2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.…
Apelles, who flourished in the time of Alexander the Great, never permitted a day to pass without practice in his art. He was accustomed, when he bad completed any one of his pieces, to expose it in some public place to the view of the passers-by, and seating himself behind it to hear the remarks which were made. On one of these occasions a shoemaker censured the painter for having given to the slippers a less number of ties than it ought to have. Apelles, knowing the man must be correct, at once rectified the mistake. The next day the shoemaker, emboldened, criticised one of the legs, when Apelles indignantly put forth his head and bid him keep to that line of criticism which he justly understood. Here we have the disorderliness of vers. 6-7 defined. There is a scornful play of words here in the Greek which is lost sight of in the English: the word for busybodies being merely a compound form of the word "working." Quite literally, the compound means "working enough and to spare," "being over busy," "overdoing"; then, as a man cannot possibly overdo what it is his own duty to do, it comes to signify —
I. DOING USELESS THINGS, things which concern no one, and might as well be left alone: as, e.g., magic, which is described by this word (Acts 19:19); or natural science, which is so described in the Athenians' accusation of Socrates!
II. MEDDLING WITH MATTERS WHICH DO NOT CONCERN THE DOER, BUT DO CONCERN OTHER PEOPLE (1 Timothy 5:18). Bishop Lightfoot suggests, that the play can be kept up through the words "business" and busy; we might perhaps say, not being business men, but busy bodies. But which of the two notions mentioned above is to be considered most prominent here, we cannot tell for certain.
1. The Thessalonians do not seem to have been much carried away by the first class of dangers — idle speculations such as those of the Ephesian and Colossian churches. Yet we cannot altogether exclude this meaning here. St. Paul's readers had been overbusy in theorizing about the position of the departed at Christ's coming (1 Thessalonians 4:15), and had been so eager over their idle doctrines of the Advent as to falsify, if not actually to forge, communications from St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Such false inquisitiveness and gossiping discussions might well be described by the Greek word we are now considering.
2. Everything, however, points to a more practical form of the same disposition to mask idleness under cloak of work; feverish excitement, which leads men to meddle and interfere with others, perhaps to spend time in "religious" work which ought not to have been spared from everyday duties (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12). There is nothing to shew definitely how this busy idleness arose, but it may very probably be the troubled and shaken condition of mind spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:2.
(Canon Mason.)That with quietness they work —
Parallel VersesKJV: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.