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Sabbath School Lessons on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: The Apostolic Example *
Introduction: Many years ago, I agreed to take over a case in
Connecticut from another attorney who assured me that it would be
"simple." When I met the judge for the first time, he was literally
screaming at the lawyers. He told us that he did not have time to
preside over our trial, and we were to come back next month. In the
meantime, I had an ocean beach vacation. As I sat on the beach
looking at the ocean, what do you think I was doing? Enjoying the
sun, sand and water? No! I was thinking about how I would try the
case before the screamer. Thinking about an unpleasant future kept me
from thinking about the pleasure of the present. A current book I'm
reading about the brain suggests that we should be more conscious
about our thoughts, and notice the difference between a focus on the
present and planning for the future. It suggests a deliberate
consciousness about the present. Is this a Biblical concept? Let's
jump into our study of the letters to the Thessalonians and find out!
- The Present
- Read Matthew 6:31-34. What does Jesus suggest should be
the focus of our thoughts? (Today, rather than worrying
- There are a number of Bible texts that teach us to be
diligent workers, use our common sense, and engage in
planning. Why does Jesus say that we should not be
worrying about tomorrow? (God knows our needs. We can
"offload" future problems to Him.)
- Why is it an advantage to "offload" our
worries? (Our minds can only focus on a few
things at once. Removing worry from the stage
of our mind, allows us to focus on other
- What does God require of us, instead of worrying
about the future? (Presently seeking to advance the
Kingdom of God. We can substitute thinking about
doing good for worrying about possible future
- In my story about the screaming judge, all of my
worry time was a complete waste. When I showed up
next month, a wonderfully kind and pleasant judge was
in charge. Apparently, they rotate judges from county
to county, and the screamer had been moved to another
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3. On what time frame is Paul's
focus? (He reminds them of the past, to make a point about
- We previously discussed how they were beaten in Philippi,
and then barely escaped another beating in Thessalonica.
Paul denies that he is trying to trick them, has impure
motives or is just wrong. What does the past suggest
about the truth of those charges? (Paul argues that facing
a beating would deter the dishonest. The dishonest would
find an easier way to make a living.)
- The Example
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4. What two reasons does Paul give
as to why he should be believed? (He says "Look at how we
speak." Second, he suggests that beatings are not a sign
of failure, for they are not trying to please others -
- Paul's call for them to look at how they speak is a
call to examine the present. What about their speech
is important? (They speak as if they were given a God
message. They speak as if they were "approved" and
- What do you think this means? (There must
have been a competency, honesty and
assurance in the way they spoke.)
- Have you considered how you impact the Kingdom of God
with your speech?
- Do you speak as one "approved by God to be
entrusted with the gospel?"
- If not, why not? (Many years ago I asked myself
this question - what is my influence upon
others? Am I aiding God or Satan? I was
embarrassed when I concluded that my influence
was negative in many ways, and determined to
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:5. What was absent from their
speech? (Flattery and greed.)
- I use compliments regularly in my dealings with
others. What is wrong with it? (Praising people for a
job well-done is the gift of encouragement. Paul
tells the Thessalonians to encourage one another. 1
Thessalonians 5:11. On the other hand, dishonest
flattery to get someone to do something is not a
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6. This is a continuation of Paul's
statement in verse 4 that they are trying to please God
and not men. Is this ("we are not looking for praise from
men") a defensive attitude - because Paul was not just
rejected, he was physically attacked - or is this an
attitude we should seek?
- In sorting this out, can we agree that we should not
try to please men instead of God?
- Paul approaches this as if pleasing God and humans
were mutually exclusive. What about the idea of
pleasing both God and humans?
- If you only had to worry about pleasing God, would
your life be better or worse?
- If humans praise you, would that deter you from
considering whether God is pleased with you? (This is
probably the most important point to consider.)
- Think about the people in your life who have said, "I
don't care what other people think." What kind of
people are those? Are they people who you thought
cared what God thought?
- Have you seen people do a lousy job in the church
because they don't care what other people think? (In
my experience, people who said that they did not care
what other people thought were doing a lousy job. The
Bible speaks positively about encouragement and
advice. At a certain point, praise and encouragement
are more important to me than money. Plus, honest
praise improves performance. I think Paul is mostly
being defensive here, but there is no question that
we must put pleasing God first.)
- Hard Work
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9. Paul says, "We could have
asked you to support us, but we did not. Instead we worked
day and night to share the gospel with you and support
ourselves." How is this relevant to Paul's gospel
message? (It shows greed could not have motivated Paul and
his friends. Instead, he was giving to the Thessalonians.)
- What other argument do you find in this? (Paul says
this is proof of our love for you. We did not love
ourselves as much as we loved you.)
- If you are wondering, the same is true of this
ministry. I don't make any money from writing this
lesson, it costs me money. The translators are all
volunteers. On occasion, readers send small
contributions and we have ad revenue. This all goes
to my son who maintains the web site, the e-mail
distribution, purchases ads to promote the lessons
and pays the bills.
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Review what Paul has written
so far. What are the elements that go into his conclusion
that they have been "holy, righteous and blameless?" (They
suffered physically, they did not demand money, they were
not greedy. Their speech was consistent with the gospel
and not modified to please humans. They treated church
members as loving parents would treat their children.
They encouraged right living.)
- Did you notice that Paul says that he was
"encouraging" to them? This gets us back to the
- Friend, have you examined your life? Have you taken a
sharp and honest look at the present? Can you say that in
your daily life you reflect the attitude and actions which
Paul says show a person to be "holy, righteous and
blameless?" If not, why not ask the Holy Spirit to help
you to be conscious of this, and to change your attitude
and your actions?
- Next week: Friends Forever.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.