This week we will complete our study of First Thessalonians. Then it is on to Second Thessalonians. So let's get started.
A. Chapter V - final chapter in letter
B. Divided into three main parts
1. First part continues topic from chapter 4 - The Coming of the Lord
2. Second part discusses life in a community of believers
3. Third part - Paul concludes remarks and gives benediction
II. The Coming of the Lord
A. Paul reminds them of what they already know - no one knows when God will send Jesus back to earth.
B. "Day of the Lord" does not literally mean a day.
1. Rather, means the entire period of the end times.
2. Time when God will set-up his Kingdom on earth.
C. Paul says that time will be like a "thief in the night."
1. Those who do not know the Lord and are walking in darkness will be totally taken offguard.
2. Paul also likens it to a woman going into labor - no warning, no stopping it
D. Paul reminds them they have nothing to fear because they are "children of the light."
1. They have heard God's message and accepted His gift
2. Light represents life and goodness. Children of the light are those who are living God's life.
3. Paul reminds them that because they are children of the light that they should not fall asleep, i.e., should guard against backsliding. They know the truth about how they ought to live
4. He also reminds them to remain in control of themselves. Do not be like the people of darkness who drink to excess and lose control of themselves.
E. Paul goes on to explain how Christian life is like a battle and how they must dress themselves accordingly. Faith, hope, and love are their battle dress
1. Battle helmet - hope of salvation
2. Clothes - guard their hearts and minds and keep them safe
3. Faith, hope, and love give Christians strength to overcome their troubles
III. Life in a Community of Believers
A. Respect and listen to your chosen leaders
1. Leaders have a hard task. Must admonish and correct those who go astray.
2. Must also keep the peace.
3. Paul asks the people to be considerate and respectful of people who are in leadership positions.
4. Be mindful of why they are correcting you. Love you and don't want you to fall away.
B. Various Christian Duties
1. Warn those who won't work
2. Encourage those who are weak in the spirit
3. Do not return evil for evil
4. Always be joyful - even in times of trouble
5. Pray without ceasing
a. means have an attitude of prayer
b. make it a regular part of your life
c. God wants to have a dialogue with you
6. Do not put out the fire of the Spirit
a. Be 'on fire' for the Lord
b. Use the gifts He gave you
7. Do not refuse to accept prophecies
1. Early christians did not have the benefit of having the new testament to guide them
2. While they knew to be wary of false prophets, Paul reminds them that this doesn't mean to dismiss all prophecy out of hand.
3. Must weigh what is being said in the prophecy against what the Lord has already said. No true prophecy will supercede what Jesus said.
4. True prophecy also will never hurt the church.
IV. Closing Remarks and Benediction
A. Paul prays that they may remain holy and free from sin
B. Closes by asking them to pray for him, to greet each other with a 'holy kiss'.
C. Asks that the letter be read to the entire church