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3. Warning Against Idleness

1Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you; 2and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil one. 4And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command. 5And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ. 6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us. 7For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you: 9not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us. 10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. 11For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busybodies. 12Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing. 14And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. 15And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 16Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all. 17The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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6. we command you—Hereby he puts to a particular test their obedience in general to his commands, which obedience he had recognized in 2Th 3:4.

withdraw—literally, "to furl the sails"; as we say, to steer clear of (compare 2Th 3:14). Some had given up labor as though the Lord's day was immediately coming. He had enjoined mild censure of such in 1Th 5:14, "Warn … the unruly"; but now that the mischief had become more confirmed, he enjoins stricter discipline, namely, withdrawal from their company (compare 1Co 5:11; 2Jo 10, 11): not a formal sentence of excommunication, such as was subsequently passed on more heinous offenders (as in 1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:20). He says "brother," that is, professing Christian; for in the case of unprofessing heathen, believers needed not be so strict (1Co 5:10-13).

disorderly—Paul plainly would not have sanctioned the order of Mendicant Friars, who reduce such a "disorderly" and lazy life to a system. Call it not an order, but a burden to the community (Bengel, alluding to the Greek, 2Th 3:8, for "be chargeable," literally, "be a burden").

the tradition—the oral instruction which he had given to them when present (2Th 3:10), and subsequently committed to writing (1Th 4:11, 12).

which he received of us—Some oldest manuscripts read, "ye received"; others, "they received." The English Version reading has no very old authority.

7. how ye ought to follow us—how ye ought to live so as to "imitate (so the Greek for 'follow') us" (compare Notes, see on 1Co 11:1; 1Th 1:6).

8. eat any man's breadGreek, "eat bread from any man," that is, live at anyone's expense. Contrast 2Th 3:12, "eat THEIR OWN bread."

wrought—(Ac 20:34). In both Epistles they state they maintained themselves by labor; but in this second Epistle they do so in order to offer themselves herein as an example to the idle; whereas, in the first, their object in doing so is to vindicate themselves from all imputation of mercenary motives in preaching the Gospel (1Th 2:5, 9) [Edmunds]. They preached gratuitously though they might have claimed maintenance from their converts.

labour and travail—"toil and hardship" (see on 1Th 2:9).

night and day—scarcely allowing time for repose.

chargeableGreek, "a burden," or "burdensome." The Philippians did not regard it as a burden to contribute to his support (Php 4:15, 16), sending to him while he was in this very Thessalonica (Ac 16:15, 34, 40). Many Thessalonians, doubtless, would have felt it a privilege to contribute, but as he saw some idlers among them who would have made a pretext of his example to justify themselves, he waived his right. His reason for the same course at Corinth was to mark how different were his aims from those of the false teachers who sought their own lucre (2Co 11:9, 12, 13). It is at the very time and place of writing these Epistles that Paul is expressly said to have wrought at tent-making with Aquila (Ac 18:3); an undesigned coincidence.

9. (1Co 9:4-6, &c.; Ga 6:6.)

10. For even—Translate, "For also." We not only set you the example, but gave a positive "command."

commandedGreek imperfect, "We were commanding"; we kept charge of you.

would not workGreek, "is unwilling to work." Bengel makes this to be the argument: not that such a one is to have his food withdrawn from him by others; but he proves from the necessity of eating the necessity of working; using this pleasantry, Let him who will not work show himself an angel, that is, do without food as the angels do (but since he cannot do without food, then he ought to be not unwilling to work). It seems to me simpler to take it as a punishment of the idle. Paul often quotes good adages current among the people, stamping them with inspired approval. In the Hebrew, "Bereshith Rabba," the same saying is found; and in the book Zeror, "He who will not work before the sabbath, must not eat on the sabbath."