Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Go to previous reading  2 Thessalonians 3  Go to next reading

The Bible

Bible Blog

At the heart of the last chapter of Second Thessalonians is Paul’s concern for the “disorderly” or “idle” people in the congregation. But the Greek word here (ataktos-- 2 Thess 3:6, 11) is not a synonym for laziness, it is more about an irresponsible attitude. The disorderly members in Thessalonica were not just sitting around, they were going from place to place creating disruption. They spent their time discussing theology or criticizing the behavior of others instead of earning their keep; “instead of working, they are working around” (3:11). They were minding everyone’s business but their own! That Paul had to address this so often (see also 1 Thess. 4:9-12) indicates it was a major problem in the church at Thessalonica.

Paul’s counsel (2 Thess. 3:6-15) may be particularly apropos to the typical office today. In the absence of hard, manual labor, people thrown together in an office (even a church office) can quickly fall into the same trap as the idle Thessalonian believers did. They can spend their time talking about theology differences, the personality quirks of others, or the perceived slights that people working closely together will always experience. The end result is a toxic atmosphere of criticism and blame which sounds a lot like what was going on in the church at Thessalonica. Paul’s advice? Mind your own business. Keep your focus on the Lord. Do not becoming weary doing good to others. Do your work “in quietness” (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:12), managing your own affairs. Determine to make more of a positive difference than a negative one. Follow the loving, forgiving, merciful example of Jesus and the apostles.

Paul ends his epistle in his customary fashion, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you” (2 Thess. 3:18).   

Jon Paulien

Loma Linda University

United States