|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 8. - Neither did we eat any man's bread; a Hebraism for "neither did we get our sustenance," as bread was the staff of life. For nought; gratis, free of expense. But wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable unto any of you. The apostle makes the same declaration in his First Epistle, expressed in almost similar terms: "For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail; for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought.... Or freely, at free cost, without paying for it; he signifies, that what they ate, they bought with their own money, and lived on no man, without giving him a valuable consideration for what they had; though if they had not paid in money for their food, they would not have ate it for nought, since they laboured among them in preaching the Gospel to them; and such labourers are worthy of their maintenance, Luke 10:7 though the former sense is the apostle's here:
but wrought with labour and travail night and day: not only laboriously preaching the Gospel to them, as often as they could have opportunity, but working very hard and incessantly with their hands, at the occupations and trades they had been brought up to; and that of the Apostle Paul's was a tentmaker, at which he sometimes wrought, thereby ministering to his own, and the necessities of others, Acts 18:3, nor was this inconsistent with his learning and liberal education. It was usual with the Jewish doctors to learn a trade, or follow some business and calling of life; See Gill on Mark 6:3. The apostle's end in this was,
that we might not be chargeable to any of you; or burdensome to them, they being for the most part poor; and the apostles being able partly by their own hand labour, and partly by what they received from Philippi, Philippians 4:16 to support themselves, chose to that they might not lie heavy upon them, and any ways hinder the spread of the Gospel among them, at its first coming to them. And so Maimonides says the ancient Jewish doctors behaved, and with a like view: wherefore, says he (p),
"if a man is a wise man, and an honourable man, and poor, let him employ himself in some handicraft business, even though a mean one, and not distress men (or be burdensome to them); it is better to strip the skins of beasts that have been torn, than to say to the people, I am a considerable wise (or learned) man, I am a priest, take care of me, and maintain me; and so the wise men have ordered: and some of the greatest doctors have been hewers of wood, and carriers of timber, and drawers of water for the gardens, and have wrought in iron and coals, and have not required anything of the congregation; nor would they take anything of them, when they would have given to them.''
(p) Hilchot Mattanot Anayim, c. 10. sect. 18.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. eat any man's bread—Greek, "eat bread from any man," that is, live at anyone's expense. Contrast 2Th 3:12, "eat THEIR OWN bread."
wrought—(Ac 20:34). In both Epistles they state they maintained themselves by labor; but in this second Epistle they do so in order to offer themselves herein as an example to the idle; whereas, in the first, their object in doing so is to vindicate themselves from all imputation of mercenary motives in preaching the Gospel (1Th 2:5, 9) [Edmunds]. They preached gratuitously though they might have claimed maintenance from their converts.
labour and travail—"toil and hardship" (see on 1Th 2:9).
night and day—scarcely allowing time for repose.
chargeable—Greek, "a burden," or "burdensome." The Philippians did not regard it as a burden to contribute to his support (Php 4:15, 16), sending to him while he was in this very Thessalonica (Ac 16:15, 34, 40). Many Thessalonians, doubtless, would have felt it a privilege to contribute, but as he saw some idlers among them who would have made a pretext of his example to justify themselves, he waived his right. His reason for the same course at Corinth was to mark how different were his aims from those of the false teachers who sought their own lucre (2Co 11:9, 12, 13). It is at the very time and place of writing these Epistles that Paul is expressly said to have wrought at tent-making with Aquila (Ac 18:3); an undesigned coincidence.
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