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January 23, 2022 6:00 pm
As we are coming close to the end of our study.
In second Thessalonians.
We continue this passage, where the apostle Paul gives instructions for dealing with disorderly church members that in this particular case refers to those who are unwilling to work, as Paul makes very clear when the apostle Paul founded the church in Thessalonica, he noticed that there were some members who were not working. He instructed them that they needed to work and support themselves and he also modeled that action by his own example in the other missionaries who worked with their hands in order to support themselves and to pay for their own upkeep.
Rather than receiving support from the church, which they had every right to receive in the church and every responsibility to give. But in order to set an example for those who were not workers. Paul himself and the others worked, presumably making tents in order to support themselves in the work of the gospel. So he taught them their God-given responsibility to work but also demonstrated this by supporting himself, but even after that there were some who failed to get the message. This might be an encouragement and the discouragement to preachers, we need to realize that things don't always take the first time or the second time truths have to be repeated. Instructions have to be given again, but sometimes people are so hardheaded that it takes more than repeated instructions to get them to comply and that's what happened in this particular case. After Paul's departure from Thessalonica, he learned that there were some who had ignored his instructions and so he repeated those instructions again in the first Thessalonian epistle surely that'll do the job. But alas, you did not. It was reported to him that some continued to ignore this teacher and so instructs them again in the second epistle, the one that's before is now in verses six through 15, and now he becomes much more stern, much more adamant a much greater warning and penalty consequences of their failure to obey are before us in this passage and the last time we met we look at the first part of these instructions.
And today we will examine the last part of verses 11 through 15.
What we see we see first of all, the problem described in verse 11, number two, the correction required in verse 12, number three, the encouragement extended in verse 13 and number for the instructions delivered in verses 14 and 15. The problem is described in verse 11. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner not working at all, but are busy body. Multiple reports had come to the apostle Paul. We hear is in the present tense which in the Greek means continuous action.
We are hearing continuously week continue to hear this report. And so, after having personally observed. This defect among some of them would Paul was ministering in Thessalonica.
He now here's no doubt from Timothy who is told in first Thessalonians chapter 3 had been sent by Paul to visit the church and came back and gave Paul a report on how they were doing a report which we realize was for the most part a very good and encouraging report, but here's an aspect of their behavior. That was not what it ought to be. Apparently, it was reported to him again by whoever was who delivered his first epistle after Timothy came back with a good report, Paul wrote the first Thessalonian epistle and send it to them somebody deliver that epistle. It may have been Timothy again. It may have been tied as it may have been somebody else but whoever lies when they came back from that delivery and gave another report on the well-being of the church.
They mention but there are still some who are not working. They are sponging off of others. They are expecting other people to keep them up and that's what you've told them not to do. Probably this report came to Paul from others as well and so what I want you to see is that this is they will documented problem but is not acting hastily the sternness that we read in chapter 3. Isn't Paul flying off the handle in an emotional tirade, but it is after patiently instructing them first when he was with them.
Secondly, in the first epistle again in the second epistle and they're still not responding as they ought.
Paul is not acting hastily, but it's now time to lower the boom if you won't listen attentively and responsively, then some additional action is required.
But the problem and what is the problem.
It's actually a twofold problem. The problem is sloth and the problem is meddling is verse 11 tells us there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner. What you mean by that Paul I mean not working at all, but our busybodies disorderly manner. We learned last time, but that means out of rank, not walking as you ought to walk not walking as the others are walking, not walking as the body of Christ is walking, not walking as Christians ought to walk your out of step out of rank you are disorder general term you could apply to any number of areas of being out of step with what is expected of Christians, but Paul makes clear exactly what he has in mind. In this situation. What do you mean by disorderly Paul I mean not working not working at all, which defines the exact nature of disorderly as Paul is addressing it here this passage, there are those among you who are making no attempt to support themselves. That's what I'm talking about that's out of step with what Christ expects from his people. So the problem number one is sloth, laziness, unwillingness to work. But there's more. The problem is also meddling. As we learned in verse 11 not working at all, but are busy bodies. The Greek here has a play on words, which is impossible to translate over precisely into English, but something like this. You are not busy you are, busybodies, or you are not busy bodies. You are busybodies, punctuations important spaces are important spellings important. That's closely aligned with the means exactly the opposite doesn't.
You are either a busy body or you are probably a busybody better sticking your nose in other people's affairs and how were they disturbing the church will, as we read by meddling in others' affairs which in itself would create dissension problems when people stick their nose where it does not belong. It creates problems, but this very act of expecting other people to support them in itself was going to create some difficulties within the church. In what way will take the people who were supporting them. They may have supposed that they had an obligation to do that they had been taught as Christians.
The Christians are those who give Christians are those who generate our generous Christians are those who support those who are in need. Generally speaking, yes, but not those who are in need because they are lazy, that's a different category of me that's not genuine need. That's not the kind of need that we are supposed to encourage and support in any way, but there are some who may have supported them out of the mistaken sense of obligation. They didn't fully understand how was they were to behave, but on the other hand, there were others who understood exactly what Paula taught them when he was with them. He said in verse 10 dignity for even when we were with you back at the founding of the church. We commanded you this. If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. So there were some who understood the command and now they are critical of the members of the church who are ignoring that command you got two things going on here got people who are ignoring Paul's command that they are to work and then you have some people who are ignoring Paul's command that they shouldn't be helping people who are unwilling to work so undoubtedly some of the church are feeling a false sense of obligation which needs to be corrected and others of the church are no doubt critical of those who are not obeying Paul's clear instructions and yet there may be others who criticize the ones who are willing to help as they were. They thought themselves superior to the others because were willing to help those who are in need and you're not. But were not supposed to. Yes, we are boy and all of this created uncertainty in an unsettled situation and ill will, within the church setting member against member and murmuring it all because some folks were unwilling to work and their unwillingness their disobedience was having more repercussions than anyone could've probably predicted but that's exactly what was happening and so they work disturbing the peace of the church.
But Paul had made clear what should have been done from the beginning as I already showed you in verse 10 no one who is unwilling to work should be maintained by others.
Paul taught them that if anyone refuses to work.
He shall not eat.
He shall not eat. That's a not only saying that he shouldn't shouldn't be able to eat it. Say you shouldn't help him to go on in the situation, he shall not eat, because you shall not help him to live without working. That's the problem described in verse 11. But look at the correction that is required in verse 12. Now in here Paul addresses those people who are not working which are I'm sure just a handful very small number in the church considering the whole congregation, but he addresses them there. There is epistle being read to the congregation with Paul instructed them to do so.
Their present and he says in verse 12. Now those who are such that is our like I just described and willing to work in our busybodies. Those who are such, we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ, that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. Those who are such persons. I describe such persons are to work in quietness and eat their own bread.
It's very clear. This is apostolic instruction. We Paul I command and exhort if we were doing them in ascending order. We would say, exhort first which is a an appeal to do right it's instructions to be followed and then to come along with a stronger word and say I command. This is not a suggestion, this is not a good idea. This is not so that you will have a better life and feel better about yourself and be more successful in life. This is an apostolic command. This is to be obeyed. This is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ commanding you, how you ought to live, work is not only apostolic instruction but as Paul makes clear, it is divine requirement because he says we command and exhort you how.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ. He is making it doubly clear in case they didn't already understand it, that I command by an apostle is a command by the Lord Jesus Christ that apostle speak for Christ, the apostles receive their instructions from Christ.
And so Paul is commanding it yes and that should be sufficient, but please don't overlook the fact Christ is commanding. This is well and once again we see this again and again in this epistle once again we see that there's no question in Paul's mind, but that when he speaks apostolic leak. He is speaking the words of Christ, he is carrying the same authority as the Lord Jesus Christ. We can't say what I believe the words of Jesus.
I like those, but I'm not so sure that I like what Paul said. Listen folks, there are some things in the New Testament the policy that are not easy. Peter himself said so.
Remember that said, there are some difficult things up all talked about, and they're not always easy to understand but they are the words of Scripture, said Peter.
That's what we need to understand that we may not understand every meaning of everything Paul said there are some things that are difficult to understand. And so we may wrestle with them. But let us never never never entertain the thought that Paul was saying something that is different from what Christ said or what Christ commanded him to say what Paul said is what God is. Paul said if a man will not work, neither shall he eat because Christ said if a man will not work, neither shall he eat.
If you haven't figured that out by now it should be pretty obvious, but it's amazing how obvious things can fly right over people's heads, but if you haven't figured out by now you should realize that this is God's customary way of speaking to people. It is through Scripture. It is through the apostles. It is through chosen messengers.
Why doesn't God just speak to everybody directly and individually from God. He could but is chosen not to. Instead he gave us the Bible. Instead he sent messengers said listen to them.
Remember the rich man who went to hell was in torment and he said father Abraham send my brother back to her since I brother Lazarus back under send send Lazarus back toward my brothers so that they will come to this place and father Abraham speaking for God of course said no they don't need Lazarus. They've got Moses and the prophets, let them hear them all know said the rich man they they don't pay the Bible any attention.
They don't listen to the Bible. They don't they don't pay any attention to Moses.
But if somebody rose from the dead. Now that would get their attention. If somebody spoke to them directly, who rose from the dead. They'd listen to that no no you think so, but you're wrong. Yes, they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they hear the somebody should rise from the dead, if you will listen to Scripture if you will listen to the messenger that God has sent with his word.
You wouldn't listen any better. If Jesus Christ himself were standing and talking to you this morning because the defect is not with who the message is being communicated through the defect is in your heart and your willingness to receive it. I command you said Paul because Christ commands you through me and what is this requirement is to work is to refrain from meddling. It is to earn their own living.
Everyone who can work should work. I command that they work.
Everyone who can work should work. Everyone should work according to his ability and opportunity, and we know those differ from from person-to-person.
No two people have the same ability and opportunity.
We know that, but everyone should work according to their ability and opportunity.
Everyone should do what they can is much as they can to support themselves even if they can't do it fully.
They should be doing as much as they can before they look to others for help if a person can't work full-time because of circumstances than let them work part-time, but let's not have any that are unwilling to work. Paul said the problem is there some who are not working at all. They are not working at all. Even at when we were with you, we commanded you this if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat for we hear that there are some who are walking among you in a disorderly manner not working at all. Nodding a little bit there doing nothing to try to support themselves.
That's the problem. They must work they must work number two, they must refrain from meddling. They must work not being busybodies, but they must work in quietness. That's the opposite. He working in quietness that is minding your own business is the opposite of being a busybody working in quietness that could be translated literally be working with quietude.
What is that mean settled out of mind your own business. That's what it means. Some believe that what had happened to those who are not working is that they had gotten excited about the second coming of Christ. A major theme of Paul to the Thessalonian church and you find large sections about that in both first and second Thessalonians. In some think by that close connection that the problem was a son got so excited about the second coming of Christ. They just quit their jobs and as it were, stood around waiting for the Lord to return if he's coming so soon is coming so quickly.
I don't need to worry about this. I will come before before I get into any trouble not working. Wrong attitude, but I don't think that's probably what's going on here there's there's nothing in the text itself that connects the doctor the second coming with his unwillingness to work and the fact that Paul traces this problem way back to the beginning to the founding of the church indicates to me that this was something that some of these people were doing before they were even converted that fits with what we know about Greek culture. Explain that to you about this patronage system.
The that some people got locked into and so probably some of those people got saved and wanted to continue sponging off of others. And Paul said no that's not the way Christians behave certain things that God expects of Christians and the way they live in one of them is he expects them to work and work in quietness not meddling with others to earn their own living, eat their own bread to eat eat their own bread is a figure of speech and idiom that means earn their own living, earn their own upkeep take care of their own maintenance. There was a similar, though not identical problem in the Ephesian church member Paul said to the Ephesians in chapter 4 verse 26 let him who stole steal no more. Those of you who maintained your living by stealing before you were saved. There were some of those in the Ephesian church you're a Christian now don't do that anymore. Let him who stole steal no more. But do what in its place, but rather let him labor, working with his hands so that he may have, to give to those who are in need. Those who are genuinely in the pot to be supported by people who have been blessed by God with the strength and ability to work and therefore everyone should work and work hard enough that he doesn't just earn enough to support himself and barely get by, but he actually creates a surplus with which we can support others would hear you got people who are not making their living by stealing as some of the Ephesians had before they were saved but by sponging taking from others who evidently were willing that's not stealing but still not honoring to the Lord. That's not what God requires. If you are able to work work and work quietly at your nose out of other people's business and earn your own living support yourself because that's what God expects of you know Paul inserts a word of encouragement for the obedient. Verse 13 but as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good, so Paul addresses different segments of the church.
First of all, he addresses everybody. Then he zeroes in on those of you who are such those of you who are idlers not working. Here's my word to you and then to the rest of you who are being obedient in this area. Here's my word to you. Don't get weary in doing good, were more familiar with a similar phrase in Ephesians chapter 6 Paul said do not become weary in well doing, but in due season you shall reap if you think not. If you don't don't do conk out if you told gross lack. If you don't go to weary the same thing here. Don't grow weary in well doing the question is what was the concern that was in Paul's mind when he made this statement. This word of encouragement something to what he saying is don't get tired of helping those who are truly in need of telling you stop helping the lazy but I'm not telling you stop helping the sick soft stop helping the infirm stop helping those who are unable to work. That's exactly what you ought to be doing. Don't become weary in that kind of doing good but stop this kind of doing good. That is not helping but rather hindering someone else from being what they should be before the Lord, but it's more likely that this a more general encouragement just basically don't become weary in doing what's right, whatever that may be it is right to help the DD the poor so don't become weary in doing that it is right to keep working your job as long as you are able, so don't become weary in doing that it is right to do dozens and scores of things. The Bible tells us to do. Sometimes we grow weary and Paul says don't allow yourself to become weary.
Don't do that don't yield to the temptation to coast, which is a common human tendency. We all have to admit that at times we would just rather quit release take up a big break along an extended break. Short breaks are all part of God's plan, but don't grow weary in doing well don't stop altogether doing what you know you want to do it is very likely that what was going on in Paul's mind, but was thinking about when he said this was that they are probably some in the Thessalonian church who are being discouraged by the ones who are sponging off of others in their saying what can I do that here. I am working hard to support myself.
I learned all show down there. He's living the life of Riley sponging off of others. Why can't I figure out a way to do that.
No, do not grow weary in doing good, don't coast.
Why, why can't I do that because what they're doing is wrong. That's what you can do it. So keep on doing what is right.
Keep on doing what you know to do good, never tire doing right. Keep it up. Thus, we know that it takes intentional perseverance in order to maintain strong spirituality to maintain a good strong Christian life.
Keep on keeping on. How long until the Lord comes.
Keep on keeping on how, until the Lord calls you hold. Keep on keeping on. How long, as long as you are able and when you're not able to do what you're doing now find something else that you can do. You can always do something to serve the Lord, even those who are completely incapacitated and become wonderful prayer warriors to advance the cause of Christ by their fervent prayers. Whatever you're able to do it. Keep doing because it's the right thing to do.
New challenges are constantly arising to tempt us to be sidetracked from doing right politics can do that we in day of interesting politics. That is a mild way of putting it. I doubt that there's anybody in the church more interested in politics and what's going on than I am but I have to keep reminding myself I'm not here to be a politician. I'm not here to get involved in politics there is a proper place for Christians to be involved at a certain level.
But listen I got something that's far more important. I'm here to preach the word of God by me or to proclaim the gospel to the world. I am here to tell people what will really make a difference.
I want to tell you folks is is we should know now it really doesn't make a lot of difference in the general welfare of our nation whether the president is a Republican or Democrat. We've got problems to go whole lot deeper than that. If you think changing the change in the political party of the person whose your representatives going to make things right. You are good to be careful here. I do want to say you are an idiot.
So I won't say that you are na´ve that that's nice it isn't. You are na´ve you are so 90 but I see Christians who get so caught up in the political vortex of what's going on there willing to do most anything they're willing to storm the capital Korea rioting Washington and do all kinds of things that are unseemly, unchristian on befitting a child of God and what do I say to you I say to you the same thing with the apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians. Keep on doing right. Don't get weary in doing right. Keep on the Christian path. Keep on the narrow way don't get divergent by something that the devil is throwing our way because he's clever and he knows how to get us off track. Don't get off track.
Don't allow that to happen covert or something else that's gotten a lot of people of track will some people are so afraid of covert think that it's the first time that any disease came along that threatened life and limb life anyway.
The ice will threaten your limbs that life they become hermits out of fear.
The folks there is a place to take appropriate precautions, but God didn't call us to live his hermits. God didn't call us to live in isolation.
So trust him and don't get sidetracked. God has called us to do certain things, including to assemble yourselves together as believers and some truly are not unable to do that but if some are unwilling to do that, out of fear of covert, I think you been thrown occurred by the devil. I think you been sidetracked. You need to realize get back to doing what is right. Don't grow weary in doing right. Keep on keeping on. Keep on doing what you know to be right, until the Lord releases you from that responsibility.
But now we come to the instructions delivered in verses 14 and 15. These two verses help explain what first was commanded and in verse six is now we get a little more detail in verse six, Paul said, but we command you, brethren of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition that is the teaching which you received from us. Verse 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 yet.
Do not count him as an enemy but admonished him as a brother. What are the instructions toward these disorderly brother. Now that the church is supposed to do, what are you to do number one identify him clearly number two withdraw from him significantly.
Number three. Communicate with him selectively number one identify him clearly note that person know to mark him identify him and placing him at a distinct category that unconvinced by official designation is all show you in a moment number one. Identify him clearly number two withdraw from him significantly. Do not keep company with him, curtail normal social interaction with him. Why, he tells us why so that he may be ashamed. What's that supposed to do well we know the that is for the purpose of leading him to repentance, let him be ashamed that he will feel the sting of his disobedience more sharply because up until this time the word of Scripture, the word of an apostle, the word of the Lord Jesus Christ is not penetrated to his thinking sufficiently to cause him to acknowledge his sin and to correct it so tighten the screws do not keep company with him that he may be ashamed and we trust may come to repentance. This, of course, as I mentioned before, has a stronger impact in a culture that we could describe accurately is a shame and honor, culture like they had in that day like you are to be found mostly in Eastern med Middle Eastern Eastern countries today. Shame and honor, culture where people are extremely sensitive to what others think, particularly in their family and their community.
To the extent that as we know, in some cultures they will even kill somebody out of honor, mistaken idea of honor, but our daughter has brought disgrace dishonorable in the family so the only way to make that right is to kill and to murder.
What a horrible thing with what distorted thinking, but that's the kind of strength that dishonor the shame can bring in the shame and honor, culture it doesn't have that same punch in Western culture today, but that doesn't mean that these instructions have no place in our society today.
This is something that the church is to do identify him clearly withdraw from him significantly but not totally significantly. Number three. Communicate with him selectively. Don't cut them off completely. Don't count them as an enemy don't treat them like a heathen, the publican, this is not Matthew 18 situation don't regard him as an enemy maintain enough contact to be able to continue to communicate with him and keep calling him to obedience admonished him as a brother dear brother this is what you need to do this is what Christians are called upon to do. You are a Christian released you claim to be you call yourself a Christian, therefore you need to correct your behavior to line up with what God requires from you other somebody thought this command Mark human don't associate with him is a command simply to individuals. This is for individual Christians to make this decision to do this and it is not something that the church is called upon to do as a whole. I can't accept that for number of reasons.
Let me try to explain some of them there are some heretical reasons why think that's the wrong understanding that word mark market is a word that normally indicates public identification is not something that one individual doesn't something that the church does it mark soon. It identifies him labels him number two, however, is the repeated use of the plural pronoun you, not the singular pronoun you in this we don't tend to see in most of our English versions, though you can see it in the old King James that made a distinction between you and he being the plural, but Paul that there's one singular you at the beginning of this command, but we command you brother in there. He's zeroing in on them individually. But from there on out it's you all, it's you all in verse six that you all withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly verse seven for you all know you yourselves would also be another way of vindicating the plural you all know how you want to follow us, and so forth and so on. Verse 13 but as for you all brethren, not you, brother. But you all brethren are brothers plural do not grow weary in well doing and with that background, it's clear that these instructions apply to the whole church. It's a corporate matter, a plural situation.
Furthermore, there's a very obvious practical reason for this for somebody. The church is walking, disorderly, and one member decides on his own that he's going to mark that person withdraw from him but nobody else does. How is that disobedient person going to interpret what was done is he going to recognize it is a legitimate action commanded by Christ to bring in the shame or is he going to think that that person is acting in an ungodly way toward him. Why will so-and-so not speak why will so-and-so not have anything to do with me what's going on here when the whole church does carries a strong weight, it signals a strong message that's clearly what Paul has in mind here, then there will be no misunderstanding. I recognize that what this passage requires is difficult for us today because this is by and large a forsaken practice among Christians in our day, any kind of church discipline is is almost unheard of in most churches today.
I grew up in Bible believing independent fundamental Baptist churches all my life and never never heard of or witnessed an occasion of church discipline, even though there were certainly many occasions that biblically should have warranted. It's been forsaken, even by people who call themselves Bible believing, so it is difficult because it is difficult does not mean that we should ignore it. I I actually have talked to a couple pastors in the past about this white why don't we do this click what's happened here. Oh, if we did that people would leave our church to go someplace else they would they would and attended the church to do this pragmatic reason week we Can build a church to do that you You'll you'll scare people off you bring them in. Will is that the most important thing or is being obedient to the word of God. The most important what this passage reminds us is that we have strayed a long ways from biblical Christianity in the 21st century don't even know it.
Any cases churches are think of themselves as being biblical obedience to Scripture, we follow the Bible when it gets right down to it, we follow the Bible in those areas that we agree with and don't follow the Bible those areas. We don't agree with how much does it differ from that liberal church down the street that does the same thing.
There may be more things that they disagree with, but you're doing exactly the same thing that they are they do what the Bible says they agreed with and don't do the things they don't agree with, and we will call ourselves Bible believers are doing the same thing. Don't you see that something is seriously wrong. We need to get serious about biblical Christianity. When you get serious about biblical church membership, we should recognize by this.
The good churches will have faulty members at times.
All of them and there are things we can do to correct that we should also be reminded that if were not busy at our assigned task.
We will doubtless become involved in sinful practice was a Benjamin Franklin that set of idle mind is the devil's workshop for said that but in the sense that's what Paul is saying here these people who are doing what they should've done they were taking their assigned task, which was to work and earn a living at all this extra time on their hands. What were they doing. They were meddling. They were interfering.
They were gossiping they were slandering, and if we don't do what were supposed to be doing then with the time we are doing what we should be doing. We end up doing what we should be doing what we learn here that the church is a God-given responsibility to correct disorderly members.
We can be put off by those who would say, how dare you how dare you do that rather we must say how do we dare not do this with Christ commands it, and thus, in this passage we learn of a level of church discipline that is not excommunication but is serious enough to require church action and enforced obedience. Like all forms of church discipline. It should be employed sparingly. Reluctantly, sorrowfully when necessary.
Obediently, because our commander-in-chief. The head of the church has commanded us to do this show we pray father helpless by your grace to receive your word with faith with obedience.
With loving devotion.
We ask in Jesus name, amen