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1 Thessalonians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (1 Thessalonians 1)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you!

Thanksgiving for Response to the Gospel

1:2 We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers,

1:3 because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:4 We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,

1:5 in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you).

1:6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction.

1:7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 1:8 For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything.

1:9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

Prayer

Lord, You have told the story of Creation, the history of humankind in relationship with You, have given us examples of right and wrong living through characters in the old and new testaments, humbled Yourself to come in mere human form to set us free, and have given us the apostles and early believers as role models. May I be found as faithful as the Thessalonians in sharing Your truth with others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul offered a praise report for the Thessalonians, noting that when he brought the Lord God’s message of Christ to them they responded “... despite great affliction”.

He had delivered the gospel “... with deep conviction” he also performed miracles “power” and the presence of the Holy Spirit was made obvious.

[Note: Paul does not provide any detail but from his earlier writings this reference could suggest prophesy and tongues, it could suggest that the Holy Spirit had “prepared the harvest” as Jesus explained to His disciples, or both.]

Paul commended them “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit …”. Once saved they accepted the mission and lived in the promise that God confirms via His indwelling Holy Spirit - as a result they “... became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

He celebrated their “ultrafidian” (beyond saving-faith) response, one that was so profound that everywhere Paul and his associates traveled word of their faith and faithfulness preceded.

Interaction

Consider

The Holy Spirit of God partners with those whom He sends as His emissaries, we are never alone as believers engaged in sharing the gospel.

Discuss

What are some practical ways that you, and members of your fellowship, may become better imitators of the apostle Paul and of the Lord?

Reflect

The boldness of the Thessalonians, discerning the truth in Paul’s earnest presentation of the gospel and immediately acting to separate themselves from their old lives and to begin living in the new.

Share

When have you observed an example of a population of people who responded to the gospel in a similarly radical way? What was the impact within their immediate community and perhaps a wider population - directly or via media coverage?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific area where you have not been a good imitator of Paul and Jesus (and the Thessalonians).

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and an accountability/prayer partner, as I explore and implement disciplines to enhance my spiritual maturity in practical ways.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Thessalonians 2:1-16)

Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you – it has not proven to be purposeless. 2:2 But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition.

2:3 For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit,

2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

2:5 For we never appeared with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is our witness –

2:6 nor to seek glory from people, either from you or from others,

2:7 although we could have imposed our weight as apostles of Christ; instead we became little children among you. Like a nursing mother caring for her own children,

2:8 with such affection for you we were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

2:9 For you recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery: By working night and day so as not to impose a burden on any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, as to how holy and righteous and blameless our conduct was toward you who believe.

2:11 As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children,

2:12 exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory.

2:13 And so we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human message, but as it truly is, God’s message, which is at work among you who believe.

2:14 For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews,

2:15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people,

2:16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins, but wrath has come upon them completely.

Prayer

Lord, You tested the heart – the motives of Paul – as he promoted Your Gospel. You found him without greed or lust. May I examine my own motives to that will also be found free of the same and therefore a worthy instrument to share Your saving-truth.

Summary & Commentary

Paul greeted the Thessalonians again, reminding them that his only motive was to please God by rightly delivering His Word.

He could have misused his authority as an apostle but chose instead to emulate Jesus, coming to them as humble as a child and as loving as a mother to her children; images evoked by Jesus of Himself.

In Verse 2:9 Paul reminded them that to prevent any false-comparison of his motives with those of others who had come with “... a pretext for greed” he chose to be “... working night and day” then to preach “the gospel of God”.

He celebrated that they received the message not as one from men but from God, which it truly was.

Paul reflected upon the way that the Thessalonians were mistreated by their peers, similar to the mistreatment of believers in Judea by theirs, yet they stood with Christ.

Interaction

Consider

The growth in maturity and numbers of the Thessalonians came despite fierce resistance from the unbelievers all around them.

Discuss

In what other circumstances might a Christian leader choose to set-aside a “right” for the sake of his or her ministry?

Reflect

Paul chose to allow the Lord God’s Word to speak authoritatively, he was it’s humble messenger who served them from genuine love, therefore he modeled Jesus before them.

Share

When have you observed examples of both the right and the wrong way to lead? (The right way is Paul’s model. The wrong to make the momentary human leader the focus of authority and trust rather than the Lord God and His Word.)

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, and to affirm His direction through at least one fellow believer whose spiritual maturity whom you have Biblical-cause to trust, where you need to sacrifice a “right” in order to become a more effective servant of Christ.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully pursue the necessary steps to actualize the sacrifice the Holy Spirit has asked of me for the sake of the Gospel.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13)

Forced Absence from Thessalonica

2:17 But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, for a short time (in presence, not in affection) we became all the more fervent in our great desire to see you in person.

2:18 For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) but Satan thwarted us.

2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you?

2:20 For you are our glory and joy!

3:1 So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to stay on in Athens alone. 3:2 We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3:3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

3:4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. 3:5 So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.

3:6 But now Timothy has come to us from you and given us the good news of your faith and love and that you always think of us with affection and long to see us just as we also long to see you! 3:7 So in all our distress and affliction, we were reassured about you, brothers and sisters, through your faith.

3:8 For now we are alive again, if you stand firm in the Lord. 3:9 For how can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel because of you before our God?

3:10 We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith.

3:11 Now may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.

3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you,

3:13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Prayer

Lord, You allow Satan to be active in the world over which he is the temporary prince, but You limit his impact on Your children and/or their mission for You. May I be fearless, knowing that You have the ultimate power, and that Your will shall be done no matter what Satan does.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded them of his effort to return to Thessalonica, along with a report that Satan had actively blocked him several times.

[Note: The NET Translator’s notes include Greek and Hebrew which affirm that the original text intended to communicate a being called Satan as intentionally keeping Paul from the Thessalonians, rather than a generic human opposition rhetorically labeled as “Satan”. The Lord God provided Paul a way around the opposition but otherwise permitted it.]

He celebrated that they were his “... hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming”.

Paul sent Timothy in his stead to “... encourage you about your faith, so that no one would be shaken by their afflictions.” He celebrated the good news of their faithfulness despite “affliction”.

He concluded with a prayer “... may the Lord direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

Interaction

Consider

The active interference of Satan versus Paul is evidence that the enemy is still active. Did you put on your “full armor of God” today?

Discuss

What are some practical ways to strengthen your faith so that when trouble comes you may stand - like the Thessalonians?

Reflect

Could Paul’s prayer be the Lord God’s prayer for every fellowship?

Share

When have you observed an example of someone who faced challenges that might have shaken their faith but who stood strong because of their knowledge of an love for God, and their trust that He would sustain them?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a person, group, or fellowship for whom He wants you to pray Paul’s prayer.

Action:

Today I will pray Paul’s prayer for one revealed to me and I will ask others to join me

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)

A Life Pleasing to God

4:1 Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us about how you must live and please God (as you are in fact living) that you do so more and more.

4:2 For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

4:3 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality,

4:4 that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor,

4:5 not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God.

4:6 In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly.

4:7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.

4:8 Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

4:10 And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

4:11 to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.

4:12 In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

Prayer

Lord, You see us – through Christ – as cleansed and made-holy in heaven, and You ask us to conduct ourselves in such a way as to grow toward that goal. May I be found pressing-away sin, seeking-after righteousness, and maturing in my daily walk.

Summary & Commentary

Paul challenged the Thessalonians to increase the degree to which they “... live and please God.”

He listed the elements of right living before God, to

“...become holy”:

“... keep away from immorality”

“... each ... possess his own body in holiness and honor”

“... not ... lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God”

“... no one should violate the rights of his brother, or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in these cases”

He summarized his admonitions “For God did not call us in impurity but in holiness ... the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”

Paul celebrated their brotherly love “... toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia.” but still challenged them to do so even more.

He challenged them to “... aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands”

Paul’s goal for them was integrity and self-sufficiency, for the sake of a positive witness to a watching and not-yet-saved world, and to prevent dependency upon that world.

Interaction

Consider

The challenge of Paul, one he applied to himself, that in holy and righteous living before God good is to be celebrated - but better is to be sought.

Discuss

Jesus and Paul both condemned sloth. What are some ways that you could lead a more quiet/peaceful life and also be self-sufficient - not dependent on an unbelieving world or becoming an unnecessary (due to sloth) burden upon believers?

Reflect

Do you need to address any of Paul’s list of elements of right living before God, to “...become holy” in your life?

Share

When have you observed a practical example of someone who violated the rights of a brother (or sister, in the faith) or took advantage of them? How did God avenge that misdeed?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal an element of Paul’s list for holiness in your life upon which you need to work, or identify an area of brotherly love and/or peaceful and self-sufficient living where you are doing well.

Action:

Today I will address the area(s) needing work and seek ways to do even better in those where I am doing well. I will ask a fellow believer for accountability and prayer support.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

The Lord Returns for Believers

4:13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.

4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.

4:15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep.

4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.

4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Prayer

Lord, You will return, You will restore those who have been “asleep” and unaware of the passage of time, and You will gather with them those who are alive in the flesh – because that is why You endured the Cross and empowered Easter. May my faith be renewed every time I remember what You have done and what You will do.

Summary & Commentary

Paul explained that the dead in-Christ would be raised first to Christ, the living would then be raptured to join them, and that both will enjoy eternity with Him.

He cautioned them to understand that the dead in Christ are “asleep” in an eternal sense - so they must not “... grieve like the rest who have no hope.” because their hope is in a risen Lord Who is God.

He reminded them that “... we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.” - reconciliation has always been the plan of the Lord God.

Paul declared “... we tell you this by the word of the Lord” that the living will wait for the dead to be resurrected before they are raptured. He gave no reason for the sequence.

He wrote “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God”, then will come the resurrection of the dead followed by the rapture of the living - “... together ... in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.”

He concluded “therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Interaction

Consider

Physical death is similar to sleep for a saved person, they are unawares until resurrected by God, and they have not died spiritually.

[Note: Linear time, as we know it, did not exist prior to Creation and will cease to exist after the Great White Throne Judgment. Where one reads Biblical text that suggests immediate presence with God at death one must understand that such is written from a heavenly rather than earthly perspective.]

Discuss

Imagining the return of Christ, how incredible will be your awe at His appearance, the resurrection of the dead, and the rapture of His children (including you)?

Reflect

There is a peace-bringing perspective from knowing that the death of those whom we love (who are also fellow believers, the most-true family of a Christian) is only a temporary place of waiting for His return to bring them (and us) to a perfect eternity with Him.

Share

When have you observed an example of a celebration of the life of a believer, who has died, where those gathered truly celebrated both their life and the promise of eternity together with them and Jesus?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to a more-Biblical understanding of death and the resurrection

Action:

Today I will prayerfully contemplate what I have been taught and share it with a fellow believer and look at the Word together, in-person or electronically.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

The Day of the Lord

5:1 Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you.

5:2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.

5:3 Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape.

5:4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would.

5:5 For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness.

5:6 So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober.

5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

5:8 But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation.

5:9 For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:10 He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him.

5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.

Prayer

Lord, we are to be at peace about our salvation, and assured of Your return – not worrying about the day but invested in right-living. May I build-up fellow believers, invest my time wisely in the things that You value, and tell Your story to the lost.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the problem of speculation about the “... times and seasons” as to when Jesus will return. He told them to forget about it as Jesus will return “... the same way as a thief in the night”, without warning, and with negative consequences for those who are not under protection.

[Note: For those whose sense of security comes from the world - the confrontation with Christ will be shocking, for those who know Him as their savior the moment will be exhilarating.]

Paul then revisited elements of an earlier teaching about the “armor of God” as tools to

“... stay alert and sober ... because we are of the day” ...

“... by putting on the breastplate of faith and love”

“... and as a helmet our hope for salvation.”

He reiterated his central message about the return of Christ “He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep [meaning saved people physically alive or dead, or living rightly or in rebellion] we will come together with Him” [via resurrection or rapture].

Paul concluded this section by again celebrating their faithfulness and encouraging them to continue.

Interaction

Consider

We have the Lord God’s promise in-hand, so we are not to worry about the return of Christ - unbelievers should - as that is the end of the line for them.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “... stay alert and sober”?

Reflect

There is an uncertain but impending deadline faced by the unsaved - and our commission is to reach them first!

Share

What are some examples of people you know who are entirely invested in the world for their sense of purpose and value and who will face a devastating and eternal shock at the return of Christ? Do you remember when that was you?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one person who faces eternal separation from the Lord God for whom He wants you to pray.

Action:

Today I will pray for them to hear and to respond to His gospel of salvation. I do not presume to know how and through whom the Lord God will work - I will simply pray for their salvation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28)

Final Instructions

5:12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you,

5:13 and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 5:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.

5:15 See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

5:16 Always rejoice,

5:17 constantly pray,

5:18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

5:19 Do not extinguish the Spirit.

5:20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt.

5:21 But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.

5:22 Stay away from every form of evil.

Conclusion

5:23 Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:24 He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.

5:25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us too.

5:26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.

5:27 I call on you solemnly in the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Prayer

Lord, You bring peace and stand ready to commune with us through prayer; asking that we remember to pray, to avoid evil, and to honor one-another. May I be found frequently-faithful and less-frequently unfaithful as I grow in spiritual maturity.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the right-treatment of spiritual leaders (elders) among the fellowship of believers “... acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.”

He reminded them once-again to “Be at peace among yourselves.”, followed by a series of summary instructions:

“... admonish the undisciplined”

“... comfort the discouraged”

“... help the weak”

“... be patient toward all”

“See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone”

“... Always pursue what is good for one another and for all.”

“Always rejoice”

“... constantly pray”

“... in everything give thanks.”

Paul paused to cite his authority for his instruction “For this is God’s will for you.” He wanted them to be clear in the understanding that these were not suggestions.

Then he exhorted them “Do not extinguish the Spirit.”, which would be the consequence of failing to pray, failing to be in the Word (as they had it at that time), failing to be in fellowship, failing to worship, and failing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He led them forward in maturity and service.

Paul warned them “Do not treat prophesies with contempt.” as they were evidence of the Lord God’s perfection from the past and His guiding lighthouses to the future.

He counseled them “But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.”, meaning that they were responsible for their choices and the consequences; to partner with the Lord God or with the enemy, in every choice they made.

Interaction

Consider

A fellowship of believers may “Be at peace among yourselves.” if they make the right choices.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “... acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.” without displacing our sovereign Lord through a form of idolatry toward a mere human servant-leaders of His?

Reflect

How have you experienced the practical working-out of Paul’s instruction “... examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.”?

Share

When have you experienced obedience blessing your fellowship, and/or disobedience causing discord.? Has the former been celebrated and the latter addressed appropriately and promptly?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a spiritual leader (preferably within your local fellowship or community) whom He wishes you to “esteem”, and also one element of Paul’s summary instruction where you excel and one where you struggle with a compromise in your life where you are failing to “Stay away from every form of evil.”

Action:

Today I am committing to “esteem” the identified spiritual leader through prayer and a more-mature walk with Christ built upon His teaching of the Word. I will celebrate where I excel and partner with the Holy Spirit to address where I struggle. I will immediately and intentionally act to purge that “dark place” (as King David phrased it) from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – Section 1 of the series, “Thessalonians” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in March of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.