Leading Question: Is salvation God’s business or ours?
In his final admonition to the Thessalonians, Paul returns to some of the same themes with which he began his letters.
1. God chose you (2 Thess. 2:13). Has Paul helped us to know how we can both choose and be chosen? Why would there be practical counsel in holy living if the initiative and responsibility were entirely in God’s hands?
2. Good news, but (2 Thess. 3:1-15). Paul affirms the faithfulness of the believers in Thessalonica, but then proceeds to give some rather sharp and pointed rebukes. In particular, three areas concern Paul:
Laziness. In 3:6-19, Paul repeats a similar refrain: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (3:10). How can such a position be held without being brutal to those in real need?
Busybodies. Closely connected to the problem of laziness is the added difficulty when those who are idle are also disruptive. In the NIV, 3:11 states, “They are not busy, they are busybodies. Should the church take even stronger action to correct the busybodies than it does simply to wake up the lazy?
Correction by shunning. Several times in this final exhortation Paul counsels the believers to avoid evil people. “Do not associate with them in order that they may feel ashamed,” he declares in 3:14. But then, almost as an afterthought he says, “Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer” (3:15). Adventists do not practice “shunning” as the Amish and the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Yet one could argue that “shunning” (like stoning!) is biblical. What would Jesus do?