Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Thessalonians - Chapter 4


It's been a couple of weeks since we've had a solid lesson so the plan for tomorrow is to briefly recap what Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is all about then delve into Chapter 4.

Below is the lesson outline:

I. Overview

A. Recap book - (Who, what, when, where, and why)
B. Read and study Chapter 4
1. How you ought to live (v.1-8)
2. How you ought to love (v.9-12)
3. About those who have died (v.13-18)

II. Recap of First Thessalonians
A. Who
1. From Paul (with input from Timothy and Silas)
2. To Thessalonicans (mainly Greek gentile converts, some Jews)
B. What - short letter with more encouragement than teaching or correcting
C. When - between 50-54 AD (after Timothy returns from visiting Thessalonicans)
D. Where - written while Paul was in Corinth
E. Why - four main reasons for writing the letter
1. To express joy Paul felt after hearing Timothy's report on how the Thessalonicans were doing
2. To tell the Thessalonicans how much he loved and cared for them and to encourage them to continue to be faithful
3. To provide a rebuttal of the accusations others had made against him
4. To address questions about the status of people who died before Christ's return and to talk about how Christ would return.

III. Chapter 4

A. How You Ought to Live
1. Paul reminds them his instruction comes from the Lord and that God wants them to be holy
2. Passage primarily focuses on sex and God's expectations with regard to sexual conduct
3. Recall Thessalonica is under Roman rule in Greece. Neither the Romans or the Greeks had very high moral standards regarding sex. Fornication was openly practiced and accepted.
4. Paul reminds them God has a much higher standard.
5. Reminds them they have to rule their own bodies in a holy way (see also 1 Corinthians 6:19)

B. How You Ought to Love
1. Paul praises them for loving one another and those around them and encourages them to love even more, to continually strive for greater love
2. In v. 11 he changes course and encourages them to "live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your hands". This passage reminds me of the Quakers. They live quiet unassuming lives, mind their own business, and provide for themselves. What does this passage mean to us as mainline Christians today? How do we live out this instruction in this day and age?

C. About Those Who Have Died
1. Christians in Thessalonica were worried about those who already died before Christ's return. Would they share the same benefits as those who were alive when He returns?
2. The Greek word Paul uses for death means sleeping. Commentator I read said Paul is implying that this type of sleep is not a normal type of sleep (duh!). Rather, they are alive with the Lord Jesus in a different world. They have left their bodies and went to be with him.
3. When Jesus returns they (the dead) will awake to new life and will do so in a new body (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-49). Then those still living will rise to meet him and those just risen from the dead.
4. v.16 - Paul begins describing exactly what will happen in the moment of Christ's return.
a. Christ will begin to descend from heaven with a shout of command from an archangel, and a blast from the trumpet of God. The dead will be called from the grave and those who are still alive will join them in the clouds.
5. In the twinkling of an eye all will be given new bodies suitable for living with Jesus for eternity


(1) Free Bible Commentary -
(2) Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary -

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