Playing Ones Part in the Body of Christ
2 Thess 3.
When we are born again, when we become a Christian, we become part of the Body of Christ.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 12:27 says: Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
We are one body but many members, all with our different functions. We all have gifts given to us by God but these gifts are not for us but are for the edification and up building of the rest of the body, the church.
God has placed us each one, in our own place in the body. We are unique and have a unique place in the Body of Christ.
1 Cor 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
Just like a body has many members and needs all the members functioning properly to be a healthy body, so too it is with the Body of Christ, the church.
To be a healthy church, we all need to function in our particular role, otherwise we hold the body back, we will have a sickly church.
There is a full list of different ministries for the edification of the Body of Christ.
Teaching – Exhortation – Evangelism – Mercy – Giving – Administration – Leadership – Helps – Service.
This list can go on and on. Just as a body has varied members, all with its own function, so it is with the Body of Christ.
Some people in the fellowship may manifest more than one of these ministries and there maybe an overlap of ministry but the church needs all of these ministries to function properly.
Each member should be seeking God and asking what does God want me to do.
1 Cor 12: 4 – 14 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Eph 4:11,12 And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be
prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.…
In this passage of scripture 2 Thess 3, the Apostle Paul is pointing out that there are some in the church that are shirking responsibility, they are showing signs of laziness and neglecting to fulfil their roles in the fellowship. This is not due to sickness or malfunction but due to the fact that some just will not pick up their responsibility and do what God wants them to do in the church.
Some of the Thessalonian believers were literally giving up physical work and sponging off the others in the fellowship.
However this is not just about physical work, it is also about attitude to the work of God and attitude towards the rest of the body.
We have great examples in scripture of God and the Lord Jesus Christ on the attitude to work.
God is a worker, Christ is a worker and the Holy Spirit is a worker.
The Triune God is busy working in the world and in the lives of believers and unbelievers.
Gen 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.John 5:17 But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."
Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The Holy Spirit is working in the world.
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
He works in the lives of believers, sanctifying them. He works in the lives of unbelievers convicting of sin, of righteousness and judgement.
He is at work in regeneration and drawing men to Christ.
His work is to glorify Christ.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
We can be confident that “If we are praying about it God is working on it.” “God is making things happen for us. Even when we don’t see it, Even when we can’t feel it, Even if its not evident. God is working on our prayers.”
Isaiah 65:24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
Paul begins by letting the Thessalonians know that even though they still have problems and persecutions, that God is blessing them with success in the Gospel.
V1, “even as it is with you”,
God is blessing you but don’t forget to pray for us and our work that the word of the Lord may have its free course and be glorified. (free course – Greek, trecho – run swiftly, hastily).
There is urgency in Paul’s words here. In the light of the Second Coming, we should be preaching the Word, whilst we yet have time. Jesus had this urgency as well and we must have the same thing.
For there will come a day when we will not be able to preach the Gospel as freely as we can today.
John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Paul goes on:
2Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
You cannot reason with unreasonable men. We need God to open men’s eyes to the Gospel, something that only the Holy Spirit can do, through the act of regeneration.
This is why we need to pray for each other and the world.
This is why Paul constantly appealed to Christians to pray for him and his team.
(Romans 15:30, 2 Corinthians 1:11, Ephesians 6:18-19, Philippians 1:19, Colossians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, and Philemon 1:22).
Paul knew that the success of his ministry in some measure depended on the prayers of God’s people.
Paul’s prayer request makes us wonder how often the work of God’s Word is hindered by our prayerlessness.
Although God’s Word and work will not be thwarted
Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
However, God wants us to be involved in the fulfilling of His Will, we are expected to take this promise in faith, and in prayer, to ask God to perform the promise for His glory.
2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
Even if we are not faithful in our duties towards God, He is faithful and this gave Paul confidence in the fact that God could and would work in their lives to perform of His good pleasure.
We may also notice that this is not a request to which we can say “No”. It is a command, V4, the things which we command you.
Paul and the other Apostles had the right given to them by Christ, to command these things and Paul makes that clear in the next verse, V6.
2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
It is not just the fact that He was commanding it but it was in the name of Jesus.
In the same way, we command our children to obey our words for their own benefit. When we say to them “On no accounts are you to go here or there, or mix with certain people”, we expect obedience because we know that there can be bad consequences to disobedience.
So Paul knew the consequences of disobedience also.
We cannot put maturity and stability into our children, they have to learn through listening and obedience, through co operation with us.
So too, God doesn’t just pour spiritual maturity and stability into us. He works it in us through our cooperation with His will.
“Now may the Lord direct your hearts”: Towards this end, Paul wisely prayed for both love and patience (endurance) for the Thessalonian Christian’s. These were two qualities essential for the kind of spiritual stability and strength the Thessalonians needed.
How then can we work towards making our church or fellowship stronger and more effective in the world?
2Th 3:6 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 which he received of us.
Because of the teaching that Jesus was coming back and the fact that these
believers expected Him to return in their lifetime, they didn’t see the need to
carry on working for a living, so some gave up their jobs and began to depend on others in the church, they became busybodies v11.
2Th 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
This was a bad example, not only to new converts but to the unbelievers outside the church.
Remember in those days, there was no Social Security or Government benefits or food banks.
The church looked after its own. The poor and needy, the sick and infirmed and what they didn’t need were scroungers and dead legs.
This is a bad witness and a disobedience to the Will of God.
Paul goes on to say, this is not how we behaved in your midst.
2Th 3:7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
2Th 3:8 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:
He says, even though we had the right to ask you for the things we needed, we did not. We worked ourselves to support ourselves and to be an example of how one should live.
Paul was not a Prosperity Gospel Preacher, Paul never became financially rich from the Gospel but he became rich in the Gospel.
2Th 3:9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
He now reminds them of how he had told them previously when he was with them. That if any man is not willing to work, then he should not eat.
2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Whilst Christians are expected to be charitable to those within the church and also to those outside the church, the church is not there to be taken advantage of.
Sometimes it is necessary to hard to be kind.
The command was to these people that would not work, was to “get a job and pay your way”
2Th 3:12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Paul goes on to say but you, who are living in the correct way, don’t cease
doing what you are doing, don’t become like them, continue in the correct way and you will be an example and will put them to shame.
2Th 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
The Apostle is very clear in what should happen concerning these lazy ones. Don’t have anything to do with them.
This is not a common thing in churches today, mainly because the church worldwide is not run the way it was in Paul’s day.
Acts 2:43 A sense of awe came over everyone, and the apostles performed many wonders and signs.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45 Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.…
In a setup like this, being disfellowshipped would have been a big thing.
If this happened in churches today, they would just move to another fellowship.
There is no shame today.
Years ago, a man was looked on with disdain if he did not support his family, even unbelievers saw the moral obligation to work.
2Th 3:14 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.
2Th 3:15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
This is doing what Paul taught in other Epistles.
I Cor 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Apparently, even though Paul had said this same thing to them whilst he was with them, the problem still remained in some measure, so he told them to now discipline the unruly ones in question.
The purpose in withdrawing from these people was not so much punishment, but more to deny these disobedient ones the aid and comfort of the fellowship of the body of Christ until they repented. It put them out of the church into the “domain” of Satan (the world), in hope that they might miss the fellowship of the church so much they would repent of their disobedience.
The purpose was to bring about repentance but, not to condemn or damn them.
In an indirect way, Paul showed that his vision for the church was that it should be such a place of love and comfort that one would genuinely feel sad and sorry to be excluded from the church.
Whilst our churches today are not necessarily run in the same way as then, they should also fit that description. Places of love and comfort.
“The intention of excommunication is not to drive men from the Lord’s flock, but rather to bring them back again when they have wandered and gone astray. . . . Excommunication is to be distinguished from anathema.” (John Calvin)
2Th 3:16 Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
2Th 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.
2Th 3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
As was his custom in his letters, Paul always prayed for Grace and Peace to be with his readers and it is no different here but there is an emphesis.
“May the Lord of Peace, Himself”
“I want to call particular attention to the apostle’s words in this place. He does not say ‘May the Lord of peace send his angel to give you peace.’ It were a great mercy if he did, and we might be as glad as Jacob was at Mahanaim, when the angels of God met him. He does not even say, ‘May the Lord of peace send his minister to give you peace.’ If he did we might be as happy as Abraham when Melchizedec refreshed him with bread and wine. He does not even say, ‘May the Lord of peace at the communion table, or in reading the word, or in prayer, or in some other sacred exercise give you peace.’ In all these we might well be as refreshed . . . but he says ‘the Lord of peace himself give you peace,’ as if he alone in his own person could give peace, and as if his presence were the sole means of such a divine peace as he desires.”
Paul, as was his custom put his signature at the end of his letter “with mine own hand” and then there is a little word that shows the Apostle is full of compassion. He includes even the ones he has been chastising, rebuking and correcting.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all”.
An example, again of affection, love and compassion for all of God’s people.