Paul wants the Thessalonians to be protected from evil from within and without. The evil they face takes the forms of persection (chapter 1), false teaching (chapter 2) and false living (chapter 3). What Paul writes about church discipline in this passage should cause us in the contemporary church to repent of our disobedience in this area. If only we had been quick to follow both Paul and Jesus’ teaching on discipline then perhaps we would know less regrets and more of the peace and presence Paul prays would be the experience of the Thessalonian Christians. [Audio | Notes]
2 Thessalonians 3.1-18 | Deliver us from evil
Pray for us that the word may run rapidly and be honoured (1-4)
– In the world
– In the church
Pastoral care is discipline and mission through obedience (6-14)
The secret of grace, presence and peace in the churches (16-18)
For further thought
Q: In verses 1-4 Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for the mission team of Paul, Silas and Timothy, that the word of God would run like an athlete and be swiftly honoured (received) amongst the nations and that the mission team will be delivered from those who oppose this work. Do we pray these things in our churches? Do we expect God’s word to be honoured (received) in our city as well as opposed?
Q: In verses 1-4 Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the Lord is faithful to strengthen and protect them from the evil one because the Thessalonian church faces the challenges of persecution (2 Thessalonians 1), false teaching (2 Thessalonians 2), and people who refuse to obey the Lord’s word in their daily lives (2 Thessalonians 3). In verses 6-15 Paul has strong words to say to the idle and disruptive in the church because his warning in 1 Thessalonians 5.14 was deliberately ignored. How does it affect the witness of the church that we speak God’s words but refuse to live them? Why did Paul, Silas and Timothy set practical examples for the Thessalonians about work when they were with them (7-10)? Pastoral care in the early church was tougher than we are used to in churches in our city. Who is responsible for carrying out the discipline in this passage? What is the nature of the discipline and its aim? Are there levels of church discipline?
Q: In verses 16-18 Paul writes the greeting in his own hand (as he does in other letters). The Thessalonian church is in need of peace, the presence of the Lord and grace. From this chapter, what obedience encourages peace, presence and grace in the life of the church? What difference would these gifts make to the churches in Melbourne today?