BackgroundIn 2 Thess 3, Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians, by once again providing instruction for behavior within the church. Before instructing the Thessalonians' behavior, Paul requests prayer for the spreading of the gospel and deliverance from wicked people. Scholars suggest that Paul's introduction follows ancient rhetoric. The ancient rhetoric embodies praise intended to gain a good hearing, before addressing a difficult issue. The difficult issue addressed dealt with certain Thessalonians not working but relying on rich brothers to meet their needs. Paul addresses this issue in the first letter; however, the behavior remained. In Paul's dealings with the issue, he urges the Thessalonians to separate themselves from those who are idle. Paul's urging exemplifies the intensity to which the lingering issue escalated. He continues his exhortation by identifying his own behavior amongst them. Paul's actions warrant imitation as he established a model example. Finally, he declares the Thessalonians to separate themselves to bring shame on the guilty parties. Paul concludes his admonishment with a closing prayer or greeting like the first letter. However, the final greeting of this letter emphasizes his authorship and authority, by his declaration that his own hand signed it. In conjunction with the demonstration of his authority, Paul concludes the letter departing grace to the Thessalonians.
ContextI numerously experienced times where I did not want to go to work. I was exhausted and required a much-needed break. During those moments, I desired to call off sick. Unfortunately, my conscience would not allow it. I knew that I was not ill at all. On certain occasions, when I endured mental exhaustion someone else reminded me that it was okay to take a mental break. Before the suggestion, I would not allow myself to take a break. I understood very clearly, Paul's statements that if a man does not work, he shall not eat (2 Thess 3:10).
Despite my work ethics, I noticed in specific areas where I did not maintain them. While at work, I responded to personal texts or browsed the internet. Certain days, I did not complete specific work tasks due to being distracted by technology. I also discovered that I was not the only one having this problem. I had a work colleague who spent several hours on his phone. He either played games, texted, or made personal phone calls. We became consumed by our devices. Even though we went to work, we did not work. We became idle. Our idle behavior compares to the Thessalonians. They no longer worked. They became idle and expected their brothers to meet their physical and financial needs.