on 1-thessalonians 4 :11
That ye study to be quiet - Though in general the Church at Thessalonica was pure and exemplary, yet there seem to have been some idle, tattling people among them, who disturbed the peace of others; persons who, under the pretense of religion, gadded about from house to house; did not work, but were burdensome to others; and were continually meddling with other people's business, making parties, and procuring their bread by religious gossiping. To these the apostle gives those directions which the whole Church of God should enforce wherever such troublesome and dangerous people are found; viz.: That they should study to be quiet, ἡσυχαζειν, to hold their peace, as their religious cant will never promote true religion; that they should do their own business, and let that of others alone; and that they should work with their own hands, and not be a burden to the Church of God, or to those well meaning but weak and inconsiderate people who entertain them, being imposed on by their apparent sanctity and glozing conversation. An idle person, though able to discourse like an angel, or pray like an apostle, cannot be a Christian; all such are hypocrites and deceivers; the true members of the Church of Christ walk, work, and labor.
on 1-thessalonians 4 :11
And that ye study to be quiet - Orderly, peaceful; living in the practice of the calm virtues of life. The duty to which he would exhort them was that of being subordinate to the laws; of avoiding all tumult and disorder; of calmly pursuing their regular avocations, and of keeping themselves from all the assemblages of the idle, the restless, and the dissatisfied. No Christian should be engaged in a mob; none should be identified with the popular excitements which lead to disorder and to the disregard of the laws. The word rendered "ye study" (φιλοτιμέομαι philotimeomai), means properly, "to love honor, to be ambitious;" and here means the same as when we say "to make it a point of honor to do so and so. Robinson, Lex. It is to be regarded as a sacred duty; a thing in which our honor is concerned. Every man should regard himself as disgraced who is concerned in a mob.
And to do your own business - To attend to their own concerns, without interfering with the affairs of others; see the notes on Philippians 2:4; compare 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Peter 4:13. The injunction here is one of the beautiful precepts of Christianity so well adapted to promote the good order and the happiness of society. It would prevent the impertinent and unauthorized prying into the affairs of others, to which many are so prone, and produce that careful attention to what properly belongs to our calling in life, which leads to thrift, order, and competence. Religion teaches no man to neglect his business. It requires no one to give up an honest calling and to be idle. It asks no one to forsake a useful occupation; unless he can exchange it for one more useful. It demands, indeed, that we shall be willing so far to suspend our ordinary labors as to observe the Sabbath; to maintain habits of devotion; to improve our minds and hearts by the study of truth, to cultivate the social affections, and to do good to others as we have an opportunity; but it makes no one idle, and it countenances idleness in no one. A man who is habitually idle can have very slender pretensions to piety. There is enough in this world for every one to do, and the Saviour set such an example of untiring industry in his vocation as to give each one occasion to doubt whether he is his true follower if he is not disposed to be employed.
And to work with your own hands, as we commanded you - This command is not referred to in the history Acts 17, but it is probable that the apostle saw that many of those residing in Thessalonica were disposed to spend their time in indolence, and hence insisted strongly on the necessity of being engaged in some useful occupation; compare Acts 17:21. Idleness is one of the great evils of the pagan world in almost every country, and the parent of no small part of their vices. The effect of religion everywhere is to make people industrious; and every man, who is able, should feel himself under sacred obligation to be employed. God made man to work (compare Genesis 2:15; Genesis 3:19), and there is no more benevolent arrangement of his government than this. No one who has already enough for himself and family, but who can make money to do good to others, has a right to retire from business and to live in idleness (compare Acts 20:34; Ephesians 4:27); no one has a right to live in such a relation as to be wholly dependent on others, if he can support himself; and no one has a right to compel others to labor for him, and to exact their unrequited toil, in order that he may be supported in indolence and ease. The application of this rule to all mankind would speedily put an end to slavery, and would convert multitudes, even in the church, from useless to useful people. If a man has no necessity to labor for himself and family, he should regard it as an inestimable privilege to be permitted to aid those who cannot work - the sick, the aged, the infirm. If a man has no need to add to what he has for his own temporal comfort, what a privilege it is for him to toil in promoting public improvements: in founding colleges, libraries, hospitals, and asylums; and in sending the gospel to those who are sunk in wretchedness and want! No man understands fully the blessings which God has bestowed on him, if he has hands to work and will not work.
on 1-thessalonians 4 :11
4:11 That ye study - Literally, that ye be ambitious: an ambition worthy a Christian. To work with your hands - Not a needless caution; for temporal concerns are often a cross to them who are newly filled with the love of God.