Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2 Thessalonians 3

You can read the text here.

Paul closes by continuing to encourage the Thessalonians to persevere. Paul, too, was facing opposition for proclaiming the name of Jesus. He requested their prayer that he would have success everywhere he went just as he had success among them and also that he would not be hindered by his opposition. The utmost of confidence is exuded by Paul that God will protect them just as he has been protected. Not only that, Paul is confident that God will work in their hearts to help them stand firm in fidelity and hope because they have the Spirit of the faithful Christ in them.

The last major piece of content in the letter is a warning about a certain type of idleness. For some unknown reason,[1] Some may be tempted to use the expectation of the end to live off of the generosity of others, especially if they were ministering or teaching in the community, but Paul adamantly opposes that and points to his own hard working example in contrast. If one is capable and has the opportunity, they should work, especially if they are going to be meddlesome in the absence of work.[2] Paul concludes this section with a carefully couched rebuke. Those who resist Paul's exhortation to work should not be supported by the community. They should be expelled, both to maintain clear boundaries for the community and for the sake of those who are errant. The goal is not permanent expulsion but correction and restoration.

Paul concludes wishing them peace, the thing they needed most given the trials they were going through. A peace that comes from the presence of the Lord, and on top of that, grace to sustain them.

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[1] Both Malherbe and Fee are helpful at cautioning against drawing the conclusion that eschatological expectations led to the disorderliness/idleness.

[2] Disorderliness, not idleness is at issue her (pace the NRSV translation at this point) as Gaventa points out. Malherbe is very helpful in pointing out that this was the exact type of charge typically laid against philosophers.

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