2 Thessalonians 3:1-18
The early church in Thessalonica dealt with relationship-oriented-behavioral problems that upset the whole body of Christ. Dealing with this problem is never too easy. So, how did Paul deal with it?
1. Paul identified the root cause of the problem.
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
· False teachers spread doctrinal errors that resulted to confusion.
· They took advantage of the church’s sufferings from persecution and misleadingly anchored it to the Day of the Lord. (Judgment Day of the Lord).
· Another error was, some taught that the Rapture event will come very soon in their lifetime.
2. Paul warned of the creeping complications.
“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9
Complications of doctrinal error:
· Departure from biblical traditions can cause disorderly behaviors.
· Can lead to confusion, dissention, disunity and damaging church’s testimony to outsiders.
How did Paul warn the church from the complications of doctrinal errors?
· He warned those who would not work by way of a command.
· He urged them to follow their examples. He worked as a tentmaker in Acts 18:1-4.
· He reminded them of their godly tradition. (God commanded Adam to work in Genesis; Jesus worked as a carpenter, etc.)
3. Paul taught them to unite and deal with the problems biblically.
So, Paul said in verse 6, “6But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” And then in verse 10, 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.
· Busybodies – periergazomai in Greek, meaning meddlers, annoying persons, a person who interferes with another people’s business.
“A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends.” Proverbs 16:28.
· After repeatedly warning those who refuse to work and cause disunity, Paul now commanded them to discipline the erring member by withdrawing social interaction. (stello in Greek trans., meaning, “to abstain from familiar contact with one.”, Strong concordance #4724)
· This will mitigate the spread of false doctrines and lessen further harm to the church’s testimony.
But how do we implement such discipline biblically?
“15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. 18Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:15-18.
· Talk to the person privately and in a caring way.
· If the erring member refused to accept fault, present your witnesses.
· If he still refused to repent, bring the matter to church leaders.
If all biblical means was fully exhausted, and still the brother refused to repent, then we are to withdraw social interaction.