Background of the Thessalonian Letters 1. Paul and Silas fled from Thessalonica to Berea (see Ac 17:10). Since Timothy is not mentioned, it is possible that he stayed in Thessalonica or went back to Philippi and then rejoined Paul and Silas in Berea (Ac 17:14). 2. Paul fled to Athens from Berean persecution, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea (see Ac 17:14). 3. Paul sent word back, instructing Silas and Timothy to come to him in Athens (see Ac 17:15). 4. Timothy rejoined Paul at Athens and was sent back to Thessalonica (see 3:1–5). Since Silas is not mentioned, it has been conjectured that he went back to Philippi when Timothy went to Thessalonica. 5. Paul moved on to Corinth (see Ac 18:1). 6. Silas and Timothy came to Paul in Corinth (see 3:6; Ac 18:5). 7. Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians and sent it to the church. 8. About six months later (a.d. 51/52) he sent 2 Thessalonians in response to further information about the church there.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 1. Why do you think the Thessalonians needed a review of God’s will regarding sex and marriage? (1-5) Their society was very lax on this issue. Premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality was common and accepted, often in the context of idol worship. 2. How does acquiring a spouse in a holy and honorable way differ from the way our society thinks we should do this? A Christian recognizes that marriage is God’s institution and that it exists to give us blessings: companionship. God gives us a spouse to share our faith and our lives here on earth. Our society elevates physical attractiveness and compatibility and other concerns of this life to the highest level. That destroys marriage.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 3. How might a man wrong, or take advantage of, his brother in the matter of finding a wife? (4-6) Interfering with a relationship that is developing into a God-pleasing marriage e.g. any act that breaks a marriage through sinful sexual relationships. 4. Whose will must prevail in our attitudes about sex and marriage? (7-8) God’s will must prevail. Paul is stating God’s will for all people of all time. No matter how confused our society becomes over this issue, God’s will is clear.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 5. Why do we need to keep our distance from situations that tempt us into sexual immorality? Where are those temptations in our society? We need to avoid these temptations because we are weak and sinful. While still on earth, we are both saint and sinner (simul justus et peccator). Our society is every bit as promiscuous as Paul’s was. Many movies, TV, and music undercut what God says about sex and marriage. Christians live to give thanks to God. All Christians need constantly to remember God’s will for sex and marriage and give him glory with our bodies.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 1. Why did Paul encourage the Thessalonians to love if they already were doing that? (9-10) Because sin is always tearing down our love. Paul wanted to build them up so that they continued to live for God. 2. How can a Christian’s daily life win respect? (11-12) A Christian is to lead a quiet life, work faithfully, and mind his or her own business. Paul is talking about loving one another by humble service to God and faithfully working at what God has given us to do. In a world in which so many people are trying to make a name for themselves, that kind of humble love strikes people as admirable.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 3. Why do we want to win the respect of outsiders? (12) So that they will hear the gospel. In fact, we would love to have them look at us and wonder what makes us different and wish they could have what we have. 4. How does love affect the way we spend our time and the causes in which we involve ourselves? Love is why we have the ambition to live quiet lives. Love means that we won’t be a bother to other people, that we will be faithful in our responsibilities to one another, and that we won’t expect others to support us. Love will lead us to take the lead in helping others.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 5. How does the call to mind our own business square with the call to help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need? The answer is love. When we keep to ourselves, it’s out of love and respect for other people. When we see someone in need, it is not loving to say, “That’s none of my business.” Rather, love compels us to help. Christian love expresses itself in respect for the people who share this planet with us. Quiet, diligent, humble service expresses that love.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1. What gospel truth keeps us from feeling the need to grieve like unbelievers? (13-14) Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore he will raise all who die in the faith, including our believing loved ones. 2. Why does Paul speak of death as falling asleep? (13-15) Because it really will be like that. We will close our eyes here and open them in heaven. There’s nothing permanent about death.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 3. Read verse 16 again. What day is Paul describing? Judgment Day, the Last Day – the visible coming of Christ. 4. Paul says the dead in Christ will rise “first.” What will happen next? (17) The believers will be caught up to meet him in the air. The angels will gather the believers at Jesus’ right hand. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 5. How is a Christian’s grief at a funeral different from an unbeliever’s grief? Grief is real. It does hurt to lose believers, whome we love and to be separated from them. But a Christian knows that the separation is not permanent. We will see one another again in heaven. Even more important, the body lying before us will rise and be glorified and live with Christ forever. 6. What comfort does a Christian offer when someone dies? For a believer, with the comfort of eternal life. Jesus rose. Therefore, we too will rise. Death is a terrible reality. It separates us from those we love. But the resurrection of Jesus promises that we will rise and live with him forever.