Paul's exhortation for the church

Paul’s exhortation for the church

As with I Thessalonians, Paul has a lot of exhortations for the church in this epistle:

-- be holy

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power; That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:11-12)

“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (3:3)

-- be faithful

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught (「凡所領受的教訓」), whether by word, or our epistle.” (2:15)

“And we have confidence in the Lord touching you (NRSV, ‘concerning you’), that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (3:4-5)

-- be diligent

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves (遠離) from every brother that walketh disorderly (「不按規矩而行」), and not after the tradition which he received of us (「不遵守從我們所受的教訓」).” (3:6) The reason why Paul gave this special instruction is because of the idleness and unfruitfulness of some people in church: “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies (專管閒事).” (3:11) Paul exhorts these lazy guys, “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (3:12) “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  (3:10) What if they do not obey his instruction? “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” (3:14) However, Paul added, “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (3:15) This is truly brotherly love. James also said similarly at the end of his epistle to the churches, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”  (James 5:19-20)

Paul takes himself as an example of a hard-working apostle: “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us, for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought (「也未嘗白吃人的飯」); but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you (「免得叫你們一人受累」); Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us.”  (3:7-9) As a matter of fact, 2:8 is a very familiar verse that has been used in I Thessalonians: “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you (「免得叫你們一人受累」), we preached unto you the gospel of God.” (I Thes 2:9) Here in I Thes 2:9, Paul said that he did not want to add any financial burden to the church of Thessalonians.

In addition, Paul urged the believers to be diligent in doing good: “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing (「你們行善不可喪志」)(NRSV, ‘in doing what is right’).” (3:13)

-- be prayer partner

“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course (「好叫主的道理快快行開」)(NRSV, ‘may spread rapidly’), and be glorified, even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith (「人不都是有信心」) (NRSV, ‘for not all have faith’).” (3:1-2) Paul is certainly risking his life in preaching the gospel among the Jews and the Gentiles. But he never gives up. Rather, he is more eager to take whatever chance is available for him to keep spreading the gospel. He seeks the urgent prayers of the church and, in so doing, the church is actually taking part in his gospel ministry.