2 Thessalonians 3:8
Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
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(8) Neither.—They might have thought it possible to live on others without incurring so serious a charge as “disorderliness.”

Eat any man’s bread.—Still more literally, eat bread from any mani.e., “from any man’s table.” St. Paul always becomes picturesque and vivid in a passage of this kind, and generally Hebraistic (“eat bread,” 2Samuel 9:7, and often). “For nought” is literally at a gift. There is a flavour of scorn in St. Paul’s disclaimer of such a parasite’s life.

Wrought.—In the original it is the participle, “working,” which better suits the rapid flow of the sentences. The order also is slightly more forcible: “We ate bread from no man’s table at a gift, but in toil and travail, all night and day labouring that we,” &c. To “be chargeable” means more than “to make you pay”: it contains the notion of burdensome expense.

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.Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought - We were not supported in idleness at the expense of others. We gave a fair equivalent for all that we received, and, in fact, labored for our own support; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:9. 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 [2459]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.

Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought: the apostle here gives a particular positive instance of what before he speaks negatively, and in general; and brings his discourse home to the present case, and declares his orderly working in this, that he wrought for his own bread, and did not eat for nought, or live upon that which was freely given. dwrean the word is sometimes taken for that which is without effect, as Galatians 2:21, answering to the Hebrew word Chinnam, oft used, Psalm 7:4 25:3 69:4 119:61. Or, that which is without cause; and that either with respect to injury received, as John 15:25, or benefit bestowed, as Romans 3:24, when it is freely given without merit. The apostle means that he preached the gospel to them freely, as he tells the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 11:7. Though if he had received maintenance for his labour in the gospel among them, it was that which he well deserved, and he had not eaten their bread for nought; but he wrought with his own hands to maintain himself, as he did at Corinth, Acts 18:3.

But wrought with labour and travail; and he wrought laboriously, with wearisome and toilsome labour, as the words import; and that

night and day; as he had told them in the former Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; only he speaks of it here upon a different account; there, to clear his ministry from suspicion of covetousness, and to evidence his sincere affection to them; here, to set before them an example of industry against such who lived idly, and did eat others’ bread. Had he not wrought with his hands, he had not walked disorderly; but lest any should think so, he would do it to take away all occasion of evil. For though the labour of the ministry in the exercise of the mind and study may be reckoned as the greatest, yet most people cannot judge of it, and think it such; and though he had power to forbear working, as he tells the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 9:6, yet he would do it rather than any good should be hindered, or any evil furthered thereby.

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.

Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
2 Thessalonians 3:8. See on 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

δωρεάν] by way of gift.

ἄρτον φαγεῖν] to eat bread (Mark 3:20; Luke 14:1; ἄρτον ἐσθίειν, Matthew 15:2), has as the Hebrew אָכַל לֶהֶם (Genesis 43:25; 2 Samuel 9:7; Proverbs 23:6, etc.) the idea of eating generally, so that it is not to be distinguished from the simple φαγεῖν (Mark 6:31) or ἐσθίειν (2 Thessalonians 3:10). ἄρτον φαγεῖν παρά τινος denotes: to have maintenance from any one, without care on our part.

ἐργαζόμενοι] is not to be taken in the sense of temp. finit. (Flatt and others), but ἐν κόπῳἐργαζόμενοι is to be taken together, and forms a statement of mode attached to ἄρτον ἐφάγομεν in contrast to δωρεάν. Yet we may, with Winer, p. 314 [E. T. 442], de Wette, and Hofmann, assume that to ἐφάγομεν, as a contrast to δωρεάν, are added first ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθῳ taking the place of an adverb, and then to this νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι as a parallel clause.

2 Thessalonians 3:8. Paul’s practice of a trade and emphasis upon the moral discipline of work are quite in keeping with the best Jewish traditions of the period. Compare e.g., the saying of Gamaliel II. (Kiddusch. i. 11): “He who possesses a trade is like a fenced vineyard, into which no cattle can enter, etc.”—δωρεάν = “for nothing, gratis”.

8. neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought] This clause follows up and makes application of the last, showing by contrast in what lay the chief complaint against the “brethren walking disorderly.” They would not work for their bread, and seemingly expected the Church to support them. The Church officers very properly resisted this demand, telling them to return to their occupations; so the Apostle himself had directed in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. This some of them refused to do; and they went up and down (2 Thessalonians 3:11) retailing their supposed grievances, allying themselves with the false prophets of the Parousia, and making all kinds of mischief. Such is the picture of this unruly faction that we draw from the two Epistles. The fraternal spirit of the Primitive Church and the readiness of its members to put their goods at the common service (see Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35) were thus abused by idlers and fanatics—qualities not unfrequently united—by men impatient of the monotony of daily toil, and who found in spiritual excitement at once a diversion from irksome duty and an excuse for its neglect.

To correct this morbid tendency was one reason of many for which the Apostle practised manual labour. He tries to make these ill-conducted men feel by his own example the disgrace of living, without an effort, at the cost of others: neither did we eat bread for nought at any man’s hand (R.V.) There was a manly pride about St Paul in this matter. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:9-10, and 1 Corinthians 9:15 : “No man shall stop me of this glorying.”—“To eat bread” is a Hebraistic synonym for receive maintenance; comp. 2 Samuel 9:7.

but wrought with labour and travail night and day] Rather, but in labour and travail, night and day working (R.V.). Here are two clauses, the former standing in opposition to the foregoing sentence: “It was not for nought that we ate our bread, but in labour and travail;” then he continues, “working night and day.” Dearly, and with hard labour did St Paul and his comrades earn their daily bread. The Thessalonians had seen him at his task. For the particular words of this clause see 1 Thessalonians 2:9, which it repeats almost identically.

that we might not be chargeable to any of you] More lit., that we might not put a burden on any of you. Comp. again 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

“The disorderly,” without any right, were leaning heavily on their brethren and taxing their charity; the orderly apostles, with every right to do so, had never charged them anything.

2 Thessalonians 3:8. Ἐργαζόμενοι, working) This is construed with ἐφάγομεν, we ate.—ἐπιβαρῆσαι, to be a burden to) Whilst waiving (yielding) his right, he expresses what might have been viewed as a matter of justice (his just claim to maintenance) by a somewhat unfavourable term.

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). 2 Thessalonians 3:8Any man's bread (ἄρτον παρά τινος)

Lit. bread from any one, or at any man's hand.

For nought (δωρεὰν)

The word is a noun, meaning a gift. See John 4:10; Acts 2:38; Romans 5:15. The accusative often adverbially as here; as a gift, gratis. Comp. Matthew 10:8; Romans 3:24; Revelation 21:6.

Labor and travail

See on 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

Be chargeable (ἐπιβαρῆσαι)

Po. Better, burden. By depending upon them for pecuniary support. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:3-18, and see on 1 Thessalonians 2:6.

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