Final Exhortation to the Thessalonians
2 Thess. 3:16-18
After exhorting the Thessalonian believers, Paul ends his letter with prayer, final greeting and a benediction.
I. The prayer for peace (2 Thess. 3:16)
A. Paul is praying that the Lord of peace will give them peace always. Christ who is the Prince of Peace is the peace in all his churches, and who requires peace, calls for it, and encourages it: Without the Lord’s working, all exhortations would be ineffective. Paul’s concern was for peace within the church through the unity of all members obeying the truth. The Lord is the source of peace (1 Thess. 5:23) and Paul prayed that He would bestow this on the Christians in Thessalonica. A Christian and a church enjoy peace when they are rightly obeying the will of God.
B. He prays that they will have peace all of the time, not just most of the time. The fact that some believers cause problems should not change the local church’s heart for peace.
C. He prays that they might have peace by all means. Whatever it takes to get peace in the church, we should do it.
D. In praying that the Lord would be with them all, Paul was not implying that God is with Christians only some of the time (Matt. 28:20). Rather, he was praying that fellowship with Christ (that Christians can enjoy only as they obey His Word) might be the portion of each believer – not just of the obedient but also of those who were presently disobedient through idle living.
Illustration: Peace in the Storm
A story is told by William Gilbert of how Dante, wandering one day over the mountains of Lunigiana, eventually drew near to a lone, secluded monastery. It was at a time when his mind was wracked with internal conflict and was seeking refuge from the strife. So, he loudly knocked at the monastery gate. It was opened by a monk, who in a single glance at the sad, pale face, read its pathetic message of misery and sorrow. “What do you seek here?” said he. With a gesture of despair, the poet replied, “Peace.” It was the same old craving followed by the same old search. But neither the solitary places, nor the anchorite’s cell ever brought true peace to the afflicted heart. Peace comes not from without but from within. We can have it in the winter of age or the spring of youth; in the lowly cottage or the stately mansion; in distressing pain or in buoyant health. The secret of it is in comradeship with Christ. You can have peace in the midst of the storm, if you have Christ. He is the shelter from the tempest, the soul’s haven of rest. If we have learned to value His friendship, we have mastered the secret of the “peace which passeth all understanding.”
II. His Handwriting (2 Thess. 3:17)
A. Paul ended his letters by adding some concluding words with his own hand. He took the letter from his scribe to whom he had dictated the letter and wrote the
conclusion. (1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18). In contrast, Paul himself wrote the entire epistle to the Galatians (Gal. 6:11).
III. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
We are reminded of:
1. The necessity of the grace of the Lord Jesus for the Christian life.
2. With the word ― God ‘s desire that all Christians experience this in life. He had commended some and censured others, but his final benediction was upon all. There is here a final appeal for unity, obedience, and blessing including, of course, the idlers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all is Paul’s official signature to his letters. He mentioned this because of the counterfeit letter they had received (2 Thess. 2:2). If we depend on the grace of God, we can do His will to the glory of God. “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Illustration 2: Unmerited Favor
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, G.W. Knight, p. 53
Illustration 3: We Paid Nothing
As we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love, and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our eternal rest…What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings. O, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory…So then let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell but on the door of heaven and life, “The Free Gift”. – Richard Baxter
The Apostle Paul prays for peace for the Thessalonian Christians. Not only for them but for all of us Christians who will be reading this Epistle. The concluding part is written by himself. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all is Paul’s official signature to his letters.