The Word of God vs. Worthless and Evil People

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

When I initially read these verses, part of me wanted to hold up Paul’s request for prayer as a hope that Christians would be given freedom of speech and freedom of religion the world over so that “the word of the Lord may have free course” in all nations. However, I don’t believe that’s what Paul is talking about here. Indeed, a more literal version — one of the most literal I can find, actually, states verse 1 this way: “As to the rest [or, Finally], be praying, brothers [and sisters], concerning us, that the word of the Lord shall be running [fig., spreading rapidly] and shall continue being glorified, just as also [it has been] with you.”

Comparing numerous other versions, Paul is requesting that Christians pray that the Word of God would essentially, as we may say today, spread like wildfire, increasingly being glorified through the preaching of it.

Verse two continues on with request for prayer for being delivered from “unreasonable and wicked men.” These are enemies of the Gospel, and are not necessarily representative of all unregenerate men. Some unbelievers, upon hearing the Gospel, will find themselves converted, embracing the Word preached to them in faith. Others will find their hearts hardened and will seek to derail the efforts of Christian men.

One can get an idea for how Paul and the Holy Spirit of God views those who oppose the Gospel by looking at the varying ways the description of them in verse two has been translated:

  • “perverse and wicked people” — Analytical-Literal Translation
  • “unreasonable and evil men” — American Standard Version, Geneva Bible (w/ modern spelling), Revised Version, Young’s Literal Translation
  • “foolish and evil men” — Bible in Basic English
  • “disordered and evil men” — Bishop’s Bible (w/ modern spelling)
  • “worthless and evil people” — Contemporary English Version, God’s Word, International Standard Version
  • “bad and evil men” — Darby’s Translation
  • “importune and evil men” — Douay-Rheims Version
  • “evil and wicked men” — English Majority Text Version
  • “wicked and evil men” — English Standard Version
  • “perverse and evil men” — Literal Translation of the Holy Bible
  • “unreasonable and wicked men” — Modern King James Version, 1833 Webster Bible
  • “evil and perverse men” — James Murdock New Testament
  • “perverse and evil people” — New English Translation
  • “wrong-headed and wicked men” — 1912 Weymouth New Testament

And even in all those translations, the full range of the adjectives’ meanings isn’t captured, especially for the second one.

The scope of just how wicked these enemies of the gospel are is important (they aren’t just “bad”; they’re “bad and evil,” for example). Knowing the nature of these men ought to serve as an encouragement for us to pray for those held in bonds because of them.

We may not know all of the Christian preachers and missionaries in the world today, and we can’t give financially to every one of them, but Paul here encourages us to do the one thing that we can do which may be of benefit to every evangelist the Lord has risen up: Pray.

Pray because the enemies of the Gospel are great.

Pray because the harvest is even greater.

Pray that deliverance and protection from the “wrong-headed and wicked men” would be granted to the evangelists of the Lord Christians, that the Word of the Lord would spread all the more rapidly, being increasingly glorified among those who receive it along with those who proclaim it in faith.

2 thoughts on “The Word of God vs. Worthless and Evil People”

  1. Seems like this would have been a good opportunity for Paul to seek prayer for efforts to convert these human obstacles, yet he doesn’t do so. Hmm…

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