MP3: The Tribulation Road Thru 2 Thessalonians 3
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Welcome to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast teaching series titled “The Tribulation Road!” Nathan Jones and Vic Batista have been your guides since the very first installment, going verse by verse through the Bible’s prophetic book of 2 Thessalonians. Continuing on in chapter 3, the Apostle Paul will leave a command about how to deal with idle Christians who are not busy doing the Lord’s work.
A Warning to Idle Christians
Nathan Jones: The Apostle Paul so far in his letter to the church in Thessalonica stressed the importance of getting the Gospel out to an unbelieving world while the time is short. He now follows up with a command about how to deal with idle Christians, giving them fair warning about their apathy. Some Christians believe they should just sit back, enjoy their salvation, and do nothing about bringing the lost to Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Apostle highly disagrees! Let’s read what he instructs in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.
“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. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 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, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Vic Batista: When Christians discuss Bible prophecy we tend to only focus on the Antichrist, the Rapture, and various prophetic events. Prophecy certainly involves foretelling future events, but there’s a whole lot of forth-telling as well. Prophecy is not only meant to inform us about the future but teach us how to live in these end times. Paul provides a message here for the believers to continue their work, and to work hard, especially when it comes to serving in the cause of Jesus Christ.Vic Batista: Prophecy certainly involves foretelling future events, but there's a whole lot of forth-telling as well. #Prophecy is not only meant to inform us about the future but teach us how to live in these #endtimes. Click To Tweet
Nathan Jones: The scope of Paul’s command narrows down to this one particular point: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Paul is not just talking about earning one’s food here. Yes, we cannot be lazy and lie around and expect the Church to feed us, or expect the government to supply us, or our relatives to take care of us. We as Christians need to also be working hard to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission command to share the Gospel with the world (Acts 1:8).
Paul would at times when he was talking about work be referring to the work of Christ to produce spiritual fruit. When we work to produce a spiritual harvest, we end up eating spiritual food in the form of God’s blessings and growth lessons. Besides just working for one’s daily needs, the context of the passage shows that Paul is warning Christians that if they are not going to work in His mission fields then they are not going to bring people to know Jesus as Savior and so enjoy the spiritual blessings and sense of accomplishment that the Holy Spirit is working through us. So, there’s kind of a double meaning here.
In this teaching, we also learn that the Christian life should not be disorderly. Christians should never be known as being busybodies and going around gossiping. We instead need to be faithful workers, as verse 12 points out, working in quietness. Christians serve the Lord by staying busy by going out into the missions fields. Christian work should never be about us, for it is about Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
Vic Batista: We know from earlier references that Paul was bi-vocational. He didn’t work solely as a missionary, but he held a job on the side. Paul made tents. Along with any church missions offerings, Paule supporting himself and his team financially through the sale of tents. And yet, Paul was one of the hardest workers out there in spreading the Gospel.
Nathan Jones: You are right, Paul traveled on three major missionary journeys funded in part by the churches that he helped found and donations offered by the original church in Jerusalem. Paul certainly didn’t believe in mooching off of any of the new churches. When he arrived at a new city, he set up his shop, weaved tents, and sold what he made. While he worked and after hours, he also shared the Gospel.
I often run into Christians who express how much they would love to be involved in serving in full-time ministry, but they can’t for whatever reason. Well, the Lord hasn’t called every Christian into full-time ministry, but He certainly has called every Christian into ministry. So, if you are a tent-maker Christian, working while ministering on the side, that is great. If you work at a secular job, use your Christian influence with all of those people you encounter in your workday. Then, after hours, also serve through your church, and at outreaches and other evangelistic events. Use your talents and gifts in the service of Jesus Christ. Christians are never called to be lazy.Nathan Jones: The Lord hasn't called every #Christian into full-time ministry, but He certainly has called every Christian into ministry. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: I grew up in the Dominican Republic and so we’re used to all having like ten jobs! So, I’m used to always working something on the side to provide for both my family and for the ministry. My day job is working as a hospital technician, and so from time to time, I get to minister to both patients and medical staff while I work. If I am able to share the Gospel at work, then why not? Christians should always be looking out for opportunities to further the Gospel. But, sitting around doing nothing and living for yourself, that’s never going to profit anyone in the Lord’s kingdom.
Nathan Jones: Yes, indeed, serving ourselves is never what God has called us to do. The town of Thessalonica was a very worldly, very sinful area, and unfortunately, bad habits came out of that environment. Remember that Paul was addressing a baby church. They were still learning how to live Christian lives and to grow in their faith. Paul was very comforting with them, like he does in the closing benediction of his letter, which we’ll soon read.
Vic Batista: Paul could be all super nice, acting out of a loving heart. He at times spoke in gentleness, even when people were railing against him. He wouldn’t attack his spiritual children. But, then, as needed, Paul had no compunction using strong words. He even told the Galatians that the Judaizers should go off and emasculate themselves! He showed he had a temper. But, for the most part, when Paul addressed the baby Christians, the way that he handled them was different than those religious people who should know better. Jesus behaved the same way at times when dealing with the Pharisees.
Nathan Jones: Exactly! Jesus didn’t always behave in a passive, lamb-like manner. Jesus actually whipped and toppled the money-changers tables over in the Temple. And, when Jesus returns to this earth, He will conquer Satan and his evil minions by the sword of His mouth. Jesus doesn’t always behave in the role of the Lamb, for when He returns, we will see Jesus behave in full lion mode. Hence, the name of our ministry — Lamb & Lion Ministries. Our ministry is named after Jesus who first came as a suffering lamb, but will be returning as a conquering lion.
We Christians aren’t required to act timid all of the time. There are times when we need to display the strength that Jesus provides. Paul wanted this little baby church to share in that same strength he was displaying and admonish, punish even, lazy Christians for the purpose of restoring them to a right relationship with Christ and the church.
In the twelfth and last part of our travels along the Tribulation Road and our verse-by-verse study of 2 Thessalonians, Paul will end his message with a benediction of blessings.