2 Thessalonians 3:14-18
14. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
14. Si quis autem non obedit sermoni nostro per epistolam, hunc notate: et ne commisceamini illi, 1 ut pudefiat:
15. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
15. Et ne tanquam inimicum sentiatis, sed admonete tanquam fratrem.
16. Now the Lord of peace himself give You peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
16. Ipse autem Deus pacis det vobis pacem semper omnibus modis. Dominus sit cum omnibus vobis.
17. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
17. Salutatio, mea manu Pauli: quod est signum in omni epistola.
18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
18. Gratia Domini nostri Iesu Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen.
The second epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.
Ad Thessalonicenses secunda missa fuit ex Athenis.
14. If any one obeys not. He has already declared previously, that he commands nothing but from the Lord. Hence the man, that would not obey, would not be contumacious against a mere man, but would be rebellious against God himself; 2 and accordingly he teaches that such persons ought to be severely chastised. And, in the first place, he desires that they be reported to him, that he may repress them by his authority; and, secondly, he orders them to be excommunicated, that, being touched with shame, they may repent. From this we infer, that we must not spare the reputation of those who cannot be arrested otherwise than by their faults being exposed; but we must take care to make known their distempers to the physician, that he may make it his endeavor to cure them.
Keep no company. I have no doubt that he refers to excommunication; for, besides that the (ajtaxi>a) 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 3 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.
That he may be ashamed. There are, it is true, other ends to be served by excommunication--that contagion may spread no farther, that the personal wickedness of one individual may not tend to the common disgrace of the Church, and that the example of severity may induce others to fear, (1 Timothy 5:20;) but Paul touches upon this one merely--that those who have sinned may by shame be constrained to repentance. For those that please themselves in their vices become more and more obstinate: thus sin is nourished by indulgence and dissimulation. This, therefore, is the best remedy--when a feeling of shame is awakened in the mind of the offender, so that he begins to be displeased with himself. It would, indeed, be a small point gained to have individuals made ashamed; but Paul had an eye to farther progress--when the offender, confounded by a discovery of his own baseness, is led in this way to a full amendment: for shame, like sorrow, is a useful preparation for hatred of sin. Hence all that become wanton 4 must, as I have said, be restrained by this bridle, lest their audacity should be increased in consequence of impunity.
15. Regard him not as an enemy. He immediately adds a softening of his rigor; for, as he elsewhere commands, we must take care that the offender be not swallowed up with sorrow, (2 Corinthians 2:7,) which would take place if severity were excessive. Hence we see that the use of discipline ought to be in such a way as to consult the welfare of those on whom the Church inflicts punishment. Now, it cannot but be that severity will fret, 5 when it goes beyond due bounds. Hence, if we wish to do good, gentleness and mildness are necessary, that those that are reproved may know that they are nevertheless loved. In short, excommunication does not tend to drive men from the Lord's flock, but rather to bring them back when wandering and going astray.
We must observe, however, by what sign he would have brotherly love shewn--not by allurements or flattery, but by admonitions; for in this way it will be, that all that will not be incurable will feel that concern is felt for their welfare. In the mean time, excommunication is distinguished from anathema: for as to those that the Church marks out by the severity of its censure, Paul admonishes that they should not be utterly cast away, as if they were cut off from all hope of salvation; but endeavors must be used, that they may be brought back to a sound mind.
16. Now the Lord of peace. This prayer seems to be connected with the preceding sentence, with the view of recommending endeavors after concord and mildness. He had forbidden them to treat even the contumacious 6 as enemies, but rather with a view to their being brought back to a sound mind 7 by brotherly admonitions. He could appropriately, after this, subjoin an injunction as to the cultivation of peace; but as this is a work that is truly Divine, he betakes himself to prayer, which, nevertheless, has also the force of a precept. At the same time, he may also have another thing in view--that God may restrain unruly persons, 8 that they may not disturb the peace of the Church.
17. The salutation, with my own hand. 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.