1 & 2 Thessalonians
July, August, September 2012
Want to learn more about 1 & 2 Thessalonians? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.
Lesson 1: The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2, Acts 16 & 17)
How do you react when someone brings a new idea to you? What about when someone suggests that you need to make changes in your life? What if someone warns you about something terrible in your future if you do not change? We begin our study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians: Paul's letters to the believers in Thessalonica. In these letters Paul brings a message that he is concerned they will not believe. When a lawyer wants to test the truth of what a witness says, the lawyer asks questions about perception and motivation. Paul, sounding like a lawyer, argues why the Thessalonians should believe him. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!
Lesson 2: Preserving Relationships (Acts 17, 1 Thessalonians 2)
Last week one of the members of my church died. The last time I saw her, she looked right into my eyes and said, "I'll see you again." She was headed into a major surgery, and she thought that she might die during the surgery. My wife and I had prayed for her, and I believed that I would see her again in church. I knew that she meant that she would see me again either in church or in heaven. Although I had not known this dear lady for very long, a strong relationship with her had developed in just a short period of time. When she died without me seeing her again, it not only made me sad, but it made me think again about her last words to me. We cannot be sure when we will see our family and friends again. Life is uncertain. As a result, relationships are one of the most important things in life. Paul's relationship with the members of the church in Thessalonica is our study this week. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to see what we can learn about strengthening relationships!
Lesson 3: Thessalonica in Paul's Day (1 John 2, Acts 17, Galatians 5)
Have you heard the question, "Does anything ever change?" In some sense, all sorts of things change all the time. One huge change in the last twenty years is the Internet. To publish and mail this Bible study in the "old days" would have taken a large amount of money. Even with enough money, it would not be practical to send it world-wide because of the delays in mailing. The Internet changed all of that. But, are the hearts of people different today? Have the hopes, dreams and worries of people changed? Has selfishness disappeared? Has the Bible's answers to problems changed? No. The people in Thessalonica were like you and me. Paul, Silas and Timothy faced struggles with sin, just as we do. Let's jump into our Bible study and see what we can learn about the solution to the problems that we all face!
Lesson 4: Joyous and Thankful (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)
This week we get down to business in our study of the letters to the Thessalonians. While it is good to understand the background, and consider the challenges Paul and his friends faced in evangelizing the Thessalonians, nothing is better than studying the word of God in context. Topical studies have their place, but topical studies rely on the logic of humans. When we study a book of the Bible, we see God's logic in action. The Holy Spirit arranges the sequence of the presentation in the Bible. Let's see what we can learn about God's will for us, in the sequence He inspired, by examining what He has to say to the Thessalonians!
Lesson 5: The Apostolic Example (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Matthew 6)
Many years ago, I agreed to take over a case in Connecticut from another attorney who assured me that it would be "simple." When I met the judge for the first time, he was literally screaming at the lawyers. He told us that he did not have time to preside over our trial, and we were to come back next month. In the meantime, I had an ocean beach vacation. As I sat on the beach looking at the ocean, what do you think I was doing? Enjoying the sun, sand and water? No! I was thinking about how I would try the case before the screamer. Thinking about an unpleasant future kept me from thinking about the pleasure of the present. A current book I'm reading about the brain suggests that we should be more conscious about our thoughts, and notice the difference between a focus on the present and planning for the future. It suggests a deliberate consciousness about the present. Is this a Biblical concept? Let's jump into our study of the letters to the Thessalonians and find out!
Lesson 6: Friends Forever (1Thessalonians 2:13-3:13)
Have you noticed that some people make decisions based on logic, and some based on emotion? I think I'm firmly in the "logic" camp, but history says otherwise. When my wife and I purchased our current home, we were considering three houses. I listed about ten important factors to consider (like how much it cost, how close it was to work), and then we ranked each home on each of these factors. When we got done with this very logical approach, we looked at the result, and decided we didn't like it. We purchased the house that ranked lowest on the logic list! Emotion prevailed for a decision we have lived with (and in) for thirty years! Last week, Paul explained to the Thessalonians the logical reasons why they should believe and trust him. This week he shares with them his emotions. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!
Lesson 7: Living Holy Lives (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)
Sometimes it is good to peek over into the office, yard, home or church of other people to see how they do things - how they think and act. For most of my life, I believed grace was on one side of Christianity and works was on the other. The strong, I'm saved regardless of what I do, didn't pay much attention to what they did. The strong, I won't drink, dance, chew or hang around with those who do, didn't pay much attention to grace. Teaching at Regent University has given me a very clear vision of another way. I've bumped into people, of various denominations, who are very strong on grace. They believe that once saved it is very hard to lose your salvation by bad works. At the same time, holiness in living is of extreme importance to them. What a wonderful combination! They are secure in their salvation, but constantly alert to whether they are advancing the Kingdom of God by their deeds. Let's plunge into our study and see what Paul teaches us about salvation and living holy lives!
Lesson 8: The Dead in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
What happens when we die? There are two main views in Christianity. The majority view is that your "spirit" or "soul" (the thinking part of you) returns to heaven to await the resurrection (the Second Coming of Jesus) at which time your thinking and your body will be united again. The minority view is "soul sleep," where your body and your soul remain unconscious in the grave until the resurrection. The Thessalonians seem to have had a third, and more discouraging view. They seemed to think that if you died before Jesus returned you were lost forever. Let's jump into our study of the Bible to explore what Paul has to say to the Thessalonians about the state of the dead!
Lesson 9: Final Events (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
We left our study last week with Paul's glorious description of the Second Coming of Jesus and the instruction "therefore encourage each other with these words." After hearing the fabulous news that Jesus was coming again, and He would save both the living and the dead, the next obvious question is, "When?" When will Jesus come again? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible because that is something we all want to know!
Lesson 10: Church Life (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28)
I remember when my parents would go on vacation and leave my brother and me home. We were in college, but just as they were leaving our mother would give us a short lecture on diet, health and safety. That is the feel I have as we come to the end of Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. He gives them "bullet points" about church life and Christian living. Paul apparently thought they were important, and so should we. Let's dive in and see what we can learn from what Paul has to say in parting!
Lesson 11: Promise to the Persecuted (2 Thessalonians 1:1-12)
Who can say that they have no problems? If you are like most others, you have things in your life that create problems for you. Some of these problems are your own fault, some are the fault of others, and some just seem to come floating into our lives on their own power. Whatever the problem, God is the answer. We turn our attention this week to Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians. This letter addresses the problems the Thessalonian believers face. Let's jump into Paul's conversation and see what we can learn about facing problems in our life!
Lesson 12: The Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
Last week Paul told us that the end to suffering will come with the Second Coming of Jesus. Recall that Paul previously told the Thessalonians that, at the Second Coming, they would see their loved ones who had passed away. Naturally, they wanted to know more about the timing of the Second Coming! But, instead of giving them precise details, Paul told them (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2) that he did not need to tell them because they would be surprised. What kind of answer is that? Apparently, the Thessalonians had the same kind of reaction because Paul is back on the subject of the timing of the Second Coming. They must have told him they wanted to know more. I'm interested in the timing of the Second Coming! Are you? If you are, let's dive in together to find out what Paul has to say about the events surrounding the Second Coming of Jesus!
Lesson 13: Keeping the Church Faithful (2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18)
"Tough love" is a phrase that has been around for a very long time. Every parent should understand what it means - sometimes you have to be mature and discipline your child. You do it because you love your child, not because you love to discipline. But, when it comes to two adults, the discipline side seems more difficult to understand. What right do I have to discipline you? What right do you have to discipline me? Doesn't love require me to always help you, no matter what? These are difficult questions, and Paul deals with them in his closing words to the Thessalonians. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!