2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The Lord Will Establish and Guard You
The warmth and humility of the Apostle Paul comes shining through in the third chapter of this letter. Paul will often assert his apostolic authority as he will in the next paragraph, but not before he begs this church for the one thing he desired more than anything else from them—and that was their prayers on his behalf: “Finally, brothers, pray for us,.” The Greek behind the word “pray” means “pray continuously.” Paul was not a man who thought that he could do anything in his own strength; he needed the prayers of the saints. We must never think that the apostles were men who would waltz into pagan cities working signs and wonders at will staring down magistrates preaching the gospel without fear. They were subject to the same emotions we are and paid the price for their courage. They needed to be lifted up in prayer. But then he asks not so much prayer for himself but “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you.” Paul wanted to see God’s word roll over cities like a great tide, conquering hearts and bringing men and women to saving faith. But he also knew that there was an enemy standing in his path, for he also implored that they pray “that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.” The gospel will be opposed. Men naturally oppose the gospel because it calls them to repent, and the devil is there every step of the way to aggravate their annoyance with that message. So we pray both for our safety and the deliverance of sinful men from the evil one.
Paul then turns his attention to this church which he loved so much: “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” The Thessalonians were experiencing their own troubles which the apostle referred to in his first letter to them (2:14). But troubles do not mean that the Lord is not near; indeed, as Paul noted earlier in this letter, it is evidence of God’s approval of them and of the coming destruction of their adversaries (1:5-10). Paul’s confidence that the Lord would guard them is buttressed by their remaining in the apostolic word, which for them was embodied in those very men. If we shall be guarded against the evil one, we too must remain in the word and obey every command therein. We cannot depend on God’s deliverance when we flout His directives and presume upon His grace. Obedience is the measure of our devotion. Finally Paul prays, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to steadfastness in Christ.” This is what we so desperately need: to love God more and remain steadfast. We must endure to the end to be saved (Matthew 24:13), and we will for the one who has called us is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).