II Thessalonians

II Thessalonians 3:1-5 Pray That The Word May Run Swiftly.

Paul uses a very interesting figure to describe what he hopes will be the reception of the word of the Lord. He asks his recipients to pray for them that the word of the Lord may “run swiftly.” No doubt he had in mind the image of a messenger in ancient times, and one that should run swiftly because of the importance and urgency of the message. However, he not only prayed for its urgent and ready reception, but that it would also be glorified. In his first letter to the Thessalonians he notes how they had prayed for them because they had “received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1:6). The word has one of two effects, opposition or joy, and it is the Holy Spirit that brings joy to those who receive the word.

In that first letter he would go on to say that they gave thanks to God for, among other things, that the Thessalonians had received the word of God “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe” (2:13). It is this effective working in those who hear that Paul was praying for, in this way it would be glorified, for he says, “just as it was with you” (v. 1). He also asks for prayer that they might be “delivered from unreasonable and wicked men,” those who did not have faith (v. 2 Cf. Rom. 15:31). However, in stark contrast with this opposition, Paul affirms that God is faithful, that in the midst of what is a spiritual war, He would establish His people, and guard them and us, from the evil one (v. 3 Cf. I Cor. 1:9; Jn. 17:15).

It is because God is faithful that Paul could say that he had “confidence in the Lord” concerning them, that they would also be doers of the word and not hearers only. Paul spoke and wrote as an apostle, so he had confidence that their current and future behaviour would be such that they would do what the apostles had commanded them (v. 4). It is ultimately the Lord who rules in the hearts of human beings, and so it is Paul’s wish, and no doubt his prayer, that the Lord would direct the hearts of his recipients “into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (v. 5). Our confidence is a deep spiritual one, one that goes to our core thoughts and beliefs (I Chr. 29:18), with a love for God that shows itself in how we live, and in the patience we have in Christ.

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