Does Pretribulationism Lead to Idleness? A Consideration of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 -- By: Steve Lewis

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 10:30 (Sep 2006)
Article: Does Pretribulationism Lead to Idleness? A Consideration of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12
Author: Steve Lewis

Does Pretribulationism Lead to Idleness?
A Consideration of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

Steve Lewis

High Peaks Bible Fellowship, Colorado

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12, NASB)


Most evangelical commentators have concluded that the issue Paul was addressing in 2 Thessalonians 3:6–12 was a problem of “idleness” within the church which was the direct result of confusion concerning the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ at the resurrection of Church-age saints (the Rapture). A brief sampling of such statements may be helpful in setting the stage for the following discussion.

The traditional interpretation is that because of the Thessalonians’ expectation of the imminent coming of Christ, they gave up working and sponged off others.1

What was the original cause of their idleness is not known. There seems no reason, however, to doubt that it was much increased by their expectation that the Saviour would soon appear, and that the

world would soon come to an end. If this was to be so, of what use would it be to labor? Why strive to accumulate property with reference to the wants of a family, or to a day of sickness, or old age? Why should a man build a house that was soon to be burnt up, or why buy a farm which he was soon to leave?2

The eschatological excitement and mistaken idea that the Day of the Lord had arrived was the occasion, if not the cause, of much idleness.3

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