Friday, July 29, 2011

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Persecuted - 1 Thessalonians - Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. At the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

This first letter to the Thessalonians was written by the apostle Paul during his 2nd missionary journey, 49-51 AD. The Thessalonians were a group made up of mostly gentile converts who were persecuted by the local synagogue because they were losing members to the new faith.

1 – See Acts 7:1-9 for an illustration of the trouble encountered in Thessalonica.

1:1 – Paul, Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy were traveling and ministering together. In Acts 15:22, it is explained that Silas was chosen by the Jerusalem council to join Paul and Barnabas in ministry. Timothy joined them in Acts 16:1 in Derbe. With whom do you minister? Why?

1:2 – Why do you think Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians? According to Ephesians 5:20, we are supposed to thank God for all things. Paul certainly lived by this. For whom do you pray and constantly thank God for their part in your life? Do they know how well you esteem them?

1:3 – Paul noticed the good things the Thessalonians did. Not rituals or practices that were debated at this time like circumcision (see Galatians 5:6). Instead, he noticed their faith, their love, their hope in Christ. These characteristics lead to good works (see James 2:14-26). Do you tend to notice the good that others do, or the bad? How can you make a point of encouraging someone by reminding them about the good that they do? After you encourage, pay attention. I believe you will notice that person acting in the faith that you have noticed.

I can say for a fact that the encouragement of others has definitely pushed me forward in ministry. I would never be writing this if that first person didn’t encourage me to facilitate my first Bible study discussion group.

1:4 – We were chosen by God before the creation of the world. See Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12, and 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

1:5 – How have you seen the gospel come in power in the Holy Spirit? With whom have you shared this testimony?

The power is the message of salvation, the gospel, according to Romans 1:16. The power of the Spirit gives us hope. See Romans 5:13.

1:6 – What suffering did the Thessalonians face? Re-read Acts 17:1-9. Have you experienced persecution because of your faith? If so, how has it affected your joy? If not, do you know someone who has been persecuted? How is their joy?

1:7 – Macedonia and Achaia were the two Roman provinces of Greece at the time. Paul was actually attacked in Achaia in Acts 18:12. It was significant that the Thessalonians would be an example to these people. To whom are you an example?

1:8 – The Thessalonians’ faith had an affect on people in Macedonia and Achaia. How far reaching is your faith?

Do you think Paul’s compliments encouraged these people who were being persecuted for their faith to continue stepping out and taking risks to share their faith? Would it encourage you?

1:9 – The Thessalonians turned from idolatry to serve God. This testimony was given by others about them. What will those who know you testify about you?

1:10 – See Romans 1:18 for some insight into God’s wrath. Paul is talking about the wait for Jesus’ second coming. Refuting false teaching about this subject becomes the purpose of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.

Each chapter of these letters to the Thessalonians teaches much about how to pray for yourself and others. How have you learned to pray today?

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