Thessalonians - Glorification by Faith in Christ

By E. S. (Emanuel Sprankel) Young



III. Closing Exhortations, 3:1-18


The Apostle is about to close his letter to this model Church, He has been much in prayer for this Church and now he asks an interest in their prayers. He knows that all those who will earnestly talk to God for a greater degree of holiness, for greater activity in service, will be rewarded by receiving greater strength and power for exercising in the duty of prayer. Paul asks that they might pray that the gospel may be more rapidly disfused and glorified by numerous conversions and that he and his fellow workers may preach the gospel unhindered by the enemy.

Ver. 1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified even as also it is with you.

The subject of the prayer is expressed in the former verses. Observe the unselfishness of the Apostle's request. He does not ask that he alone be remembered in prayer, but that they would pray for the rapid diffusion and success of the Gospel, and that he and his companions might be free from any hindrance in the preaching of the Gospel so that God would crown their labors with success in winning men from the world unto Christ.

“That the Word of the Lord may run.” That all obstacles may be removed. To run is to fill its course swiftly and without hindrance, and that it might go to places where it is not known. The Apostle's great ambition was to preach the Gospel of God unto which he was separated. The Gospel must keep moving onward, winning fresh hearts, exerting an ever-growing influence over those who have long felt its power. Ministers had their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. It is God who can remove all impediments and make the man whose feet are shod able to go forward with the truth over all obstacles.

“And be glorified.” The Word of God is glorified in the saving of the lost. This personification of the Word of God is a favorite figure with the Apostle. The believer is the temple in which the Holy Spirit abides. The Holy Spirit guides and speaks through the believer, sinners are saved and the Word is glorified. Men must be brought into the image of Christ and thus bring glory to God. “Even as it also is with you.” This shows with what eagerness the Thessalonians had received the Gospel and what faith the Apostle had in them to use the Word of God.

Ver. 2. And that (through your prayers) we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith.

The Apostle asks not only deliverance for himself but for his companions who are traveling with him, “We ask that we may be rescued from our enemies.” In these words the Apostle does not express any cowardice on his part. He desires deliverance, not for his own sake, but for the free diffusion of the Gospel. He asks that through their prayers they might be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, those who do not listen to truth. This no doubt refers to a company of unbelievers stirred up perhaps by the fanatical unbelieving Jews at Corinth.

“For all men have not the faith.” This is the reason why he is compelled to speak of these unreasonable and evil men. The Apostle's life was the most valuable in all the world in that generation, but at this time it seems to be at the mercy of men without scruple or mercy. His enemies either lay in wait for him to destroy him or allowed the fanaticism of the mob against him. They were without any check from reason or principle. These persons did not have the faith. Nothing better could be expected from the godless and the unbelieving Jew.


  • Why say “finally brethren?”

  • What were the two things which they were to pray for?

  • What hindrances did the Word of God then have?

  • Name some of the hindrances now against God and His Word.


In the study of these lessons the student is constantly learn~ ing from one who has an abiding confidence in His Lord. This will help to increase in us the same confidence presented by the Apostle. No matter what may be done by wicked men who appear to be beyond the saving power of the Gospel, we are to know that all of this does not affect the faithfulness of the Lord.

Ver. 3. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and guard you from the evil one.

Man may be faithless but God is faithful. Your faithfulness is attributed to Christ. Christ is faithfully interceding in behalf of those who follow Him, and never forgets to watch over the Church that He is building. He is the creator and manifests His power over His new creation, the Church. He is able to establish us. He has equipped us with His armor, made by Himself and thus we are able to go through the ranks and battle of the enemy uninjured. Christ prayed the Father to keep all that were His through regeneration. He has the keeping power and can answer the Saviour's prayer. He does not only ask that these saints be kept, but that they may be sanctified through the Word. God is able to guard you from the evil one and deliver you from all evil. Paul promises that God will establish us for every conflict and is able in the same way to protect us.

Ver. 4. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command.

The Apostle confidently expected the Thessalonians to be obedient children of God. His confidence however was not fixed on them, as to their own efforts and endeavors and resolutions, but his confidence was fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. God's grace is able to do unto the uttermost and that gives him this confidence. The Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, is believing, hoping and doing all things in Christ. He believed that these saints would obey and do the things commanded by the Lord. Here we have the uniting of Divine and human effort, God working and man working which is in harmony with the entire scheme of the Gospel of salvation.

Ver. 5. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.

Our purposes and strength must come from God. He alone can give help and success. When we came into possession of our new nature, the Christ life, we permitted Him to sit upon the throne of our hearts, and submitted wholly to His direction. The only way we can know the love of God is through the mediator, Christ, who is between us and Him. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have life.” Here we have, through Christ, learned something about the love of God..

“And into the patience of Christ.” What more comforting to the Christian in time of conflict than to know that Christ whom we serve passed Himself through the school of persecution, and so we must pass through the same school if we are His. The Apostle prays that these Thessalonians might be directed in the patience of Christ, as this would help them to bear courageously the persecution to which they were. exposed. There is great need for growth in patience. He endured the cross, despised the shame. Think of His patience as He now waits in Heaven and his people on earth wait for Him. There will a time come when His patient waiting in glory during the period that He is gathering and building the Church and the patient waiting of the Body of Christ to be received by the Head, will end. Christ will return, the Church will be received by Him and there will be no longer any patient waiting.


  • Why say, “But the Lord is faithful?”

  • What confidence have we as to His keeping power?

  • Why say, “We have confidence in the Lord?”

  • Who ought to be, and is, the director of the Head?

  • Why refer to the patience of Christ? Can we imitate Christ in this?


The Lord has given us specific instructions how to be admitted into the family of God and how to grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth and here we have some additional instructions by the Holy Spirit concerning Christian behaviour and discipline.

Ver. 6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition (instructions) which they received of us.

His command is in the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. A Church that has false teachers occasionally will have among their number those who walk disorderly and whose lives do not harmonize with the teaching of the Word of God. The church in general was made up of members who walked orderly and therefore the Church is spoken of as the model Church. This strengthened the Apostle's command by having Christ the Head of the Church as his authority for what he says. That is, “Christ Himself commands you that ye withdraw yourselves.” You are to keep out of the way of those who are disorderly and manifest the wrong influence. We are to withdraw our fellowship from those who will not submit to the leading power of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to the will of God. These were persons who were self-willed, idle and busy bodies. Paul had called their attention to the same trouble in his first letter to this Church (4:11-12). They were to study to be quiet and do their own business and work with their own hands. It may be that they had forgotten his former instruction and he now desires the Church to exclude such from Christian fellowship.

“The tradition.” The Disciples had received considerable instruction from the Apostle in his first letter and here emphasizes the fact that after having in their possession this instruction it was not productive of any fruit through those who had so long been walking disorderly. These are not unwritten words or uncertain sayings, handed down from one to another, but a part of the revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ given by the Holy Spirit to the Apostle to appear in his inspired letter for the use of the Church during the entire Church age. These instructions were given by the inspired Apostle and if heeded would have produced unity in the Body of Christ and power in soul-winning. This unsettled condition was brought about through teachers who perverted the Gospel of Christ.

Ver. 7. For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate (follow) us:for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you.”

“It is not necessary really for me, Paul, to say anything about this matter. This is something that you know and yourselves are witnesses.” The Apostle always emphasized the fact that he is a chosen vessel of God and for all that is said and done He has the Lord as authority. These same instructions concerning imitation are given in his first letter also (1 Thess. 1:6). There was nothing that Paul did while reasoning with the Thessalonians out of the Scriptures for three Sabbaths that had anything disorderly connected with it. These founders of the Church kept their place and discharged their duty. All of this has a very important bearing upon Paul as the writer of the letter and the Church receiving it.

Ver. 8. Neither did we eat bread for nought at any man's hand, but in labor and travail, working night and day, that we might not burden any of you.

In establishing and founding this Church the preachers were obliged to support themselves while doing it. New centers of worship are hardly ever established by the community bearing the financial burdens of those who do the work. The Apostle speaks humbly because he knew that his labor in the Gospel was not in vain. The Apostle saw in Thessalonica the opportunity of gathering valuable material out of the world for Christ and for this he knew he had God's approval and it was a little matter to him as to the labor necessary to support himself.

They were incessantly employed either in preaching the Gospel, visiting from house to house or working at their calling for self-support. Here the Apostle shows what it meant in that early period of the Church to preach the Gospel, to call men out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ and do this all the time without allowing any material matters to interfere with the success of the Gospel. The people of Thessalonica were most effectually attached to the Apostle. These people were probably poor and knowing how hard he had to labor to gain for himself the necessities of life, and the same time bring them into this spiritual relation with Christ, their sympathy no doubt went out to this spiritual leader even though they could not assist him in the necessaries of life. The Scripture teaches that the man who preaches the Gospel is worthy of support. They who bring from Christ the heavenly manna that feeds the heart are worthy of support from those who receive this holy and godly service. It is not because the Apostle did not believe in being supported by the Church that he founded, but he in no sense would be guilty of that by which the power of the Gospel and the success of soul winning would be weakened.

Ver. 9. Not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us.

We have the power, the right, to be maintained by those in whose behalf we labor. That “the laborer is worthy of his _ hire” is universally acknowledged. Those who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel. The right of support is confirmed by the Apostle writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:1-18). Here he gives his converts an example of diligent working and by it removes every impediment to the progress of the Gospel. He was a minister who often waived his own rights that the Gospel might not be hindered (Acts 18:3; 2 Cor. 11:9). He was a tent maker by trade and in this way had self support. Paul expected the Thessalonians and all ministers under similar circumstances to imitate him. The Apostle gives two reasons for being an ensample to the Thessalonian converts:(1) that he might not be burdensome to any of them, (2) that he might give himself as a pattern for them to imitate.


  • To whom does Paul refer in giving authority to his command?

  • Do we know when to withdraw from those who walk disorderly?

  • Had they any instructions so they would know how to walk?

  • In what were they to follow the founders of this Church?

  • What privilege did Paul have and not use?

  • What does the Scripture teach concerning those who preach the Gospel?


The Apostle in the previous paragraph pointed to his own example. He worked night and day that he might not hinder the work of the Church. In these verses he tells the difference between those who labor night and day to establish the Church and some who are now in the Church and causing trouble through idleness.

Ver. 10. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you. If any will not work, neither let him eat.

When the Apostle was with them in his ministry this was his command and by the example presented in the former verses he believed in what he taught. This is not the first time he presented this lesson of sacrifice to these people. He now, in writing this letter, knows more fully the need of this warning. Those who work may eat, and those who do not work are commanded not to eat. This is fully in harmony with what God said (Gen. 3:19). “In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat thy bread.” Industry is crowned with God's blessings. Idleness is the parent of many crimes and is productive of misery. Idleness is a sin. These idle members of the Church gave to the Thessalonians much trouble.

Ver. 11. For we hear of some that walk among you disorderly, that work not at all, but are busybodies.

Paul explains why the command was given. The Apostle had either heard from Timothy who had come to him from Thessalonica or the news was conveyed to him in some other way. There were persons in this Church who did not know enough to keep their own place. They were idle with what they should be doing and busy with that which was not theirs to do. They were working at no business, but busybodies. The word “busybody” denotes busy in useless and superfluous things, things in which they do not help themselves or others. They are occupied about trifles. “A slothful man is a scandal to any society, but most to a religious society.”

Ver. 12. Now them that are such we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

He speaks here about those who do not remain in their place and work with their own hands but are idle, only concerned with trifles. Paul again commands and exhorts these people by the Lord Jesus Christ who is over him and for whom he labors. There ought to be quietness and calmness of spirit, freedom from excitement, less disturbance, less noise, and more work. It is a great blessing, according to the Word of God, when a man can earn and eat his own bread; bread that is earned in honest industry. The Bible, all the way through emphasizes the influence those have on the community who live on the bounties and mercies of others, when able bodied to earn their own support. When Christ said, “Give to him that asketh” he did not have in mind the idle and worthless. Give to the feeble, the sick and helpless. We cannot live the Christ life and give the Christ giving unless directed by the Holy Spirit. This subject of giving needs study, thought, and prayer. We have no right to encourage idleness, neither must we allow our hearts to be hardened by the idle and worthless. The Apostle and all disciples must seek the spiritual welfare of all,

Ver. 13. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.

He asks the brethren to confirm and practice these commands from the Lord. The Christian has much to make him weary. There are disappointments, misunderstandings, ingratitude, to be overcome, and they must be overcome in the spirit and strength of Christ that we may be preserved to walk quietly and orderly. The Christian must do good, seeking no reward, save that which comes from our Father who seeth in secret. Weariness is hard to bear. It will press heavily upon us at times. We must “run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:1). This letter is to be obeyed. It has the Lord's authority back of it. The Apostle gives us to understand that the disobedient must be admonished. We have learned here that there is true dignity in honest labor. It is a great privilege to work in the station in which God has placed us. We should always choose fellowship with those who seek the society of the pious and obedient.

Ver. 14. And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed.

This refers no doubt to the man who was disobedient to Paul's preaching of the Word and to the letter that he had written before, and we find that the Church is still bearing with him. Here he gives instructions that they are to give special attention to such. They are not to continue in companionship and fellowship with him. That is, set a mark upon such. Note him for the sake of avoidance. Excommunicate him from your society. Exclude him from your fellowship meeting and by doing this he may begin to think about his misconduct and become ashamed. This is to be done that he may repent and reform. This will bring the members of the Body of Christ as a united influence to bear against his misconduct. This is very much different from what is practiced by the modern Church, aiming to go with the disobedient and have fellowship with them trying to exert an influence over them to bring them back. We are not to be on easy terms with those whose influence and mode of life we cannot approve. The Apostle's instructions here, if obeyed, will keep us walking in the narrow way and thus we will remain unspotted from the world.

Ver. 15. And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

We are to consider him not as an enemy to us but as the greatest enemy to himself. We are not to consider him as an enemy of the Church and God. In the former verse we were told how to treat him that he might best be won. Here we are warned against an excess of human authority. We are not to go to the extreme of bearing ourselves toward him as if he were a member of the unregenerate world. We are to exercise before him the duty of brotherly love, and in this way remove sin from him so as to open the way for Christian fellowship. The purpose of the Church is to discipline; not to destroy the offender, but to win him. He must be regarded as an erring brother and not as an enemy.


(1) Prayer for Peace, 3:16

Ver. 16. Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all.

The only one that can give this peace for which Paul prays is the Lord Jesus Christ who makes peace between God and the sinner. Christ says, “my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Christ is the only one that can give abiding peace. The Thessalonians had their difficulties and dangers. Christ says, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” We must take upon us His yoke. We must bear His burdens, the burdens of the cross, and we shall find peace and rest for ourselves.

“Give you peace at all times in all ways,” both in your conscience and among yourselves. We need this always and at all times. It is that which keeps unity among the members of the Body of Christ: We need it in the family; we need it in the family of God. If we have Christ present, we have the very gift of peace. We shall be able through the God of” peace to enjoy complete sanctification. The Apostle could desire no greater blessing for his converts. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). Christians are the temple of God and the temples of God have the divine presence in them. The model Church, the true Church, is fully under the direction of Christ as the builder. God is constantly her keeping power and peace.

(2) Paul's Salutation and Autograph, 3:17-18

Paul writes the last word of this letter and signs his name to the letter with his own hand.

Ver. 17. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

The Apostles custom was to dictate his letters. The letters were dictated to an amanuensis, but he wrote the conclusion himself. The false teachers used some information gathered from letters purporting to have been written by Paul, This no doubt is the reason for the closing words written by himself and the signature by his own hand, Notice the salutation referred to in other Epistles (Rom. 16:22; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18; Philem. 1:19).

“Which is the token.” That is, the mark of authority or authenticy. This was very necessary so that the Church might have confidence in the letter and be strengthened through the letter in, their faith in God. These epistles were sacred writings. They had the stamp of divine authority and the apostle marks this importance and authority by his closing words. He signs this last letter he sends to his converts. He greets them with the love and confidence a father would have for his children. The Apostle has fully unburdened his mind and heart concerning his duty to the Thessalonian converts. In the writing of this letter by the person to whom he gave this instruction he realizes that he is constantly under the guiding power of the Holy Spirit. Paul is writing not by his own authority but through the Holy Spirit as his superior and guide, receiving the words contained in this letter from the All Truth that Christ had promised for the Church. These words are from the Builder of the Church who Himself is the All Truth and they have the same weight and authority as though they were written and spoken by the Lord Himself. The Apostle took the roll of parchment in his own hands and in his own hand writing put down these last words, as recorded in the last three verses. All the members of the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ into whose hands this letter comes must receive it as a letter inspired to lead all of us into that spirit of expectation and patience in hoping and waiting for the return of the Lord for His redeemed.

Ver. 18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

This does not only include in the benediction the saints at Thessalonica but all who read and study the inspired and sacred word contained in this letter. Paul longs for the restoration of those who were living disorderly and for the continual progress and sanctification of the whole Church. The power of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, can change the disorder in any Church. The same grace can comfort the faithful. The Apostle Paul signs his epistle with a prayer for grace, “By grace ye are saved.” We must be willing to refer all that we are and hope to be to the grace of God. We trust only in that grace.


  • Who is our peace?

  • What was the condition before Christ came between man and God?

  • What are we to be according to Matt. 5:9?

  • Who is the author of peace and how can we get peace?

  • What may we not do if the Lord is always with us?

  • Why did Paul write these last words, and why put his signature to his document?

  • Give meaning of “grace” in verse 18.

  • What will grace do for those who are not strong in Christ?

  • Give the meaning of the last word of the Epistle.