2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you;

nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you,

not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.

12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

withdraw (v.6) — used of the furling of a sail — shrinking away from a person or thing (used in the same sense in Galatians 2:12).

walks (v.6) — referring to all the activities of life

disorderly (v.6, 7, and 11) — a military term for being out of rank, insubordinate

traditions which he received from us (v.6) — see explanation in post on 2 Thessalonians 2:15

you yourselves know (v.7) — knowledge received by observation

you ought to follow us (v.7) — In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Paul referred to how the Thessalonians followed him for salvation. Now he told them to continue following him in order to walk correctly

eat anyone’s bread (v.8) — a synecdoche for “were maintained,” “were taken care of” — Paul was contrasting his behavior with those in the church who were living off others

with labor and toil night and day (v.8) — toil resulting in weariness —  Paul was probably tentmaking at night and ministering during the day — Acts 18:3; Acts 20:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 2:9

right (v.9) = an inherent and self-evident freedom and authority. As an apostle, Paul had the freedom and authority to demand that the Thessalonians take care of his needs, but he didn’t. He worked for his keep as an example to them.

for even (v.10) — Even before Paul wrote the first epistle. Perhaps he had observed the tendency of some in the church to be idle and allow others to take care of them, and that may have been why he worked for his own keep.

will not work (v.10) — refuses to work, is not willing to work

neither shall he eat (v.10) — Paul was forbidding the mistaken charity that encourages indolence and degrades those who receive it.

not working at all, but are busybodies (v.11) — the play upon words used cannot be reproduced in a literal translation though it may be attempted in a paraphrase, such as “some that are not busy people, but are busybodies,” or “some that are not busy in their own business but are over-busy in other people’s business.” This figure of speech is called paronomasia, and is used to give “cheerful liveliness to the language, or greater emphasis to the thought.” It is of frequent occurrence in Paul’s epistles. — Vine, page 134.

we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ (v.12) — again exercising his apostolic authority and referring to the Lord as the one who gave him that authority

work in quietness (v.12) — see 1 Thessalonians 4:11 — In contrast with the noisiness of the busybodies

In commanding them to follow him by working, we see a dispensational difference. While here on earth ministering to the Jews (Matthew 15:24) the Lord told His followers to quit their jobs (Matthew 4:18-19; Luke 5:27). This was because the Lord preached “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17), and He meant the kingdom in which Israel would be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6). And what do we know about priests? The priests, the Levites, had no inheritance in the promised land (Deuteronomy 18:1), no way of supporting themselves other than the tithes of the other 11 tribes. But in the kingdom of heaven on earth, all Jews will be priests (Isaiah 66:20) and live off the support of the tithes of the Gentiles (Isaiah 61:6). This is why the Lord told His followers to quit their jobs, to be ready to be priests in the kingdom.

But Paul says that we are to follow the Lord as he followed Him (1 Corinthians 11:1). To follow the Lord today you have to keep working in order to have “lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). This too is a dispensational difference. God has never wanted His children to lack for the basic necessities of food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:8), but the means by which we obtain these things has changed. To have “lack of nothing” in Moses’ day, you had to collect manna (Exodus 16:15-18; Deuteronomy 29:5). When the Lord sent the 12 out to preach without provisions, they didn’t lack (Luke 22:35), since the people they ministered to supported them as He said they would. At Pentecost they had no lack because they pooled their resources (Acts 4:34-35). But to have no lack in the dispensation of grace, you have to go to work! — Kurth

But as for you, brethren (v.13) — speaking to the orderly members of the church

if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle (v.14) — The exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 4:11 had been disregarded by some who, perhaps, claimed to be better exponents of the apostle’s mind than the recognized leaders of the church, and who refused to acknowledge the authority of a letter. With such the apostle deals explicitly, the letter had all the authority of the spoken word. — Vine, page 135.


note that person (v.14) — continuous tense, suggesting that no hasty conclusion was to be drawn from an act, but that the course and general conduct was to be observed. — Vine, page 135.

do not keep company with him (v.14) = do not mingle with and among, do not hold free intercourse with (see 1 Corinthians 5:9, 11, where the word is used in the same sense)

as a brother (v.15) — because he is a brother. The goal was to restore the disorderly person to right thinking and right behavior, not to punish him or drive him away

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