2017-01-29 - 2 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ The Problem in the Church
It appears that some, believing the Day of the Lord had already arrived, decided they didn’t have time, or possibly the need to work. Even if they weren’t confused about this, it may be - in looking for the Lord’s return - they were so focused on the urgency of getting out the gospel that they gave up such mundane things as work.
On the other hand, I suspect from Paul’s words, there was a lack of sincerity and more of laziness than spirituality about these individuals. We’ve all heard the saying, “So heavenly bound they’re no earthly good.” Accordingly, the appearance of spirituality may have been simply a coverup for simple irresponsibility.
This view is reinforced by Paul’s directive to the other Thessalonians, to stay away from these idle individuals. The primary reason for this was because of their direct disobedience of Paul’s teachings, therefore blatant transgression of the Lord’s. This meant discipline must be exercised, and the miscreants cut off.
Paul used himself as the example of how they should choose to live. Now as a minister of the gospel he was entitled to be supported by the believers. But he had chosen not to exercise this right. Instead he had paid his own way. He wanted them to understand they were not to be a burden on either the church or society at large. Paul held a job in addition to his ministry so that he wouldn’t burden the believers. Keep in mind, these people were suffering persecution and so probably struggling to even be able to support themselves.
The other problem with this highly spiritual group, busy with the Lord’s work instead of their own, was they were also busy with everybody else’s business. They were the trouble makers. And if Paul was your grandmother, he’d have told them, “Idle hands are the Devil’s tools.” “Hey guys, settle down and get a job.”
In conclusion, Paul reinforced the point that the call to discipline wasn’t because of some irritating members of the body. This problem was sin, resulting in the requirement to discipline and excommunication. Remember that discipline has a two-fold purpose - restoration of the sinner, and protection of the body. Paul repeated himself, so there would be no question as to how seriously he considered this sin. It reflected negatively on the individual, the body, and ultimately the Lord Himself.
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.