Saturday, 21 October 2017
…not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. 2 Thessalonians 3:9
One can see the importance of apostolic authority in Paul’s words. He has explained why he and his associates did not impose upon those in Thessalonica. It was because they did not desire to be a burden on them. However, he now notes that they had every right to do so with the words, “not because we do not have authority.” They had a legitimate right to partake of anything any other apostle was entitled to. They bore the word of God, and they transmitted it to the church there.
The implication is that bearing the word of God carries this authority. As the word of God comes through the apostles, only those who bear the word of God, as given by the apostles, have such a right to the same authority. And as there is only one word of God, only those who hold to it alone have a true right to what accompanies its transmission. Someone who stands in the pulpit and dismisses the word of God, or who adds to it, has no authority, or has abused his authority. He is to be rejected. This is all implied in how Paul reveals these truths. The word of God alone is our authority within the church.
He, and his associates, possessed that authority, but they did not exercise it. This was, as he says, “to make ourselves an example.” The words “to make” means “so that we might give.” They were setting themselves as examples for those in Thessalonica to learn from and to emulate. They had purposefully acted as they did with the intent of teaching those who were slothful among the church. They were to learn by it in hopes that they would emulate what they saw. This is revealed in the words, “of how you should follow us.” Paul and his companions had set themselves as a model, and this model was expected to be applied to the lives of those in the church.
What is seen here is a letter which centers on the coming rapture of the church, and then the coming Day of the Lord. It is to be inferred that there were congregants who were sitting around doing nothing because it was so much easier to speculate about the coming of the Lord than it was for them to get up, get out, and work. And it was also so much easier than studying the word, gaining sound theology, and actually applying Scripture to their lives.
They were the forerunners of today’s YouTube prophecy addicts who spend all their time in the realm of “goofy,” instead of in the realm of reality. The Thessalonians didn’t want to work, and they used the soon coming of the Lord as an excuse to not do just that. They didn’t want to strain their minds on sound theology, and they mishandled Scripture in order to avoid learning how to rightly apply it.
Before YouTube, one can see them setting up stalls on the road and promoting their wares for everyone to see. Instead of a DONATE button, they had a DONATE slot. Instead of computer graphics, they had their wife paint a bizarro screen at the back of the stall. And instead of an open Bible, filled with study notes, they listened to words of false teachers (see verses 2:1-3), or they simply made things up out of their own heads, passing it off as the truth of God. Paul is (and will continue) telling them that this is not appropriate. They needed to get out there, work, and stop idly speculating about something which is known but to God alone.
Life application: Paul set the example of work and industry. Stop watching 60 hours of YouTube a week, get up, get out, and get to work. And in your free time, read the Bible.
Lord God, Your word sets forth an example for Your people that we are to be hard working, self-sufficient, and industrious. It also informs us that this is so because idle speculation about the Lord’s return is unproductive, it is time-wasted, and it is harmful to the body. This can all be inferred from Your word, and some of it is explicit. Help us to get a grip, get off YouTube, and get to work – always anticipating, but never expecting, the great Day when Jesus comes to take us home. Whoo hoo. Oh what a day that will be. Amen.