Lesson 1: The Living and True God (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Day One Study
1. Let’s first get to know the Thessalonians. Read Acts 17:1-10. What information is given about the city and its people?
2. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Look in the study notes of your Bible, a Bible handbook, or online website such as www.bible.org to find out about this area and its history, the people, government, commerce, religion, prevailing philosophies, etc.
3. Paul wrote this epistle only months after leaving Thessalonica and giving a sermon in Athens. Read Acts 17:22-31. What main thoughts were fresh on his mind when he wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians? You will notice similar thoughts expressed as we study this letter.
4. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Paul often greets with the words “grace and peace.” What is the connection between these two words? See Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 5:1-2.
Focus on the Meaning: “Grace” was a common Greek salutation that meant “greeting” or “rejoice.” “Peace” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “shalom” meaning “favor,” “well-being,” and “prosperity in the widest sense,” especially prosperity in spiritual matters. Paul used both words when he greeted the recipients of his epistles. God’s grace is the basis for and leads to our peace. (Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, p. 5)
5. From these first 10 verses, what would you say is the tone/mood of Paul’s letter?
Day Two Study
6. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Although no church is perfect, there are definite marks of maturity Paul emphasizes when commending a church. What characteristics of this church does Paul commend in v. 3?
Scriptural Insight: “These three Christian virtues—faith, love, and hope—occupied a large place in early analyses of Christian responsibility. The expectation was that in every life faith would work (Gal 5:6; James 2:18), love would labor (Rev 2:2, 4), and hope would endure (Rom 5:2-4; 8:24, 25). This threefold balance probably arose even before Paul’s doctrinal stance had matured and perhaps came from the teachings of Christ himself.” (Robert L. Thomas, “1 Thessalonians.” In Ephesians-Philemon. Vol. 11 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.)
7. Search the passage for specific results of each characteristic and record them!
8. Reread verses 4 and 5. Discuss the assurances Paul gives to the Thessalonians. See also Acts 17:2-4.
9. So, how did this guide Paul in ministering to these young believers? After all, who is really in charge?
10. In v. 5 the Thessalonians are reminded about the character and reputation of Paul and his companions. Reread Acts 17:1-10. Describe Paul and his companions in the context of their stay in Thessalonica.
11. According to 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, how had the Thessalonians imitated Paul and his companions?
12. Gaining Perspective: Like the Thessalonian believers:
· Of whom are we to be imitators?
· What principles should be guiding us in imitating others? See Ephesians 5:1-2 and 1 Timothy 4:12.
· What kind of example are you providing for those around you to imitate?
From the Greek: The word exechetai, translated “rang out” or “echoed” could be rendered “reverberated.” Paul saw the Thessalonians as amplifiers or relay stations that not only received the gospel message but sent it farther on its way with increased power and scope…The Thessalonians had acted as relay runners by passing the gospel they had heard on to farther places. They were a missionary church. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 692; Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, p. 8)
13. Gaining Perspective: Paul writes that the gospel had echoed forth from Thessalonica to surrounding regions. What part are you playing in the echoing forth of the gospel from your home church?
Day Three Study
14. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Verse 9 gives us the perfect definition of repentance—to change one’s mind. About what did the Thessalonians change their mind?
15. They turned to and encountered the living and true God. Describe how it impacted their daily lives.
Historical Insight: “The fact that God is a living Person was precious to the Jews and to Paul; this is the characteristic by which God is most often distinguished from so-called gods in the Old Testament. He is the only loving God; all other gods are not alive and therefore not worthy objects of worship.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 692)
16. Gaining Perspective: When you first believed, about what did you change your mind?
· How has your life altered since encountering the living and true God?
· Has your life impacted others in your sphere of influence?
· Consider using a creative means (poem, song, drawing, craft) to illustrate what has happened to your life since encountering the living and true God.
Day Four Study
17. Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. Verse 10 says that another aspect of our faith is waiting for Jesus’ return. What evidence do we have that Jesus is indeed returning? See Acts 1:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.
Think About It: “Believers live anticipating a coronation (2 Timothy 4:8) rather than a condemnation.” (Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, p. 9)
18. Contrast the hope of the believers with the fate of the unbelievers when He returns. See Colossians 3:3-4; 6; John 3:18; John 3:36; and Romans 8:1.
· Hope of the believers—
· Fate of the unbelievers—
19. Gaining Perspective: How is this first chapter of 1 Thessalonians an encouragement to you?