After many months studying the two letters written to the church at Thessalonika, we have arrived at the final few verses. Verses 14-15 are a couple more clauses added to the preceding verses (most of the chapter is one very long run-on sentence) to reinforce Paul’s instruction. The Greek word often translated “obey” carries the idea of hearing. It paints a picture here of someone standing at a door listening, but not responding to the call from the other side. Paul demands discipline, but he does so with the affection of brotherhood. N.T. Wright comments:
“Every parent knows that there are times when a child has to be punished. No parent worthy of the name will want to do so in anger and bitterness. Every true father or mother faces the difficult task of communicating to a child the fact that, precisely because they love them so much, they must now impose some kind of sanction. The child will sometimes need to learn the hard way what, we assume, the parents had tried to teach by word and example. In such a case, it is failure to discipline, not discipline itself, that would be the sign of a lack of love.”
In my own spiritual journey, I have often been the obstinate child, but I can recognize now the wisdom of the loving family and leadership that does not fear appropriate discipline. It can take longsuffering patience to see good fruit, but my life is a testament to many who have listened to the lessons in scripture.
Finally Paul concludes this letter with words of peace and grace. He calls on the power of “the Lord of peace Himself” to grant peace. Dr. Morris observes:
“Peace is a comprehensive term for the prosperity of the whole man; this is what Paul seeks for his friends. Its supernatural origin is indicated by its association with the Lord. True peace in the deepest sense is something that man can never acquire by his own effort, but it comes as a free gift from God. The peace for which the apostle prays is one which will constantly remain, and which will not vary however much outward circumstances and conditions may alter. It is because we know that the Lord is with us, and that He will never forsake those who trust in Him (Hebrews 13:5) that our peace remains unshaken. The Christian’s peace is the presence of the Lord.”
next week: review Thessalonians and begin Romans the following week