August 19th, 2021 – 2 Thessalonians 3:3

Verse of the Day Devotion  2 Thessalonians 3:3  But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 

Paul started out this section of his second letter to the Church in Thessalonica with a request for prayer, both for him and his fellow workers. The first request Paul was that the message of Jesus would be spread by them. “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;” 2 Thessalonians 3:1.  This message was the gospel Paul and his companions were dedicated to proclaim wherever they could. This was the main calling they had.  And he requested prayers that they could reach as many as possible with this good news. And the second prayer request was that this word from the Lord would be honored, just as it was when it was presented to the church there. In the Book of Acts, he speaks of such a reception that he desires everywhere they go. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48.

We learn from Acts and the Pauline letters that in city after city Paul and his associates met with great opposition, and from the depth of these experiences Paul solicits this request for the Thessalonians’ prayers. This message and its messengers had been dishonored by the tumult and riots that frequently ensued when it was proclaimed, as in the case of Thessalonica. On other occasions the gospel was simply rejected as so much foolishness. “For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness.” 1 Corinthians 1”22-23.  In other cases, it is mocked as it was in Athens . “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” Acts 17:32.

Now he returns to the desperate situation of the Thessalonians. They were suffering persecution generated by their contemporaries. They were suffering persecution generated by their contemporaries, the prime mover behind the hostilities being Satan himself. “For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so, it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5.

Then in our focus verse, we read “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians3:3.  Paul now reminds the Thessalonians of something they already know: that being the Lord is faithful. In the first letter the founders of the church reminded the Thessalonians of the fidelity of God. But while that confession underscored God’s faithfulness in completing his work in the lives of the believers, here his faithfulness is tied to the protection of the Thessalonians in the midst of their sufferings: that being He will strengthen and protect them from the works of the evil one. 

In the ancient system of patronage, which defined many social relationships as well as religious and governmental institutions, the patron was expected to demonstrate fidelity toward his or her clients, which was understood, at least in part, as the patron’s “protection” of the client. A person or even a nation could be under the protection of another. In the present text, the Lord is viewed as the patron/protector in his faithfulness to the persecuted believers. As such, he will strengthen them, that is, he will establish them in the midst of their trials so that they do not fall.  Plus, He will protect them from Satan. “and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3b.  This promise is hardly meant to convey to the church that they will not suffer but rather affirms that in the midst of their sufferings their faithful Patron, The Lord our God,  will strengthen them so that they will not fall. He will shield them from the ultimate shame of succumbing to the wiles of their adversary.

And this promise was not just for then but is very much relevant today.  We could very well find ourselves being persecuted for our belief in Christ, and especially so if we are doing the work God has called us to do.  However, God has told us He will protect us and strengthen us so we can remain strong in the faith.  Satan is working to do as much damage as possible to the church. Whatever he can do to destroy the work of God in this world through us, he will do.  When this happens, we must remember that God will always be close by.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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