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From: Australia
Registered: 12-03-2008

(Date Posted:07-15-2012 9:09 AM)
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1 and 2 Thessalonians 2012 Q3

Contents | Email Discussion Lists | Ellen White and Bible References

When the Lord Descends from Heaven


Irish author Samuel Beckett wrote a drama, Waiting for Godot, about two homeless men waiting on the side of the road for someone named Godot who was supposed to come and save them from the meaninglessness of life.

Until he comes, life seems so miserable that they decide to hang themselves. But having no rope, one of the men takes off the cord that holds up his pants, which collapse around his ankles. Testing the cord’s strength, they pull; it breaks, and both men almost fall. They decide to find a better rope and try again later.

“We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow,” says Vladimir. “Unless Godot comes.”

“And if he comes?” asks Estragon.

“We’ll be saved.”

Godot never comes, which means they’re not saved. They weren’t, of course, supposed to be. Beckett’s whole point with the drama was to show the absurdity and hopelessness of life.

What a contrast to the view of life presented in the Bible. In particular, what a contrast to the view presented in this quarter’s lessons, which are on the apostle Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians.

Like Beckett’s two characters, the Thessalonians faced stresses, strains, struggles, even persecution. In other words, life for them, as for us, has its hard moments. How easy and understandable it would have been for them to have fallen into the pessimism Beckett expressed. Instead, the Thessalonians had a sure hope, a hope based on Jesus.

This quarter, through Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, we’ll get a glimpse into the life of an early Christian church—an urban church—really, and see some of the struggles and challenges that it faced, including the difficulties that arose from the fact that Christ had not yet returned! Fascinating, too, is that however different their circumstances from our own, so often the principles reflected in Paul’s words to the Thessalonians deal with the issues and challenges that we, too, confront as we await—not some mysterious Godot—but the Lord Jesus, whose death on the cross at the first coming guarantees His return in glory at the Second.

Jon Paulien is dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California.

DateTopicMobileRefs
Jul 6The Gospel Comes to ThessalonicaMobileLess 1
Jul 13Preserving RelationshipsMobileLess 2
Jul 20Thessalonica in Paul’s DayMobileLess 3
Jul 27Joyous and ThankfulMobileLess 4
Aug 3The Apostolic ExampleMobileLess 5
Aug 10Friends ForeverMobileLess 6
Aug 17Living Holy LivesMobileLess 7
Aug 24The Dead in ChristMobileLess 8
Aug 31Final EventsMobileLess 9
Sep 7Church LifeMobileLess 10
Sep 14Promise to the PersecutedMobileLess 11
Sep 21The AntichristMobileLess 12
Sep 28Keeping the Church FaithfulMobileLess 13

Did you know that you can receive each day’s lesson via email? You may also discuss each day’s lesson with other Sabbath School lesson students on our blog.


Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.

Principal Contributors:
Jon Paulien
Editor:
Clifford R. Goldstein
Associate Editor:
Soraya L. Homayouni
Publication Manager:
Lea Alexander Greve

Editorial Assistant:
Sharon Thomas-Crews
Pacific Press Coordinator:
Wendy Marcum
Art Director and Illustrator:
Lars Justinen
Concept Design:
Dever Design

Copyright © 2012 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.


The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is prepared by the Office
of the Adult Bible Study Guide of the General Conference of Seventh-day
Adventists. The preparation of the guides is under the general
direction of the Sabbath School Publications Board, a subcommittee of
the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM), publisher of
the Bible study guides. The published guide reflects the input of
worldwide evaluation committees and the approval of the Sabbath School
Publications Board and thus does not solely or necessarily represent
the intent of the author(s).

Editorial Office:
12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.


Sabbath School Study References

The Lesson References (formerly called Lesson Helps) for this quarter have been prepared by Freeman Senzani. They include all related Scripture and most EGW quotations. The “New King James Version” of the Bible is used with
permission. The related Study References are linked from each lesson and a link to the whole quarter’s Helps is provided on this page.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:07-15-2012 9:12 AM)

Lesson 1 - The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica

Introduction: 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!

  1. Motives

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Who is writing this letter to the church of the Thessalonians? (Paul, Silas and Timothy. In the rest of this lesson I'll refer to them collectively as "Paul.")

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4. What is Paul concerned about? (That the church members will doubt him.)

      1. What concerns does Paul raise? (That his message is wrong or his motives impure. He says that he is not trying to trick them.)

      2. Why would Paul write this kind of thing? (It must be that some were questioning Paul's motives and the accuracy of his theology. His defense shows us the nature of the attacks made against him.)

      3. Let's go back to the questions I asked in the introduction: when someone tries to convince you to agree with them, do you consider their motives? (I do - especially if I do not know the person very well. But, this might be the result of my legal training.)

        1. Think about this a minute. We all know people who are wrong because they are not very smart, their emotions overtake their logic, or they are uneducated about the issues. How do you compare those kinds of people with those who are trying to trick you? (We have the lowest opinion of tricksters! The other people are just wrong, but deceivers are evil.)

      4. What does Paul say about his motives? (His motive is to obey God.)

  2. Motives Clarified

    1. Re-read 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Paul refers to an event in Philippi. Why? (This is part of Paul's argument about his motives. Let's explore what happened in Philippi.)

    2. Read Acts 16:9-10. Whose direction is Paul following here? (He believes God is directing them to Macedeonia.)

    3. Read Acts 16:11-12. How does this fit into God's direction? (Philippi is the leading city in a district of Macedonia.)

    4. Read Acts 16:13-15. If you were Paul, would this confirm God's directions to you to go to Macedonia? (You meet the right people and they offer to let you stay with them. Everything is going great!

    5. Read Acts 16:16-18. How do you explain that a demon would give this message? Didn't we learn last quarter that we can discern spirits by their message?

      1. Why do you think Paul was troubled? Was it day after day of shouting? Was it that a demon was handling their publicity?

    6. Read Acts 16:19-23. What kind of justice do they have in Philippi?

      1. If you were Paul, would you begin to doubt your vision?

      2. Has Paul done anything wrong?

    7. Read Acts 16:24-28. Assume you are Paul, this is your story and you are writing in Facebook what happened to you in the last two days. What would be the tone of your note? (One disaster after another! First harassment, then unjust beatings, then imprisonment, and then an earthquake. If any of your friends clicked, "like," you would feel like kicking them.)

    8. Read Acts 16:29-34. Now, what do you say about the vision? How does this change your Facebook entry?

    9. Read Acts 16:37-40. Just a footnote here. What did Paul believe about Christians asserting their legal rights?

      1. Who is encouraging who? Who was beaten? (Paul was beaten and he is doing the encouraging.)

    10. Read Acts 17:1. This brings us back to Thessalonica. How do you think Paul felt? (He was probably still suffering from his beating!)

      1. If you knew this background, what would you say about Paul's motives? Is he a trickster? Is there any reason to say he is motivated by anything other than the will of God? (Paul knew that sharing the gospel was dangerous. He could lose his health or his freedom.)


    11. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:2. What is the reception to the gospel in Thessalonica? ("Strong opposition." In this new town, Paul knew he was facing danger.)

  3. The Message

    1. Since we have seen that Paul has only pure motives, let's look at his message. Read Acts 17:2-3. What is Paul's message to those in Thessalonica? (The gospel!)

      1. Why do you think Paul went first to the Jews? (The Old Testament predicts Jesus. If they believed the Torah, then they should believe in Jesus.)

      2. Was Paul going to church on Sabbath simply because that was when the synagogue was meeting? (No. The text says worshiping on Sabbath was Paul's "custom." It was his regular practice.)

    2. Notice that Acts 17:3 says that Paul explained to them why the Messiah would suffer. Read Jeremiah 23:5-8 and Isaiah 9:4-7. Do these verses refer to Jesus? (Yes.)

      1. What kind of Messiah do you think the people would prefer - One who suffered or One who triumphed?

      2. Can you see the obstacles which Paul had to overcome? He was preaching a Messiah who was murdered by Rome!

    3. Review Isaiah 53 and read Isaiah 53:5. How should Paul make his argument? How do you think he explained these apparently conflicting pictures of Jesus?

    4. Read Acts 17:4. Who are these "God-fearing Greeks?" (Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9. These are Gentiles who had "turned to God from idols." Some commentaries suggest that they had accepted the teachings of the Old Testament, met on Sabbath with the Jews, but were not full converts to Judaism.)

    5. Read Acts 17:5. This should be familiar to Paul. Why are the Jews jealous? (Two things. First, the Jews are probably hoping that these Greeks would fully convert to Judaism. Now, Paul has convinced them of something else. Second, Paul argues that the Old Testament predicted Jesus. Jesus is the fulfilment of the sanctuary service and the other prophecies. These Jews reject that and think Paul is starting another religion that is taking away from their religion. We can see why Paul is concerned about whether people believe his message.)

    6. Read Acts 17:6-8. Paul's opponents round up a mob of bad characters to start a riot, and then get the government involved on their side. What does this teach us about the strength of their religious arguments? (Resorting to violence and the strong arm of the government shows that your attempts to persuade through logic and reason have failed. They use terror and force to protect their religious views.)

    7. Look again at Acts 17:7. What do you think these Jews believed about the Messiah - suffering or triumphant? (They undoubtedly believed the Messiah would be triumphant.)

        1. What does that say about their argument here? (Purely disingenuous. They were accusing Paul of things they hoped would happen!)

    8. Friend, what about you? Do you believe in the books Paul wrote in the New Testament because they are "part of the Bible," or do you have an independent personal trust in them because of what Paul suffered to deliver his message from God? If you are not sure about the truth of the gospel, will you accept it right now?

  4. Next week: Preserving Relationships.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:07-15-2012 9:13 AM)

Lesson 2 - Preserving Relationships

Posted: 14 Jul 2012 05:00 AM PDT

Introduction: 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!

  1. The Parting

    1. Recall that last week Paul had a mixed reception in Thessalonica. Let's review by reading Acts 17:5. What would you do if you thought that a mob was heading your way?

      1. What if you were still recovering from the last time a mob caught you?

    2. Read Acts 17:6-7. Not finding Paul or Silas, they bring Jason before the city officials. What does this tell us about Jason and Paul? (Jason had given Paul a place to live. It was known that Jason was his host.)

    3. Read Acts 17:8-9. What does this suggest about Jason? (We learn that he had enough money to post a bond. This also suggests that he had enough influence with the officials to avoid rough treatment.)

    4. Read Acts 17:10. What have Paul and Silas been doing? (Hiding! You would hide too to avoid another beating like they received in Philippi!)

      1. Now that we review how Paul left Thessalonica, what kind of impression do you think was left in his mind about his visit?

      2. What kind of impression was left in the mind of Jason and the Thessalonians?

      3. How does this affect relationships - to have to leave under circumstances like this? Would it bring Paul and the Thessalonians closer together, or further apart? (People under extreme circumstances often form close relationships. On the other hand, no one likes to get in trouble, and Paul certainly got Jason and his friends in trouble.)

    5. Read Acts 17:11. How does this color Paul's thinking when it comes to the Thessalonians?

      1. Have you heard the expression, "This is more trouble than it is worth?"

        1. What is the "worth" in Thessalonica? Would Paul appreciate a greater challenge?

  2. Encouragement

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3. If someone tells you about a problem in their life, what is your immediate thought - about them or about a similar problem in your life?

      1. Years ago, a lady called my wife to see if she could drop her children off at our home. When my wife said this was not possible because her mother had just died, the lady responded, "Well, I'm sure glad my parents are fine." Perhaps you are not as thoughtless as this, but I know that when people tell me about some problem in their life, I often tell about a similar thing that happened to me! When you experience problems, do you want others to relate similar problems in their life or do you want them to focus on your problem?

      2. Recall that when Paul arrived in Thessalonica, he was still hurting from his beating in Philippi. If you left friends quickly because you did not want to be beaten again, would you start out your note to them about yourself or about them? (I would explain about my own concerns - how it was necessary to run for the sake of my own health!)

      3. As you look at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, on who is Paul's attention focused? (The Thessalonians.)

      4. Look carefully at Paul's words. How would you characterize them? (He is complimenting them.)

        1. Is Paul simply telling them they look good, he likes their clothes? (No, he is complimenting them about things that are central to the gospel.)

      5. When my father died, one of the most amazing notes came from Reed Larson, a man for whom my teaching position at Regent University is named. Instead of telling me about the time when his father died, he wrote that my father must have been a great man because he was sure my father was reflected in my life. My father died long ago, but I've not forgotten that note. When you speak or write to someone who faces difficulties, do you remember to say positive, encouraging things to them?

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17. On what is Paul focused, his manner of leaving, or on the church members? (He reminds them of how he left ("torn away"), but he says he never stopped thinking about them.)

      1. If someone wrote to you like this, would you think that they were your friend? (Yes. Paul sounds very interested ("intense longing") in them.)

      2. How would you put Paul's sentiments in today's terms? ("I am with you in spirit.")

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:18. How can Satan stop the work of God? (A conflict is going on between Jesus and Satan. Jesus has won the battle, but apparently Jesus allows Satan to "win" some of the conflicts.)

      1. As you think back to what happened to Paul and friends at Philippi and Thessalonica, did Satan have some victories? (Certainly, it was not God's plan to have His workers beaten or to drive them out of towns where they were working.)

      2. What does this say about setbacks in your life? (Sometimes we give Satan the advantage by bad decision-making, but at other times Satan "wins" the small fights when we are doing good.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. What does this suggest about whether Paul is living a self-centered life? (He looks forward to heaven, in which his joy and glory will be those who he has brought to salvation.)

    5. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1. What could Paul no longer stand? (Being apart from the members in Thessalonica.)

      1. So what did Paul do when his feelings came to this point? (He decided to stay in Athens! "I couldn't stand missing you any longer, so I decided to stay in a different city.)

    6. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:2. What solution did they hit upon? (They sent Timothy!)

      1. What is your reaction when someone says that he misses you and wants to be with you, and his actions seem to be just the opposite?

      2. Or, is there a better, more positive explanation for this? (At least two commentaries that I read suggested that Paul was being left alone in Athens. Thus, Paul was giving up something every important in order to bless the Thessalonians.)

    7. Friend, have you considered how you react when someone tells you about some sad event? Do you focus on encouraging them, or do you immediately start talking about yourself? Why not determine today to strengthen relationships in the church, and among your friends and family, by focusing more on others and less on yourself?

  3. Next week: Thessalonica in Paul's Day.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:07-15-2012 9:15 AM)

Lesson 3 - Thessalonica in Paul's Day

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? (Yes!)

        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 do.)

        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 forever.")

    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 opinion.)

    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 gospel.)

    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 relationships.)

    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.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:08-06-2012 6:37 AM)

Lesson 4 - Joyous and Thankful

Introduction: 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!

  1. Greetings

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3. This week I saw an old co-worker who immediately commented on a television show he had seen the night before in which I was interviewed. His first comment was that I had difficulty answering one question. (My biased opinion was that I had done great - even on the difficult question.) What could my friend learn from Paul? (Paul starts out positively. He wishes the Thessalonians grace and peace, and then says how thankful he is for their faith and work.)

      1. How do you greet people?

      2. How do you react to people who greet you with criticisms instead of compliments?

      3. Remember, the Holy Spirit is guiding Paul's words. What should we learn from Paul's opening here? (Be positive. Start out with encouraging, positive words to others if at all possible. You can leave the constructive criticism to later)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14. What alternative greeting could Paul have given? (Stop being lazy, timid, weak, impatient and vengeful!)

      1. What is the state of your marriage? How well do you get along with your children?

        1. How do you greet your spouse and your children?

  2. Chosen

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. When I teach or preach, from time to time a person will come up to me afterwards who was strongly convicted by the Holy Spirit. Others seem to have the words just roll off their backs. Are the convicted people "chosen" by God and the rest not chosen by God?

    2. Read 1 Timothy 2:3-4. We know that Paul sent Timothy to be with the Thessalonians. What does Timothy write about being chosen by God? (That God wants all to be saved.)

    3. Read Revelation 3:20 and Revelation 14:6-7. To whom does God appeal to follow Him? (Everyone everywhere.)

    4. Re-read 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5. Many Christians believe in something called "election." Only if they are "elected" are they saved. As I understand it, "non-elected" people can never be saved. When Paul says in verse 4 that God "has chosen you" is he talking about "election?"

      1. What is the proof of being "chosen" (or "elected")? (The Holy Spirit brought conviction and power.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10, Acts 10:44-47 and Acts 15:6-9. These texts bring to mind another context in which the power of the Holy Spirit demonstrated that God had chosen a people. What is that context? (We are reminded of the history of God's work with humans. God chose a special people (the Jews) to be His workers to share the message about Him. When God's special people largely rejected Jesus, God turned to the Gentiles - those who were, as 1 Peter 2:10 says, "not a people" to be God's messengers. The context makes clear Paul's message that "You do not have to be Jewish to be chosen by God." The proof, as always, is the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul is not saying that God picks and chooses among humans who will be saved.)

  3. Imitation

    1. Re-read the last part of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and then read 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7. In what way is Paul saying the Thessalonians were "imitators" of Paul and his friends? (Look at the last sentence of verse 5: "we lived among you for your sake." Paul and his friends sacrificed to help the Thessalonians.)

      1. People often say that we should only imitate Jesus, but I've long thought that idea had serious flaws. It seems obvious that God withheld from Jesus many things so that humans would not say, "Jesus had an advantage over me because He was born rich, He was born to a royal family, He had a beautiful home, etc." Do you think we should imitate Jesus' disadvantages?

      2. Are the disadvantages of Jesus proof that He gave up His own interests for us?

        1. If you said, "yes," then isn't "giving up advantages to help others" exactly what Paul said he and his friends were doing for the Thessalonians? (This is making me re-think this subject. While I still do not think that we are called to imitate Jesus being homeless or His other specific disadvantages, the general idea of giving up ourselves for others should be the main principle of our life.)

    2. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7. In what way were the Thessalonians models for other believers. (They welcomed the message with joy.)

      1. What about the "giving up yourself idea?" Were they also a model for that? (Notice that verse 6 says "in spite of severe suffering" they welcomed the message with joy. On the surface, no one would have joy about giving up something, as opposed to getting something. There are studies on this. A person offered one of two choices may not have a strong preference for one over the other. But, once the person selects one, that person does not want to give it up for the alternative. The fact that the Thessalonians could give up a normal life "with joy," is something to imitate.)

      2. We now have Paul and his friends as models and the Thessalonians as models. Should we encourage the imitation of other Christians?

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:8. In what other way did the Thessalonians become models for other new converts? (Their faith was noteworthy. They "rang out" the "Lord's message." The word picture that I see is of someone ringing a bell to get the attention of others. The Thessalonian's faith got attention!)

  4. Rescue

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. We've spoken about the "hard to accept" aspects of Christianity. That Paul promoted a Messiah who had been killed by the Romans rather than conquering the Romans. In what way is the former belief of the Thessalonians "hard to accept?" (They worshiped idols - something made by human hands.)

      1. How does Paul describe the contrast between the two belief systems? (Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we serve a living God. We do not serve something made by humans which was never alive - much less alive now.)

      2. What is our hope? (That Jesus will return from heaven and rescue us from the "coming wrath.")

    2. In the introduction we talked about God's sequence in the Bible. As you think about what we have studied in this lesson, from the nature of the greeting, to the choosing of the Thessalonians, to the model for others, to the nature of Jesus' rescue, what overall theme do you see? (Service for others. We are careful how we greet others. We are willing to accept others who are accepted by the Holy Spirit. We are willing to share our faith even if it makes life uncomfortable. We serve a living God who has given up His life for us and who will rescue us. Friend, are you willing to make this the theme of your life? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give you the power to do this?

  5. Next week: The Apostolic Example.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:08-06-2012 6:38 AM)

Lesson 5 - The Apostolic Example

Introduction: 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!

  1. The Present

    1. Read Matthew 6:31-34. What does Jesus suggest should be the focus of our thoughts? (Today, rather than worrying about tomorrow.)

      1. There are a number of Bible texts that teach us to be diligent workers, use our common sense, and engage in planning. Why does Jesus say that we should not be worrying about tomorrow? (God knows our needs. We can "offload" future problems to Him.)

        1. Why is it an advantage to "offload" our worries? (Our minds can only focus on a few things at once. Removing worry from the stage of our mind, allows us to focus on other things.)

      2. What does God require of us, instead of worrying about the future? (Presently seeking to advance the Kingdom of God. We can substitute thinking about doing good for worrying about possible future problems.)

      3. In my story about the screaming judge, all of my worry time was a complete waste. When I showed up next month, a wonderfully kind and pleasant judge was in charge. Apparently, they rotate judges from county to county, and the screamer had been moved to another county.

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3. On what time frame is Paul's focus? (He reminds them of the past, to make a point about the present.)

    3. We previously discussed how they were beaten in Philippi, and then barely escaped another beating in Thessalonica. Paul denies that he is trying to trick them, has impure motives or is just wrong. What does the past suggest about the truth of those charges? (Paul argues that facing a beating would deter the dishonest. The dishonest would find an easier way to make a living.)

  2. The Example

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4. What two reasons does Paul give as to why he should be believed? (He says "Look at how we speak." Second, he suggests that beatings are not a sign of failure, for they are not trying to please others - just God.)

      1. Paul's call for them to look at how they speak is a call to examine the present. What about their speech is important? (They speak as if they were given a God message. They speak as if they were "approved" and "entrusted.")

          1. What do you think this means? (There must have been a competency, honesty and assurance in the way they spoke.)

      2. Have you considered how you impact the Kingdom of God with your speech?

        1. Do you speak as one "approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel?"

        2. If not, why not? (Many years ago I asked myself this question - what is my influence upon others? Am I aiding God or Satan? I was embarrassed when I concluded that my influence was negative in many ways, and determined to change that.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:5. What was absent from their speech? (Flattery and greed.)

      1. I use compliments regularly in my dealings with others. What is wrong with it? (Praising people for a job well-done is the gift of encouragement. Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11. On the other hand, dishonest flattery to get someone to do something is not a gospel tactic.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6. This is a continuation of Paul's statement in verse 4 that they are trying to please God and not men. Is this ("we are not looking for praise from men") a defensive attitude - because Paul was not just rejected, he was physically attacked - or is this an attitude we should seek?

      1. In sorting this out, can we agree that we should not try to please men instead of God?

      2. Paul approaches this as if pleasing God and humans were mutually exclusive. What about the idea of pleasing both God and humans?

      3. If you only had to worry about pleasing God, would your life be better or worse?

      4. If humans praise you, would that deter you from considering whether God is pleased with you? (This is probably the most important point to consider.)

      5. Think about the people in your life who have said, "I don't care what other people think." What kind of people are those? Are they people who you thought cared what God thought?

      6. Have you seen people do a lousy job in the church because they don't care what other people think? (In my experience, people who said that they did not care what other people thought were doing a lousy job. The Bible speaks positively about encouragement and advice. At a certain point, praise and encouragement are more important to me than money. Plus, honest praise improves performance. I think Paul is mostly being defensive here, but there is no question that we must put pleasing God first.)

  3. Hard Work

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9. Paul says, "We could have asked you to support us, but we did not. Instead we worked day and night to share the gospel with you and support ourselves." How is this relevant to Paul's gospel message? (It shows greed could not have motivated Paul and his friends. Instead, he was giving to the Thessalonians.)

      1. What other argument do you find in this? (Paul says this is proof of our love for you. We did not love ourselves as much as we loved you.)

      2. If you are wondering, the same is true of this ministry. I don't make any money from writing this lesson, it costs me money. The translators are all volunteers. On occasion, readers send small contributions and we have ad revenue. This all goes to my son who maintains the web site, the e-mail distribution, purchases ads to promote the lessons and pays the bills.

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Review what Paul has written so far. What are the elements that go into his conclusion that they have been "holy, righteous and blameless?" (They suffered physically, they did not demand money, they were not greedy. Their speech was consistent with the gospel and not modified to please humans. They treated church members as loving parents would treat their children. They encouraged right living.)

      1. Did you notice that Paul says that he was "encouraging" to them? This gets us back to the flattery discussion.

    3. Friend, have you examined your life? Have you taken a sharp and honest look at the present? Can you say that in your daily life you reflect the attitude and actions which Paul says show a person to be "holy, righteous and blameless?" If not, why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be conscious of this, and to change your attitude and your actions?

  4. Next week: Friends Forever.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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From: Australia
Registered:12-03-2008

Re:Thessalonians ~ 3rd qtr ~ July 6 - Sept 28
(Date Posted:08-06-2012 6:40 AM)

Lesson 6 - Friends Forever

Introduction: 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!

  1. God's Word Under Fire

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Is this an appeal to emotion? (I love it when people say, "I'm thankful for you!" It is an appeal to my emotions.)

      1. Many so-called Bible "scholars" claim that they can pick and choose which Bible texts are right and which are wrong. Others are not so blatant about it, but they reject certain texts because they conflict with their personal opinion. Others pick a certain text to follow and ignore everything else in the Bible on that subject. What does Paul say about the authority of the Bible? (It is the "word of God.")

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14. Who made up the "churches in Judea?" (Jewish believers.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Who does Paul say killed Jesus? (The Jews.)

      1. When I went to law school, I learned that Jews were not just characters in the Bible, but were real, live people today. When I acquired several close Jewish friends, they would tell about being taunting as a child about being a "Christ-killer." One friend said he was called this before he even knew about Christ. When I'm asked, I generally answer that the Romans killed Jesus. But, Paul clearly says that the Jews did it. What attitude is Paul suggesting towards Jews? (Paul just got through saying that the Thessalonians were doing a good thing by imitating their fellow Jewish believers. Paul is Jewish. Jesus is Jewish. Paul cannot be suggesting a bad attitude towards the Jewish people.)

      2. Who, then, are the "bad guys?" (Those who are the enemies of the gospel: those who opposed Christianity by killing Jesus, killing the prophets, driving out Christians, and trying to stop the spread of the gospel.)

      3. What emotional appeal is Paul making when he talks about all the Christians suffering at the hands of the bad guys? (We are in this together!)

  2. The Wrath of God

    1. Notice that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 suggests that we can identify the bad guys because they are the ones trying to keep others from speaking. What is God's reaction to this? (The "wrath of God" has come upon those who believe in physically stopping Christianity.)

    2. What does 1 Thessalonians 2:16 say about the timing of the wrath of God? (It came "at last.")

      1. Paul sounds like God's wrath is overdue! Why is wrath appropriate? How is it consistent with love?

      2. Recently, an agent of Satan killed a number of people at a movie theater. If you heard of this, what was your reaction? What would be your reaction if you knew someone who was killed? What would be your reaction if one of those killed was your child? (Do you see how the level of emotion increases as the level of your love increases? God's wrath is terrible because He love for us is infinite.)

    3. What does Paul mean when he says that God's wrath has actually begun? (The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary points out that in 48 AD a riot took place in Jerusalem during Passover in which about 30,000 were killed. Josephus claims that over a million Jews were killed later when Jerusalem was destroyed.)

    4. Read Luke 19:42-44. What does Jesus say is the reason for the destruction of Jerusalem? (They did not recognize that Jesus was God.)

      1. Is this an argument based on emotion? (This is the pivotal event in the history of the world. God died for His creation. His creation killed Him. God has an incredible emotional involvement with us. To reject God's love, to tread on what God has done, is trigger the most terrible emotion - wrath!)

  3. The Struggle

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-19. What prevented Paul and his friends from visiting the Thessalonians again? (Satan.)

      1. Consider this just a minute. God is on the move punishing those who trample on His love, while Satan is on the move to restrict the good news of His love. How should this knowledge affect our everyday life? (We need to be keenly aware of the role the supernatural plays in every day events.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:20. What gives Paul joy? What gives Paul glory?(Notice the emotions. Those who listen to Paul's presentation of the gospel and act on it give him joy. On the other hand, Paul is upset when Satan tries to undo his work.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. What is it that Paul could no longer stand? (The emotional strain of separation. He could not stand the Thessalonians suffering persecution without help. He was worried that they would not stand firm.)

      1. What did Paul do about it? (Sent Timothy to be with them to encourage, strengthen them and undo any damage done by Satan's agents.)

      2. How do you feel when someone says, "I miss you, I want to come and help you?" (It warms my heart. It lets me know that person cares.)

    4. We see a lot of emotion in Paul's writings. We discussed in the introduction the logical and emotional approach to life. What if Paul had used only logic in his appeal to the Thessalonians? (His appeal would have been seriously crippled. People not only need to know the truth, they need to know you care.)

  4. The Report

    1. 1 Thessalonians 3:6. What has changed? (We just went from Paul saying that he sent Timothy on his behalf to visit the Thessalonians, to Timothy returning with a report.)

      1. What report does Timothy make? (The Thessalonians have pleasant memories of Paul.)

      2. Read Acts 17:5-8. We discussed this in a previous lesson. Paul's visit stirred up opposition, with the result that Jason and some other new believers got dragged before the authorities and had to post a bond. Is this a pleasant memory?

      3. How can this "pleasant memories" be an honest report? (Under emotional strain, people form strong bonds. It is not as if Paul mislead them. He not only shared with them the good news of the gospel, but he also told them (1 Thessalonians 3:4) that persecution would follow.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9. How does the steadfastness of the Thessalonian believers affect Paul? (He is encouraged. He feels alive ("we really live"). He feels joy.)

      1. When Satan or his agents attack you, have you considered the impact that your faithfulness might have on others?

      2. Doesn't Paul's reaction seem a little excessive? (Do you remember the last time you won something? Earned a great grade. Won an athletic contest. Won a job promotion. You feel great. You feel "alive." Paul has just won a battle (through the Thessalonians) against Satan - and he feels great about it.)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10. Wait a minute! Paul is rejoicing over their victory against Satan. How can he write about them "lacking" in faith? (We are all on the road towards a better and deeper relationship with our Lord. We all have room for improvement.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. Paul asks that God will allow them to come, that the Thessalonians would show love to each other, and that God would strengthen their hearts. What does it mean for God to "strengthen your heart?" (This is a mental and emotional change that the Holy Spirit makes to help you become more loving and more obedient.)

    5. Friend, how are you on the emotional side of dealing with fellow church members? If you think this is a weak spot, why not ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your heart?

  5. Next week: Living Holy Lives.

Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

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