1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
Aim of the Study
To dispel ignorance and encourage joyful anticipation of Christ’s return, esp. with regard to the issue of dead believers.
To encourage perseverance in distinctive Christian living, in the light of Christ’s imminent return and God’s eternal purpose for us.
Structure of the Study
- 4:13-4:18 – Joyful anticipation of the Lord, who will come in glory to bring salvation to all believers (living and dead)
- 5:1-5:11 – Perpetual readiness for the Lord, who will come suddenly to bring salvation to believers only.
Recap: perhaps remind them of the context of 3:10, “what is lacking in your faith”.
It seems Timothy has brought back one or two questions from the Thessalonians…
From Paul’s answer (v13-17), can you work out what their question might have been?(see esp. v13 and the ends of v14,15,16)
(To help you get there…
Who are “those who (have) fall(en) asleep (in him)” (v13, v14, v15)
How are the same people described at the end of v16?
From v15, what seems to have been the specific question about dead believers? )
- Why would their fate have been of particular concern to the Thessalonians?
- Have you ever asked this question / wondered this? (Why (not)?)
- Why, given v16, is ‘sleeping’ an appropriate image of Christian death?
- What guarantees the resurrection of dead believers (v14)? (Why?)
- Back to v13, what impact does Paul expect this truth to have on the Thessalonians?
- (How will they behave differently to non-Christians, and why?)
- How can this prepare us…
- for the death of a Christian friend / family member?
- for our own death?
(The ‘mechanics’ of it… Paul writes:
i) God will bring with Jesus… (v14)
and ii) the Lord will come down from Heaven & the dead in Christ will rise…(v16)
Any ideas as to how we can make sense of this apparent contradiction?)
- Why should the Thessalonians / we believe what Paul writes in v15-17?
- According to v16, which of the senses will be particularly struck when Jesus comes?
- What seems to be the purpose of the command, the voice & the trumpet call? (How is this characteristic of God’s activity generally?)
- What will happen next (v17)?
- Who will Christians meet in the clouds?
- What can all Christians then expect?
- What’s your gut reaction to this? (Why?)
- How does Paul expect the Thessalonians to react to this (v18)?
- What does Paul expect them to do with this information?
- Why (v13)?
- Have you ever been encouraged by / encouraged other Christians in this way?
- What’s generally the first thing people would like to know about Christ’s return?
- Why does Paul see no reason to write about this matter (v1-2)?
- Which truths about Christ’s return are conveyed by the image of the thief in the night?
- Which of these ideas is reinforced by the image of labour pains?
- Which new idea does v3 introduce?
- Looking at v2-3 only, what sort of day will the day of the Lord be?
- What sort of people are in the ‘at risk’ category?
- To what extent do we really believe what Paul writes here?
- If we do / did really believe it, what difference should / would it make?
- What’s the encouragement in v4?
- What does being “in darkness” refer to?
- By contrast, what does it mean to be a “son of the light / day”? (What’s the correct response to light? – cf John 12:36?)
- In v6-7, what sorts of things do ‘children of the night’ go in for?
- What sort of position do they put themselves in? (see v2,3,4)
- By contrast, what should we / ‘children of light’ be like? (Why?)
- What’s the key to being ready / self-controlled (v8)?
- What kind of imagery does Paul use here?
- Why do the Thessalonians need armour; what will it protect them against?
- What’s the only way we can be ready for God’s coming wrath?
- Does this then mean that we earn our salvation?
- What makes salvation / rescue possible (v10)?
- What’s the ultimate purpose of Christ’s death?
- To what extent does this (still) shock you?
- True or false: “We must be ready; but we needn’t live in fear of Christ’s return.”
- (v11) What impact does Paul expect these verses to have on the Thessalonians?
- What are they expected to do with this information?
- What would / does this mean for them / us in practice?
- How do we get a balance between indifference (or complacency) and fanaticism?
- How has this study changed/confirmed your thinking about Christ’s return?
- In the light of this study, how exactly do you plan to…
- keep alert and self-controlled?
- encourage and build others up?