2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
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(6) We command you.—The practical conclusion of the letter. These words take up the expression in 2Thessalonians 3:4, “Ye will do the things which (at any time) we command you; now the thing which we command you is this.”

In the name of our Lord.—To do anything in a person’s name seems to mean, in the first instance, the actual pronouncing of the name in the performance of the action—to do it name on lip, just as to “come in a rod” (1Corinthians 4:21) literally means rod in hand. Thus, miracles are commonly said to be performed “in the name of the Lord,” viz., with the audible repetition of His name (for instance, Matthew 7:22, Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17); and for examples of the way in which the name was literally so used, we may refer to Acts 3:6; Acts 9:34; Acts 19:13—in the last case the name being employed as a mere incantation or charm. See also Philippians 2:10, where, as the adoration paid to Jesus Himself is the point, the phrase must mean, “mentioning the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.” From this mention of the name in performing an action, our phrase assumes, at any rate, two distinct meanings: (1) As in Colossians 3:17, it implies an invocation or attestation of the person named, or a recognition of his presence and interest in the matter, in which sense it has passed into the common language of Christianity, into legal formulas, &c. (2) Here, and usually, it means a claim to the authority of the person named—to act officially as his representative with full powers. (See Notes on John 14:13; John 14:26.) Thus the prophets spoke “in the name of the Lord”—i.e., as His authoritative exponents (James 5:10); St. Paul commands (Acts 16:18), and retains a man’s sins (1Corinthians 4:5) “in the name of the Lord”—i.e., as His official spokesman or ambassador; the priests are to administer the unction of the sick with like authority (James 5:14-15). So here, the Thessalonians are not to think that in disobeying St. Paul’s injunctions they are rebelling against a mere human authority; Christ Himself speaks to them through St. Paul’s lips. Yet, commanding with all this tremendous authority, they are still but “brethren” (Matthew 23:8).

Withdraw yourselves.—The striking word here used is (in its simple form) only found besides in 2Corinthians 8:20 : “avoiding this.” In a still more striking compound, it occurs in Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27; Galatians 2:12; Hebrews 10:38. It is a metaphor from the language of strategy a cautious general shrinking from an encounter and timidly drawing off under cover. Perhaps, we might illustrate it by the familiar English “fight shy of every brother.” A social excommunication rather than ecclesiastical seems chiefly meant, though the latter might perhaps be involved.

From every brotheri.e., every Christian. It was impossible to be so strict about the outside world. (Comp. 1Corinthians 5:10-11.) The man still remains a “brother” (2Thessalonians 3:15).

Disorderly.—The word is rendered “unruly” in 1Thessalonians 5:14, and is possibly suggested by the military metaphor above. It means properly “out of rank.” The kind of irregularity which is meant is made clear by 2Thessalonians 3:10-11. The worthy Bengel quaintly makes this an opportunity for denouncing the Mendicant Orders: “An order of mendicants, then, is not an order; if the Thessalonians had bound themselves to it by a vow, what would St. Paul have said?”

The tradition.—See Note on 2Thessalonians 2:15. The word must imply systematic and definite teaching; and we see here again that a clear code of ethics was part of the apostolic catechism. (See Note on 1Thessalonians 4:1)

He received.—The best rendering is, which they receivedi.e., all the brethren who walked disorderly. The word “receive” is the regular correlative to “tradition” or “deliver.” (See, e.g., Mark 7:4; 1Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:9; Colossians 2:6.)

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12. We command you, brethren — We solemnly charge you; in the name of the Lord. (see on 1 Corinthians 5:4,) the credit and progress of whose religion are so nearly concerned in the matter; that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother — Whatever his rank, circumstances, or profession may be; that walketh disorderly — Particularly (as the apostle here means) in not working; that you have no unnecessary converse or society with such. Disorderly persons, ατακτοι, are they who profess to be subject to the discipline of the gospel, yet do not walk according to its precepts. See 1 Thessalonians 5:14. What the apostle here condemned under this description, was idleness, 2 Thessalonians 3:11; and by the solemnity with which he introduces his charge, we are taught, that it is most offensive to God, and dangerous to ourselves and others, to encourage, by our company and conversation, such as live in the practice of that or any gross sin! May all who have a regard to religion attend to this! The same important charge is repeated 2 Thessalonians 3:14. And not after the tradition which ye received of us — The admonition we gave both by word of mouth and in our former epistle. Yourselves know how ye ought to follow — Μιμεισθαι, to imitate, us — As if he had said, My own conduct entitles me to rebuke the disorderly; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you — We were not irregular in our conduct, but endeavoured to conduct ourselves so as to recommend and enforce our doctrine by our example. Neither did we eat any man’s bread for naught — Greek, δωρεαν, gratis, or as a free gift, but wrought with labour and travail — Or toil, as μοχθω signifies: night and day — This intimates that the apostle was frequently obliged to work at his business of tent-making a part of the night, that he might be at leisure during the day to preach the word, and teach those that came to him for religious instruction. See on 1 Thessalonians 2:9. Not because we have not power Εξουσιαν, authority, or right, to receive a maintenance from those to whom we minister. See on 1 Corinthians 9:4-7. When our Lord first sent out the twelve to preach, he said to them, (Matthew 10:10,) The workman is worthy of his meat; and by so saying conferred on his apostles a right to demand subsistence from those to whom they preached. This right Paul did not insist on among the Thessalonians, but wrought for his maintenance while he preached to them. Lest, however, his enemies might think this an acknowledgment that he was not an apostle, he here asserted his right, and told them that he had demanded no maintenance from them, that he might make himself a pattern to them of prudent industry. This we commanded, that if any among you, capable of working, would not work — For his own maintenance; neither should he eat — Be maintained by the charity of his fellow-Christians; do not support him in idleness. From this precept of the gospel we learn, that all men, without distinction, ought to employ themselves in some business or other which is useful; and that no man is entitled to spend his life in idleness. We hear there are some, &c. — After writing the former epistle, the apostle, it seems, had received a particular account of the state of the Thessalonian church; working not at all, but are busy-bodies — Idleness naturally disposes people to busy themselves with the concerns of others. Such we command and exhort Παρακαλουμεν, beseech; by our Lord Jesus — To his command the apostle added earnest entreaty; and he did so by the direction of Christ. Or the meaning may be, We command by the authority, and beseech by the love of our Lord Jesus, that with quietness they work, forbearing to meddle, in any shape, with other people’s affairs.3:6-15 Those who have received the gospel, are to live according to the gospel. Such as could work, and would not, were not to be maintained in idleness. Christianity is not to countenance slothfulness, which would consume what is meant to encourage the industrious, and to support the sick and afflicted. Industry in our callings as men, is a duty required by our calling as Christians. But some expected to be maintained in idleness, and indulged a curious and conceited temper. They meddled with the concerns of others, and did much harm. It is a great error and abuse of religion, to make it a cloak for idleness or any other sin. The servant who waits for the coming of his Lord aright, must be working as his Lord has commanded. If we are idle, the devil and a corrupt heart will soon find us somewhat to do. The mind of man is a busy thing; if it is not employed in doing good, it will be doing evil. It is an excellent, but rare union, to be active in our own business, yet quiet as to other people's. If any refused to labour with quietness, they were to note him with censure, and to separate from his company, yet they were to seek his good by loving admonitions. The Lords is with you while you are with him. Hold on your way, and hold on to the end. We must never give over, or tire in our work. It will be time enough to rest when we come to heaven.Now we command you, brethren - The apostle now 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 turns to an important subject - the proper method of treating those who were idle and disorderly in the church. In the previous Epistle he had adverted to this subject, but in the mild language of exhortation. When he wrote that Epistle he was aware that there were some among them who were disposed to be idle, and he had tenderly exhorted them "to be quiet, and to mind their own business, and to work with their own hands;" 1 Thessalonians 4:11. But it seems the exhortation, and the example of Paul himself when there 1 Thessalonians 2:9, had not been effectual in inducing them to be industrious. It became, therefore, necessary to use the strong language of command, as he does here, and to require that if they would not work, the church should withdraw from them. What was the original cause of their idleness, is not known. There seems no reason, however, to doubt that it was much increased by their expectation that the Saviour would soon appear, and that the world would soon come to an end. If this was to be so, of what use would it be to labor? Why strive to accumulate property with reference to the wants of a family, or to a day of sickness, or old age? Why should a man build a house that was soon to be burnt up, or why buy a farm which he was soon to leave? The effect of the expectation of the speedy appearing of the Lord Jesus has always been to induce men to neglect their worldly affairs, and to lead idle lives. Man, naturally disposed to be idle, wants the stimulus of hope that he is laboring for the future welfare of himself, for his family, or for society, nor will he labor if he believes that the Saviour is about to appear.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 5:4. "That ye withdraw yourselves;" see the notes on 1 Timothy 6:5. This is the true notion of Christian discipline. It is not primarily that of cutting a man off, or denouncing him, or excommunicating him; it is that of withdrawing from him. We cease to have fellowship with him. We do not regard him any longer as a Christian brother. We separate from him. We do not seek to affect him in any other respect; we do not injure his name or standing as a man, or hold him up to reprobation; we do not follow him with denunciation or a spirit of revenge; we simply cease to recognise him as a Christian brother, when he shows that he is no longer worthy to be regarded as such. We do not deliver him over to the civil arm; we do not inflict any positive punishment on him; we leave him unmolested in all his rights as a citizen, a man, a neighbor, a husband, a father, and simply say that he is no longer one of us as a Christian. How different is this from excommunication, as it has been commonly understood! How different from the anathemas fulminated by the papacy, and the delivering of the heretic over to the civil power!

From every brother that walketh disorderly - compare the notes, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13. A "disorderly walk" denotes conduct that is in any way contrary to the rules of Christ. The proper idea of the word used here (ἀτάκτως ataktōs), is that of soldiers who do not keep the ranks; who are regardless of order; and then who are irregular in any way. The word would include any violation of the rules of Christ on any subject.

And not after the tradition which ye received of us - According to the doctrine which we delivered to you; see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:15. This shows that by the word "tradition" the apostle did not mean unwritten doctrines handed down from one to another, for he evidently alludes to what he had himself taught them, and his direction is not that that should be handed down by them, but that they should obey it.

6. we command you—Hereby he puts to a particular test their obedience in general to his commands, which obedience he had recognized in 2Th 3:4.

withdraw—literally, "to furl the sails"; as we say, to steer clear of (compare 2Th 3:14). Some had given up labor as though the Lord's day was immediately coming. He had enjoined mild censure of such in 1Th 5:14, "Warn … the unruly"; but now that the mischief had become more confirmed, he enjoins stricter discipline, namely, withdrawal from their company (compare 1Co 5:11; 2Jo 10, 11): not a formal sentence of excommunication, such as was subsequently passed on more heinous offenders (as in 1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:20). He says "brother," that is, professing Christian; for in the case of unprofessing heathen, believers needed not be so strict (1Co 5:10-13).

disorderly—Paul plainly would not have sanctioned the order of Mendicant Friars, who reduce such a "disorderly" and lazy life to a system. Call it not an order, but a burden to the community (Bengel, alluding to the Greek, 2Th 3:8, for "be chargeable," literally, "be a burden").

the tradition—the oral instruction which he had given to them when present (2Th 3:10), and subsequently committed to writing (1Th 4:11, 12).

which he received of us—Some oldest manuscripts read, "ye received"; others, "they received." The English Version reading has no very old authority.

Here the apostle proceeds to a discourse of another kind, which is about their carriage to disorderly members in the church. And having before declared his confidence, 2 Thessalonians 3:4, that they did and would do the things he commanded them, he now tells them what he commands; and because either it is a matter of great importance, or that which’they would be backward in, he therefore speaks with great vehemence. When he spake in the former Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, of warning the unruly, he then spake with greater mildness:

We exhort you, brethren, & c.; but now to withdraw from them is a harsher duty; or they having first warned them, if they reform not, next they are to proceed to withdraw from them. And this he now commands as that which he supposeth they might be backward to. paraggellomen the word properly signifies a command conveyed from another, so the apostle commands here

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though he had authority to command as an apostle, yet it was derived to him from Christ, and therefore he usually conjoins Christ with his exhortations and commands.

That ye withdraw yourselves from every brother; or avoid, as the word signifies, and is so rendered, 2 Corinthians 8:20. The word is used also, Galatians 2:12, of Peter’s withdrawing himself from eating with the Gentiles; and rendered drawing back, Hebrews 10:38, alluding, as some think, there to a soldier that draws back from the battle; but here in the text to a mariner that steers his ship from the rocks; and so it implies the danger of not withdrawing, which may be the reason of the apostle’s so solemn command about it. And it is not from a heathen man, but a brother, one that is of the church; and it is every brother, let him be rich or poor, high or low, &c.; as he writes to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 5:11: If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, & c.

That walketh disorderly: alluding, as some think, to soldiers who keep not their rank, not walking according to rule, or, as he expresseth it,

not after the tradition which he received of us. What is to be meant by tradition, is explained in the former chapter. And he cannot be understood to speak here of rites and ceremonies relating to church worship or order, as some imagine; the apostle doth in the following verses explain himself otherwise. But what is this withdrawing? Is it excommunication, the greater or the less? In a general sense it may be so called, for it is an abstaining from commnnion; but it is not so properly, for that is called putting away a person, a purging out the old leaven, 1 Corinthians 5:7, this is only a withdrawing from him; much less is it a delivering up to Satan, which the apostle required, 1 Corinthians 5:5, and himself inflicted upon Hymeneus and Alexander, 1 Timothy 1:20. The nature of the crime here mentioned will not bear that. It was not incest or blasphemy, as in the former instances, but only disorderly walking, which he specifies afterwards. And with respect to such the apostle required in the former Epistle warning only: Warn the unruly. And though this is something more, yet it implies not a casting a man out of the church, which is Christ’s visible kingdom, into Satan’s kingdom, for he is still to be admonished as a brother, as 2 Thessalonians 3:15. And excommunication is the exerting an act of church power, as 1 Corinthians 5:4, whereof no mention is made here; or of an absolute rejection, which is elsewhere required, Titus 3:10. It seems then to be only a withdrawing from familiar converse and society, as 1 Corinthians 5:11: If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, covetous, &c.; with such an one no not to eat; alluding to the custom of the Jews, who would not eat with the Gentiles; and by eating is expressed communion in Scripture, and profane writers also. And such communion is forbidden to such a brother, which the apostle allowed them to have with such sinners that were of the world, and not of the church, as 2 Thessalonians 3:10, which cannot be meant of sacred communion. And familiarity with such a brother would harden him in his sins, and reflect dishonour upon religion, and endanger their infection, more than with a pagan, or infidel: which therefore the apostle forbids them to a brother, as he did the Corinthians mentioned before, as also the Romans, Romans 16:17. And which may be a step towards excommunication from spiritual communion, which is the greater punishment, especially if the brother be not hereby made ashamed, and reform his course, and doth not only now and then do a disorderly action, but

walketh disorderly, and that after warning also. Others think it is meant of excommunication, and judge not the reason against it to be cogent. Now we command you, brethren,.... The apostle is now come to the main thing itself he has in view in this part of the epistle, which is to encourage a regard to the discipline of God's house; and to exhort this church to excommunicate, or remove from communion, all disorderly persons; and those who are to do this he points out, and calls upon, and even commands; and these are the fraternity, the "brethren", the society of believers, all the members of the church; for to them to whom belongs the power of receiving members, to them only belongs the power of excluding offenders: the executive power lies in the hands of the elders or pastors of churches; they are the persons by whom the church receives or casts out members; but the power of judgment, or of determining who shall be received into, or who shall be removed from communion, lies in the church, and not in the pastors and elders only; whoever therefore take upon them to receive, or refuse, or cast out members of themselves, and at their own pleasure, act the part of Diotrephes, 3 John 1:9. The authority for removing disorderly persons from communion is an apostolical command, "we command you"; who are the apostles of Christ, immediately sent by him, who had their mission and commission from him, and which were confirmed by miracles; these had a greater power and authority than the ordinary ministers of the word; they were the ambassadors of Christ, stood in his stead, represented him, and acted in his name; what they said, he spake by them; and it was all one as if he had spoke it himself: and that this might appear not to be of them, but of him, it is added,

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is, by his power and authority, if they had any regard to that, or to his honour and glory:

that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly; by a brother is meant, not one in a natural or civil sense, who is so by blood, or by neighbourhood, by being of the same country, or of the same human species, since all are of one blood; but one in an ecclesiastical sense, a church member, who is called a brother, though he may not be really a child of God, one of the brethren of Christ, or born of the Spirit; yet being a fellow citizen with the saints, and of the household of God externally, he bears this character; and such an one only is cognizable by a church, who have nothing to do to judge them that are without, only them that are within: and "every brother" in this sense falls under their notice; everyone that is a member, whether male or female, for this word includes both; and as the sisters, as well as the brethren, stand in the same relation, are in the same church state, partake of the same ordinances, and enjoy the same privileges, they are obliged to regard the same rules of the Gospel, and duties of religion, and, in case of disorder, to be withdrawn from: and this also regards every brother, of whatsoever state or condition, bond or free, high or low, rich or poor; no partiality is to be used, no preference to be given to one above the other; a poor member in a disorder is not to be bore hard upon, while a rich one is winked and connived at: and it also respects the brethren, whether private members, or officers of the church; for not only the former, but also the latter, when they walk disorderly, whether in the discharge of their office, or in any other part of their conduct, are liable to the notice and censure of the church: and which is only to be done when any of them "walk disorderly"; not for every disorder they are guilty of; there is no man lives without sin; and church members have their infirmities, and will have, as long as they are in the flesh, or in the body; and they are not to be made offenders for a word, or for a single disorder, or for the common infirmities of life; nor are the just to be set aside for a thing of nought, or a small offence, and that not continued in: it is one thing to be guilty of a disorder, and another thing to walk disorderly; which denotes a way, a course, a series of disorder, and proceeding on in it, a going from evil to evil, an increasing to more ungodliness; for walking is a progressive action, and disorderly persons do not stop, but grow worse and worse; for they take pleasure in their disorders; they choose their own ways, and delight in their abominations; the paths of sin are pleasant paths to them: and they are disorderly walkers, who pertinaciously and stubbornly continue in their disorders, notwithstanding the admonitions of private persons, and of the whole church; and of this sort there are such that walk disorderly in the world, in the commission of notorious and scandalous sins, such as uncleanness, intemperance, covetousness, &c. and that walk disorderly in families; as husbands that are not affectionate to their wives, and provide not for their household; and wives that are not in subjection to their husbands; parents that provoke their children to wrath; and children that are disobedient to their parents; masters who give not that which is fit and equal to their servants; and servants that despise their masters because they are brethren, when they should serve them the more cheerfully, because faithful and beloved: and also that walk disorderly in churches, that fill not up their places, but neglect attendance with the church, on the word and ordinances; and who are contentious and quarrelsome, and will not submit to the sentiments of those who are superior to them in number and sense; and likewise such who entertain bad notions and principles, derogatory to the grace of God, the person and offices of Christ, and the operations of the Spirit; who walk, not in the truth, nor according to the standard of the word of God; and especially such are designed here, who are busy bodies, and idle persons, who work not at all, but live at the tables, and upon the substance of others, as appears from 2 Thessalonians 3:11. These act contrary to the order and decorum of nations, towns, and families, and to that which God has fixed among mankind; and to the example of God, and Christ as God, who work hither to and jointly together in Providence, and in the government of the world; and to the example which Christ, as man, has set, and to the example of the apostles, and to their commands: wherefore it follows,

and not after the tradition which he received of us; meaning either the Gospel of Christ, which being, preached was received, but the walk and conversation of some was not agreeably to it; or the ordinances of the Gospel, and the precepts of religion which the apostles delivered, and were received, and yet due attendance to them was not given; See Gill on 2 Thessalonians 2:15, or rather that particular injunction concerning quietness, and doing their own business, and working with their own hands, 1 Thessalonians 4:11. The Vulgate Latin version reads, "which they received of us": the sense is the same; and the Ethiopic version, "and not according to the constitution we appointed them". Now what is commanded to be done to such disorderly persons, by the church, even the whole fraternity, is to "withdraw" themselves from them; by which is meant, not only to distinguish themselves from them by an orderly and regular conversation, and a strict observance of Gospel discipline, which to do is very right; nor barely to curb and restrain the affections towards such persons, lest by carrying it as heretofore, in a kind, tender, and affectionate manner, they should take encouragement from hence to continue in their disorders, as tender parents keep in their affections, and from showing them to their children, when in disorder, and under their corrections, that they might not seem to countenance them in that which is evil, though this is also very proper; nor also merely to contract or shut up the hand to such persons, and refuse to distribute to then, living such an idle life, and in such a disorderly way, though this is what ought to be done; nor does this phrase only intend a forbidding such persons their houses and their tables, not suffering them to sit at the one, nor even to come into the other, not allowing any company and conversation with them, that they may have no opportunity of indulging their laziness and tale bearing, though so to serve them is highly just and reasonable; nor does it design only a suspension, or a debarring of them from the Lord's table, which ought not to be done to any persons, while they continue in relation to the church, and members of it; but a removal of them from church communion, or an excommunication of them; which is sometimes expressed by rejecting persons, casting them out of the church, and putting them away, and here by withdrawing from them; which are all synonymous phrases, and intend exclusion from the communion of the church. And so the Ethiopic version here renders it, "that ye remove every brother", &c. From this passage we learn who they are that are to be excommunicated or removed from the communion of churches, all disorderly walkers; what the act of excommunication is, it is a withdrawing from them, a separating them from the church, and its communion; and who they are that have the power to do it, the whole fraternity or body of the church; and also the authority for it, an apostolical command, in the name of Christ.

{5} Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

(5) Fourthly, he says that idle and lazy persons ought not to be supported by the Church; indeed, they are not to be endured.

2 Thessalonians 3:6. Παραγγέλλομεν δέ] An application of the general ἃ παραγγέλλομεν, 2 Thessalonians 3:4, to a special case.

ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ʼΙ. Χρ.] belongs to παραγγέλλομεν, not to what follows. A solemn reference to the high authority for this injunction. Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:4.

στέλλεσθαι ἀπό τινος] to withdraw himself from every one, to avoid his company. Comp. ὑποστέλλειν ἑαυτόν, Galatians 2:12, and ὑποστέλλεσθαι, Hebrews 10:38.

ἀτάκτως] see on 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν, ἣν κ.τ.λ.] refers not to instruction by the example of the apostle (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Hofmann), which is first mentioned in what follows, but to the definite instruction which the apostle had given to them orally, during his presence at Thessalonica (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:11), and then confirmed by writing (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

παρελάβοσαν] A well-known constructio ad sensum adapted to the collective form ἀπὸ παντὸς ἀδελφοῦ. See Kühner, II. p. 42.

On the verbal form, comp. Sturz, de dial. Alex. p. 60; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 349.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. Dehortation from a disorderly and idle life in the church. Paul had already touched upon this subject in his First Epistle (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14). But here it is more expressly treated, and also with greater severity, because, without doubt, in the restless and fanatical excitement of spirits on account of the advent, this evil had greatly increased instead of diminishing. Paul represents the core of the church as free from this fault; he exhorts them to withdraw themselves from every Christian brother living disorderly, in order to bring him to shame and amendment. Only in 2 Thessalonians 3:12 does he direct his apostolic word to the erring brethren themselves.2 Thessalonians 3:6-16. Injunctions upon church-life and order.6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ] Or, But we charge you, brethren. See note, 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

St Paul has declared his confidence that the readers will do what he enjoins. Well! his injunction is this: that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly. It is uttered “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”—a solemn judicial sentence (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5) pronounced by the Apostle who acts as judge in his Sovereign’s name, and with the deepest sense of his responsibility; similarly, “through the Lord Jesus” in 1 Thessalonians 4:2 (see note).

He does not wish these troublesome persons to be expelled; nor does he invoke supernatural penalties upon them, as in the vastly worse case of discipline at Corinth; he directs the loyal Thessalonians not to associate with them, nor lend countenance in any way to their proceedings. On “walk,” see note to 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and on “disorderly,” 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

The rule of order or disorder in the case in question is thus laid down: and not after the tradition which they received of us (R.V.).

They received” is the older reading, referring to the class of persons just described as “every brother walking disorderly.” This slight grammatical discord the ancient copyists corrected, some by writing “ye received” (R.V. margin), and others “he received” (A.V.).

On tradition (or instruction), see note to ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:15. The nature of Paul’s “tradition” at Thessalonica on Christian behaviour may be gathered from the verses that follow, and from 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24. It consisted of example equally with precept:—

Section V. Discipline for the Disorderly

Ch. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15In his former letter St Paul had found it needful to exhort his readers to live a quiet life and to attend to their daily duties and pursuits. Some members of the Church were of an idle and improvident disposition. The Day of the Lord, they supposed, was imminent, and worldly occupations would therefore soon be at am end; the only business worth minding any longer, so they said, was to prepare for His coming. Their conduct was likely to bring discredit on the whole community; and they did it a material injury, by throwing the burden of their maintenance on their hard working and charitable brethren (see notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). These men were “the disorderly” of 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8 below); they gave trouble to the officers of the Church, whom the Apostle in the First Epistle urges the Thessalonians loyally to support (ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:12), while they united to “admonish” the offenders. This evil, which should have been checked by the reproofs of the first letter, had grown to larger proportions. The startling announcements that were made respecting the Second Advent, tended to aggravate the mischief. Indeed these rumours so unhinged the minds of some of the Thessalonian Christians, that it must have been difficult for them, however diligently inclined, to pursue their common avocations. And the Apostle, having calmed the agitation of his readers by what he has written in the second chapter, proceeds now in strong terms to rebuke the disorder which had thus been unhappily fostered and stimulated.

The chief points in St Paul’s charge on this subject are the following:—(1) First, and last, he enjoins the avoidance of those who persist in disorder, 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14 (whom notwithstanding he still, and pointedly, calls “brethren,” 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:15); (2) he recalls his personal example and teaching in their bearing on this matter, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10; and (3) he solemnly charges the offenders to amend, 2 Thessalonians 3:12.2 Thessalonians 3:6. Στέλλεσθαι) This word is properly applied to sailors and travellers, to be bound for some place, or to set out from some place. Hence to avoid; comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:14. He keeps the Thessalonians in suspense, until at 2 Thessalonians 3:11 he brings out the matter, at which he was aiming. They seem to have given up labour on account of the near approach of the day of Christ. The admonitions of the first epistle were more gentle; in the second, there is now some degree of complaint, although that complaint regards a slip of that kind which only tempts minds of high (spiritual) attainments.—πάντος, from every) although he may be otherwise walking speciously [with a fair show].—ἀτάκτως, disorderly) Therefore the Order of Mendicants is not an order, but a burden [2 Thessalonians 3:8, ἐπιβαρῆσαι] upon the republic, 2 Thessalonians 3:8. If the Thessalonians had bound themselves by a vow, what would Paul have said?Verse 6. - Now we command you, brethren. An injunction, not specially directed to the elders or office bearers, but to the members, of the Church in general (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14). In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Strengthening the command, as being given in the Name and authority of the great Head of the Church; not we, but Christ himself commands you. That ye withdraw yourselves. A nautical expression, denoting to "shorten the sails;" hence metaphorically to keep out of the way, to withdraw; that ye avoid intercourse and fellowship with; no allusion as yet to excommunication. From every brother - follow Christian - that walketh disorderly; literally, out of the ranks (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14). And not after the tradition; or, the instructions; not the example of the apostle, which is afterwards mentioned, but the instructions which he orally delivered when at Thessalonica, and subsequently confirmed by the Epistle which he had written to them (see 2 Thessalonians 2:15). Which he received of us. Here the readings of manuscripts differ. Some read "which you received of us," and others "which they," namely, those represented by the brother that walketh disorderly, "received of us" (so R.V.). Withdraw yourselves from (στέλλεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ)

Στέλλεσθαι, Po. In the active voice, to place, arrange, equip: in the middle voice, to provide for, take care. See 2 Corinthians 8:20. Here with ἀπὸ from, to place one's self away from.

Disorderly (ἀτάκτως)

This adverb, the verb ἀτακτέω, and the adjective ἄτακτος are found only in Paul, and only in the Thessalonian Epistles. See on 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

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