Introduction: 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!

  1. The Things of the World

    1. Read 1 John 2:15. Except for God, everything I love is in
      the world. Where are the things you love located?

      1. Do you think this text is speaking of location? Is it
        speaking of geography? Or, is it saying “Don’t love
        the world” and everything “in” the world – in the
        sense of being included in the world?

    2. Read 1 John 2:16. How does this clarify the answers to the
      questions we just discussed? (The Bible is not talking
      about geography. It is using the word “world” as a symbol
      for things opposed to God.)

      1. What do you think is meant by the phrase, “the
        cravings of sinful man?” (You could say, “If I’m not
        a sinful person, then my cravings are fine.” But, I
        suspect that having “cravings” is a clue to what the
        Bible means when it says “world.”)

      2. What do you think is meant by the phrase, “the lust
        of the eyes?” (This seems to be another kind of
        craving – wanting something you see.)

      3. Do you know people who boast about what they possess
        and have done? (Now we get to something we can really
        understand, because likely this is us. If we are in
        denial and think this is not “us,” then we know
        people who fit this description.)

        1. Why would a person boast about what they have
          or do? (To show that they are better than
          others. They have more money, more things and
          have accomplished more because they are
          smarter, harder working or more righteous.)

      4. If you look at these verses ( 1 John 2:15-16), do you
        think these phrases we have studied are related?

        1. If the final definition (in this group of
          phrases) of what it means to love the world is
          bragging about yourself, what does this suggest
          is meant by “the cravings of sinful man,” and
          “the lust of his eyes?” (These are people who
          want to be on the road to bragging about what
          they have and what they do. They are not there
          yet, which is the reason why they “crave.”
          They do not yet have it, which is the reason
          why they “lust.” These are the “poor” and
          “unsuccessful” people who want to someday be
          able to brag about what they have and what they

        2. With this understanding, does this just about
          include all of us? Do you think this human
          attitude has changed over thousands of years?

    3. Read 1 John 2:17. Why is being on the road (or at the end
      of the road, or trying and failing to get on the road) to
      a life worth bragging about a bad idea? (It is temporary.
      You get to the point of having and accomplishing and
      bragging about it all – and you die. Or, worse, you’ve
      been lusting and craving your whole life, and suddenly you
      realize your life is over, and you have nothing!)

      1. Why is having and doing and bragging inconsistent
        with having the love of the Father in us? (Someone
        with the love of the our Father in Heaven is not
        focused on himself, but has a desire to help others.)

      2. How does a desire to help others make more practical
        sense? (“The man who does the will of God lives

    4. Read Acts 17:1-3. What was the most difficult aspect of
      Paul’s message to the Thessalonians? (That the people
      should worship a Messiah who died at the hands of the
      Romans – rather than conquering the Romans.)

      1. Is that the real challenge of the gospel for you – a
        message of giving up yourself for others, rather than
        conquering all who come your way?

      2. Was Paul’s task the same as all who are sharing the
        gospel today – that the true gospel is a “hard sell”
        if self denial is truly understood?

        1. Is the gospel pure self-denial? (No. Not only
          do we get to live forever, but lasting joy
          comes from helping others.)

  2. Paul’s Approach to the World

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 9:19. Is this consistent with what we
      just studied? (Yes!)

      1. Does this appeal to you? (The natural heart does not
        want to be a slave. Let’s continue to see what Paul
        means by this.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-21. This is not slavery in the
      sense we normally think of it. In what way is Paul a slave
      here? (It seems to be a slavery to ideas, not a physical
      slavery. Paul could have gone to each of these groups and
      said, “You need more law,” or “You need less law.” Instead
      he refrained from asserting his own ideas.)

      1. How can we distinguish between being a slave – giving
        up our ideas for the ideas of others – and
        compromising the gospel? How can we tell what is
        being practical to win over others, and what is
        disobeying God?

    3. Read Acts 16:3. Is Timothy making himself a slave for
      others? (Yes, this is a painful example of giving in to
      the ideas of others. But, Paul thought they needed to
      compromise on this in order to win the Jews.)

    4. Read Galatians 5:2-3 and Galatians 5:11-12. Was
      circumcision an important point to Paul? (Yes. He fought
      against it.)

      1. Why, then, did he compromise with Timothy and not
        compromise with the Galatians? (The Galatians were
        not circumcised, and Paul tells them they do not need
        to be circumcised to be saved. Timothy, on the other
        hand, was going to teach the gospel to those who had
        been circumcised, and being circumcised helped him to
        be able to share the gospel with them. I have no
        doubt that Paul ultimately shared the full gospel to
        these circumcised Jews – but personal compromise to
        be able to share the gospel is part of giving up
        yourself to others.)

    5. When we started our discussion about bragging over what we
      do and what we have, it seemed that we were talking about
      rich, successful people (and those who were trying to be
      rich and successful). Are these people the only target of
      our study? (No. An important target is bragging about what
      you do and what you have with regard to the gospel! I have
      little doubt that bragging about money, power and position
      are part of being in the world. But, the slavery which
      Paul writes about is a slavery that is tied to religious

    6. Let me ask you again, how can you distinguish between
      compromising your ideas and disobedience to God? (I do not
      fully understand this, but the first question to ask is,
      “Am I doing this to advance the gospel?” If the answer is,
      “yes,” then likely you are on the right path.)

  3. Starting the Church

    1. Read Acts 18:1-3. Is it a waste of Paul’s talents and time
      to be making tents instead of preaching? (We have just
      discussed the idea of being unselfish and being practical
      in order to reach people. Paul is strengthening his
      relationship with Acquila and Priscila. We see in Romans
      16:3-4 that these two became great workers for the

    2. Read Colossians 4:15. We read here (and in other texts)
      about home churches. How does the idea of opening your
      home to other church members fit into the topic of this
      study? (It is another example of practical unselfishness.)

    3. If you have ever been a part of a home church, what are
      its advantages? (You get to see how this group of
      believers can work together without investing a lot of
      money in a property. In a larger church, you might not
      know the people very well. In a home church you have close

    4. Friend, next week we will start our study of 1
      Thessalonians in earnest. As a result of this study, can
      you more clearly see the attitude that was necessary for
      Paul and is necessary for you to reach others with the
      gospel? Will you commit to carefully consider how an
      unselfish compromise of your religious opinions might
      advance the gospel?

  4. Next week: Joyous and Thankful.