1 Jan 2003

Not work, not eat

Submitted by theshovel
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friendPDF versionPDF version

When the apostle Paul wrote he was laying down a "rule" that a man should not eat unless he works, what exactly was he saying about that? Was he saying the spiritual ones are hard workers? What about people on welfare--many people in the conservative party that carry the banner of christianity would readily count those people as rebelious christians and then quote something like this scripture in Thessalonians i would suppose. anonymous

Take a look at these parts of Paul's letter:

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Now, you may be wondering why I would quote that part, but keep in mind that Paul wrote his comments about working and eating for a reason and not just to make conversation. Where do you think they got the idea that Paul had written another letter suggesting they had missed out on "the day of the Lord"? You see, something had shaken them enough for Paul to have taken the time to address it. Somebody, or a group of somebodies, was deliberately trying to cause severe doubt among the believers in Thessalonica.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.' We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Do you think it is any coincidence that Paul wrote "some among you are idle"? And why would Paul connect this to the example he had set among them whereby he had worked hard and had not taken their money or goods in return for his preaching of Christ? If you can remember he had also brought up the same matters to the Corinthians. Let me give you my thoughts on the scenario I suspect was going on in Thessalonica.

When Paul had been in Thessalonica he had preached the amazing freedom of Christ to these people who had received it, not as the word of man, but as the word of God (this is from the first letter). Now, wherever Paul went there were those who came behind him to re-instruct these new "converts" in an attempt to enlarge their religious kingdom. The fact is that the religious Jews would not have bothered with these people if they had not been opportunists jumping in on a new expansion paved by Paul. Their concern was not for the people but for themselves.

When Paul was with them he told them about those who would come behind with their version of the good news. Guess what one of the tell-tale signs were by which they could recognize a religious opportunist. Yep, they would sponge off the people and take advantage of their hospitality while bringing in their teachings of doubt and confusion. Paul's "rule" was an instruction by which they would not let such people come in and take advantage of them because they would see the contrast between one who loved them and one who loved himself. But some had apparently given in through intimidation and fear, and now many of them were being shaken to the core.

If anybody had the right to be supported while he was there among them it would have been Paul because he truly brought them freedom. But Paul had determined that he would not do any such thing so that the people would know without a doubt that the freedom he preached was REALLY free. It's not that it would have been somehow wrong for Paul to have been supported by them, not at all. But Paul himself was the model by which they came to find the grace of God in the first place. He did not want to establish a pattern by which religious vultures could say they were following in Paul's footsteps.

You see, those who were living as "busybodies" among the people were either those who were false teachers or were those who were being influenced by them. And what were they teaching? Doubt and fear because they had missed God's presence. And they were making these people PAY for this bad news! And they were lying to them suggesting that Paul had written about it, or maybe that they had received this message from God. Paul reminded the believers that if such men would not work then they should not eat their food! Basically, Paul told them to kick those lazy teachers out of their houses and let them fend for themselves!

Using the verse to make those who are unable to work feel ashamed for receiving help has nothing to do with what Paul wrote. It instead had to do with those who demand support from people they intend to use and abuse.

Jim :)


“to make those who are unable to work feel ashamed for receiving help”. The key here is those who are UNABLE to work as opposed to those who WILL NOT work. Those who are UNABLE to work SHOULD be able to receive help as needed. Those who WILL NOT work (“lazy”) should be sent on their way to fend for themselves. :) S

Yeah, you know I don’t think it is as simple as the fleshly mind wants to make it. For all of this can be broken down into categories and comparisons. For instance, how do we know what constitutes not being ABLE to work? There are all sorts of comparisons one can make. One might say well “if it aint the right job I can’t not work’. “If I have a stubbed toe I can not work’. ‘If I am depressed I can not work’. If, If , If….. There really is no end to this. I think that the emphasis HAS to be on something else in this passage, for anything else would be driven into the comparables of the flesh. Otherwise it just becomes another standard to compare and to judge. No, what Paul meant here had to do with those who were TEACHING fleshly things having to do with the elements of this world[the realm of Law] and sucking off those who were barely making it as it was. For them to sit around and espouse error all day had no TRUE value and or meaning for the group and therefore become totally unprofitable in any living way. It would be better to work for their food and shelter and receive the correction from Paul in hopes that they would come to know the reality of Christ. My two cents. Adam

Add new comment

Random Shovelquote: True Substance (view all shovelquotes)

What if we were to understand that the things found in the Law were merely projections of a true substance that could not be truly seen apart from seeing the reality itself? source