Unreasonable and Wicked Men


Elder Mark D. Rowell

“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.” 1 Ths 3:1-2

The Apostle Paul, in closing his final letter to the Church of the Thessalonians, presents a final encouragement (and warning) to the believers who had endured so much. The geographical location and political disposition of the region brought all sorts of philosophies to the city which caused problems with the Thessalonian Church. Over a period of about 360 years leading up to the time of Paul’s letters, the city was 1) a major political hub of Macedonia under Alexander the Great, 2) became a Macedonian regional capital city of Rome, and 3) was made THE capital city of all the Greek provinces under the Roman Empire. On top of all that, the Jews had established a synagogue in the city. There is much more that could be said about the history of this city but suffice it to say that between the Greeks, Romans, and the Jews, there was obviously much going on around the Church of the Thessalonians that caused great suffering in the church.

A biblical experience of Paul while in the city of Thessalonica is found in Acts 17:1-9. Paul spent three sabbath days preaching and teaching in the synagogue. What’s interesting about this account is that “…some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” (Acts 17:4) Paul’s preaching had an great effect on the Greeks. However, reading on into the next verse it also had an effect on the Jews, though not in the same positive light: “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy…and assaulted the house of Jason…” Reading through the book of Acts shows us that the Christian Church suffered greatly in almost ALL regions where local bodies were being established. However, this particular region, all the way down to Athens, proved to be especially problematic to Biblical Theology.

When Paul was in Athens (Acts 17:22-34), he stood on Mars’ Hill and began his sermon with “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” (v22) Paul was saying they were so broad in their “religion” that they failed to be established in the TRUTH! I encourage the reader to read on to the end of this chapter, where you will notice it says “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” (v32) So much like at Thessalonica, the Athenians were split - some mocked, other believed.

With a brief background in place, now let’s get to my text. Paul seeks the prayers of the church that the Gospel would literally run rampant throughout the region, and be fruitful and find place among all the believers, just like it had at the Church of the Thessalonians. This shows that the church was faithful in what they were doing in spite of the problems being experienced that we spoke of earlier. There are several references to this faithfulness in both letters: from 1 Thessalonians: 1:3-6; 2:13; 3:6; from 2 Thessalonians: 1:3-4; 2:13.

We have further proof that the word of God does have “free course” as we find in Acts that the word was preached and received in Jerusalem (Acts 6:7), Joppa (Acts 9:42), Antioch (Acts 13:49), and Asia (Acts 19:20). I really appreciate how Luke expresses it in Acts 19:20: “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” Readers, the word of God continues to have free course today! The Gospel is just as powerful and true today as it was when Paul was traveling across the world and preaching it! This is so evident during worship service when a man is blessed by God to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and the congregation is blessed by God to hear and rejoice in the Gospel message! May we ever continue to pray according to Paul’s request! Pray that the word of the Lord continues to have free course among us all! But Paul wasn’t done with his “prayer request” to the church; he had one more.

The second half of Paul’s requests was for deliverance, and a very specific one at that. He asked that the church pray for deliverance from “…unreasonable and wicked men:” Wicked (or evil) and unreasonable (out of place, or harmful) people would like nothing more than to bring an end to the preaching of the Gospel and to destroy the church. Go back to what Paul dealt with in the synagogue in Thessalonica. These unreasonable and wicked men aligned themselves with “lewd” fellows, caused a riot in the city, and attacked the house of a believer (Jason), and accused HIM of  turning“…the world upside down…” LIARS! They turned the world upside down, not Paul or the believers! My dear readers, just as the Gospel still has free course today, so also do unreasonable and wicked men try what they may to destroy it. But “…be not deceived, God is not mocked…”

Furthermore, Paul clearly states that “all men have not faith.” This shows that the contention that Paul was concerned over was within those who were dead alien sinners - those wicked men who David describes as those who “…through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psa 10:4) John Calvin erroneously says that Paul’s “have not faith” expressions is “… both ambiguous and more obscure.”, but I couldn’t disagree more! This “expression” is actually extremely clear in both its content and intent. Paul’s concern for the church was toward those who through their evil and wickedness desired to destroy the church by any means available. That was the case during Paul’s ministry, and it’s still the case today.

But I say, fear not! Let me close with more of Paul’s words, but this time from 2 Corinthians 1:8-10. Paul said he was in such a place that he “…despaired even of life:” But he was encouraged so also as we should be encouraged: “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:”