peace is needed. So Paul issues a benediction of peace from the Lord of peace in v16. He may also be showing a desire that such unruly persons as described previously do not disrupt the peace of the church, granted by God. Finally, since the Thessalonians may have received a fraudulent letter, claiming to be from him, here in v17, Paul writes with his own hand, not by amanuensis, “the distinguishing mark in all” his letters. And he concludes in v18 with a worthy blessing, that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

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