Praying for Each Other
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
1. Recognize the Context:
Previous Context: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
In verse 13, Paul transitioned to thanksgiving. He used the adversative but to provide a contrast between those who were deceived and perishing and the Thessalonians church. Paul desired to reassure them concerning their salvation, especially in light of current and future suffering at the hands of evil.
God chose the Thessalonian church to be the firstfruits of salvation. Firstfruits is a farming metaphor found in the Old Testament, where the first and the best food and animals were offered to God. Similarly, the Thessalonian church represents "the first and the best offered to God" in their life of salvation. This salvation took place through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief in the truth. The Thessalonians responded to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit by believing the truth. Ultimately, the goal of their salvation was to share in Christ’s glory.
In verse 15, Paul turned to exhortation. They were encouraged to stand firm, the opposite of being unsettled and alarmed. They were to hold firmly to what they had been taught, not to the deception attributed to Paul.
In verses 16-17, Paul offered a prayer for them. He prayed that Christ and the Father, who provide ever-lasting encouragement and real hope, would strengthen their words and actions.
2. Read the Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
3. Reflect on the Scripture::
After praying for the Thessalonian church, Paul asked them to pray for him and his companions. He requested that the message of the Lord might spread rapidly (literally “run” see Psalm 147:15 for this image) and be honored, just as it was with the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:8). Paul desired for the gospel message to advance and to be openly received as it was within this community (1 Thess. 2:13).
In verse 2, Paul’s prayer request was for deliverance from evil and evil people, using the same vocabulary Jesus used in Matt. 6:13, the Lord’s prayer. Paul knew not everyone responded in faith or trust to the message he proclaimed, as he experienced firsthand from those who openly resisted the gospel, even in Thessalonica (Acts 17). In verse 3, Paul provided a contrast from faithless evil people to God, who is faithful and trustworthy. He is the one who will protect against evil.
Paul was confident the Thessalonians would continue in the teaching they received. He then returned to prayer for them. His prayer in verse 5 concentrated on God’s love for them and the example of Christ’s perseverance.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, pray the gospel might rapidly spread like it did in the first century.
Today, pray for those you know who are actively spreading the gospel, that they might be protected from evil.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. Pray this might cause you to be faithful.
Today, prayerfully consider God’s love and Christ’s example of perseverance.
To do: (with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above and questions, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
Today, what can you specifically do to help advance the gospel message in your world?
Today (or this week), who can you share with concerning God’s love and Christ’s example of perseverance.