3.1-5: EXHORTATIONS AND PRAYER
The opening section of the third and final part of 2 Thessalonians is made up of loosely connected sentences. Still, there is a certain logic in the passage, as we saw above when we analysed the letter’s structure, and as will be explained further below. ‘Paul’ here reinforces his bonds with the addressees, not only by using again the vocative ‘brothers and sisters’, but also and especially by asking them to pray for him and his companions and by praising their faith (3.1; he prayed for them in what immediately preceded); by presenting himself and his companions as their fellow sufferers from persecution (3.2, cf. 1.4); by expressing his trust that they are already doing as he says (3.4). Because of the support of the Lord (3.3, 5) and of the author’s admonitions (3.4), the addressees will be kept on the right track. Thus ‘Paul’ makes them receptive to his specific injunctions that will follow in 3.6-12.
‘Paul’ starts the passage with the words: ‘Finally, pray, brothers and sisters, for us’ (3.1) This request has been derived from 1 Thessalonians 5.25; the wording of the two appeals is only slightly different. Similar requests towards the end of a letter are found in Romans 15.30, Ephesians 6.19, and Colossians 4.3 (cf. Heb. 13.18); they emphasize the reciprocity between sender and addressees. The word ‘finally’ comes from 1 Thessalonians 4.1; it now serves to introduce the final part of the letter (cf. 2 Cor. 13.11; Gal. 6.17; Eph. 6.10; Phil. 4.8).
Unlike 1 Thessalonians 5.25, the content of the prayer is given in two clauses. The first of these reads: ‘that the word of the Lord may have a swift course and may be glorified’. ‘Paul’ asks them to pray for him in his role of apostle, as one sent to preach ‘the word