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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 41 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 6: Friends Forever *
Introduction: Have you noticed that some people make decisions based
on logic, and some based on emotion? I think I'm firmly in the
"logic" camp, but history says otherwise. When my wife and I
purchased our current home, we were considering three houses. I
listed about ten important factors to consider (like how much it
cost, how close it was to work), and then we ranked each home on each
of these factors. When we got done with this very logical approach,
we looked at the result, and decided we didn't like it. We purchased
the house that ranked lowest on the logic list! Emotion prevailed
for a decision we have lived with (and in) for thirty years! Last
week, Paul explained to the Thessalonians the logical reasons why
they should believe and trust him. This week he shares with them his
emotions. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!
- God's Word Under Fire
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Is this an appeal to emotion?
(I love it when people say, "I'm thankful for you!" It is
an appeal to my emotions.)
- Many so-called Bible "scholars" claim that they can
pick and choose which Bible texts are right and which
are wrong. Others are not so blatant about it, but
they reject certain texts because they conflict with
their personal opinion. Others pick a certain text to
follow and ignore everything else in the Bible on
that subject. What does Paul say about the authority
of the Bible? (It is the "word of God.")
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14. Who made up the "churches in
Judea?" (Jewish believers.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Who does Paul say killed
Jesus? (The Jews.)
- When I went to law school, I learned that Jews were
not just characters in the Bible, but were real, live
people today. When I acquired several close Jewish
friends, they would tell about being taunting as a
child about being a "Christ-killer." One friend said
he was called this before he even knew about Christ.
When I'm asked, I generally answer that the Romans
killed Jesus. But, Paul clearly says that the Jews
did it. What attitude is Paul suggesting towards
Jews? (Paul just got through saying that the
Thessalonians were doing a good thing by imitating
their fellow Jewish believers. Paul is Jewish. Jesus
is Jewish. Paul cannot be suggesting a bad attitude
towards the Jewish people.)
- Who, then, are the "bad guys?" (Those who are the
enemies of the gospel: those who opposed Christianity
by killing Jesus, killing the prophets, driving out
Christians, and trying to stop the spread of the
- What emotional appeal is Paul making when he talks
about all the Christians suffering at the hands of
the bad guys? (We are in this together!)
- The Wrath of God
- Notice that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 suggests that we can
identify the bad guys because they are the ones trying to
keep others from speaking. What is God's reaction to
this? (The "wrath of God" has come upon those who believe
in physically stopping Christianity.)
- What does 1 Thessalonians 2:16 say about the timing of the
wrath of God? (It came "at last.")
- Paul sounds like God's wrath is overdue! Why is wrath
appropriate? How is it consistent with love?
- Recently, an agent of Satan killed a number of people
at a movie theater. If you heard of this, what was
your reaction? What would be your reaction if you
knew someone who was killed? What would be your
reaction if one of those killed was your child? (Do
you see how the level of emotion increases as the
level of your love increases? God's wrath is terrible
because He love for us is infinite.)
- What does Paul mean when he says that God's wrath has
actually begun? (The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
Commentary points out that in 48 AD a riot took place in
Jerusalem during Passover in which about 30,000 were
killed. Josephus claims that over a million Jews were
killed later when Jerusalem was destroyed.)
- Read Luke 19:42-44. What does Jesus say is the reason for
the destruction of Jerusalem? (They did not recognize that
Jesus was God.)
- Is this an argument based on emotion? (This is the
pivotal event in the history of the world. God died
for His creation. His creation killed Him. God has an
incredible emotional involvement with us. To reject
God's love, to tread on what God has done, is trigger
the most terrible emotion - wrath!)
- The Struggle
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17-19. What prevented Paul and his
friends from visiting the Thessalonians again? (Satan.)
- Consider this just a minute. God is on the move
punishing those who trample on His love, while Satan
is on the move to restrict the good news of His love.
How should this knowledge affect our everyday life?
(We need to be keenly aware of the role the
supernatural plays in every day events.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:20. What gives Paul joy? What gives
Paul glory?(Notice the emotions. Those who listen to
Paul's presentation of the gospel and act on it give him
joy. On the other hand, Paul is upset when Satan tries to
undo his work.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. What is it that Paul could no
longer stand? (The emotional strain of separation. He
could not stand the Thessalonians suffering persecution
without help. He was worried that they would not stand
- What did Paul do about it? (Sent Timothy to be with
them to encourage, strengthen them and undo any
damage done by Satan's agents.)
- How do you feel when someone says, "I miss you, I
want to come and help you?" (It warms my heart. It
lets me know that person cares.)
- We see a lot of emotion in Paul's writings. We discussed
in the introduction the logical and emotional approach to
life. What if Paul had used only logic in his appeal to
the Thessalonians? (His appeal would have been seriously
crippled. People not only need to know the truth, they
need to know you care.)
- The Report
- 1 Thessalonians 3:6. What has changed? (We just went from
Paul saying that he sent Timothy on his behalf to visit
the Thessalonians, to Timothy returning with a report.)
- What report does Timothy make? (The Thessalonians
have pleasant memories of Paul.)
- Read Acts 17:5-8. We discussed this in a previous
lesson. Paul's visit stirred up opposition, with the
result that Jason and some other new believers got
dragged before the authorities and had to post a
bond. Is this a pleasant memory?
- How can this "pleasant memories" be an honest report?
(Under emotional strain, people form strong bonds. It
is not as if Paul mislead them. He not only shared
with them the good news of the gospel, but he also
told them ( 1 Thessalonians 3:4) that persecution
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9. How does the steadfastness of
the Thessalonian believers affect Paul? (He is encouraged.
He feels alive ("we really live"). He feels joy.)
- When Satan or his agents attack you, have you
considered the impact that your faithfulness might
have on others?
- Doesn't Paul's reaction seem a little excessive? (Do
you remember the last time you won something? Earned
a great grade. Won an athletic contest. Won a job
promotion. You feel great. You feel "alive." Paul
has just won a battle (through the Thessalonians)
against Satan - and he feels great about it.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10. Wait a minute! Paul is
rejoicing over their victory against Satan. How can he
write about them "lacking" in faith? (We are all on the
road towards a better and deeper relationship with our
Lord. We all have room for improvement.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. Paul asks that God will
allow them to come, that the Thessalonians would show love
to each other, and that God would strengthen their hearts.
What does it mean for God to "strengthen your heart?"
(This is a mental and emotional change that the Holy
Spirit makes to help you become more loving and more
- Friend, how are you on the emotional side of dealing with
fellow church members? If you think this is a weak spot,
why not ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your heart?
- Next week: Living Holy Lives.
* 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.