Friday, August 19, 2011

Bible Study: Encouragement For The Persecuted - 1 Thessalonians - Chapter 4

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 4. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

4:1 – Finally – Paul is wrapping up.

The term “brothers” implies an equal footing between Paul and the people. He truly had a servant’s heart.

They are living in a manner pleasing to God, as they have been instructed. If you are already living to please God, how can you do this more and more? We can always grow in Christ.

4:2 – Here are some of the instructions that Paul gave the Thessalonians in the verses that follow.

4:3-5 – Was sexual impurity and lust an issue for these people? God speaks directly against this. See 1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:2, 9; Romans 1:26.

4:3 – Paul’s instructions: sanctification and sexual purity. In 1 Corinthians 6:18, we’re taught to flee from sexual sin. Remember what Joseph did? Take a few minutes to read his encounter in Genesis 39:1-23. Then do likewise!

4:4 – This passage is about sexual control, although we may be tempted to make it about all sorts of control issues. The point being made is that if we cannot abstain from sexual activity, we are to have our own spouse with whom to satisfy our physical needs. Sleeping around is not acceptable in God’s economy.

4:5 – Passionate lust – my Bible references Romans 1:26, which describes engaging in unnatural sexual practices. See also Ephesians 4:19.

4:6 – We should not take advantage of each other in the area of purity. How can we help each other stay pure? How we dress. How we behave. By not making ourselves available to situations that may compromise us. By seeking out group interaction rather than one-on-one “dates”. By keeping those “dates” in public places.

4:7-8 – Whoever rejects this instruction, rejects God. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ to stay pure.

4:8 – According to Romans 5:5, God poured His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We must have His Spirit to be filled with His love. According to 2 Corinthians 5:5, God gives us His Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. So, what is to come? Our formal adoption and the redemption of our bodies according to Romans 8:23.

4:9-10 – Even though the Thessalonians were good at loving their brothers, Paul urged them to continue to develop in this area. How is your brotherly love? What specific things can you do to improve?

4:10 – In 3:12, Paul prayed that God would increase the Thessalonians’ love.

4:11 – Lead a quiet life – don’t steal, work with your hands, mind your business, not the business of others. See Ephesians 4:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12.

4:11-12 – How can leading a quiet life glorify God? What can you do to lead a more quiet life?

How can minding your business honor Him? This actually meant that we should be responsible for our own affairs and complete our assignments. In what areas do you need to put this into practice?

How does working with your hands glorify God? Keep you out of trouble? How can you embrace this instruction, today?

How can these practices earn the respect of others? How can these instructions keep you from being dependant on others? Perhaps you can sew your own clothes, fix your car, repair an appliance… Maybe you make a living doing some form of handiwork.

4:13-18 – see 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.

Paul wants them to be ready for the coming of Jesus.

4:13 – The Thessalonians must have had issues with misunderstanding the teaching on resurrection since Paul is addressing it. See 1 Corinthians 15:14-19.

How do believers mourn differently than non-believers?

4:14 – The dead in Christ will be resurrected and return with Jesus.

4:15-17 – This passage contains 5 disclosures: 1. We’re equal whether dead or alive in Christ. There is no advantage to being alive. 2. The Lord, Himself, will descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel and a trumpet. 3. The dead will rise first. 4. The living will be caught up with Him in the clouds. 5. We will be with the Lord forever.

4:15 – See 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 for a description of the rapture.

4:16 – the trumpet call of God – the next feast on the Jewish calendar to be fulfilled by the Messiah is the Feast of Trumpets. Many scholars believe that the fulfillment of this feast will mark the return of Christ.

4:17 – caught up – rapturo – “to snatch, seize suddenly, or to transport from one place to another.” Also used of rescuing someone from a threatening danger (Acts 23:10; Jude 1:23). This is where we get the term “rapture”.

4:18 – We’re told to encourage each other with these words. Read and study scripture together.

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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