Playing Hooky


“For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (II Thessalonians 3:11).

The word “disorderly” was used in Greek society for one who would not show up for work-who played hooky, if you will.

Paul uses it in this passage of Scripture (vv.6–13) concerning the practice of some who did not and evidently would not work for a living, thereby becoming a drain on the scarce resources of others, for in these times of persecution, those who had sufficient food, clothing, and shelter, willingly supported those who were in true need. He exhorted all Thessalonian believers to follow his example. Note how he “wrought [worked] with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you” (v.8).

We know from the tenor of Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonian church that they were quite interested in prophecy, especially the imminent return of Christ. Some among them evidently felt that the return was so close there was no need to work for one’s daily bread, much less for long-range planning and were neglecting their businesses and employment.

But Paul, who believed in and longed for Christ’s return more than them all, straightened them out. He worked for his daily bread, and so should they (as should we). “If any would not work, neither should he eat” (v.10). The church was not only to refuse support to such a “busybody,” but to “have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (v.14) and reform his thinking and habits.

May we always be willing to work, generous toward those in need, and caring enough toward those whose lives are lived in error to point them back to God-honoring practices. JDM