What does 2 Thessalonians 3:11 mean?
ESV: For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
NIV: We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.
NASB: For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.
CSB: For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies.
NLT: Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.
KJV: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
NKJV: For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
Verse Commentary:
Paul explains in this verse why he told the Thessalonians not to provide for lazy loafers. He had heard that some Thessalonians had made idleness their way of life. Instead of being busy at work, they had become busybodies. By this, Paul means they had too much time on their hands, and so filled their days with destructive activities. The Greek word used here is periergazomenous, which is also translated as "meddler," such as in 1 Peter 4:15. This is the kind of person who inserts themselves into other peoples' business, directly or indirectly.

In 1 Timothy 5 Paul addressed the subject of who was eligible for the church's financial and/or material assistance. Timothy's list of those who were eligible excluded young widows, because they "learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not" (1 Timothy 5:13). Probably, some idlers in the Thessalonian church had stopped working and were simply sitting around waiting for Christ to return.
Verse Context:
Second Thessalonians 3:6–15 addresses the sin of idleness. Paul calls on the church at Thessalonica to avoid any brother who makes idleness habitual. He reminds his readers that he and his associates were not idle when they were in Thessalonica. They did not assume they'd be pampered, rather they refused to eat without paying for the meal. They had the right to receive financial and material support for their ministry, but they chose to labor to the point of exhaustion so they would not burden anyone. Their hard work served as an example for the Christians to follow. Paul explains that idleness had turned some members of the church into busybodies, and he prescribes the disciplinary action the church should follow to put an end to idleness.
Chapter Summary:
Paul expresses confidence that the Thessalonians would do what he commanded. He addresses the sin of idleness in the lives of some of the believers at Thessalonica, commanding the church to avoid an idle brother. Paul also points to his own example of diligence, when he refused to rely on charity. Paul clearly separates charity for the needy from foolishly supporting those who are merely lazy: If anyone is not willing to work, don't feed him. The letter ends with a prayer for peace among the Thessalonian believers. Paul also assures his readers that 2 Thessalonians is authentic because it bears his signature.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter explained the events which would precede the ''day of the Lord:'' a time of severe judgment. Among these were a time of deep spiritual rebellion and the rise of a figure referred to as the ''man of lawlessness.'' Chapter 2 ended with a reference to the Thessalonians being established in good works. This chapter continues that theme, focusing on the need for Christians to exhibit a strong work ethic. This extends to the way the church applies charity, not wasting it on those who are capable of work, but simply choose not to. These thoughts complete Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians.
Book Summary:
Second Thessalonians follows Paul's earlier letter to the same group of Christian believers. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul had praised them for their faithfulness and given them reassurances about the day of the Lord. This included teachings on the rapture and a description of death as ''sleep'' from a Christian viewpoint. In this second letter, Paul corrects possible misunderstandings about those ideas. Among his teachings here are the importance of a good work ethic and God's impending judgment on sin, including judgment on those who persecute the Christian church. Paul also provides the Thessalonians with reassurances that they have not somehow missed out on Christ's return.
Accessed 5/18/2024 6:43:20 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.