The Apostle closeth his Epistle with this Chapter. He takes an affectionate Leave of the Church, begs an Interest in the Prayers of the People, and prays the Lord to bless them.
(1) В¶ Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: (2) And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. (3) But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. (4) And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. (5) And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
In folding up this beautiful Epistle, the Apostle makes an earnest, and an affectionate request, to be remembered by the Church at the throne in prayer, together with Silvanus, and Timotheus, whom he joined with himself in this letter. And I beg the Reader to remark with me, the great burden of his request, namely, that the word of the Lord might be blessed among the Lord's people. Paul makes use of the figure of a free course, which like an unobstructed river, runs on, and washes, and makes fruitful every place where the Lord sends it. And, observe, it is God's glory, when his people are made blessed by the free course of his word. Every child of God should remember this. It becomes a great strengthener to faith, when the Lord enables any of his to consider, that when our souls being made blessed in Christ, Christ is glorified in us. We not only bless him with our hearts, when we give him praise for his mercies, but we glorify him also when our wants give him occasion to fill into our emptiness.
And let the Reader further observe the drift of Paul's prayer, that he, and his faithful companions, who preached the truth as it is in Jesus, might be delivered from the opposers of those precious doctrines, Paul, and his brethren in the ministry, taught. Not the openly profane, but false teachers. Paul could not mean the openly profane, when he said for all men have not faith. This was too notorious a truth to need the remark. But the all men the Apostle here alluded to, which had not faith, were plainly those who preached unsent. Men who had not the faith of God's elect. Titus 1:1. May the Lord deliver all his faithful, both ministers and congregations, from such men, in all ages of his Church!
The Reader will not overlook, I hope, the very blessed prayer Paul closed up this paragraph with. He opened the first part of it with calling upon the Church to pray for him and his companions. And here, in the close of it, after assuring the Church of God's faithfulness, to stablish and keep them from evil, he recompenseth their kindness in praying for them. And what a sweet and comprehensive prayer it is. Surely none but God the Spirit could have taught it. And the Lord (said he) direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for, (or, as the margin renders it, the patience of), Christ. Reader! do observe how all the Persons of the Godhead are here included in this short, but blessed prayer. The Lord the Spirit direct your hearts. And where directed? Into the love of God. And how is this to be attained? In a patient waiting on and through Christ. And short as this direction is, if the Reader be taught of the same God who directs the heart to mark the Lord's leadings, he will discover that this is the direct way, and the only way to comfort. The child of God that goes to the throne in anything of his own, such as his experiences, or his enlargements, as men call them, or the exercises of his own graces, is going a round-about way, and wearying himself for very vanity. Whereas direct acts of faith upon Christ's Person, and the pleadings of Christ's blood and righteousness, and God's faithful covenant promises in Christ; the precious soul that doth so, is truly directed by the Lord the Holy Ghost, and led by the hand to the mercy-seat of God in Christ. Such a soul must speed well, thus led, thus fed, thus taught, and thus, enabled to plead. I warrant ye, on the authority of God's yea and Amen promises, he shall prove a wrestling seed of the stock of Jacob, and come off a prevailing descendant of the true Israel. To all such, whom I met at any time going to the pardon office of Jesus Christ, I would say, oh! remember me when you see the King, for sure I am you will get near to him. Yea, I would beg of God the Holy Ghost to direct my heart to go with them. And what might not a company of Christ's redeemed ones expect, when going together to the Heavenly Court, whose hearts were all directed by the same Almighty Lord, into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ?
(6) В¶ 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 which he received of us. (7) For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; (8) Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: (9) Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. (10) For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (11) For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (12) Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
In order for the better apprehension of this part of the Epistle we must consider Christ's Church as one family. And a family wisely regulated and ordered, must be guided by one uniform plan, for the comfort of the whole body, in temporal things as well as spiritual. It appears from what the Apostle saith here, that there were some which had joined the Church, who had not first joined the Lord. And it is worthy our observation, that notwithstanding the Apostle possessed a divine gift of discerning spirits in matters of moment; yet, even in the Churches under his own direction, some men crept in who had no part in the matter. In the Church of the Romans, we find the Apostle reproving such who served not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly. Romans 16:18, see also Philippians 3:18-19. There have been such in all professing Churches of the saints in all ages. Nay, Paul himself saith, there must be also, even heresies among them, that they which are approved may be made manifest among them. 1 Corinthians 11:19. Reader! do not overlook these things. In the present day the view is highly profitable. It is a great point to make a right distinction between real and nominal Christians, as well as between the professor and the profane. When idle and disorderly persons creep into a Church, and cover themselves over with a name to live, while virtually dead before God; we may expect all such consequences will follow, as Paul hath here described. And it is a melancholy consideration when this conduct is found among the humbler walks of life, who follow the ordinances, as those of old did the Lord himself, not because they saw the miracles, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. John 6:26
But the Apostle, not only speaks in this scripture, of the idle among the poor, but the disorderly also. And, it is more than probable, that these were chiefly among the rich; as riches, and what is called the good things of this life, are more likely to open temptations to indulgence, in things disorderly. It is a sad, sad thing, when wealth, and worldly rank, tempt churches to admit into their community, any whom God hath not admitted. Such men may fill the coffer, but they themselves add nothing to the real number of Christ's Church. How blessedly our great Apostle speaks of his fears on this ground. I am jealous over you, said he to the Corinthian Church, with a godly jealousy, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2. It is one thing to entertain suspicious opinions, ungrounded, and ill-formed, of any professor, and another, to be jealous over one another, with a godly jealousy. But if Churches professing the eternal, and unalterable truths of God, were to admit none into Church fellowship, but such as had fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ there would be no idle among the poor, neither disorderly among the rich. And very blessedly then, would the whole body, holding the Head and being knit together, increase, with all the increase of God. Colossians 2:19.
(13) But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. (14) 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. (15) Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (16) В¶ Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all. (17) The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. (18) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The Apostle, having pointed out the errors, and infirmities, which creep into the Church, closeth his Epistle with his usual kindness, in recommending tenderness, and affection, one towards another, among the people. I admire Paul's charge, that brethren should not be weary in well doing. By which, if I apprehend him right, he doth not refer to acts of grace, and faith, in the exercises of their high calling, towards God; for that is always understood but rather after what he had been speaking, of the idle and disorderly, not to be discouraged, if any acts of kindness the Church had shown such persons, were abused, and unthankfully treated. It is a melancholy thing, to be sure, to behold at any time, the bounties of gracious souls, misapplied by the ungracious. But, it is much more to be deplored, that such misapplications, should ever operate, to check the liberal hand, and heart, and make them follow the reverse of Paul's precept; and be weary in well doing. Not so the Lord. And not so his command. That ye may be (said that unequalled Example, of requiting blessing for cursing), the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45
I do not think it necessary, to swell the pages of this Poor Man's Commentary, with any further observations, on the close of the Apostle's Epistle. His method is, for the most part, the same in all his writings. They are full of zeal to the Lord's cause, and love to his Church; and very plainly read to us, the heart of the Apostle. Let us rather join in the benediction, for it is truly blessed; and say to the whole Church, as he did: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
BLESSED be the Lord Jehovah in his threefold character of Persons, for all the mercies, grace, and love, manifested to the Church of God, in Jesus Christ. And blessed be the Lord the Spirit, for this precious portion of his holy word, from the ministry of his servant the Apostle. Add to it, Lord, the blessing of making it life, and spirit, to the souls of all thy redeemed: and do thou, blessed God, for it is thine own sweet office-work alone to accomplish it, direct our hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
And, oh! thou Almighty Minister, under whose government the entire welfare, and prosperity of the Church depends; do thou watch over all the congregations of the faithful, that idleness, and disorderly conduct, may find no shelter; neither the poor of thy people be neglected, in the daily ministration. Lord, the work is thine, and thine alone the glory. Make thy ministers faithful: and let the Church be blessed. Farewell Paul! the Church of the Thessalonians have praised God for thy labors of love: and all the Churches, to whom thy writings have been sent by the Holy Ghost, have blessed, and do bless God, for calling thee to the ministry. But oh! thou glorious Head, and praise of all thy saints, be thou eternally loved, and adored, for all the Pauls, and the Pastors, of thy Church! All is thine, Almighty Jesus! And for all we praise thee! Amen.