Full Text for Sermon Study on 2 Thess. 3:6-14 (Text)

;, that which has been delivered, given over, entrusted, to one. The word is quite frequently used of the traditions, the opinions, and judgments of the scribes, the rituals and ceremonies of the Pharisees, handed down orally from one generation to the other. Paul does not hesitate to use this word of the dotcrine he preached, not in the sense in which the traditions of the Pharisees were handed down nor in the sense of the tradition of the Church of Rome. Paul calls his doctrine a tradition because it was not of his own making; it was delivered to him by Christ Himself, Gal. 1: 11,12; 1 Cor. 11: 23; 15: 3. The Thessalonians had received it as such, 1 Thess. 2: 11-13, even those who now no longer walked in accordance with it. As soldiers must march in rank and file, as they must obey the orders of their superiors, so Christians, the soldiers of the Lord Jesus, must all walk together as one company, in strict order, in full keeping with the Word and will of the Captain of their salvation. Some of the members at Thessalonica had forgotten this simple truth. They walked disorderly. And it seems as if their misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the apostle's teaching concerning the approach of the day of the Lord caused this unruliness. As sol- diers on their way home from war are apt to break ranks when they approach the end of their long march, as breaches of discipline are likely to occur more frequently during the last days of school, as vacation time, the days of freedom from the strict rules of school, draws near, so these Christians, believing the end of the world to be close at hand, became restless, excited. Instead of taking special pains to be counted worthy of their calling, 2 Thess. 1: 11, the prospect of perfect liberty in yonder world so soon to be en- tered caused them to chafe under the restraints still imposed upon Sermon Study on 2 Thess. 3:6-14 613 them by their Lord and Master; they began to break ranks, to become disorderly, Thy did not realize that they completely mis- took the nature of their future liberty and their present obliga- tions and were in danger of losing both their present state of adop- tion and their future heritage. Their disorderliness was not merely an occasional lapse of discipline, a brief yielding to a sudden and unexpected attack by Satan. The present participle, walking disorderly, denotes a habit, a custom, a characteristic. They made it a habit, it had become second nature with them, to walk out of step with the brethren, out of step with the will and Word of Christ. This was not the first time that Paul had called the atten- tion of the Thessalonians to this sin of disorderliness. Already in his first epistle he had exhorted the congregation to warn those that are unruly, 1 Thess. 5: 14. While they were to be patient with all men; while they were to comfort the "feeble-minded," the faint-hearted, the discouraged; while they were to support, to aid and care for, the weak, these unruly, disorderly members were to be warned, their mind was to be set right, they were to be told that their disorderliness must cease. There the apostle uses the adjective a:tu.wtoUl;; now he speaks of such as are making it a habit of walk- ing disorderly. The warning had not had the desired effect. Whether the congregation was satisfied with a mere admonition, a one-time warning, even when they saw that it was being ignored by the erring brethren, or whether the disorderly members per- sisted in the error of their way in spite of continued remonstrances on the part of the congregation, we cannot tell. At all events the disorder was not stopped, it did not even diminish, it rather in- creased and spread with alarming rapidity. Sterner measures must be taken, and should have been taken, by the congregation when their admonition proved inadequate to remedy the situation. Since the congregation failed to do its duty, perhaps because it failed to see the seriousness of this sin in spite of the repeated instructions received by word and by epistle (cp. v. 10; 1 Thess. 5: 14), or whether they were unwilling to decrease the small num- ber of their membership by stern measures of discipline, or what the reason may have been, the apostle finds it necessary no longer to beseech and exhort, as in 1 Thess. 4: 1; 5: 12,14; 2 Thess. 2: 1, nor merely to admonish, as in 2: 15; 3: 1, but to command, to exercise the authority given him by the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be noted here that the apostle uses the word "command" in his letters to the Thessalonians only when he warns against disorderliness and re- fusal to work, 1 Thess. 4: 11; 2 Thess. 3: 4, 6, 10, 12. The Thes- salonians, otherwise so willing to obey, had to be commanded to refrain from this particular sin. His command is as brief and to the point as it is unmistakably 614 Sermon Study on 2 Thess. 3:6-14 clear, that ye withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly. "Withdraw," O''tEt..t..eoiJ-m. The word in the active voice, like the German stellen, means to set, to place; the middle, to place one- self, to set oneself; with MO, to place oneself away from; hence, to remove oneself, to withdraw, to go away, to avoid association. The word occurs only here and 2 Cor. 8: 20: "avoiding this, that no man should blame us." While there the object to be avoided is the pos- sibility of being blamed, the object in our passage is not impersonal, a trait, a habit, etc., but very definitely personal. The apostle here does not command the congregation to avoid disorderliness (that, of course, is involved), but primarily he demands that they with- draw themselves "from every brother that walketh disorderly." Just what this withdrawal means the apostle tells us in v.14, where he further explains the mode of procedure against disorderly brethren: If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man. Although these unruly members did not regard their con- duct as blameworthy, although they wanted to remain members of the congregation and be regarded as such, they really were with- out excuse. Even if they had not heard the apostle during the weeks of his personal activity in Thessalonica, even if they had not read, or heard of, the first letter, the admonition or this one epistle is sufficient instruction. If anyone, no matter who he may be, disobeys this word of God, continues to live disorderly, after having been clearly and definitely shown the sinfulness of his conduct, the congregation must do what it should have done long ago with men of this stamp, it should note him. ~'I]f.tEL6(J) means to mark, distinguish by marking; the middle, to mark or note for oneself, the middle indicating the inner relation to one's act. This marking should be a matter in which the members should take a personal interest, a matter of conscience flowing from a sense of duty towards God, who demands such noting of the erring brother, towards the erring brother, who needs the attention of his brethren, towards themselves, to keep a clear conscience, 1 Tim. 5: 22, towards the congregation, to preserve it from corruption and guard its good name. Lange remarks that this word was used of physicians who mark the symptoms of disease, also of grammarians who make the remark, "Note this." And have no company with him. The best manuscripts read O'UVa.VCq.LLyvuO'ihlL, the infinitive of purpose or rather result, so that you will not be mixed up together with him. Note again that it is the person whom they should avoid, with whom they should not be mixed up, not merely his disorderliness. The passive form is much more emphatic than the active. The apostle does not merely tell the Thessalonians, Do not mingle with dis- orderly members; his command is, Do not be mixed together with them. Do not associate with them nor permit them to associate Sermon Study on 2 Thess. 3:6-14 615 with you. The apostle uses the same word in connection with the disciplinary proceedings against the fornicator, 1 Cor. 5: 9,11, where the context makes it perfectly clear that he does not prohibit every manner of social and civic intercourse with all that are not children of God; for then Christians would have to go out of the world. Both in his letter to the Corinthians and in our passage the apostle has in mind an intercourse with the erring brother who is being disciplined whereby we would create the impression or cause him to believe that we still regard him as a member in good standing, that we are condoning his sin, excusing his manifest transgression, looking upon his disorderliness as a small matter, which cannot affect his connection with the congregation. The apostle goes so far as to prohibit a fellowship apparently so harmless as eating with such a person if such eating together would be construed by him as a clean bill of health. Needless to say, the more intimate the nature of Christian association and fellowship, the more care- fully it is to be avoided as far as the brother walking disorderly is concerned. The prohibition of prayer-fellowship, of altar-fellow- ship, of such a man's participating in the business meetings of the congregation, is included in the O"'tEHE