As Paul brings this letter to a close, he returns to the issue of the “idle” (ataktoi). The word means “loafers,” “freeloaders,” “spongers,” “disorderly,” or “unruly.” Having already mentioned them in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, he mentions them three times in 2 Thessalonians 3 (vv. 6, 7, 11).
This is the third group disturbing the Thessalonian church:
- Persecutors (chapter 1)
- False teachers (chapter 2)
- The idle (chapter 3)
Paul does not explicitly reveal the reason for their idleness, but the issue seems to be their belief in the imminence of the second coming which had led them to give up their jobs. Paul told them in his first letter to return to work, but evidently his orders had not been obeyed.
What sin does Paul address and how does a church deal with it?