Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
April 3, 2016
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
15 Yet count [him] not as an enemy, but admonish [him] as a brother.
1901 ASV Translation:
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat.
11 For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.
14 And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed.
15 And [yet] count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
- I. At Issue: Personal Effort.
- A. "For indeed when we were with you..."
- 1. Paul covered a very large block of material in a very short period of time.
- a. He asked, "Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2:5). The "these things" were a part of the eschatology of The Hope. These things are pretty involved, but fairly essential to Christian living.
- b. Now he is asking (in a sense) again that they remember that he also told them that, if a person was unwilling to work, he was not permitted to eat.
- c. 1 Thessalonians 3:4 is another text where he told them ahead of time what was to be.
- d. The record of Acts 17 is that Paul "reasoned with them for three Sabbaths..." and no follow-up about how much longer he was with them.
- 2. We can assume that Paul clearly understood the human condition so that he included in his preaching/teaching what things were most necessary.
- a. That preaching and teaching are well known to "go past" the hearers so that something like retention rates of only ten percent are the norm means that Paul also understood the necessity of repeating himself again and again.
- b. However, when the Holy Spirit is in the mix, those retention rates go up quite a bit. No one but Him can make sure that a precept is "remembered" at the right time for the right reason.
- c. The issue in our text is personal effort to meet one's own needs. If a person is unwilling to "labor diligently" even as far as "night and day" to meet his/her own needs, he/she is supposed to be refused the benefits that such labor would produce.
- B. In all of Paul's "grace"/"faith" theology there is no indication of any "allowance" of a lack of personal, responsible, action.
- 1. He told Titus that "grace" teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and in a godly manner (Titus 2:11-12).
- 2. And everywhere he taught that "faith" is an active submission to the promises of God so that a person's "actions" are driven by his/her confidence that God will be "in" those actions to fulfill His promises to those who believe Him. This is the entire point of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promises regarding His willingness to produce His fruit in the experiences of those who walk in "faith".
- 3. The notion that those who are involved with "grace" and "faith" will not take an active part in the processes of life are simply ignorant. There are some situations where there is nothing a "believer" can "do" to accomplish the promise of God, but there are many more where the activities of the "believer" are actually the means by which God fulfills His promise(s). Sarah didn't get pregnant without Abraham's active involvement while depending upon God.
- II. The Leverage: Let Him Not Eat.
- A. One's own personal existence in this world is threatened by not having food for the stomach.
- B. Paul is pulling the most basic issue of the body into play: work or die.
- 1. There is no "sympathy" here for anyone who is able to work but refuses to work.
- 2. There is this, however: this "command" is for the Church, not the culture.
- III. The Undercurrent for This Command.
- A. We are hearing...
- 1. This indicates that Paul took reports of misdeeds seriously.
- 2. This information is a contradiction of much of that for which Paul commended the Thessalonians. The implication is that there is a minority of the Thessalonians who do not fit the "norm" which Paul has been commending. However, it is a sufficiently significant minority so as to get his attention.
- B. Some are walking in a refusal to conform to the apostolic example.
- 1. The generality is the apostolic example.
- 2. The specific is the lack of willingness to work to provide for themselves.
- 3. The antithesis of the work ethic is "working around working". The word is seldom used in the New Testament, but the Greek culture used the term to indicate a "waste" of effort as well as a strong willingness to tell others how to go about their business without taking care of one's own. It seems that Paul is using the term in the latter sense: a "busy" body that is "busy" telling others what to do, but not doing anything for oneself.
- C. The apostle both "commands" and "summons" by the Lord Jesus Christ that "by working quietly they should eat their own bread".
- D. Paul is resorting to a most fundamental reality: people, when push comes to shove, will, typically, do what serves their interests most effectively.
- 1. When "love" is absent, the only alternative is to push the "selfishness" issue to the fore and require "death" to those who refuse to obey.
- 2. The imposition of "law" upon the lawless is perfectly legitimate.