2 Thessalonians 3:1
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
III.

(1) Finally.—The practical portion is introduced in the same manner as in the First Epistle (1Thessalonians 4:1), “for the rest,” “as to what I have yet to say.”

Pray for us.—St. Chrysostom remarks: “Himself had prayed for them; now he asks them to pray for him.” How much of a Christian teacher’s power, increasing as time goes on, comes from the accumulation of intercession from his spiritual children! St. Paul leaves people praying for him everywhere (Romans 15:30; 2Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18-19; Colossians 4:3; 1Thessalonians 5:25; comp. Hebrews 13:18). In all these cases the request is for active help in his work of evangelising:” not that he may fall into no danger,” says St. Chrysostom, “for that he was appointed unto.” (Comp. 2Timothy 2:9.) “That” stands for “in order that,” and does not introduce merely the subject of the prayer.

May have free course.—Quite literally, as in the margin, may run along. Speed and security are contained in this idea: no hesitation about the next turn, no anxious picking of the way, and no opposition from devils and bad men. Bengel compares Psalm 147:15.

And be glorified.—The word does not mean merely “obtain applause,” “win distinction,” as a successful runner; it always implies the recognition or acknowledgment of inherent admirable qualities. (See Notes on 2Thessalonians 1:12; 1Thessalonians 2:6.)

Even as it is with you.—Such praise would flush the Thessalonians to pray for him with greater fervour and assurance. “With you” means, in the Greek, “in your direction,” “on turning to you:” people had only to look at Thessalonica, and they were forced to recognise the character of the gospel.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-4. Finally, brethren, pray for us — See on Colossians 4:3; that the word of the Lord may have free course — Greek, τρεχη, may run, go on swiftly without any interruption; and be glorified — Acknowledged as divine, and bring forth much fruit; even as it is with you — This is a very high commendation of the Thessalonian brethren, and was designed to encourage them in their attachment to the gospel. And that we may be delivered — Rescued and preserved; from unreasonable and wicked men — The word ατοπων, rendered unreasonable, properly signifies men who have, or ought to have, no place, namely, in society. Bishop Wilkins thinks that absurd, contumacious persons are intended; such as are not to be fixed by any principles, and whom no topics can work upon. Doubtless the apostle had in his eye chiefly, if not only, the unbelieving Jewish zealots, who were so exceedingly enraged against him for preaching salvation to the Gentiles, without requiring them to obey the law of Moses, that they followed him from place to place, and raised a furious storm of persecution against him wherever they found him, by inflaming both the rulers and the people against him; and they had lately made an insurrection at Corinth, with an intention to have him put to death. For all men have not faith — And all who have not are, more or less, unreasonable and wicked men. By faith, in this passage, it seems we are not to understand the actual belief of the gospel, (for that all men had not that faith was a fact too obvious to be thus noticed by the apostle,) but such a desire to know and do the will of God as would dispose a person to believe and obey the gospel when fairly proposed to him. And it seems, in making this observation, the apostle glances not only at the Jews, who boasted of their faith in the true God, and in the revelation of his will which he had made to them, but at the Greek philosophers likewise, who had assumed to themselves the pompous appellation of lovers of wisdom, or truth. But the Lord is faithful — And will not deceive the confidence, or disappoint the hopes of any that trust in him, and expect the accomplishment of his promises; who shall stablish you — Even all that cleave to him by faith and love; and keep you from evil — From all the mischievous devices of Satan and his instruments, 2 Timothy 4:18. The Greek, απο του πονηρου, is literally, from the evil one; the name given in other passages of Scripture to the devil, Matthew 6:13; Matthew 6:19; Ephesians 6:16. And we have confidence in the Lord — Or we trust in the Lord concerning you, that he will not withhold from you the aids of his grace; that ye both do already, and will do, in future, the things which we command — In thus speaking, the apostle expresses his good opinion of the greater part of the Thessalonian brethren, but not of every one of them without exception, as is plain from 2 Thessalonians 3:11-14.3:1-5 Those who are far apart still may meet together at the throne of grace; and those not able to do or receive any other kindness, may in this way do and receive real and very great kindness. Enemies to the preaching of the gospel, and persecutors of its faithful preachers, are unreasonable and wicked men. Many do not believe the gospel; and no wonder if such are restless and show malice in their endeavours to oppose it. The evil of sin is the greatest evil, but there are other evils we need to be preserved from, and we have encouragement to depend upon the grace of God. When once the promise is made, the performance is sure and certain. The apostle had confidence in them, but that was founded upon his confidence in God; for there is otherwise no confidence in man. He prays for them for spiritual blessings. It is our sin and our misery, that we place our affections upon wrong objects. There is not true love of God, without faith in Jesus Christ. If, by the special grace of God, we have that faith which multitudes have not, we should earnestly pray that we may be enabled, without reserve, to obey his commands, and that we may be enabled, without reserve, to the love of God, and the patience of Christ.Finally, brethren, pray for us - That is, for Paul, Silas, and Timothy, then engaged in arduous labors at Corinth. This request for the prayers of Christians is one which Paul often makes; see the notes, 1 Thessalonians 5:25.

That the word of the Lord may have free course - That is, the gospel. The margin is "run." So also the Greek. The idea is, that it might meet with no obstruction, but that it might be carried abroad with the rapidity of a racer out of whose way every hindrance was removed. The gospel would spread rapidly in the earth if all the obstructions which men have put in its way were removed; and that they may be removed should be one of the constant subjects of prayer.

And be glorified - Be honored; or appear to be glorious.

As it is with you - It is evident from this that Paul met with some obstructions in preaching the gospel where he was then laboring. What they were, he mentions in the next verse. He was then at Corinth (see the introduction), and the history in the Acts of the Apostles informs us of the difficulties which he had to encounter there; see Acts 18.

CHAPTER 3

2Th 3:1-18. He Asks Their Prayers: His Confidence in Them: Prayer for Them: Charges against Disorderly Idle Conduct; His Own Example: Concluding Prayer and Salutation.

1. Finally—literally, "As to what remains."

may have free course—literally, "may run"; spread rapidly without a drag on the wheels of its course. That the new-creating word may "run," as "swiftly" as the creative word at the first (Ps 147:15). The opposite is the word of God being "bound" (2Ti 2:9).

glorified—by sinners accepting it (Ac 13:48; Ga 1:23, 24). Contrast "evil spoken of" (1Pe 4:14).

as it is with you—(1Th 1:6; 4:10; 5:11).2 Thessalonians 3:1,2 The apostle desireth the Thessalonians to pray for him,

2 Thessalonians 3:3,4 testifying his confidence in them,

2 Thessalonians 3:5 and praying God to direct them.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 He censureth the idle and disorderly, and requireth

others to abstain from their company,

2 Thessalonians 3:16-18 concluding with prayer and salutation.

The apostle now draws towards the close of his Epistle, as appears by the word

finally, which he also useth in the close of other Epistles, as 2 Corinthians 13:11 Ephesians 6:10 Philippians 4:8: to loipon. It imports the adding of something that remains. And that which he first addeth, is the desire of their prayers; as he had desired them in the former Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 5:25; and so of other churches, 2 Corinthians 1:11 Ephesians 6:19 Hebrews 13:18, &c. He had prayed for them in the foregoing chapter, and now he begs their prayers. It is a mutual duty that ministers and people owe to one another. Though the apostle gave himself to the word, and prayer also, Acts 6:4, yet the prayers of many may be more prevalent than of one, though an apostle: and they being concerned for the advancing of Christ’s interest in the world, as they were Christians, were therefore engaged to pray for him. And the apostle was sensible of the greatness of the work which was in his hand, and his own insufficiency, without God, therefore he desires prayer; and it is of them whom he here calls brethren: he knew the prayers of the wicked and unbelievers would avail nothing; and though he was a great apostle, yet the greatest in the church may stand in need of, and be helped by, the prayers of the meanest brethren. And their prayers he desires are, first, with respect to his ministry,

that the word of the Lord may have free course, or may run; that the course of it may not be stopped, it being as a river of the water of life. The apostle was to teach all nations, and so desires the word may pass from one nation to another, yea, and run down from one generation to another, that it may spread and diffuse itself, and disciples might be multiplied. This is called the increasing of it, Acts 6:7; the growing and multiplying of it, Acts 12:24; the growing and prevailing of it, Acts 19:20: which Christ sets forth by the parable of the mustard-seed, which grew and spread; and of the leaven, that diffused its virtue in the meal, Matthew 13:31-33: the apostle referring here to the external course of the word, rather than its inward efficacy in the soul, as also Christ seems chiefly to do in those parables. There are many things that hinder the course of the gospel; sometimes wicked rulers make laws against it, sometimes great persecutions have been raised, sometimes false teachers oppose it, sometimes professors prove apostates and scandalize the world against it, sometimes reproaches are thrown in the way of it. And to the free course of it is required, on the contrary, a provision of suitable help herein, both of magistracy and ministry, and the bestowing of the Spirit, and the blessing of endeavours used herein. All these are to be prayed for, as the former to be prayed against.

And be glorified: he means, that it might have honour, reputation, and high esteem in the world, and not lie under reproach; as the Jews accounted it heresy, and the Gentiles foolishness: as it is said of those Gentiles, Acts 13:48, they glorified the word of the Lord, by their honourable respect to it, and joy in it. As also that it might produce glorious effects in the world, in subduing people to God, and making men new creatures, and bringing them out of the devil’s into Christ’s kingdom, &c.; that it may evidence itself to be from heaven, and the power of God to men’s salvation, and not an invention of man; to which we may add, that it may be honoured in the unblamable and exemplary walking of the professors of it.

Even as it is with you: the glorious success of it with them he had largely shown before in both these Epistles; and he would have them pray for the like with others. Those that have felt the power of the gospel themselves to their conversion and salvation, should pray that others may partake of it with them. Herein they show their charity to men, and love to God, which the apostle here puts them upon, as that which would be acceptable to God; and the rather, because their own experience might teach them what God was able to do for others. Or else the apostle in these words sets forth these Thessalonians as a pattern of the mighty success of the word: it had its free course and was glorified among them; they received it as the word of God, and not of men. As if the apostle should say: They that would know the glorious success of the word of the Lord, let them go to Thessalonica.

Finally, brethren, pray for us,.... The apostle now proceeds to the last and closing part of the epistle, which respects church discipline, and the removing of disorderly persons from their communion; and introduces it with a request to pray for him, and the rest of his fellow ministers, particularly Silvanus and Timothy, who joined with him in this epistle: he signifies that nothing more remained; this was the last he had to say, that they, "the brethren", not the preachers of the word only, but the members of the church, would be solicitous for them at the throne of grace; as it becomes all the churches, and the several members of them, to pray for their ministers: with respect to their private studies, that they might be directed to suitable subjects; that their understandings might be opened to understand the Scriptures; that their gifts might be increased, and they be more and more fitted for public service: and with respect to their public ministrations, that they be brought forth in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ; that they have a door of utterance given them to preach the Gospel freely and boldly, as it ought to be spoken; and that their ministry be blessed to saints and sinners: and with respect to the world, and their conduct in it, that they be kept from the evil of it, and so behave as to give none offence, that the ministry be not blamed; and that they be not allured by the flatteries, nor intimidated by the frowns of the world, but endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ: and with respect to their persons and state, that their souls may prosper, and that they may have much of the presence of God, and much spiritual joy, peace, comfort, and strength of faith; and that they may enjoy bodily health, and their lives be spared for further usefulness. This request is frequently urged by the apostle; which shows his sense of the importance of the work of the ministry, the insufficiency of men for it, the necessity of fresh supplies of grace, and the great usefulness of prayer. The particular petitions he would have put up follow,

that the word of the Lord may have free course. By "the word of the Lord", or "of God", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, is meant the Gospel; which is of God, and not of man, comes by the Lord Jesus Christ, and is concerning him, his person and offices, and concerning peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation by him, as the subject matter of it: and the request is, that this might "have free course": or "might run": be propagated and spread far and near: the ministry of the word is a course or race, and ministers are runners in it, having their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; which is the message they are sent with, and the errand they run upon: which comes from heaven, and is to be carried into all the world, and spread: Satan and his emissaries do all they can to hinder the progress of it; God only can remove all obstructions and impediments; when he works none can let; all mountains become a plain before Zerubbabel. Wherefore the apostle directs to pray to him for it, with what follows,

and be glorified, even as it is with you; the Gospel is glorified when it is attended upon by large numbers, and is heard with a becoming reverence; when it is received in the love of it, is greatly prized and highly esteemed; when it is cordially embraced, and cheerfully obeyed. It is glorified when sinners are converted by it, and the lives of the professors of it are agreeably to it; and thus it was glorified in these several instances at Thessalonica; and therefore the apostle puts them upon praying, that it might be so elsewhere, as there; even "everywhere", as the Syriac version adds.

Finally, {1} brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:

(1) He adds now consequently according to his manner, various admonitions: the first of them is, that they pray for the increase and passage of the Gospel, and for the safety of the faithful ministers of it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 3:1. Τὸ λοιπόν] see on 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

περὶ ἡμῶν] on our behalf. But the apostle’s wish is completely unselfish, as he refers to the promotion of Christianity, and to himself only so far as he stands in connection with that object.

ἵνα] comp. on 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου] Genitivus subjectivus; see on 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

τρέχῃ] may run. A representation of quick and unimpeded advancing.

δοξάζηται] is passive: may he glorified. Pelt erroneously understands it as middle. But the gospel is only glorified when it is recognised as what it is, namely, as a δύναμις Θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι (Romans 1:16). Nicolas de Lyra arbitrarily limits the verb to the “miracula, veritatem ejus declarantia.”

καθὼς καὶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς] even as it is among you. A laudatory recognition of the eager desire for salvation, with which the Thessalonians surrendered themselves to the preaching of the gospel. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 ff. The words are closely connected with καὶ δοξάζηται. According to Hofmann, with whom Möller, although wavering, coincides, the words are to be united with τρέχῃ, passing over καὶ δοξάζηται. Incorrectly, because δοξάζηται is a higher idea than τρέχῃ, whilst it adduces that point by which the external act of τρέχειν can only receive its internal value. Accordingly καὶ δοξάζηται is too important to be considered only as a subsidiary point “appended” to τρέχῃ.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] see on 1 Thessalonians 3:4.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. Paul requests the Thessalonians to pray that the gospel may be more widely diffused, and that he himself (and his companions) might be delivered from the persecutions to which he was exposed. He then expresses his trust that the Lord will assist the Thessalonians, and also declares his confidence that they will obey his (the apostle’s) commandments, and he unites therewith an additional benediction.2 Thessalonians 3:1. In addition to offering prayers on their behalf, Paul asks them to pray for the continued success of the gospel (“may others be as blest as we are”!) and (2 Thessalonians 3:2), for its agents’ safety (Isaiah 25:4, LXX, a reminiscence of). The opponents here are evidently (2 Thessalonians 2:10 f.) beyond hope of conversion; preservation from their wiles is all that can be expected. For a speedy answer to this prayer, see Acts 18:9 f. The repeated use of ὁ Κύριος in 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, brings out the control of God amid the plots and passions of mankind.—ἀτόπων. The general sense of the term is given by Philo in his queer allegorising of Genesis 3:9 (Leg. Alleg., iii. 17, ἄτοπος λέγεται εἶναι ὁ φαῦλος); commonly it is used, as elsewhere in the N.T., of things, but here of persons, either as = “ill-disposed,” or, in a less general and derivative sense = “perverse” (cf. Nägeli, der Wortschatz des Paulus, p. 37), or “froward”. The general aim of the passage is to widen the horizon of the Thessalonians, by enlisting their sympathy and interest on behalf of the apostles. They are not the only sufferers, or the only people who need prayer and help.—οὐ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς εἰς Κόρινθόν ἐσθʼ ὁ πλοῦς, so ran the ancient proverb. Paul writes from Corinth that while everyone has the chance, not all have the desire, to arrive at the faith. ἡ πίστις is the faith of the gospel, or Christianity. By a characteristic play upon the word, Paul (2 Thessalonians 3:3), hurries on to add, “but the Lord is faithful”. ὑμᾶς (for which Bentley and Baljon plausibly conjecture ἡμᾶς) shows how lightly his mind rests on thoughts of his own peril as compared with the need of others. It is impossible to decide, either from the grammar or from the context, whether τοῦ πονηροῦ is neuter or masculine. Either sense would suit, though, if there is a reminiscence here of the Lord’s prayer (so Feine, Jesus Christus u. Paulus, 252 f., and Chase, Texts and Studies, i. 3. 112 f.), the masculine would be inevitable, as is indeed more probable for general reasons (so e.g., Hofmann, Everling, Ellicott, etc.)Section IV. (continued). Ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-51. Finally] See note, 1 Thessalonians 4:1. The chief topic of the letter is disposed of, and the wishes and hopes immediately arising out of it have been expressed. For what remains:—

brethren, pray for us] So in 1 Thessalonians 5:25 (see note): a frequent request with St Paul—addressed to “brethren,” concerned in everything that concerns their Apostle and the Christian cause. Their prayers, desired generally in 1Th, are now to have a more specific object,—viz., that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified (R.V.)

On “the word of the Lord,” see note to 1 Thessalonians 1:8.

This singular metaphor of the running word is probably suggested by Psalm 19:5, where the course of the sun is pictured in glowing poetic language—“rejoicing as a hero to run a race” (2 Thessalonians 3:5), while the latter part of the Psalm sets “the law of the Lord” in comparison with his glorious career. St Paul applies 2 Thessalonians 3:4 of the Psalm in Romans 10:18, with striking effect, to the progress of the Gospel. See also Psalm 147:15, “His word runneth very swiftly.” Through “running” the word is “glorified,” and that is true of it which Virgil writes in his splendid lines on Fama (Aeneid IV. 173 ff.):—

“Mobilitate viget viresque adquirit eundo.”

even as it is with you] Lit., even as also with you. They are to pray that the work of the missionaries may be as successful in Achaia as it was in Macedonia: comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:1. From Thessalonica “the word of the Lord has sounded forth” over all the neighbouring region, and “in every place your faith is gone forth:” might it only be so in Corinth! Reading Acts 18:5-11, we gather that St Paul’s work in the Achaian capital was at first discouraging in its results; and it was during the earlier period of his residence there that he wrote these letters (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8, and notes).2 Thessalonians 3:1. Τρεχῃ, may run, have free course) quickly; comp. Psalm 147:15; without impediment [liter, without a drag on the wheels of its course], 2 Timothy 2:9.—δοξάζηται, may be glorified) Acts 13:48.Verse 1. - Finally; furthermore; for the rest; introducing the concluding part of the Epistle (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1). Brethren, pray for us (see a similar request in 1 Thessalonians 5:25). Observe the unselfishness of the apostle's request. He does not ask the Thessalonians to pray specially for himself, but for the unimpeded diffusion and success of the gospel, and for himself only in so far as that he might be freed from all hindrances in preaching the gospel - that God would be pleased to crown his labours with success. That; introducing the subject matter of prayer; what he requested the Thessalonians to pray for. The word of the Lord - namely, the gospel - may have free course; literally, may run; that all obstacles to its progress may be removed; that its diffusion may be free and unimpeded; that, like the sun, it may rejoice as a strong man to run his race (Psalm 19:5; comp. Psalm 147:15, "He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly"). And be glorified; namely, in the conversion of souls (comp. Acts 13:48). The allusion may be to the applause given to the victors in the foot races which constituted so considerable a part of the Grecian games. This personification of the Word of the Lord is a favourite figure with the apostle. "In St. Paul's language there is but a thin film between the Holy Ghost, the Divine personal Spirit, and the spirit in the believer's inmost being. And so in St. Paul's conception there is but a thin film between the Word preached and the living Word of God who is God" (Bishop Alexander). Even as it is with you; a recognition of the eagerness with which the Thessalonians had received the gospel. Finally (τὸ λοιπὸν)

See on 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

May have free course (τρέχῃ)

More literally, simply, and better, may run. Have swift progress through the world. An O.T. idea. See Psalm 147:15, and comp. Isaiah 55:11 and Acts 12:24.

Be glorified (δοξάζηται)

Acknowledged in its true power and glory. Comp. John 12:28. The phrase the word of the Lord - be glorified, only here.

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