There was clearly hope that Jesus would return soon – when persecution strikes, hope for an early return of Christ always rises. We are commanded here to live in tension, as though Jesus could come back today, but as if He isn’t too!
So Paul wants prayer for growth of the gospel work, so that more can be saved and become disciples before He returns.
Then he warns those who are falling into the delusion that Jesus may return today, saying ‘let’s put our feet up, there’s no point in working as we won’t be around for the wages’. ‘No’ says Paul, ‘that’s idleness! Don’t be idle. Earn your food and shelter. If someone refuses to work, they shouldn’t eat.’ Note that it says if any will not work, not if any cannot work! So that’s not forgetting the poor and those whose circumstances mean they can’t work. Those that can work, should!
In closing, Paul reminds his readers not to grow weary in doing good – to not grow weary of works of faith, labour of love and steadfastness of hope.
One writer had this to say about the excuses to doing good…
“It takes so much effort to keep doing good” – but you will extend effort towards the things of the world.
“It takes so much self-denial to keep doing good” – but it is worth it when we consider the reward.
“It just brings me persecution to do good” – but your persecutions are nothing compared to that which others have suffered.
“People don’t respond and there are little results when I do good” – but remember how slow you were to respond to Jesus Christ.
“It doesn’t earn much gratitude when I do good” – but God sends many blessings even to those who do not thank or appreciate Him.
Those who didn’t put into practice what they were taught were be taken note of and not associated with. The shame of that would get them to buck up their ideas! The idea here is not shunning, but done in a brotherly way, so people grow!
Peace and grace.