Our journey continues! Welcome back. I hope you have a bookmark placed in 1 Thessalonians, as we are working our way through the two letters Paul wrote to the new believers in Thessalonica. Though all of Scripture has great value to us as Christians today, perhaps none have any greater relevance than 1&2 Thessalonians when it comes to how we should live in the last days. Yesterday, we learned how to be a supercharged body of Christ, and today the apostle Paul’s teaching will explain our call into the kingdom and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We’re in 1 Thessalonians 2, so take a moment or two to read that chapter. It is important to understand that if you stand for Jesus, you will be attacked! I know…you don’t want to hear, and I didn’t want to say it. However, read John 15:18-19. What are Jesus’s words to us?
Regardless of the world’s hatred toward us, they should be able to look at our lives and know who we are. If you were accused of being a Christ follower, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Today, we’re going to look in the mirror of God’s Word to find out!
Yesterday, you were given a homework assignment. Did you finish it? You were to find a verse near the end of each of the 5 chapters of 1 Thessalonians that indicate Jesus’s return for the church. Jesus is, indeed, coming back for us and each of us will live our lives based upon what we believe about His coming! The expectant hope of the return of Jesus produces something in us, and it spills out to others.
Recall from yesterday’s study, that Paul taught the new believers at Thessalonica to imitate him. Thus, in chapter 2 of 1 Thessalonians he uses himself as an example. Read verses 1-4:
- According to verse 2, what had occurred to Paul and his missionary team in Philippi?
- “Suffered” means physical abuse, while “shamefully treated” refers to mental torture. Stop for a moment to consider what it would be like to be physically and mentally abused for your beliefs. Would you be able to stand strong in the midst of it?
- As a visual guide, locate Thessalonica and Philippi on the map.
- Verses 3-4 tell us how Paul handled the situation. “…approved by God” means Paul and his team were time-tested and battle-proven. Are you “approved by God” in the same way?
Paul spent 3 years in Arabia and another 7 years in Tarsus after his encounter with God and his surrender to Jesus as Savior. Once his ministry began, he was beaten, stoned, left for dead, arrested and imprisoned, among other things (1 Corinthians 11:24-27). He was time-tested and battle-proven, and now he was teaching brand new believers to be likewise! Though still young, it was time for them to grow in the faith! After all, they expected Jesus to return soon! (Remember your homework from yesterday?)
Verses 5-9 give us a glimpse of the limitless labor of Paul. Specifically in verses 5-6, we see Paul labor selflessly. He did not come with words of flattery, as if to boost his reputation, but of truth! From the original language, we learn that “flattery” indicates words that put to sleep and/or build a false sense of security. It is a form of lying and manipulation which paints a false picture, promotes arrogance and deceives the recipient. In general, there is ulterior motive when flattery is used. What do the following verses tell us about using our words:
Not only did Paul labor selflessly, but also with gentleness. Notice what verse 7 tells us about Paul’s manner of serving.
- What was Paul’s treatment of the people likened to?
- Jump ahead and compare that to verse 11. What is the comparison?
- Compare also to verse 9. What significance do you believe these verses have regarding the importance of family, and how those family members are to interact? Do you think that extends to the family of God as well?
Paul seems to be providing a distinct contrast between the accusations against him in verse 2 and the manner in which believers conduct themselves among one another. Do you see the contrast?
Paul labored selflessly, with gentleness, and willingly. Take a look at verses 8-9. Verse 8 seems to continue the sentiment of family affections.
- What things in those verses signify Paul’s willingness to teach the people?
- Significantly, in verse 9, Paul reminds them of his labor and toil. According to Acts 18:1-3, what was Paul’s profession? I picture him “laboring” at his profession during the day. I wonder if, on his missionary journeys, he took young men under his wing vocationally (“labor”) in order to mentor (“toil”) with them? Just a thought…what do you think?
Finally, verses 10-12 show us how Paul lived a life of excellency, exhortation and effect, and taught his people to do likewise.
- He makes a claim of excellency in verse 10. What is it?
- What is his exhortation in verses 11-12?
- “Exhort” means to bring alongside, to take under the wing, to strengthen.
- “Encourage” means to promote another to continue on.
- To “charge” someone means to witness, to give affirmation to, to agree with what is being said.
- Who have you taken under your wing to strengthen, promote and affirm?
Paul’s tender, family-like authority had an effect on the Thessalonians! As they learned to imitate Paul, they actually began to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory (verse 12). Friends, we know that Jesus is coming back for us, but until then, we must live our lives according to that belief! The solution to Godly living during difficult days ahead is to walk in a manner worthy of God! Indeed, He has called you into His own kingdom and glory, and has given you the written words of Paul to exhort you! Walk in his exhortation!
Well done today, study mates! Let’s meet right back here tomorrow to continue our study.