The final chapter is interesting in its relative lack of the fantastic compared to the discussion in chapter 2. If you watch closely, you’ll notice that in the New Testament that all prophecy that is for the future is meant to inform how Christians live in the here and now. The reason Paul points out all he does about what is to come is so that folks stop worrying about it and go about the business of the Kingdom. It’s a long, detailed way of saying, “Be faithful in the means, let God handle the ends.”
Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for the work that he and the bros are up to, that it may be as effective where they are yet to go as it was with the Thessalonians. And as they encounter those who would stop the good news being spread, may God deliver them. As for the Thessalonians, the more they trust in God and His faithfulness, the better the chance that what they will remain obedient, faithful, and protected from the temptations that would throw them off their work. God provides, they need to lean on him and trust him to do so.
The warning that follows is similar to Paul’s encouragement back in chapter 4 of his first letter. In a nutshell, don’t be lazy; hanging around not doing work is a breeding ground for trouble. So, keep busy, mind your own affairs, and don’t be a burden on other folk. Paul uses him and the bros as an example of folks who could have very well asked for support but instead, in order to set a good example, worked hard and weren’t a financial burden upon those who they serve.
The theme continues, “…do not grow weary of doing good.” Here’s the deal, it’s often tiresome work with little tangible reward. It’s not relevant, though. Stay active, don’t tire of doing the good work created for you. Some of that means you have to take care of yourself, quit eating/drinking like a fool and only getting a few hours of sleep. You need to be a good, hard-working example at your job and have some in the tank left to serve your family, community and strangers with love and good news. You can’t sustain living like a fraternity pledge and not run out of steam. When you do, the first thing that will go is the doing good. You do all of that so that you may keep to doing good for others.
Paul takes not doing this as a serious breach of obedience. He calls for shame on the man who grows weary of doing good (dang, Kingdom standards are high as Snoop Dog on any given Tuesday.) I love this, though, “Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” We’ve seen that before. We don’t bail on the idler, just as God hasn’t bailed on him. But he’s living a life that is less than what he is meant for and generally he’ll feel it.
Paul ends with a peace and grace fest. The double peace in the last part makes sense, because again, the reason for the letter seems to be their unrest around this Day of the Lord business. Ultimately Paul attempts to ease their concern while rightly pointing them back to trusting in God and going about their daily life in faithfulness.
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