Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: It is irresponsible unbelief to act contrary to "necessity" in the name of "faith".
Introduction: It our last study we saw that it is "necessary" for believers to conform to the examples set by the apostles because those examples are rooted in essential and correct theology and because one can follow an example even when he/she does not understand those roots. For the beginning of a Christian's life, "examples" are more necessary than "understanding". Babes in the faith need examples to follow so that they may live well while they are learning the details of the theology that gives rise to those examples. This truth is the underlying root of Paul's teaching about mature believers being careful not to set a stumbling block before immature ones. It is also the practical outworking of being filled with "The Blessed Hope".
As we continue our study this evening we are going to look into Paul's conviction that, though the immature often cloak ungodliness with claims of "faith", it is irresponsible to fail to live correctly.
April 3, 2015
- I. The Historical Reality: Many Cloak Ungodliness With Claims to "Faith".
- A. Aaron set the tone for this kind of deceit with his "I cast their gold into the fire and out came this calf" (Exodus 32:24).
- B. Saul continued the charade with his "...I forced myself...and offered a burnt offering" (1 Samuel 13:12) and his "...the people spared the best...to sacrifice unto Yahweh thy Elohim..." (1 Samuel 15:15).
- C. And in our generation the distortion of "faith" into a human production that compels God to "come across with the goods" has generated untold numbers of "we are doing this by faith" claims that simply are not true.
- D. Within this reality is the likely probability that some of the Thessalonians were using the "blessed hope of the soon appearing" of God's Son from heaven as an excuse for not working (remember the electrical contractor who said if he knew that Jesus was going to come in his lifetime he would mortgage everything to the hilt and party like crazy until He came).
- II. The Thessalonian Reality: Some Were Living in Rebellion Against the Traditions.
- A. Paul wrote, "...withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition..." (3:6).
- B. He also wrote, "...we hear that some walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies" (3:11).
- 1. The "disorderly" is interpreted in the context as refusing to follow the apostolic "traditions".
- 2. The "working not at all" is interpreted in the context as "eating the food of others without paying for it".
- 3. The "busybodies" is not interpreted in the context so that we draw our conclusions from the meaning of the word as illustrated in other places (extra-biblical).
- a. The cultural concept was "to waste one's effort" and was used of people who worked harder at telling others how to do their work than to do one's own.
- b. Since Paul had already nailed down the actual problem (working not at all), his use of the word is a kind of sarcastic "busily working at telling others what to do", implying that they were working harder at telling others what to do than at their own business.
- III. The Theological Significance.
- A. Paul's "when we were with you we commanded you" (3:10) is striking when compared to his use of this idea in 2:5 and 1 Thessalonians 3:4.
- 1. The teaching in the context of 2:5 is detailed eschatology, making this "command" as important as that teaching.
- 2. The statement of 1 Thessalonians 3:4 is the fact that persecution always follows righteous living and that was a crucial issue for the Thessalonians' ability to live in Hope.
- B. Paul's demand was a two pronged effort to get the Thessalonians in order.
- 1. On one hand, it put "survival" at the physical level at risk.
- a. He that does not work does not eat.
- b. This is a blatant use of "physical survival" to force compliance.
- 2. On the other hand, it put "participation" at the spiritual level at risk.
- a. We command and exhort by "our Lord Jesus Christ"...
- b. This is a direct confrontation of disobedience, clearly wiping out any pretense of "faith".
- C. Then, the instruction that each work with quietness and eat their own bread, is a fundamental outworking of the entire concept of God's Servant Kingdom wherein no one puts his/her own wants above the needs of his/her neighbor and seeks to meet all needs by personal, diligent labor.