Study 12 FINALLY, BROTHERS!
THE LETTERS TO THE THESSALONIANS
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 2 Thessalonians 3: 1-18
In this final chapter of the Second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul concludes by giving some words of encouragement and exhortation. It is quite possible to read an unsigned letter and to know at once who the writer is because of certain phrases or expressions. Paul had his pet phrases, and here is one of them – “Finally, brothers”! Look up and compare 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 3:1 and 4:8. Paul loved these young believers at Thessalonica for they were his children in the Lord and as a true father he gave them some parting words of counsel and encouragement:-
1. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Pray for those in the front line of the battle.
Paul had been praying for these young Christians, and in verses 1 and 2 he asks for their prayers – compare 1 Thessalonians 5:25. It is a great privilege and responsibility for believers to pray for those who preach and teach the Word of God! Notice we are to pray:-
- (1) That the Gospel may be proclaimed in power, producing results that will glorify God (verse 1). One version has this, “That the Word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (compare Acts 13:48; Acts 19:20). The Word of the Lord is active and vigorous (Hebrews 4:12), but prayer alone can empower the preaching of that Word (Ephesians 6:19). Compare Psalm 147:15.
- (2) That God’s servants may be protected (verse 2). All those who labour for the Lord in preaching the Word, whether to crowds or to the individual, are engaged in a spiritual battle. Do you ever pray for the preacher and for the missionaries on the field – that they may be strengthened for their task, and saved from discouragement?
2. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Rely on the Lord to protect and keep you.
It is important to connect the last words of verse 2 with verse 3. The thought is that though men cannot always be trusted, God can be, and here we are told that God will guard you from all assaults of Satan. The Lord is utterly to be depended upon by all who have faith in Him! These young Christians needed this word from Paul, and so do we! – look up John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:19; Jude 24; and compare 2 Timothy 2:13 and 1 Thessalonians 5:24. He will never fail those who trust in Him.
3. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Make the Word of God your standard of faith and conduct – what you believe and the way you live.
Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and what he wrote was the command of the Lord, God’s word. How important it is that we make the Bible, the Word of God, the standard not only of what we believe, but of how we behave! How easily we make other Christians our standard, or we adopt the world’s standard!
4. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Live in moment-by-moment fellowship with the Lord, and wait patiently for His return.
In verse 5 the Apostle expresses two separate desires, which are capable of several interpretations:
- (1) “The Lord direct your hearts into God’s love.” This may mean, firstly, that we might learn to love God; secondly, that we might apprehend God’s love for us; or thirdly, that we might love one another and all men as God loves us.
- (2) “The Lord direct our hearts…into Christ’s perseverance.” This may mean, firstly, that we might persevere in our sufferings as Christ persevered in His sufferings; or secondly, that as He persevered so must we. Jesus never resorted to idleness and neither should we. He persevered to the end and we must do so until He comes again.
Here then are two motives for Christ-like living: (1) Christ is on the Throne waiting patiently to come again (Hebrews 10:13). He is the Bridegroom longing for His Bride; and (2) we are waiting for His return and longing for the Bridegroom (compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10). While we patiently wait we are to live in the love of God in day-by-day fellowship with Him, seeking to do those things that please Him (compare 1 John 3:22 and Jude 21).
5. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Make the right friends and follow the right examples.
Verses 6 to 12 make it clear that in the Thessalonian Church there were members who were disorderly and lazy in their walk. They held the view that because the Lord was coming there was no need for them to work, so they might just as well sit down and wait! But Satan always finds work for idle hands and for idle tongues, so they became busybodies and lived upon the generosity of others. Paul says, “Follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you.” See Romans 16:17: it is sometimes necessary to avoid the company even of Christians, if they are critical, disloyal and harmful in their conversation.
6. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Do not become discouraged and despondent.
Verse 13 reminds us of Galatians 6:10, and yet we do get weary. Satan sees to that, and we must remember that discouragement always comes from the Devil, and never from the Lord. The Lord often sends testings and trials, but never discouragement. Are you the only Christian in your office? Are you serving in a difficult place? Are you a Christian wife with an unconverted husband? Are you a Sunday School teacher? Do you long to see results?… Look up 1 Corinthians 15:58.
7. FINALLY, BROTHERS: Receive and enjoy the peace that God gives.
Look at verse 16, and compare John 14:27. The important thing is that we must take what He gives. This wonderful peace is available – look up Philippians 4:7 – but it must be appropriated and received to be enjoyed.
We end this study with Pauls concluding words – “The Lord be with all of you” (verse 16), and “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (verse 18).