Saturday, 14 October 2017
…and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:2
The words here closely reflect those of Romans 15:31 –
“…that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe.”
Paul was constantly hemmed in and persecuted by those who lacked faith. In particular, it was the non-believing Jews. They hounded him, they attacked him, and they did their best to destroy him. This was also true among the Gentiles, but more often than not, their attacks were first spurred on by the unbelieving Jews. The book of Acts carefully details these things, and those in Thessalonica were perfectly aware of this, having seen it in their own city first hand. Acts 17 records this.
His request here, “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men,” is given to describe the request for prayer of the previous verse. He had made his request, now he gives specific details concerning that request that they can plug into their prayers. The Greek actually has an article in front of “unreasonable.” Thus, he is identifying a specific group of people. It says, “and that we may be delivered from the unreasonable and wicked men.” The word translated as “unreasonable” is rather rare, being used just four times. It is an adjective which signifies “out of place,” and thus “warped.”
There was a specific group of people, warped in their thinking and action, and who were also wicked. Paul desired that prayer be made against them in order to hinder them from effectively stopping the swift and effective transmission of the word of the Lord. To complete his description of them, he says, “for not all have faith.” Again, there is an article in the Greek which is lacking. It says, “the faith.” People may have faith, but are misdirected in their faith. He is unconcerned with their faith, and is targeting his concerns concerning their lack of “the faith” in Christ Jesus. Their lack of this particular faith is what makes them harmful. Not only do they have faith (in something else), they use the faith they have against “the faith” which Paul proclaims.
Again, it seems certain that those of the Jewish faith are who Paul is referring to. He was one of them and their culture, and he had once worked with all of his might to destroy the faith which is found in Christ. He knew the passion these enemies of the gospel possessed, and he knew that prayer was effective in working against their success.
Life application: Paul asked for prayer. Paul wrote about his prayers. The many examples of prayer that he gives us are intended to show us that prayers are not unnecessary, and that they are effective. It may seem pointless to pray to the God who already knows all things, but it is not. We pray and He hears. A prayer which is not uttered is a prayer which will probably not be acted upon.
Lord God, help us to improve our prayer lives. Your word shows us that prayers are both expected, and that they are effective. Should we presume to know more than the word You have given us? Rather, help us to live in accord with Your word, and to be people who pray with conviction, and in hopes of a favorable response. And should the response not be favorable, help us to understand that Your wisdom is far higher than ours. In the end, we will see why all things have transpired as they have. Amen.