September 16, 2021

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

2 Thessalonians 1–3

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Greeting

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving

...

Greeting

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, 1 as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

The Judgment at Christ's Coming

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from 2 the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Man of Lawlessness

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 3 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness 4 is revealed, the son of destruction, 5 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Stand Firm

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits 6 to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Pray for Us

Finally, brothers, 7 pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, 8 as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 9 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Warning Against Idleness

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 10

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Benediction

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Footnotes

[1] 1:3 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[2] 1:9 Or destruction that comes from
[3] 2:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 13, 15
[4] 2:3 Some manuscripts sin
[5] 2:3 Greek the son of perdition (a Hebrew idiom)
[6] 2:13 Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning
[7] 3:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 13
[8] 3:1 Or glorified
[9] 3:3 Or evil
[10] 3:12 Greek to eat their own bread

Working Hard or Hardly Working?



Key Verse | 2 Thessalonians 3:11–13

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.

Bio | Will Estel

My name is Will Estel. I am the fortunate husband to my beautiful wife Sydne and a proud father to our daughter PJ. It took me an eventful 25 years to come to know Christ, but the love and presence I feel from Him daily has been life changing. Our paths to Him may look different, but the destination is the same. Oh yeah, Boomer Sooner!

Central Truth

The Bible frequently reminds Christians that contentment is a sign of faithfulness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). However, we must be careful not to become so comfortable with our situation that we become complacent. There is always work to be done. When we sit idle, the enemy wins.

Devotional | 2 Thessalonians 1–3

The key to happiness is being content with what you have, while the key to success is never becoming complacent. Paul preached a similar message in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians that holds true...

The key to happiness is being content with what you have, while the key to success is never becoming complacent. Paul preached a similar message in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians that holds true today. 

Paul's letter to the believers in Thessalonica was not a get-rich-quick scheme. He was not looking for investors for property in Thessalonica and promising big dividends. Instead, he was telling the people they were not to disregard the lessons and examples he had left them (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8). There were some among them who became complacent in letting others provide for them, even though they were more than capable to work. Paul was firm in his rebuke for those select few.

Complacency is an easy trap to fall into, especially when there is seemingly no punishment for laziness and the reward for effort diminishes every day. Sometimes it seems like the best we can do is simply survive the day. This is frequently a very real temptation for my wife and me since we have to work and chase after a toddler. There are days when getting everyone fed, clean, and in bed feels like a monumental victory in its own.

Remembering how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone else's idleness can be a good reminder when you catch yourself being idle. I can recall times in my life when co-workers were slacking and leaving others to finish their work, or when siblings were skipping out on their share of chores. Maybe for you it's a group project at school when others are not doing their share but getting the same grade as you. 

Ultimately, Paul's message is simple: contribute to the best of your ability. It is okay to need help. Even Jesus had help from Simon of Cyrene carrying His cross when His body was at its limit. But believers should not take advantage of the generosity of others. Whether work, school, or chores, our efforts should reflect whom we are truly working for (Colossians 3:23-24).

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Discussion Questions

1. Do you believe God's judgment is just? Are you prepared for that judgment? Do you know people who are not? What would you tell them?

2. Are there sources of lawlessness or false teachings you are allowing to influence your life? How can you test these ideas? 

3. In what areas of your life are you prone to periods of idleness? Who can help keep you accountable?

9 Comments available

Michael Scaman 9 days ago

Jesus killing by the breath of His mouth in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 is coming from Isaiah 11:4 and the work of the Messiah there. The branch from Jesse, the shoot from the stump will help the poor and slay the wicked, killing them with the breath of His mouth. Is 11:1-4

Linda Green 9 days ago

I love to guess each day what the writer will shine their spotlight on, especially because we are reading longer passages. One verse stood out to me and lines up somewhat with your focus on work versus idleness, Will.

Paul was such an encourager- never afraid to say the hard truth, but always finding a way to encourage his readers! 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 “…we always pray… that our God… may fulfill every every resolve for good…”

What a great prayer- if only half of my resolves for good were carried out, it would be amazing. And the last part of these two verses tell why: “…by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified…”

So different than busy-ness building my kingdom.

Sue Bohlin 9 days ago

Thanks, Will.

It is deeply sobering to read about the man of lawlessness and the strong delusion in chapter 2. . . It was quite abstract 48 years ago when I became a believer and started reading the Bible, but today, with the world blowing up and rushing headlong into end-times darkness and deception, it’s goose-bumpy for all the wrong reasons because it’s unfolding TODAY.

A dear friend believes that the restrainer is the U.S., whose God-given power to restrain evil in the world is being taken away before our very eyes as we crumble from corruption within. In 2020, Probe Ministries commissioned a survey of the religious beliefs and practices of those claiming to be Christians, and it is clear that believers are losing the effect of being salt and light by allowing themselves to become cultural captives. Very few Christ-followers remain steadfast. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Hugh Stephenson 10 days ago

2 of 2

Why would anyone want this? Active disbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence of the presence and power of God.

2:11 “Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion so that they may believe what is false…”

I read Revelation in a class last year. We walked through how God gives the people chance after chance – and each time he acts he still does so with mercy and grace.

Eventually, all restraints come off.

I had to read it in several stages as it was so overwhelming.

The encouragement for me comes in 3:3

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

Praying today for my two unsaved prodigal children.

https://www.gotquestions.org/day-of-the-Lord.html

Bible Project

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBc2gSSW04&t=3s

Hugh Stephenson 10 days ago

1 of 2

GM Will. Love your focus on contentment without complacency. I recall a message from a few years ago that said, “Let their empty stomach be their teacher.”

What does total unrestrained chaos look like?

I would submit the recent events at the Kabul airport are a good candidate. Also, the riots of 2020. At one point the restrictions on the police were so bad that one major city Police Chief took out a full-page newspaper ad and said to the public, “You’re on your own.”

The result was just what you’d expect.

2:6 “And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed,…”

Greg Jones 10 days ago

1/1

Dinner out last night at the Cheesecake Factory with a occupational therapist missionary friend and her boyfriend who works with special needs kids, the least of the least in Haiti. (Fun fact, 1/3 of evangelical missionaries are married men, 1/3 married women, 85% of last third are single women, so slightly less than 2/3 of evangelical missionaries are women.) Everyone was content with dinner. Life is very good.

My friend said something interesting, “I think my heart is getting harder, 3 of my kids died this week, there was a time when I would not have been able to enjoy this meal. It’s frustrating each death was preventable”

Greg Jones 10 days ago

2/2 From a past pre-covid conversation with a nurse practitioner friend who specialized in first 1000 days nutrition, “The thing with special needs kids here, their survival can be the difference between the family living above or below the minimal nutrition line. They will never contribute in supplying food.”

It would be nice if Jesus would show up and kill by breath some Haitian lawlessness causing problems. In the meantime he renewed a fire under my…not to be complacent by waiting on him to show.

Michael Scaman 10 days ago

In 1 Thessalonians Paul said there was no need to write about the coming of Jesus at least as far as the Thessalonians knowing Jesus will come as a thief in the night. In 2 Thessalonians Paul does talk about some aspects of Jesus return and talks about

→ don’t think Jesus already came somehow secretly and you missed it

→ Jesus will come to be marveled at those who believe and to judge those who do not believe and punish those who persecute his believers

→ not believing is tied to taking pleasure in unrighteousness

→ don’t be deceived by a false word or letter, stick with the true word and letter from Paul and the like

→ pray that the gospel will go forth from Paul just as it did the Thessalonians (as you wait Jesus return)

→ don’t be idle (as you wait Jesus return)

Michael Scaman 12 days ago

Just as in 1 Thes, Paul sees the faith and love of the Thessalonians and it encourages him to pray more

2 Thes 1:3 “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, 1 as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”

1 and 2 Thessalonians has many many references to the return of Jesus, showing how important it was to Paul.

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