These small group studies of Thessalonians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-20 Inductive Bible Study
More on Their Conduct Among the Thessalonians (10-12)
The Thessalonians Response to the Gospel Amid Persecution (13-16)
Paul’s Desire to See the Thessalonians (17-20)
What can you learn from Paul and Silas about how to treat others?
Why is it so important to have a good testimony among the people you witness to?
What image does Paul bring up in verse 11 about their relationship with the Thessalonians? Compare and contrast this to verse 7.
Can a father force his children to follow God? Why not? If a father can not make his children do right, what can a father do? What can you learn from Paul about how a father should treat his children?
1. Paul continues reminding the Thessalonians about his and his co-workers’ conduct while ministering among them. He does this because he was modeling for the Thessalonians how to make disciples and how to treat other believers. They could imitate his example in their own lives and as they passed on what they had learned to others.
2. Verse 11 – Encouraging as a father would his own children. Paul before used the image of mother. This portrayed his compassion and affection for his spiritual children at Thessalonica. Now he uses the image of father to show in what manner he passed instruction on to them. What lessons can we learn about both raising children and spiritual children?
A. Fathers must spend time with their children. This is implied here. He could not do these things if he did not spend time with the Thessalonians. These days many fathers abject their responsibility to their children and outsource the raising of their children to others. It not only happens in modern times, but also in the Bible where we see many fathers (such as David and Samuel) fail to raise godly children. Nowadays many fathers let grandparents, mothers, teachers, babysitters, househelpers, nannies, Sunday school teachers, or televisions take their place as a primary caregiver and teacher for their children. Because of circumstances outside his control, Paul was only at Thessalonica a short time, but while he was there he gave of his very life to them (see verse 8). Some fathers feel guilty about the lack of time they spend with their children and try to make it up by buying nice gifts for them, paying for a great education, or throwing lavish parties, etc. They fail to realize there is no substitute for spending regular, quality time with your children. For all current and future fathers here, make the commitment now to set this as a priority in your family.
B. Fathers must continuously input values into their children’s lives. If parents stand idly by and just observe their children as they grow up, their children will learn from all of the wrong sources (peers, popular culture, an education system that is bereft of morality, television, etc.). Fathers must make it a priority to teach their children the things of God. See Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 20:7. Christian parents should not just assume their children will “get it” because they grow up in a Christian household or go to church. You can see that Paul was constantly reminding the Thessalonians about what they should be doing. He was not doing it in a harsh or sharp way, but a compassionate and tender way. But he was nonetheless doing it. A parent has no greater responsibility toward his children than to teach his children about God. This is not a one time thing or a once a week thing. As Paul kept on exhorting, encouraging, and even imploring the Thessalonians to do what was right and follow the Lord, so should fathers do the same.
C. Notice too, that fathers cannot force their children to do what is right. Paul implored the Thessalonians to respond well because he could not force them too. While a father can probably force a small child to do what is right at least on the outside, when the child grows up he cannot force him too anymore. That is why it is necessary to instill those values in the children’s heart and implore them to follow what they have already learned and accepted.
On ministering to spiritual children:
A. It requires time. All of the above is true for raising spiritual children. You have to make the time commitment to that person. You have to be willing to meet with them, counsel them, instruct them, befriend them, pray with them, etc. This goes beyond a once a week study. Obviously someone who is ministering to a large number of people cannot spend as much time with them as he could with his own children, but he still needs to commit to spending time outside of a study or church to help the person grow and face real life situations in a biblical manner.
B. It requires continual encouragement. A baby needs a lot of help to grow up healthy and mature. Spiritual babies need that help too.
C. You cannot force a disciple to do what is right. BUT you can keep reminding them about what is right, praying for them, and imploring them to do it.
3. Walk in a manner worthy – This is one of the ultimate challenges God has for us. Of course we can never truly be worthy of God’s love and affection, but it should be our constant to goal to respond in a worthy manner to the love he has poured out on us. Can you think of examples in the Bible of people who either did or did not respond worthily to God’s love/call? The unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35) is one negative example and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) is a positive example. The ten lepers show both a positive and negative example (Luke 17:11-19). God has called us to be His adopted children, indeed heirs with Christ (Romans 8:12-17). How can you possibly live worthily of that calling? What do you need to do or stop doing to respond in a worthy way to this calling?
How did Paul respond to the good news of the Thessalonians’ growth in Christ? Why was Paul so thankful?
How did they respond to the word Paul preached?
Why is the distinction Paul made between “word of men” and “word of God” important?
How might it help you to share with others if you know you are sharing the word of God?
How will it help you to listen to others when they share with you?
What was the word of God doing in them? Is it working in you?
In what way was their situation similar to the churches in Judea?
How did they respond?
Is Paul angry at the Jews? Do you know of any verses which shows his love and compassion for them?
1. We also constantly thank God – Paul and his co-ministers did not even consider taking any credit to themselves for the fruit of their work among the Thessalonians. They knew this was God’s work and God’s power. Because of that it was only natural for them to humbly and continually thank God for the work that He did there. Do you want God to use you like this? Do you want Him to accomplish great things through you? Then you must commit it to Him, from beginning (through prayer) to the end (through thanksgiving.)
2. How might it help you to share with others if you know you are sharing the word of God?
Knowing that I am sharing the Word of God and not just my own opinion can give me great confidence. I don’t need to worry or fear about the response. I don’t need to feel ashamed if the view is unpopular. I don’t need to apologize if it is not politically correct. I don’t need to spend time thinking about how to make it more attractive. I don’t need to “sell” it like a salesman.
I must not change it. I must respect it. I must be humble and reliant upon God.
How will it help you to listen to others when they share with you the word of God?
I don’t need to be defensive as if the person is attacking me. I must listen with humility and grace as if it were Christ himself teaching me. I must take it to heart and be open to the Spirit’s leading and conviction. I should not be argumentative. I must allow it to perform its work in me.
Which also performs its work in you who believe – This is what God’s Word does. It works in people’s hearts and convicts of sin. It can work in us and transform us if we allow it to. Will you allow it?
3. For you became imitators – The Thessalonians not only imitated Paul and Silas. They also imitated the other churches, specifically in their response to persecutions. Genuine believers will endure as they endured. Though they faced persecution from different sources, the principle of enduring/persevering didn’t change. In the world today, we may also face various types of persecutions. Many of them may be different from the persecutions faced in the first century church. But we must still persevere in the middle of those persecutions and re-commit ourselves again to making Christ the priority always.
4. The Jews – Paul’s synopsis of the Jews is not a flattering one. Jesus did not give a flattering one either (Matthew 20:1-16). Not only did the Jews kill Jesus and the prophets who were sent to teach them the truth from God, they did their very best to try to hinder the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. You would think that because of their low opinion of Gentiles they might be happy to let them be “deceived” by Paul. But on the contrary, although they didn’t’ believe the message the apostles were teaching, they didn’t want Jews to preach about God’s grace to any other group either. They became busybodies who followed the apostles around just to create trouble and hinder their work, thus becoming unwitting tools of Satan.
Lest you think that Paul had grown bitter and hateful toward the Jews, look no further than Romans 9:1-3 for proof he had not. He was willing to face an eternity in hell if it meant his countrymen could be saved and experience God’s grace. But at the same time, his love toward them did not blind him to their extensive faults.
What tore Paul and Silas away from them?
Why could Paul not go back to them? What stopped him?
Where was God when Satan prevented them? Can any other Scriptures shed light on this question?
What motivated Paul to keep pushing forward? What was the reward he was working for? How is this similar to what parenting should be?
1. Paul greatly desired to see them – He wanted to keep witnessing there, but could not. Although he was absent physically, his thoughts were still with them. Distance did not cause his care and love for them to grow cold. And in fact it was this love that motivated him to write this letter and 2 Thessalonians. What can we learn from Paul about how to treat people we care about who are far away?
There is a saying, “out of sight, out mind.” This should NOT apply toward our relationships with family and friends which may be separated by a great distance. In the modern world there is no excuse for not showing your care towards those people even if you don’t see them often. We have computers and tablets and internet. We have phones. We have Skype apps and We Chat apps. We can easily pick up a phone to make a call, sit down to write a letter, or push a button to start a video call. It takes some effort to keep in touch with those people. But Paul made the effort even in an age where it was much more difficult. Do you make an effort to show your love toward parents? Relatives? Disciples who have moved away?
2. Satan hindered us – Satan is actively working against God and His workers. See Ephesians 6. And yet Satan is not sovereign, God is. Satan can do nothing unless God allowed him to. See Job. Therefore we must conclude that God wanted Paul and his co-ministers to move on to minister to other groups, which was why he allowed Satan’s plan to be successful.
3. Verses 19-20 – Paul and his co-ministers were not working for any physical reward. What was their reward? What motivated them? They cared not for recognition. Nor did they seek fame or wealth or status. Their joy was to see the Thessalonians doing well. Above all else, they wanted to see the Thessalonians join in at that great day of celebration in front of the throne of God after Jesus’ second coming. See Revelation 7:9-12. That is going to be an exciting day. All believers from all history will be standing before the Lord in perfect joy. No more pain. No more tears. No more sin. No more sickness (no need for you doctors.) No more death. Complete and absolute perfection. Eternal life and eternal joy. You know what will be better than just being there? It will be even better if you can look to the right and left and see others there who you invited! That was Paul’s glory and joy. He wanted to see them standing before God cleansed of their sin as adopted sons and daughters who lived their lives worthily of His calling. Will you be there? Are you living worthily? Are you rapid-firing invitations to this event?