2 Thessalonians 1

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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.

2 Thessalonians 1 Inductive Bible Study

    1. Discussion Questions

      How much time had passed since Paul wrote 1st Thessalonians? If not much time had passed, why did Paul feel the need to write again? What does this show us about Paul and his concern for the Thessalonian church?

      Who is Silvanus?

      Why are Paul, Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy mentioned by name here? Who had ministered among the Thessalonians back in Acts?

      Why does Paul so often give greetings like the one in verse 2? Is there anything you can learn from Paul about how to greet others? Or about what our conversations should be like?

      How would you describe Paul’s attitude toward the Thessalonians in this chapter? How does it compare to his attitude toward them in his first letter?

      How had they been doing?

      Why was Paul thankful for them?

      Who among them had shown love towards each other?

      How was this love progressing? What lessons can we learn from this?

      Why would Paul “brag” about the Thessalonian church to other churches?

      How can anyone be worthy of God’s kingdom? What connection does suffering and worthiness have?

      What does verse 6 mean?

      What will happen when Jesus is revealed from heaven? What event does this refer to?

      What is the punishment for those who don’t accept/follow the gospel?

      What doctrines about hell can you find in verse 9? How should the truth of verse 9 effect our lives today?

      What does it mean that He will be glorified “in his saints?” How can you be worthy of your calling?

      What is a work of faith? Are those terms “work” and “faith” a contradiction?

      How can Christ be glorified in you?

      Teaching Points

      1. 2 Thessalonians appears to have been written shortly after 1 Thessalonians. Many scholars estimate that the time gap between the epistles is only a few short weeks or months. Both of them were likely written sometime around 51-52 B.C., and as such are probably the two earliest epistles in the New Testament.

      The fact that Paul writes to the Thessalonians twice in such close proximity shows us that he had a great love for them. He was not writing out of obligation. If he was, one letter was certainly enough to fulfill it. It is almost as if he feels a compulsion to communicate with and encourage them. He and his companions were forced to leave before he was ready and he was truly concerned with the Thessalonians continued growth. They were doing well, but they were still young in the faith. He wanted to make sure they were not like the plant which grows up from the seed on the rocky soil, which would wither and fade away after facing persecution. In addition to focused prayer for them, he felt the need to write them multiple times (and later send Timothy back) to encourage them. Since they were young in the faith he treated them with great compassion, nurturing their relationship to the Lord through encouragement rather than a heavy handed approach which could have proved disheartening.

      Application: Do you show this type of love and compassion for your disciples? Do you only fulfill your duty/obligation or do you go above and beyond what is expected of you to help others? How can you practice this type of love and care for others in your own life?

      2. Greeting – Did you ever notice Paul’s greetings in his epistles? They are rich in spiritual truth. His greetings convey great warmth and concern for them. At the same time they are deep. His greetings remind the recipients of his letters that though they are distant God is watching over them and will be with them. Paul certainly practices what he preaches to speak in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19) Our relationship with God should seep out of everything we do and say. With Paul, it is a natural reflection of who he is rather than forced.

      3. We ought always to give thanks to God for you – Just last week we learned that we should give thanks in everything. How did you do in this area in the past week? Did you grow in thanksgiving? Or did you revert back to complaining?

      The Thessalonians were not perfect. Paul certainly could have thought of weaknesses or problems and complained about them. Teaching and mentoring them was certainly challenging at times. But Paul didn’t fall into the trap of negativity. He instead focused on their positive attributes. This is an important lesson whether you are a pastor, small group leader, husband/wife, or parent. Do not get together with others and then complain about your group or your children. It is not a healthy mentality or a good testimony.

      4. Your faith is greatly enlarged – The Thessalonians had displayed a faith in the Lord since the beginning. But their faith was not stagnant. It was growing. This is the natural progression of genuine faith. When we show faith in God He always remains faithful and keeps His promises to us. The original faith is confirmed, which then leads to a stronger faith which would also be confirmed and so the circle of growth keeps going. But remember that faith requires action. If you don’t take a leap of faith, perhaps you are not giving God an opportunity to show His power and therefore confirm your faith. For example, you know that it would be better for your spiritual life to switch jobs. But you like your current job, the status or the salary. So you hold on to it. This may deny your faith a chance to grow. If you believe that God will take care of you and give up your job trusting that God will provide another one, then He will provide for you. When you leap and ask God to catch you He will.

      Is God asking you to take a leap of faith? If so, what?

      5. The love of each one of you… grows ever greater – Paul highlights the love of each individual within the Thessalonian church. It wasn’t just a select few who were demonstrating this type of love, but rather every single believer. Could Paul say this about this fellowship? Could Paul truthfully say, “the love of each one of you grows ever greater?” Is your love growing ever greater? If Paul couldn’t truthfully say this about you, what would he say?

      Now is a good time to perform a routine evaluation on your love for others. Cars and computers and our bodies need regular health checkups. Our spiritual lives also need regular checkups.

      Rate yourself from 1-10 on your love (remember this is not an emotion but an unconditional decision to put others interests above your own) for:

      Your spouse – Your parents – Your children – Your siblings – Your friends – Your co-workers – Your church/fellowship

      Choose someone from the group you gave yourself the lowest score on and write down a specific way you will show love to them in the next week. It has to be greater than what you did before meaning you have to something better or new than in the past.

      6. We speak proudly of you – Paul used the Thessalonians as an example to other churches. The lifestyle they showed could be a good model for others all across the continent.

      It wasn’t easy for them. Back in Job, Satan accused Job before God saying that he only served God because it was beneficial for him to do so. God then proved that Job’s commitment to the Lord was not because things were going smoothly for him. Instead it was a steadfast faith that did not waiver even in the midst of the ultimate trial. Facing persecutions and adversity, the Thessalonians also proved their faith in the Lord in the middle of difficulties. When you face persecution and affliction do you endure? Or complain and give up? We should view these experiences as an opportunity to grow closer to the Lord and depend on Him more than ever before.

      7. So that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God – See Acts 5:40-42, Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:27. Suffering is one type of test that believers will go through. If a believer faces suffering and renounces the Lord, he has failed the test and proved that he is not worthy. If a believer endures, then he passes the test and shows himself to be worthy (or as worthy as we ever could be). This worthiness does not mean that could ever earn our salvation or even pay God back for it. Basically we can have a worthy response to God’s grace, which is to believe in Him and repent. Or we can have an unworthy response, which is to reject Him. If Bill Gates pays off your billion dollar debt even though you are a drunk and gambling addict you are not worthy of that. But you can nonetheless respond in a worthy way by turning away from your sinful lifestyle, showing gratitude for his gift, and then dedicating your life toward a more meaningful pursuit.

      Application: Have you responded in a worthy manner to the gospel? How can you live your life more worthily? What do you need to do to be considered worthy of the kingdom of God?

      8. God’s righteous judgment – In these verses there are two aspects of God’s judgment. The first is punishment for those who have mistreated the Thessalonians (or other believers). Notice it is God who is doing the repaying. See Romans 12:19. Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that God is just. He will deal justly with all of their persecutors. They not concern themselves with making sure those people were paid back. Neither should they worry that they were getting away with their sins without any punishment. God saw all of what was going on. At the appropriate time, He would punish them.

      The second is relief for the Thessalonians who had been mistreated. See Hebrews 4:3-11 to read about the rest believers who endure can enter. The Thessalonians would not face this persecution forever. At the appropriate time, God would give them relief. Setting their mind on this hope, they should continue to persevere while trusting that God had the best in store for them.

      How does the knowledge that there is relief/rest coming help you in the midst of affliction?

      9. Eternal punishment – The next couple of verses describe in more detail this punishment. Jesus’ second coming is not a “silent night” type like His first coming. Verse 7 shows that He will return with mighty angels and flaming fire. The purpose is to deal out retribution to those who have not embraced the gospel. We studied a bit about this in 1 Thessalonians and found that the “day of the Lord” is truly a terrifying time for all who don’t know the Lord. Here we learn more details about what this punishment will entail:

      A. Pay the penalty – It is a just punishment. The penalty is for sins which the person has committed. You don’t pay a penalty unless you have done something wrong.

      B. Eternal destruction – This verse dispels the notion of a purgatory where you can stay awhile and work off your sins. It is an eternal destruction. Jesus said that there the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched, showing the eternal nature of this punishment. Eternity is a long time. It’s never ending. It is a truly terrifying image.

      C. Away from the presence of the Lord – Hell has been described as eternal death, meaning an eternal separation from God. None of God’s mercy, love, kindness, or grace will be felt there. It could be worse to have no parent than to have an angry parent. Hell is the finality of God abandoning all those who first abandoned Him. In 1 John it says we love because He first loved us. But for unbelievers it will be “He rejected them because they rejected Him.”

      D. From the glory of His power – God’s power will not reach down into hell to save people. He has already demonstrated His power by reaching down into this world and offering salvation. He is not going to repeat that offer for people in hell.

      When I look at the above facts about hell, I almost feel sick to my stomach. It is terrible. There is no silver lining. There is no comfort.

      What can we do with this knowledge? How should the knowledge about the horrors of God’s final punishment for unbelievers effect our lives?

      10. Jesus will receive glory – On that day Jesus will receive the ultimate glory. Believers will marvel at Him. He will be glorified in us.

      11. Pray for you always – This is another reminder to make prayer a top priority.

      12. Worthy of your calling – See point 7.

      Work of faith – Faith requires action. It is not just in our mind. Those who have faith in God must work for Him. A faith that is not shown in action is dead.

      13. Christ glorified in you – Our ultimate goal should be to bring glory to God. This is ultimately why we were created. Satan desires to twist God’s natural order by tempting us to seek glory and credit for ourselves just like he did. When we do this it is the result of our natural pride rebelling against God.

      In what ways can you glorify God with your life? Is there any area where you are being a bad testimony for the Lord?

      One good test when we are facing a decision or temptation is to ask ourselves, “Will this bring God glory?” If the answer is no, don’t do it. Set a habit to routinely ask yourselves this question and live every day in light of the responsibility we have to glorify God in everything we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Study 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

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