II Thessalonians – Lesson One

Posted on: September 08, 2014 Written by
II Thessalonians – Lesson One
Photography by: JacobStudio from iStock          

INTRODUCTION

Christians are taught that we are to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. God has told us some of the things He hates in Proverbs 6:16-19. Some of the things God loves are spoken of in Paul’s letters to new believers. God loves it when we experience a steady spiritual growth. He loves it when we give him praise and thanksgiving in all things. He loves it when we stand firm during persecution. He loves it when we grow in love, patience, forgiveness, peace, and joy. Repeatedly we are told that He loves it when we live righteously and serve well. All of these things are possible with the Holy Spirit giving us the divine empowerment to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. We are blessed!

Paul rejoices as he writes this second letter to the Thessalonians. The believers there are looking good. They are doing the things God loves. However, they still need more enlightenment about certain matters regarding the future. False teachers had come in creating confusion, but God turned the situation into good with new teaching from Paul. Today we rejoice when we read this letter because we get the benefit of Paul’s deeper teaching about things to come.

 

 

DAY ONE: PAUL WRITES A SECOND LETTER TO THESSALONIAN BELIEVERS.

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

 

A. PAUL RESPONDS TO THE LATEST NEWS.
Paul and his companions found it necessary to send another letter to their beloved Thessalonians. Their greeting of grace and peace suggests that opposition and even persecution cannot destroy what God has created in Christ Jesus. The darkness cannot put out the light or destroy the inner work of the Holy Spirit. The grace of God and the peace of the Father and the Son are always available.

This letter seems to have been written a short time after 1 Thessalonians. Paul addresses some of the same issues. It is thought that perhaps the person who delivered the first letter may have returned with the latest news within a few months.

 

B. PAUL AGAIN BEGINS WITH PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
It appears that persecution had not abated. God is using it to strengthen his children and help their faith to grow even stronger. Paul praises them greatly for this growth in faith and also for their growth in love for each other. He uses them as a shining example among many churches he has visited.

The way we respond to suffering often gives us our best opportunity to bear witness to God’s character of love and grace that is being formed in us. Persecution puts a great deal of stress on believers, but God’s grace is poured out in great measure to meet the need. It is our responsibility to trust God during these times to give us the strength to carry on with joy. Persecution can also bring us closer together as a body.

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
1. What is the dictionary meaning of praise?

2. What are two possible effects (negative or positive) that praise can have on people?

3. What is the difference between praise and flattery?

4. How does growth during persecution give evidence that Christianity is valid?

 

D. APPLICATION
5. When have you offered sincere praise for good growth or good service to some brother or sister?

 

 

DAY TWO: PAUL EXPLAINS GOD’S WORKINGS IN HARD TIMES.

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7

 

A. SUFFERING SERVES A DISTINCT PURPOSE.
We experience trials, hardships, and even persecution in this life, especially when we serve God wholeheartedly. Sometimes it seems unfair and even seems that God doesn’t care. Paul shows us another perspective.

  • When God allows persecution, he is allowing the wicked to openly act out their unbelief. He doesn’t take away man’s free will, but eventually there will be justice. Their behavior will be evidence against them on the Day of Judgment. (Revelation 20:11-12) Their penalty will be in direct measure to their crimes. Their deeds will be the visible evidence that convicts them.
  • At the same time, the persecution is making believers stronger. As they endure trials, they are maturing. When they stand before the judgment seat of Christ, they will be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. Their record will be the evidence, and their reward will be great.

 

This explanation should make our suffering more bearable if we respond in the right way as the Thessalonians have.

 

B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
1. What did God promise in John 16:33?

2. What is the limit to the temptations God will allow us to face? (1 Corinthians 10:13)

3. What does the writer of Hebrews say about the model Jesus provided? (Hebrews 2:10)

 

C. APPLICATION
4. What is the most intense spiritual suffering you have been called to
endure?

5. Share how God has ministered to you during opposition or persecution?

 

 

DAY THREE: PAUL POINTS TO A DAY OF JUSTICE.

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8

 

A. EVIL DOERS WILL BE JUDGED RIGHTLY.
At this point in time when the bad guys seem to be getting away with their evil deeds, Paul points to a great truth – GOD IS JUST! There will be a day of reckoning.

God is presented in Scripture as a God of love, grace, mercy, and holiness. He is also a God of righteousness, justice, and wrath. We must accept the full picture of God to know him accurately. One day He will balance the scales of justice. His justice is fair. He does not bring undue punishment to evil doers, but each person will get what he deserves. The wicked will receive trouble and the righteous will receive relief. We see some justice in this life, but the ultimate justice will not be visible until the final judgment.

 

B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
1. What are we told about taking vengeance? (Romans 12:19)

2. What does the Psalmist say about justice? (Psalm 79:5-6)

3. What does Jesus say about a day of reckoning? (Matthew 25:31-46)

4. Is justice only at the final judgment seat?

 

C. APPLICATION
5. When have you seen justice come to evil doers in your life experience?

6. Are you willing to wait God’s time for justice in sins against you?

 

 

DAY FOUR: JESUS WILL COME AS JUDGE.

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1: 9-10

 

A. PAUL CONTRASTS THE WICKED WITH THE SAVED.
What will happen to those who reject God, reject the Son of God, and trouble the people of God? In this passage Paul uses some of the strongest words in his writings to describe their fate.

God has provided the ultimate sacrifice to provide payment for our sins. He pleads for sinners to return to Him and receive eternal life. He longs for them to become sons and enter the beautiful kingdom He has prepared. But if they refuse, He has no choice but to punish their sins and shut them out of his presence.

Paul uses the words trouble, blazing fire, everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. This sounds unbelievably hard. Some have concluded that a loving God could not behave this way. Paul reveals that a righteous God must punish sin. He does so only after He has offered salvation.

 

B. THE SAVED WILL SOON REJOICE.
At God’s point in time, His Son will return. He will come in blazing fire with powerful angels to judge the unbelieving world. He will bring with him the church saints. At that time they will see the Lord Jesus in all of His glory and will marvel at his majesty. It will be a time of great joy. The King is coming!!

 

C. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
1. What does Ezekiel 18:23 say about God’s role in punishment?

2. What did Jesus say about God’s joy in one saved person? (Matthew 18:12-14)

3. What did Peter say about God’s desire for all men? (2 Peter 3:9)

4. What are the final results of our choices according to Romans 2:5-11?

 

D. APPLICATION
5. How do you react to Paul’s description of divine justice?

6. What are you prompted to do as a result?

 

 

DAY FIVE: PAUL PRAYS FOR BELIEVERS.

READ: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

 

A. PAUL’S REVELATION PROMPTS PRAYER.
The preceding revelation should shake us to the core. The very thought of everlasting destruction instead of glorious rejoicing should spur us to evangelistic action. Our love for our fellow man should convince us to keep teaching and modeling the Christian life. To this end, Paul prays for the success of these believers.

  • He prays that they would be worthy of God’s calling. This includes their righteous living, bold witness, and courageous teaching.
  • He prays that God would provide power to fulfill their work. This reminds us that we don’t serve in our own strength alone.
  • He prays that Jesus’ name would be glorified in them. The final result of their lives and work should be glory to God, not man.

 

B. QUESTIONS FOR STUDY OR DISCUSSION
1. What are we instructed to do In James 1:5?

2. Read the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. Why do you think God chose man instead of angels to spread the gospel?

3. Do you see the responsibility of spreading the gospel as a burden or a privilege?

 

C. APPLICATION
4. What requests do you usually pray for Christian workers?

5. How do you usually pray for enemies of Christianity?

 

CONCLUSION
In this chapter Paul greeted the church enthusiastically, and praised their growth in faith and love. He taught them about the results of the persecution and trials that God allows. He encouraged them with information about the Second coming and about God’s justice. Finally he prayed for them. This must have been a most welcome letter.

 

PRINCIPLES

  • God will provide absolute justice in His time.
  • Jesus is coming again to bring peace and justice on earth.

 

 

CHALLENGES
Offer praise (honor) that is deserved to a fellow believer this week. Remember to pray for both fellow Christian workers and those who are still enemies of the gospel.

 

 

©2014 Thrive.


About the author

LaWanda Neel is a lifelong Bible student. She has served as a Teaching Leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has conducted studies for neighborhood and church groups. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Lakewood, Colorado. She spends time reading, studying, teaching, writing, traveling all around the world and entertaining her five grandchildren. This is her third Weekly Word series for Thrive Ministries. Contact her for questions or comments at [email protected]

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