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Christians Need to Work Hard -- a study of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Every church member needs to do their part.

Bible Study Ideas and Commentary for 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

In this final lesson from 2 Thessalonians, Paul addresses one final question from the church -- how to handle lazy church members who are freeloading off of the church's welfare. Paul has no place for church members who choose to do less than they could -- there are too many legitimate needs in the world, and it takes everybody working together to meet them.

Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves. (3:12)

This week's post is longer than usual. There are some big topics to cover. I try to clearly identify each section so you can skim over parts you find less applicable to your group. Consequently, I don't even bring up the week's news from the Southern Baptist Convention -- I'll save that for a future post.

Memorial Day

While the federal holiday called Memorial Day was formalized in 1971, "Decoration Day" dates back to 1865/1866. The Civil War changed our country (and so many communities) in incalculable ways, and communities wanted to gather together to pay their respects to the honored dead. May 30 was chosen because it wasn't the anniversary of a particular battle. (It later was moved to a Monday so federal employees could have a 3-day weekend.) (Because Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, this long weekend has also become characterized by trips and barbeques.)

Combat deaths:

  • Revolutionary War: 8,000

  • Civil War: 214,938

  • WWI: 53,402

  • WWII: 291,557

  • Vietnam War: 47,434

  • Gulf War: 149

  • War in Afghanistan: 1,910

  • Iraq War: 3,519

(When we visited the museum at Fort Benning, it was pointed out how much has been done to reduce/prevent American casualties in war.)

For Memorial Day weekend, it is appropriate to spend time in prayer, thanking God for the way of life we have in America that has been protected and preserved by the sacrifices of soldiers, and also praying for families who will forever mourn their loss.

But this Sunday is also about Uvalde. It is necessary to emphasize the purpose of Memorial Day on this weekend, but what just happened in Uvalde also demands our attention and prayer. Knowing that grief is being weaponized by both side of the gun rights debate, mentioning this event could take your group off the rails very quickly. But I hope it doesn't. The sad truth is that 19 children, 2 teachers, and one very trouble teenager are dead. The grief and anger felt by their families should not be used to "make a point".

As Christians, we know that the only thing laws can do is suppress the symptoms of the great human sickness. And laws are necessary! Remember what we read last week about wicked and evil people! That's why we should vote for lawmakers who will carefully enact the best laws to deter crime. That's why we should support the officers who protect our lives and livelihoods on a daily basis in our communities. That's why we should take the time and effort to learn how we should act and respond in a crisis, like becoming a part of your church's safety team.

But if we, as Christians, aren't responding to this tragedy by crying out to God for mercy and boldness and revival, then we have utterly failed in our calling. One line I saw over and over again in the news coverage of the event was "What are we doing?", being asked of lawmakers about gun regulations. Christians, more than anyone, need to ask that of ourselves -- "What are we doing?" We, of all people, should understand that laws and law-enforcers aren't going to fix us. The human race is broken, and broken humans are loudly trying to take us further and further away from our only hope -- the transforming power of the Holy Spirit through salvation in Jesus Christ.

So, on Sunday morning in your Bible study time -- pray for the families who have lost soldiers in combat, pray for the men and women who are serving in harm's way right now, pray for the people who make decisions how our military is to be deployed, -and also- pray for the families in Uvalde, pray for police officers who responded to this event, pray for our lawmakers, pray for all law enforcement, especially our local officers, pray for the people who provide security for all schools and preschools and churches, and above all else pray for revival. May our hearts be truly broken for the incalculable cost of sin.


There actually is a transition out of this into this week's passage -- the most effective responses we can have to the threats that face us and our children involve everybody playing a part. Everybody keeping their eyes open. Everybody learning how to respond in a crisis. Laziness is not an option for anyone in the kingdom of God.

The Great Resignation Became the Great Renegotiation

It's quite possible that by the time Sunday comes around, the discussion surrounding Uvalde will have exhausted itself. As I write this on Wednesday morning, it's pretty fresh. This next idea could be a replacement opening discussion idea, or you could use it as an illustration during the Bible study itself.

As I write this, our country is in the midst of a seismic labor shift -- people leaving their jobs at a rate never recorded. I'm keeping this in my notes because I think this topic is absolutely vital to understanding this Bible study, but everyone's experience with it is so unique that I'm not sure how your group will engage with it.

"The Great Resignation" became a thing in the pandemic.

People were tired of hours they didn't like, bosses they didn't like, commutes they didn't like, and salaries they didn't like. So they quit.

But if you look at any headlines or labor statistics, you'll see that unemployment is as low as it's been, employment rates are at all-time highs, and there are more job openings than people to fill them in many parts of the country. What gives?

It's simple, really -- people moved to (what they thought were) better jobs. Or people renegotiated their jobs to be more in line with what they wanted.

Reactions to this "Great Resignation/Renegotiation" has exposed a generation/culture gap, and that's why I don't know what you should expect if you use this topic in your group.

Boomers have never really figured out what to do with the later generations. I hear sweeping categorizations like:

  • Gen X (that's me!): independent and cynical (sounds right)

  • Millennials: entitled and lazy

  • Gen Z: aliens from another universe

I say that last line tongue-in-cheek, but it's not far off. Gen Z take such a different view of the world (social responsibility/activism/progressivism) than Boomers because they've grown up in a totally different world than Boomers did.

This shows up *heavily* in how the different generations have responded to news about The Great Resignation. Here's a quote from a Gen Z:

  • “The last generation, they were miserable in their jobs but they stayed because that’s what they were supposed to do. We’re not like that, and I love that for us."

They are looking for work hour flexibility, work location flexibility, better benefits, quicker advancement, and strong corporate responsibility. (To some, that sounds like unreasonable entitlement and code for lazy selfishness. But to be fair: I found a fascinating survey by Oyster HR that all three generations have very similar employment expectations -- Gen Z just happens to be the loudest about it.)

Here are two recent statistics that are sure to get a response:

  • 25% of all Gen Z are already planning to change jobs within the next two years

  • 40% of people who changed jobs last year are already looking to change jobs again

With all of that context in place, you might start with a provocative question: what do you think about all of the job switching right now? I've seen two polar-opposite responses: "people have no ambition", and "people are highly ambitious for better jobs". There's a big difference between those two!

Those polar-opposite responses are reflected in the two commonly-reported sentiments that most directly connect with our passage this week:

Most people don't want to work. They only work because they have to make a living.
People want to work, but they also want to be valued and fulfilled.

What do you think? Do you think that most people only work because they have to? Or do you think that people want to work in jobs that are fulfilling and respectful?

Of course, the answer is some combination of all of this. There are people in every generation who are lazy. And there are people in every generation who are tired of being underappreciated. I believe that people should want to work in a job that is fulfilling and meaningful. And they should expect to be treated with respect by employers and customers.

But expectations work both ways, and Paul has something really important to say to all Christians in the workforce.


This Week's Big Idea: Every Good Endeavor

Before we get into this week's passage, let me point out a resource that I love. It goes into a lot more detail about a Christian "theology of work" than we would ever have time for in a single Sunday morning. Here is a very *very* brief summary of the book:

Work is intended to be a part of existence. God worked for six days to create the universe, and He called Adam to very important work from the moment of creation. God found joy in His work, and work was supposed to be a meaningful part of Adam's life.

Work is intended to be balanced by rest. But God also rested on the seventh day, and He has commanded all people to observe a balance between work and rest.

Sin turned work into painful labor, and sin also distorted our understanding of the purpose of work. Work became labor became toil. The earth itself resisted human efforts at work. And then the goals of profit and prestige and power became the misplaced priority of work. As people searched for meaning and value in the work itself, work became pointless.\

Keller identified two overarching purposes for work:

  1. Work as cultivation. God put Adam and Eve in a garden and told them to cultivate it, and then to fill the earth and subdue it (rule over it and care for it). This doesn't just mean to fill the earth with more humans but to fill the earth with human culture -- to make the earth our home. Building, creating, caring -- all parts of our work.

  2. Work as service. In the New Testament, we discover that God has given out gifts and talents for the purpose of building up the human community, contributing to the good of all. Every job can (and should) serve others, which means that every job can be seen as a way to love your neighbor.

To bring the Christian experience with work back in line with God's original design for work, Keller proposed a pretty simple plan:

  • “Christians are to be fully engaged at work as whole persons, giving their minds, hearts, and bodies fully to doing the best job possible on the task at hand.”

He summarized his proposal with these values:

​Change from...

Change to...

1. Being saved is all that matters

The gospel changes everything about us and is at work in our world

2. Being good

Being saved

3. Cheap grace

Costly grace cares about our sin

4. Heaven is "up there"

Christ is coming back

5. God is value-add

We can participate in God's work

6. Living for idols

Living for God

7. Disdain for this world

Engaged in this world

8. Going alone

Living in community

9. People matter

People and institutions matter

10. Christian superiority

God can work through everyone

It's a great book filled with amazing stories/illustrations, and I can't recommend it more highly if you want to learn more about how Christians should think about work.


Where We Are in 2 Thessalonians

This is our last lesson in these letters. Here's a quick overview -- Paul planted the first Christian church in Thessalonica, but within a couple of weeks, he had been chased out of town by zealous Jews. Not only did the church somehow survive that tumultuous beginning, its reputation for love and faithfulness spread far and wide. When Paul finally caught up with them (via Timothy), he learned that they harbored no ill-will towards Paul, but they needed some encouragement. Specifically, the violent persecution they faced was starting to get to them, and some of their members had become really lazy. So, Paul wrote an encouraging letter, including some answers to some questions they still had. (Paul also included a paragraph about sexual ethics in his first letter, though he doesn't say why.)

A few weeks or months after this first letter, Paul gets a response from the church -- they're still facing persecution, someone has been circulating a letter in Paul's name saying that Jesus has already come back, and some church members are still lazy. This prompts Paul's second letter. We're at the very end, one last topic. What to do with lazy church members. Paul left this to the end probably because it was the last question asked, not the hardest. But he has some strong words for the church members, so he also wanted a chance to preface everything. Remember these lines from last week:

  • 2:15 -- So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote.

  • 3:4 -- We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.

So, this last lesson covers one last command.


Part 1: Establish Standards (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9)

6 Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother or sister who is idle and does not live according to the tradition received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you should imitate us: We were not idle among you; 8 we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled, working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us.

The shift in tone to "command" simply tells us that Paul was fed up with these reports of lazy church members. He is somewhat "gentle" with new Christians when teaching them things that go against how they were raised (like sexual ethics and idol worship), but this laziness thing is without excuse. Below, I describe how the Roman "welfare state" existed in Paul's day, but the Roman virtue of industriousness (hard work) was still hanging on. In other words, "Even secular Romans know this, so I have no patience with Roman Christians who have become lazy."

In my introduction to 1 Thessalonians, I mentioned that this laziness was brought on by the expectation that Jesus' return was imminent. "If Jesus is coming back any minute, why am I wasting my time working on next year's crops?" The Bible Project video I recommended blamed this laziness on the Roman practice of "patronage", in which wealthy citizens hired poor people for menial tasks, including some things that would have been un-Christian. The more widespread practice in this day was the beginning of welfare that I describe below. Just as the emperor was expected to keep Rome (the city) under control, the wealthiest citizens of each city/town were expected to keep their citizens alive (and under control) through giving out food. Paul could absolutely be talking about the "freeloader mindset" that had risen among the people (and has nothing to do with Christ's return). Maybe it's a combination of both.

The argument in favor of a more endemic problem is this: it was apparently enough of a problem in the Thessalonian church that Paul had to talk about it with them when he was there the first time. (Maybe "Jesus is coming back" was just an easy excuse for people who already tended to be lazy.) That's the "tradition" Paul mentions.

[Aside: what's the difference between a "law" and a "tradition"? Why call what he commanded them a "tradition" and not a "law"? Probably because a tradition is a little more informal. Think about it -- "Thou shalt work" is kinda hard to quantify. Instead, Paul (and Timothy and Silas) modeled for them what their attitude toward work should be. To me, it's the difference between saying "Do this" and "Be like this". One can be codified as a law; the other can be modeled as a tradition.]

[Bigger aside: does Paul reject the idea of welfare? This is going to come up throughout the lesson, so we may as well spend time with it here. Paul is completely in favor of welfare, and so is the rest of the early Christian church! But we have to understand two things:

  1. Israel did not have a government-run welfare program because God commanded the individual communities to take care of the needs of their own poor. (Deut 15)

  2. Jewish welfare was restricted to those who could not care for themselves. (Levites, who did not have land, were supported by the tithe (Deut 14); the poor were allowed to glean the fields (Deut 24); moneylenders were forbidden to charge interest on loans to the poor (Deut 23).)

With that said, let's go through the New Testament view of welfare:

  • Jesus commanded giving to the poor (Matt 6)

  • The first deacons were appointed to oversee distribution of food (Acts 6)

  • Paul collected money from Thessalonica for the poor in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26)

  • James said that caring for widows and orphans was foundational (Jam 1:27)

So, be clear about this: Christians have a God-given responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves -- the poor, the slave, the very old, the very young, the refugee, the outcast.

Now, back to the passage.]

Because Christians had (have) limited resources to care for others, it angered Paul that people who did not need those resources were taking them. Christians who could work and take care of themselves chose not to, putting a burden on the rest of the church. Paul's complaint should not be controversial. The question, and where the controversy comes from, is "how do you determine if a person has a need?" (and the associated question, "how do you determine how much to give?")

The word Paul uses is "idle". The Greek word actually means "disorderly", but we know from context (vv. 7-9) that Paul is focusing on the "laziness" part of it. Ask this question: how does "being disorderly" and "being lazy" fit together?

The disorderly person lacks discipline. They aren't dependable. They don't show up on time. They don't complete tasks. Their work is sloppy. And they don't really care. The full description Pal gives of this person is "they walk (live) in an undisciplined way".

That helps me understand what Paul is talking about. Paul is talking about the person who could but doesn't. The person who is doing the best they can, but they are limited by physical weakness, illness or injury, maybe they don't have the skills or abilities, maybe they have a mental handicap -- we are to make sure those people have what they need to survive.

A further debate is this -- how much to we give them? That's tough. Jesus prayed this: "Give us this day our daily bread." That's where I tend to land. But the world is changing quickly. Can a person live without a cell phone today? How about a car? Or internet access? Healthy food is getting more and more expensive, and so is good health care. This topic can get into the weeds very quickly if you aren't careful, so perhaps just stick with Paul's primary and inarguable point: if a person has the ability to provide for themselves and chooses not to, you are not obligated to provide for them.

(Five years ago, I would have said that no one would attempt to argue to the contrary. Today, however, I know that able-bodied people are attempting to argue that they have the right for other people to take care of them. Paul responds like this -- "you do what you want; this church will not be the one to indulge your laziness".)

Paul says "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" twice in this passage. That means that Jesus corroborates this teaching. So, let's investigate:

  • Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. (Luke 12:33)

  • Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matt 5:42)

  • ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:31)

  • You cannot serve God and money. (Luke 16:13)

  • So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. (Matt 7:12)

  • But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:33)

Jesus seems pretty generous and gracious, eh? Think about who the hero was in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. "The Golden Rule" characterizes Jesus' approach to interpersonal action, like giving to the poor. And He also calls us to check our motives: why would we not want to give to the poor? Is it because we want to keep the money for ourselves?

But don't forget that Jesus places a high value on personal responsibility: "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much." (Luke 16:10) "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 25:29-30) God gives us skills and talents, and if we don't do anything with them, Jesus says that God will take away even the little we had.

That's a judgment based on return. We need to be really careful with such judgments. In the situations Paul mentioned, he thought it was very obvious that the people in question were being lazy. Always err on the side of grace.

It's important to note that Paul had credibility here. He and his team worked hard to support themselves (remember that Paul was a tentmaker) precisely so they would set a good example on this very matter.

[Note: for anyone who says that vocational pastors shouldn't be paid by churches, read verse 9 again: "It is not that we don't have the right to support"!]

This is one of those lessons where the whole passage repeats itself, so I think it would be easier to go through the whole passage and then take some big picture discussion and application. Along the way, just make sure that everyone understands the words and concepts Paul uses.


Aside: Social Welfare in the Roman Empire

If you do much reading into the "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire", you'll find more than a few articles that focus on Roman welfare ("the dole") (and usually the author is warning that America could face the same decline). There are two common points:

  1. As economic class divides widened, to prevent a peasant uprising in the city of Rome, Roman emperors developed a policy of handing out food and providing free "entertainment" for the masses (the "bread and circus"). This created an enormous tax burden for the entire empire.

  2. As Rome conquered further lands, it routinely made slaves of the conquered people and transplanted them to major cities. This glut of slave labor created an enormous unemployment crisis. That was further exacerbated by the rising costs of the standing army -- food, lodging, transportation -- pulling resources from potential employers.

Those things are true, and they certainly contributed to the fall of Rome.

I'm not exactly sure how that plays into our passage, though. The worst effects of this policy came long after Paul, though there were seeds of the welfare state even in Jesus' day.

If anything, I would have thought the opposite. The so-called "Roman Virtues" have filled many books (and I described them compared to the fruit of the spirit)

Personal virtues of piety (respect for the order of things) included dedication and industriousness. Rome conquered the world because every citizen was dedicated to his place, working hard to build roads, grow food, clean stalls, or whatever. The loss of these virtues at least anecdotally contributed to the fall of the empire. I think that Paul was surprised to hear about "lazy Romans" (even if they were in Greece) -- he thought his words about the need to work hard would have been "preaching to the choir".


Part 2: Provide (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)

10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves.

This is one of the strongest (and most-taken-out-of-context) verses about work in the Bible. The NIV translates this "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." The CSB has a much clearer translation: "If anyone isn't willing to work, he should not eat." The word "will" has so many meanings in English. The particular Greek word means "willingness". The leader guide helpfully identifies this as the different between "would not work" and "cannot work". That's why I spent so much time above describing the "kind" of person Paul was warning against. If a person is willing to work, but for whatever reason is unable to provide for his own needs, the church should step in and help. But if a person isn't willing to work, then that's on him. The church is not responsible for such a person.

The next passage explains a little more clearly what this means.

But first, Paul jumps on a soapbox. And it's one of my favorites. This is one of the few times when English has a way to catch the Greek wordplay -- "They are not busy but busybodies." Ask your group -- What's the difference between being busy and being a busybody?

Part of the challenge with this question is the fact that "being busy" now has a negative connotation. We all know that it's possible to be very busy and never actually do anything. That's not what Paul is talking about. In Greek, the word for "busy" means "productive". Perhaps a better modern translation would be something like "Not doing their own work but messing with the work of others". Because the official definition of "busybody" is "someone who meddles or pries", that works pretty well.

There's plenty of folk wisdom about this. What's a saying you know about people who are lazy or idle?

  • {like "Idle hands are the devil's workshop"}

I think what Paul described to Timothy was very instructive:

3 Support widows who are genuinely in need. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to practice godliness toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God. 5 The widow who is truly in need and left all alone has put her hope in God and continues night and day in her petitions and prayers; 6 however, she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command this also, so that they will be above reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own family, especially for his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 No widow is to be enrolled on the list for support unless she is at least sixty years old, has been the wife of one husband, 10 and is well known for good works—that is, if she has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when they are drawn away from Christ by desire, they want to marry 12 and will therefore receive condemnation because they have renounced their original pledge. 13 At the same time, they also learn to be idle, going from house to house; they are not only idle, but are also gossips and busybodies, saying things they shouldn’t say. 14 Therefore, I want younger women to marry, have children, manage their households, and give the adversary no opportunity to accuse us. 15 For some have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it can help widows in genuine need. (1 Tim 5)

We covered this passage a few years ago:

Here are some highlights. Because people didn't live as long in those days, many widows were relatively young. Many widows inherited money from husbands; they didn't need the church's help. Many widows had children who were perfectly able to care for mom/grandma; they didn't need the church's help. Churches needed to be able to care of widows "in genuine need".

Paul also describes the problem scenario -- people with too much time on their hands and nothing to do could easily be drawn into the trap of becoming the "town gossip". I've been told that plenty of "Societies" from generations past were rarely more than an opportunity for people to get together and gossip and gripe. That's not good. If you will be tempted to be a busybody, have the discipline to know that you need a job.

The "work quietly" is the opposite of the "undisciplined way of life" described above. A person who "works quietly" takes care of his/her business without meddling in everyone else's. Not only does that person have the satisfaction of freeing up resources for someone in need, but that person can even contribute to the welfare fund!


Part 3: Be Confident (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t consider him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

We finally get to the payoff -- how to handle the church member who insists on wrongly taking the church's resources: don't associate with him. David talked about this in his sermon (at FBC) last Sunday on cooperation. The key verse he mentioned was 1 Cor 5:11:

But actually, I wrote you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister and is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

This is what Mennonites and Amish mean with their practice of "the ban". When a church member is living in unrepentant sin, the rest of the church cuts them off from a certain layer of relationship until they repent. The point is to make clear that the church takes sin seriously, both in what it can do to the church and also what it does to the sinner. The practice is supposed to be restorative, not punitive. A Christian living in sin does terrible damage to himself -- his witness, his spirit, his life -- as well as to others.

We all know that when a church doesn't say anything about a sin, that problem only gets worse. Eventually, that sin can tear a church apart. What can happen when a church lets a member "freeload"? Other members get resentful. Maybe they stop giving. Or maybe they're emboldened to become just as lazy. It's nothing to mess with.

But verse 15 is one of the best verses to remember when thinking about things like "church discipline" -- this church member is not your enemy; they are your wayward brother. They're not trying to destroy the church; they're just lazy. That's why you don't cut them off completely! How can the wayward brother be encouraged to repent if everyone who knows how to help him won't have anything to do with him?

There are people out there who do want to destroy our churches. Jesus called them "wolves in sheep's clothing". These people are not our wayward brothers. We are to completely dissociate from them. If you're not sure who's who, pray for discernment.

All of that is exhausting. (It makes me think of a classic preacher line: "The church is like a football game: thousands of spectators who sorely need some exercise, and 22 players who sorely need a break.") Not only do you have the draining aspect of confronting a church brother in sin, but you're still trying to do the economic work of sustaining church members in poverty!

But Paul reminds them that what they're doing is good. Don't give up!

When you get to the end of this passage, some big-picture questions should make more sense:

  • Why do you work?

  • Do you see your work as an opportunity to bless others?

  • How do you handle church members who don't "pull their weight"?

  • How does your church handle giving to the poor?

  • What can you do to help bring a "wayward brother" to repentance?

Paul's priority is always repentance and restoration, but it must be true, biblical repentance. He will not sacrifice a church's well-being on wishful thinking.

At the beginning of the post, I made a list of suggested prayer topics. If you didn't pray them at the beginning of group time, please consider praying them at the end. I pray for you, for our community, for our children, and for our country. Do not grow weary in doing good! And may the Lord direct your hearts to God's love and Christ's endurance.


Closing Thoughts: The End of 2 Thessalonians

16 May the Lord of peace himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 17 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand, which is an authenticating mark in every letter; this is how I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

I like these final verses. One simple prayer. And one personal touch. We've talked about Paul using a secretary to pen these letters. That was common in those days. Not everybody has good handwriting, right? And if Paul had eye trouble like many believe, writing a letter was probably not his cup of tea. But he wrote the last sentence (see also 1 Cor 16:21, Gal 6:11, Col 4:18) for the authenticity.

What did you learn through these letters? What do you need to write down for future reference?


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