Bible Study, Thursday 26th March 2020

Dear Friends, 

Welcome again to the Thursday Bible Study. I encourage you to pray before you start, so that the Holy Spirit will speak to you through the Word. In order to benefit from this outline, you may have to spend more time 'digging into' the Word. The letter of 2 Thessalonians Paul probably wrote from Corinth. He encourages the  believers who were facing persecution, difficult times & trials to remain faithful in prayer & in leading godly, disciplined lives. They are instructed to hold fast to the truth because of the deception of false teachers. In this final section of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, he tells these Christians what they must do as they live in light of eternity & as they face trials because of their faith in Jesus. He addresses the issue of idleness. 

2 Thessalonians ch.3 verses 1-5 'PRAY'

Paul requests prayer. He asks the Christians to pray for two things.

1. That the Lord's Word may spread rapidly & be honoured by others, that the Word would have free course.

2. That they may be delivered from perverse & evil men, that they may be kept from enemy attacks. 

The Gospel cannot be glorified by keeping it hidden. It needs to be proclaimed urgently/rapidly, free from enemy attack. So the Thessalonian Christians were not the only ones under attack. They needed Paul's encouragement & instructions. In the same way, he needed their prayers in the tough time he was having at Corinth!

In verses 3-4, Paul begins to express confidence in two things.

1. In the faithfulness of the Lord - the Lord is trustworthy. The Lord will strengthen you & keep you from the evil one. This is a great promise, especially when faced by spiritual opposition. Faithless men oppose. The Lord's faithfulness is more than a match for them!

2. Paul expresses confidence in the Lord that the believers obey & continue to do what he commands them to do. The Lord will strengthen them & keep them as the believers follow His commands through His appointed leaders. So too as you yield yourselves to His Word in loving obedience, you know His faithfulness. Submission to the Lord allows you to readily submit to the spiritual leadership God puts in place.

In verse 5, Paul prays for the believers, 'that the Lord will direct your hearts into God's love & Christ's patience 'perseverance'

When you are full with God's love , you know you are His. His love is the motivation for obedience & this leads to Christ-likeness. Paul prays too for the believers to continue steadfastly in serving the Lord, despite the difficult circumstances. They are to follow Christ's example. Jesus persevered to the end. So are we to follow as we eagerly wait for Jesus to return.

Verses 6-12 WATCH HOW YOU LIVE

in verse 6, Paul gives a strong command . To withdraw from every brother/believer who lives in idleness, not conforming to the Word. Those who are disorderly & not living according to the traditions received from Paul. He uses the 'Name of our Lord Jesus Christ' the One who delegates the authority to him so he can give serious instructions the believers.

In verses7-10, Paul instructs by example. This is powerful for what he is instructing, people are seeing it in his own life.

Note regarding idle believers- there is little ono fruit in thei lives, they live undisciplined lives. They are spiritually dangerous, not following the Lord from the heart. They are not doing the work of God's Kingdom on earth. They refuse to work.

Verse 11, they are busybodies, busy interfering & not busy working

Verse 12, Paul addresses the idle people directly by using his authority in Christ Jesus. 'We command in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down, get to work' Too much idle time gives a person plenty of time to get into trouble!

Verse 13-18 KEEP DOING GOOD

Verse 13, - To those who are NOT idle & are doing the work of God's Kingdom on earth, God gives this command - do not grow tired of doing good. It might appear that the good you are doing is not effective. Yet Paul says, 'do not lose heart ...... do not give up doing good.' The hardworking believers were getting tired of giving support.

Verses14-15, Paul's charge for anyone who does not obey what he is saying is to take note of these people, keep away from them, do not associate with them. According to verse 15, the undisciplined, disobedient believer is still to be regarded a brother/sister in Christ. So this measure is not mean/harsh but warn this person because you care about him or her. You want to see change in them as their relationship with God is restored by repentance. This measure is taken with loving reluctance!

COMMENT -Discipline in the Church is appropriate wherever the Word of God is ignored. The offence itself may not be serious some, but it is in the rebelling against God's authority which has to be addressed. Paul is aware of the danger of rebellion within the Church of Jesus. It is the same rebellious spirit which causes problems for Churches today. Yet the spirit in which the discipline is administered must be friendly, NOT hostile.

Verses 16-18, in light of what Paul teaches, he now pronounces a three-fold blessing from Christ upon His Church

1. The Lord peace Himself will give you peace at all times. 'HIS PEACE means total well-being.'

2. 'The Lord be withy you all.' HIS PRESENCE

3. The Lord .....impart His grace to you all.' HIS GRACE is sufficient.

This blessing is to all believers. Paul seals this letter with his own handwriting to confirm its authenticity.

POINTS TO PONDER/ APPLICATION

1. Prayer is an essential part of your Christian Life. Use it even more so in thes eyes. The Church today needs to pray for the same things for which Paul requested prayer.

2. Following Jesus involves discipline.'The Lord disciplines those He loves.' Proverbs Ch3 verses 11-12 & Hebrews ch12 verse 6

3. Think about ways in which we can encourage one another to 'embrace truth', so we can continue to live godly & holy lives.

REMEMBER - clocks go forward an hour this Sunday! Spring Forward!