That The Gospel May Run
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Speak to my heart of the things that matter most.
Read 2 THESSALONIANS 3:1–5
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13,14, ESV).
The Greeks loved athletics; the Jews did not—they saw it as idolatrous. Daringly, Paul often uses the athletic metaphor to describe the Christian life as an athletic contest. For this challenge, the Christian must prepare well, play by the rules and persevere to win the eternal prize (1 Cor. 9:24–27; Phil. 3:12–14; cf. Heb. 12:1,2). Here, the Gospel (“message of the Lord,” 1) is personified as someone racing in all directions across the empire to be received with honor. There is a double meaning here; both Paul and his team would run unhindered with the Gospel. So he seeks prayer that the Word would spread speedily, unhindered by faithless opponents. Actually, this Gospel must spread because such people exist, “for not everyone has faith” (2). Nothing is more important than the Gospel going out, that everyone can have opportunity to hear it, believe it and be saved. Nothing is more important than prayer for the spread of the Gospel, for while one plants and another waters, God makes it grow (1 Cor. 3:6).
Whereas unbelief abounds, “the Lord is faithful” (2,3). Paul could add, “utterly!” The Lord here is Jesus, who is the Good News (not Caesar or any other claimants). As he is utterly reliable, Christ will strengthen them (and us). He will guard us against the evil one, despite his attempts to disrupt, deceive and destroy. With the Lord’s strength, we can stand.
As so often throughout these letters, Paul prays, this time that the Lord, who is faithful, will direct their hearts to God’s love and Christ’s perseverance (demonstrated on the cross; Phil 2:6–8). Prayer thus bookends this passage—he begins asking for it, he ends by praying for them. Prayer fuses them together and with God—a three-way bond. This is Christian koinonia (unity) at its finest. Let us pray…
Pray for the Gospel to run! Pray it is honored! Pray for Gospel workers who face faithless enemies that they will press on! Pray verse 5 for all God’s people.
Gracious Heavenly Father, direct my heart into the Father’s love and the Son’s perseverance (5).