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Chapter three also picks up and expands on a theme from 1 Thessalonians, namely, the Christian’s work ethic. Paul prefaced this topic with his request that the gospel would continue to “spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among” the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5). He also prayed that they would be protected from those who would do them harm in this world.
Paul believed their work ethic was an important part of the gospel’s effectiveness (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). It seems that some of the believers had quit their jobs and were living off of the generosity of the church community. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Paul had already gently called them out for this, but they needed something stronger. Here Paul reminded them of his own example among them, how he worked for his own food rather than relying on support from the church. He also insisted that their lifestyle was disparaging to the gospel and that someone who continued to live like that was to be shunned within the Christian community. This was such a big deal that even before Paul had to leave town he commanded them, “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” This principle is still applicable today.
Paul closed his letter with a personal signature to authenticate it, another hint that there was a forged letter going around with his name on it (2 Thessalonians 3:16-18).