|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:6-15 Those who have received the gospel, are to live according to the gospel. Such as could work, and would not, were not to be maintained in idleness. Christianity is not to countenance slothfulness, which would consume what is meant to encourage the industrious, and to support the sick and afflicted. Industry in our callings as men, is a duty required by our calling as Christians. But some expected to be maintained in idleness, and indulged a curious and conceited temper. They meddled with the concerns of others, and did much harm. It is a great error and abuse of religion, to make it a cloak for idleness or any other sin. The servant who waits for the coming of his Lord aright, must be working as his Lord has commanded. If we are idle, the devil and a corrupt heart will soon find us somewhat to do. The mind of man is a busy thing; if it is not employed in doing good, it will be doing evil. It is an excellent, but rare union, to be active in our own business, yet quiet as to other people's. If any refused to labour with quietness, they were to note him with censure, and to separate from his company, yet they were to seek his good by loving admonitions. The Lords is with you while you are with him. Hold on your way, and hold on to the end. We must never give over, or tire in our work. It will be time enough to rest when we come to heaven.
Verse 10. - For even when we were with you; during our residence in Thessalonica. This we commanded, that if any man would not work, neither should he eat. This or similar expressions have been shown to be a proverb in frequent use among the Jews. Thus: "Whoever doth not work doth not eat" ('Bereshith Rabba'); "Let not him who would not labour before the sabbath eat on the sabbath" ('In Lib. Zenon.'). It is a law of nature, and the apostle here sanctions it as a law of Christianity. There is here a reference to the sentence pronounced on man in Paradise in consequence of disobedience: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). Labour, indeed, may in one point of view be considered as part of the curse, but it is also a blessing adapted to man's fallen nature. Labour is the law of God; idleness is the parent of many crimes and is productive of misery. He who has no business allotted to him ought to choose some useful occupation for himself.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For even when we were with you,.... At Thessalonica in person, and first preached the Gospel to them,
we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat; the Ethiopic version reads in the singular number, "when I was with you, I commanded you"; using the above words, which were a sort of a proverb with the Jews, and is frequently used by them, , or , "that if a man would not work, he should not eat" (q). And again (r),
"he that labours on the evening of the sabbath (or on weekdays), he shall eat on the sabbath day; and he who does not labour on the evening of the sabbath, from whence shall he eat (or what right and authority has he to eat) on the sabbath day?''
Not he that could not work through weakness, bodily diseases, or old age, the necessities of such are to be distributed to, and they are to be taken care of, and provided with the necessaries of life by the officers of the church; but those that can work, and will not, ought to starve, for any assistance that should be given them by the members of the church, or the officers of it.
(q) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 14. fol. 13. 1. Echa Rabbati, fol. 48. 4. & Midrash Koholet, fol. 65. 4. (r) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. For even—Translate, "For also." We not only set you the example, but gave a positive "command."
commanded—Greek imperfect, "We were commanding"; we kept charge of you.
would not work—Greek, "is unwilling to work." Bengel makes this to be the argument: not that such a one is to have his food withdrawn from him by others; but he proves from the necessity of eating the necessity of working; using this pleasantry, Let him who will not work show himself an angel, that is, do without food as the angels do (but since he cannot do without food, then he ought to be not unwilling to work). It seems to me simpler to take it as a punishment of the idle. Paul often quotes good adages current among the people, stamping them with inspired approval. In the Hebrew, "Bereshith Rabba," the same saying is found; and in the book Zeror, "He who will not work before the sabbath, must not eat on the sabbath."
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