2 Thessalonians 3:2
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
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(2) And that we may be delivered.—Compare Romans 15:31. This clause is an amplification of the word “may run along:” the impediments to the gospel progress were (except that all were overruled for good) such persecutions as these. St. Paul gives thanks for such deliverances in 2Corinthians 1:10; 2Timothy 3:11; 2Timothy 4:17. Perhaps (as St. Chrysostom suggests) one reason for here inviting their prayers for himself was to nerve the Thessalonians by the sense that they were not the only people in the world in danger.

From unreasonable and wicked men.—The curious word rendered “unreasonable” is rendered “amiss” in Luke 23:41, “wickedness” in Acts 25:5, “harm” in Acts 28:6, occurring nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means something “misplaced” hence “extravagant,” “monstrous.” Thus the dying robber says that our Lord had done “nothing so monstrous” as to deserve crucifixion; Festus ironically invites the priests to a serious journey to St. Paul’s trial, “if there be something so monstrous in him;” the Maltese barbarians “saw that nothing so monstrous happened to him after all.” So St. Paul wishes the Thessalonians to pray for his deliverance “from these monstrous and depraved people.” He is evidently meaning some particular foes whom he fears, for the original has the definite article. Who, then, are “these monstrous persons?” If we turn to Acts 18:6; Acts 18:9; Acts 18:12, and observe the circumstances in which the letter was written, we can hardly doubt that they are the unbelieving Jews of Corinth. From these Jews he was, though narrowly, delivered. It was, perhaps, in direct answer to the prayers for which St. Paul here asks that he received the vision and assurances of our Lord, and that Gallio was moved to quash so abruptly the proceedings of the Jews.

For all men have not faith.—This clause gives the reason for the alarm implied in the last clause: “Do not be surprised at my needing help against bad men; for you know that it is not every one that believes.” There is something a little scornful and embittered in the expression (recalling the invective against the same people in 1Thessalonians 2:15-16), for it suggests the thought that nothing better was to be expected from such a set of unconverted Jews. Tacitly, also, the unbelieving Corinthians are contrasted with the Thessalonians who had so readily embraced the truth. It may, however, be doubted whether this sentence is not an instance of a common Hebrew idiom, occurring more than twenty times in the Greek Testament, by which the combination of “all” and “not” amounts to “not any.” Thus, “all flesh shall not be justified,” in Romans 3:20, is rendered “no flesh shall be justified;” “they are not all of us,” in 1John 2:19, means “not one of them is of us.” So here it may be, “for there is not one of them that believes;” and so also, again speaking of the Jews, in Romans 10:16, “they did not all obey” may mean “none of them obeyed”—a rhetorical exaggeration, which the writer proceeds to justify by the exhaustive question from Isaiah.

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.And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men - That is, from opposition in their endeavors to spread the gospel. Paul encountered such men everywhere, as all do who labor to diffuse the knowledge of the truth, but it is probable that there is particular reference here to the opposition which he encountered when in Corinth. This opposition arose mainly from the Jews; see Acts 18:5-6, Acts 18:12-13. The word "unreasonable" is rendered in the margin as "absurd." The Greek word (ἀτόπος atopos) means, properly, "out of place;" then "absurd, unusual, strange; then improper, unreasonable, wicked." It is rendered in Luke 23:41 as "amiss;" in Acts 28:6 as "harm." It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It refers here to people who acted amiss or improperly; people who were not found in the right place, or who did not have the right views of things; and probably does not refer so much to their being positively wicked or malicious, as "to their putting things out of their proper place."

They gave an undue prominence to certain things, and less importance to others than they deserved. They had a distorted vision of the value of objects, and in tenacious adherence to their own views, and prosecuting their own objects to the exclusion of all others, they presented a constant obstruction to the true gospel. This word would apply, and probably was designed to be applied, to Jewish teachers (see Acts 18:5-6), who gave an undue prominence to the laws of Moses; but it will apply well to all who entertain distorted views of the relative importance of objects, and who put things out of their place. People often have a hobby. They give more importance to some object than it deserves. They, therefore, undervalue other objects; press their own with improper zeal; denounce others who do not feel the same interest in them which they do; withdraw from those who will not go with them in their views; form separate parties, and thus throw themselves in the way of all who are endeavoring to do good in some other method. It was from people who thus put themselves out of place, that the apostle prayed to be delivered.

And wicked men - Men with bad aims and purposes. It is not always true that those who would come under the appellation of what the apostle here calls "unreasonable," are wicked. They are sometimes well-meaning, but misguided people. But in this case, it seems, they were men of bad character, who were at heart opposed to what was good, as well as inclined to put things out of their place.

For all men have not faith - Of the truth of this, no one can doubt. The only question is, as to its bearing on the case before us. Some suppose it means, "there are few men whom we can safely trust;" others, that it means that they have not that "upright and candid disposition which would engage men to receive the testimony of the apostles" (Doddridge); others, that "all men do not embrace the Christian faith, but many oppose it" (Benson); and others, that "all men do not believe, but the worthy only" - Bloomfield. The connection seems to require us to understand it as meaning that all people are not prepared to embrace the gospel. Hence, they set themselves against it, and from such people Paul prayed that he might be delivered; compare 2 Timothy 3:8. The state of mind in which the apostle was when he wrote this, seems to have been this: He recollected the readiness with which the Thessalonians had embraced the gospel, and the firmness with which they held it, and seems to suppose that they would imagine the same thing must be found true everywhere. But he says all people have not the same faith; all were not prepared cordially and fully to embrace the gospel. There were unreasonable and wicked people whom he had encountered, from whom he prayed that he might be delivered.

2. that we … be delivered from unreasonable … men—literally, men out of place, inept, unseemly: out of the way bad: more than ordinarily bad. An undesigned coincidence with Ac 18:5-9. Paul was now at Corinth, where the Jews "opposed themselves" to his preaching: in answer to his prayers and those of his converts at Thessalonica and elsewhere, "the Lord, in vision," assured him of exemption from "the hurt," and of success in bringing in "much people." On the unreasonable, out-of-the way perversity of the Jews, as known to the Thessalonians, see 1Th 2:15, 16.

have not faith—or as Greek, "the faith" of the Christian: the only antidote to what is "unreasonable and wicked." The Thessalonians, from their ready acceptance of the Gospel (1Th 1:5, 6), might think "all" would similarly receive it; but the Jews were far from having such a readiness to believe the truth.

Their prayers are here desired by the apostle with respect to their persons, which relates to the prayer desired before with respect to the word; for the apostle and his fellow labourers met with such men that did oppose them, and by that means were hindered in their work of the ministry, and the free course of the word obstructed. What were these men? Were they the persecuting Gentiles? They met with such: or the envious, malicious Jews? They met with such also; and here at Thessalonica in particular, and which followed Paul to Berea, Acts 17:1-34. Or were they false brethren crept into the church? As he complains of his perils by them, 2 Corinthians 11:26; which some think most probable, by what he adds, for all men have not faith, even of those that make profession. Why may not we take in all these? But whoever they were, he styles them, first,

unreasonable men, men out of place, as the word imports; taken either literally, for vagrants, wanderers, not keepers at home; or such as follow the apostle from place to place, to hinder his ministry. Or logically, for men that argued absurdly, and kept to no sound topics in reasoning; either false teachers among the Jews, or the heathen philosophers, such as he met with at Athens, whom he disputed with Acts 17:1-34. Or morally, for men that had corrupt principles and practices, that kept not to the duty of their place and station, (desordonnez, French translation), and wandered out of the path of righteousness. We render it unreasonble men; men transported with fury and passion against all reason, as we read of the Jews, Acts 17:5. Or such as acted contrary to reason, as the apostle speaks of such Jews in the former Epistle, who were contrary to all men, foridding them to preach to the Gentiles, that they might be saved, 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16. Or men of sensual lives, living more like brutes than reasonable creatures. Secondly,

wicked men; so that whoever they were, whether Jews or Gentiles, teachers or the common people, learned or unlearned, they were wicked; and whatever was meant by the former word, yet this is plain; and the word imports either men that are laborious in wickedness, or that by their wickedness create labour and trouble to others. And such the apostle met with at Thessalonica, Jews who took to them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and drew Jason and others before the rulers, assaulting his house, Acts 17:5,6: and indeed wherever they came, they met with such kind of men. Through the lusts of men’s hearts, and the enmity and malice of the devil, faithful ministers will meet with opposition, and such as will hinder what they can the free course of the word. And therefore the apostle desires prayer to be delivered from them, ina rusywmen, the word signifies a rescue by strength from some impending or incumbent evil, oft used, Luke 1:74 Colossians 1:13 1 Thessalonians 1:10. And he desires deliverance rather for the gospel’s sake than his own. And though it is honourable to suffer for the gospel, yet it is desirable to be kept out of the hands of such men as these. The apostle subjoins the reason why men are thus,

for all men have not faith. He needed not say this of infidels, which all men know to be without it, and therefore it is thought the apostle here means professors. There may be true faith wanting where faith is professed. Faith is sometimes taken for fidelity, a moral virtue, and some think is meant here, because it follows in the next verse by way of antithesis: But the Lord is faithful. But rather, I take it for a theological grace; for that true evangelical faith which purifies the heart, and worketh by love, and brings forth the acts of obedience to all God’s commandments. Had they this faith they would not be unreasonable and wicked. But can we suppose such to be in the church? As well as those, 2 Timothy 3:5, whom the apostle describes to have a form of godliness under all that wickedness he there mentions. But let men have civility, sobriety, external devotion, and profession, yet if they oppose the gospel, in the power, purity, and progress of it, they may be styled unreasonable and wicked men; and from such men we may pray, as the apostle desired here: Good Lord, deliver us. And it is the duty of people with respect to their faithful ministers, and the work of the gospel in their hands, to pray that they may be delivered from such men.

And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men,.... Either from the unbelieving Jews, see Romans 15:30 who were the avowed enemies of the Gospel, and did all they could to hinder the spread of it; and who were the implacable and constant adversaries of the apostle; who often lay in wait for him, and opposed him, and gave him trouble in all places, stirring up the people against him: or from the false teachers, and those of their party, who are the false brethren by whom he often was in perils; who were enemies of the cross of Christ, and great hindrances to the spread of the Gospel; being men of absurd principles, and of wicked lives and conversations, whereby they perverted the Gospel of Christ, brought a reproach upon it, stumbled some, and overthrew the faith of others; and from these the apostle desires to be delivered:

for all men have not faith: no man has faith of himself, it is the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; and it is only given to the elect of God, who are ordained unto eternal life, and therefore it is called the faith of God's elect; all mankind have it not, none but Christ's sheep; and the reason why others have it not is, because they are not of his sheep. This is a truth; but rather the true sense of the words is, that all that are professors of religion, and members of churches, and even all that are preachers of the word, have not faith. They may have an historical and temporary faith and the faith of miracles, and even all faith but the true faith; they may profess to believe, and yet not believe, as Simon Magus, and his followers seem to be intended here; for this is given as a reason why the apostle desired to be delivered from the above men. The Jews say (o), that

"he that studies not in the law, , "there is no faith in him"--and it is forbidden to come near him, or to trade with him, or to walk with him, "because there is no faith in him".''

The apostle seems to allude to this custom.

(o) Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 2.

And that we may be delivered from {a} unreasonable and wicked men: {2} for all men have not faith.

(a) Who do not do or care about their duty.

(2) It is no wonder that the Gospel is hated by so many, seeing that faith is a rare gift of God. Nonetheless, the Church will never be destroyed by the multitude of the wicked, because it is grounded and stayed upon the faithful promise of God.

2 Thessalonians 3:2. In deliverance from his adversaries lay the condition that he, the apostle, could work the more effectively for the diffusion of the gospel. Theodoret: Διπλῆ μὲν ἡ αἴτησις εἶναι δοκεῖ, μία δὲ ὅμως ἐστίν· τῶν γὰρ πονηρῶν ἀνθρώπων ἡττωμένων, ἀκωλύτως καὶ ὁ τοῦ κηρύγματος συντρέχει λόγος.

ἄτοπος] is used of that which is not in its right place. Used of persons, it denotes one who does or says that which is inappropriate under the circumstances. Thus it is equivalent to ineptus (Cic. de orat. ii. 4). From “propriety” it passes to its wider ethical meaning, and is used of men who act contrary to human or divine laws. Thus it receives the general signification of bad or godless. See examples in Kypke, Observ. II. p. 145 f.; Loesner, and Wetstein.

But the Thessalonian Jews are not to be understood by the ἄτοποι καὶ πονηροὶ ἄνθρωποι, from whose persecution the apostle had already, at an earlier period, frequently suffered (so, as it would seem, Pelt), for their influence hardly extended to Corinth. Persons must be meant who were then present in Corinth itself. But we are not to think on Christians who were only so in name (Zwingli, Musculus, Hemming, Flatt, Schrader, and others), and particularly on false teachers among the Jewish Christians (Schott), but on fanatical Jews.[70] Comp. Acts 18:6; Acts 18:12 ff. That the adversaries of the apostle could not have been already Christians, follows from the inferential clause setting forth the naturalness of the existence of such people, οὐ γὰρ πάντων ἡ πίστις, for faith is not an affair of all, i.e. it finds not a place among all, all have not a susceptible heart for it. On the form of the expression, compare the well-known proverb: Οὐ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἐς Κόρινθόν ἐσθʼ ὁ πλοῦς (Strabo, viii. 6. 20, ed. Siebenk.; Suidas, T. 2, p. 739.)

ἡ πίστις] on account of the article, can only denote the Christian faith simply and generally. To understand the expression of fidelity or honesty, with Schoettgen, Moldenhauer, Koppe, Bolten, Krause, Flatt, and others, is as incorrect as to interpret it of true faith, with Schott. For in the first case οὐ γὰρ πάντες πιστοί would require to have been written, and in the second case οὐ γὰρ πάντων ἡ πίστις ἀληθής.

[70] Hammond also finds here another reference to the Gnostics!

2. and (pray) that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men] Better, perverse and evil men. The Apostle is thinking, no doubt, of the fanatical Jews at Corinth (see Acts 18:5-17), who stood in the way of the Gospel; when Gallio’s judgement removed this obstacle, Christianity appears to have spread rapidly in this city. Comp. Romans 15:31, “that I may be delivered from the disobedient in Judæa.” From Ephesus four years later he writes (1 Corinthians 16:9), “A great and effectual door is opened” to me, notwithstanding “many adversaries.” Through this open door the word gloriously ran; at Corinth it was not so as yet.

For “wicked” (or “evil”), see notes on 1 Thessalonians 5:22, and also 2 Thessalonians 3:3 below. For “delivered” (or rescued) comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (note), where the same word is used. It points to enemies who seemed to have the writer in their power. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33 for a graphic description of the Apostle’s perils.

for all men have not faith] Or, not to all does the faith belong. There are those, alas, with “no part nor lot in the matter” (Acts 8:21). The Apostle puts his meaning in a pathetically veiled and softened way (see note on “not pleasing,” 1 Thessalonians 2:15). “It is not all who share our faith: many are its enemies, and bear us on its account a deadly hatred. Will you pray that we may be delivered from their power?” Their unbelief in Christ made the Corinthian opposers “perverse and evil.” Not being for Him, they came to be furiously against Him (Matthew 12:30). This is enough, in the Apostle’s view, to explain their conduct; comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

With relief he turns from these perverse unbelievers to think of the safety and confidence that abide within the Church of Christ:—

2 Thessalonians 3:2. Ἀτόπων) ἄτοπος, inept [liter, out of place], unreasonable.—οὐ πάντων, does not belong to all) Tapeinosis,[24] i.e. of fear. The Thessalonians, who had believed with great readiness, might easily suppose that all would be equally ready. Paul declares, from his own experience of the very reverse, that it was quite otherwise.—ἡ πίστις; faith) viz. in God through Christ. It is this alone that takes away τὸ ἄτοπον καὶ πονηρόν, what is inept [unreasonable] and wicked.

[24] Less said, than is to be understood. Append.—ED.

Verse 2. - And that; a further addition to the prayer. We; either I Paul, or else Paul and Silas and Timothy. May be delivered; not may "come off victorious whether by life or death" (Calvin), but may be rescued from our enemies. Jowett observes that we have here the shrinking of the flesh from the dangers which awaited the apostle. But there is no trace of cowardice in these words; the apostle desires deliverance, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the free diffusion of the gospel. From unreasonable; a word whose original meaning is "out of place;" then used in an ethical sense, "wicked," "absurd," "unreasonable;" perhaps here applied to persons who will not listen to arguments. And wicked men. By these unreasonable and wicked men are not to be understood the Jews of Thessalonica, from whom Paul formerly suffered, for their influence would hardly extend to Corinth; nor Christians who were only so in name (Calvin), and specially the Judaizing Christians, for there is no allusion as vet to their attacks upon the apostle; but the fanatical and unbelieving Jews at Corinth (see Acts 18:12). For all men have not faith; or, the faith; the faith is not the possession of all. Faith here is the Christian faith: all men have not received it - obviously alluding to the unbelieving Jews. The words cannot mean, all men have not the true faith - referring to pretended Christians - false brethren, but secret enemies (Calvin). Nor is it to be rendered "all men have not the capacity of faith." Others understand by faith that upright and candid disposition which would engage men to receive the testimony of the apostle; and others fidelity, as if the apostle meant, "There are few men whom we can trust." 2 Thessalonians 3:2Unreasonable (ἀτόπων)

See on Luke 23:41, and comp. Acts 25:5; Acts 28:6. In lxx in a moral sense, iniquitous, Job 4:8; Job 11:11; Job 34:12. The word originally means out of place.

All men have not faith

See on Acts 6:7; see on Galatians 1:23.

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