Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified even as it is with you and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for all men have not faith (II Thessalonians 3:1-2).
God called Saul the Pharisee, also known as Paul the apostle, to spread the gospel to the Gentile world. He was almost a one-man team in this task and only had a few occasional fellow travelers with him. But by the grace of God and the power and guidance of the Lord Holy Spirit, he was able to carry on and achieve godly results. Without these, he would be helpless and useless. Therefore, it would really help a lot if the people he ministers to would pray for him because sincere, discreet, and unpretentious corporate prayer works. Here are just three things that Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for him about:
1. that the word of the Lord may have free course
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord may have free course (1a).
Thanks to the help and intervention of the Lord Holy Spirit, people turned to the Lord everytime, for the most part, that Paul preached during the first century. Convincing the pagan Gentiles to live their lives not anymore following their sinful nature but submitting to the Lordship of Jesus cannot be accomplished by mere profound philosophical discourse but by the power of God. God’s vessels only plant the seeds, but it is God who make them grow. It definitely helped a lot that Paul was a rabbi, a scholar, and a gifted communicator; but it was up to God to make His Word work in the lives of Paul’s hearers. In other words, true saving faith is determined by both God’s will and the people’s reception to His Word because God gave human beings free will although, in the end, He still knows because He is God.
This task of convincing people to have a true relationship with God through faith in Jesus can prove to be an extremely-difficult one to pull off. Why? Because this world happens to be Satan’s turf. How did that happen? When Satan, in the form of a serpent, duped Adam to give him the keys. If this world was still God’s domain, there will be no presence of sin here whatsoever and this world will still be like Garden of Eden. Just look around you. Garden of Eden? True believers who are united are capable of making this world a little bit of heaven on earth. And Satan doesn’t want that. Therefore, Satan will hinder every effort that threatens his kingdom, starting from the simple serious teaching of the Word of God. That is why sincere and serious servants of God automatically get a target on their backs, unfortunately. That explains why Paul requests sincere, discreet, and unpretentious corporate prayers from the Thessalonians because his task is gargantuan.
2. For God’s Word to be glorified
...and be glorified even as it is with you (1b)
It is good to know how highly-civilized people put the Word in such high regard and consider it the absolute truth and the fountainhead of all other truths that can just be relative. Those who see the Word of God for what it really is realize that the laws of the land have as their basis the soundest sense of justice and propriety derived from God’s eternal principles and that violation of such principles is a perversion, an attack to common sense, and ultimately evil in the eyes of God. Like Paul, we wish to have more people who give such high respect for the Word of God and take it seriously. Religiosity or playing religion is one thing. Obedience to the Word of God is another. Religion is supposed to make us better people; or we can be obedient to God our Creator without the trappings of religion, but just plain respect towards and obedience to His Word. God is God whether we are religious or not. For instance, true believers, still totally obedient to God, can choose to be entertainers; but showbiz “Christianity” is a totally-different thing, altogether, completely. God never forces Himself on His creation. He gave us free will. He gave us choice between blessing and curse. Blessings for obedience and curse for flouting at His commandments. We can choose to either make this world we live in a little bit of heaven on earth or leave it as deplorable as it is for generations to come because of our vice encouraged and prolonged by greater-evil creatures who think they own our lives.
3. For Paul and gang be delivered from bad dudes
...and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for all men have not faith (2)
Throughout the history of mankind, the good and bad have always co-existed. The former just wants to be left alone and live in peace; and the latter, either through whim or self-interest or both, seeks to harm them and prey on their vulnerabilities. This may remain to be the state of affairs until the Lord returns and set up His perfect kingdom here on earth as He has illustrated in His Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30). However, this doesn’t mean that we true believers must just keep to ourselves and not lend a helping hand in alleviating the ills of the society. Evil is a serious issue that we need to address in the most appropriate, conscientious, and godly way. We all agree that we true believers will eventually go to heaven, and that’s awesome. But don’t we want a little taste of that while we are still here on earth especially when we can unite and find ourselves able in forging that into existence?
I bet Paul just wanted to go about fulfilling his call as smooth-sailing and with less fuss as possible. Every good person wants that. We want the freedom to continue doing the good things that we love and then stand back and take pride and pleasure in seeing others enjoy the amazing benefits of our work. But sadly, the weeds of the earth won’t just allow us to achieve our dreams so easily because an ignorant and vicious populace is easier to control; and on their backs, they build their wealth, power, and prestige. Many are led to evil because it is an easier path and usually palatable to the worldly mind. It’s just like eating spaghetti. Chewing it feels good in the palate; but after a few short hours, it starts to rumble in the stomach. It doesn’t seem to agree well, just as its black variant doesn’t go well with the poetry of the streets. Again, it is corny to the worldlies. “Get that corn out of my face!” they say. O how oblivious they are to the optimism that it may bring later on, that, maybe, because of this, people will think of evil less and less and of good more and more and actually make their once sordid existence useful and maximize their potential so that they can contribute too.
Such was the condition of Paul during his time, hopeful yet powerless. That is why he is asking the Thessalonians to pray for him and his fellow travelers because, clearly, the battle is spiritual. Even today, we true believers can unite in a sincere, discreet, and unpretentious corporate prayer wherever we are for God to guide our noble and godly endeavors and keep them from demonic sabotage.
Passage by Passage: Random Passages
by: Marven T. Baldo