“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
Paul the Apostle opened this letter to the Thessalonian church with the following word of encouragement: “…we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Here now in the final chapter of this epistle, Paul will make an appeal of his own: “pray for us.” So just as Paul prayed on behalf of the Thessalonian congregation, he now asked them to reciprocate in praying for him.
That petition took the form of three requests. Paul first asked the Thessalonians to pray for the rapid propagation of God’s Word. Prior to the advent of modern-day communication technology and the near-instantaneous exchange of information we enjoy today, this idea was effectively conveyed through the image of a speedy athlete sprinting towards a finish line. In a similar manner, Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray “…that the word of the Lord may run swiftly.”
He next asked them to pray that God would prompt others to honor (ESV) or respect (CEV) that message. The Christians at Thessalonica were in an excellent position to act upon that request since they had received the word of the Lord in that very same manner (“just as it is with you“).
Finally, Paul made a personal appeal: “…that we may be delivered from perverse (improper, unrighteous) and wicked (actively malicious) men” (AMPC). It is worth noting that Paul prioritized God’s agenda ahead of his personal needs in making this request. In doing so, he followed Jesus’ own example: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).
On a positive note, the New Testament book of Acts tells us that God answered this prayer request in an encouraging and personal manner (see Acts 18:9-10). Nevertheless, as one commentator reminds us, “Paul faced almost constant physical danger during his years of ministry. This text, along with Rom. 15:30, 31; 2 Cor. 1:11; Phil. 1:19, shows how much he relied on the prayers of God’s people for the continuation of his ministry, if not for his own survival.” (1)
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2147). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.