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Read Introduction to 2 Thessalonians


“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat“


For even when we were with you,

Paul reminded the Thessalonians of a principle he taught them while he was in Thessalonica: “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.” His gospel team did not receive any gifts without first working for their livelihood.

we commanded you this:

The Greek indicates that Paul’s team continually commanded the Thessalonians that working for meals is a biblical principle.

If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat

The Greek emphasizes the phrase “will not.” The issue is their obstinate attitude toward the subject of working for food. Laziness goes against many biblical principles. The question here is not refusing to give aid to those who cannot help themselves. He is not talking about people who cannot find a job or do not have the physical ability to work. The problem is people with a capacity and opportunity to work live exclusively off other people’s graciousness.

The rationale some Thessalonians gave for not working was that Paul taught the imminent return of Christ and that He might come back momentarily. When they ran out of financial resources, they started sponging off their fellow Christians causing relational problems in the church.


To be tough about the principle of work is to be kind to individuals and the church.


Many people today do not think in terms of principle. They hear an emotional story and respond, unknowingly fostering a parasite mentality in the church.

The problem here regards discernment. It appears that the only criterion for some in determining what we should do is “feeling.” If it feels right, do it.

God provides resources through our work. A principle of God’s creation is to work for our welfare. The only exception is people who cannot work for themselves.