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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 9: Final Events *
Introduction: We left our study last week with Paul's glorious
description of the Second Coming of Jesus and the instruction
"therefore encourage each other with these words." After hearing the
fabulous news that Jesus was coming again, and He would save both the
living and the dead, the next obvious question is, "When?" When will
Jesus come again? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible because
that is something we all want to know!
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1. What is Paul talking about?
This is exactly what we want to know! Why does Paul dodge
this important next question by saying "we do not need to
write you" about when?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:2. What do you think of this
answer? (Paul says he does not need to tell us about the
timing of the Second Coming because we know that we are
supposed to be surprised.)
- I don't know about you, but I would like to know
when, during the night, a thief was coming to visit
me! Would you agree that the timing of a thief's
night visit is something that you need to know?
(Think about this a minute. You want to repel a thief
because you know he only has harm in mind. Isn't
Jesus' Second Coming more like a hidden police
officer with a radar gun checking our speed? If you
are not speeding you don't care where or when the
officer is hiding, right?)
- Read Acts 1:6-7. Is this a popular question? How does
Jesus handle the answer? (Like Paul! Jesus says we do not
need to know.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Who should care about the
timing? (Those who are destroyed. Those who deny that a
judgment is coming.)
- Paul has chosen a very odd illustration for his
argument that the Second Coming will be a surprise.
Is a pregnant woman taken completely by surprise by
labor pains? Whoops, I just gave birth! Now that was
- If I were writing this, I would say, "Just as a
person strolling along the path is killed by a
falling meteor, so is the destruction of the wicked
at the Second Coming." Why do you think Paul chose
his illustration instead of mine? (Because it is not
a complete surprise. Paul is telling us that we do
not need to know the specifics, and people will be in
denial, but we are given general warnings of the
approach of the Second Coming.)
- On Alert
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:4. What is the difference between
the brothers and the world when it comes to the timing of
the Second Coming? (Paul says that we are not in darkness,
we are not surprised.)
- How do you explain the apparent contradiction between
1 Thessalonians 5:2 ("you know very well" Jesus will
come like a night thief) and 1 Thessalonians 5:4
("you are not in darkness" and should not be
surprised)? Is Jesus coming like a night thief or
not? (This gets back to our pregnant woman. Paul
tells us that if we are paying attention, we will not
be surprised - even though it is a surprising event
to the world. However, we still need to deal with the
fact that both Paul and Jesus tell us that we really
do not need to know the precise timing.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6. What is the key to
anticipating the night thief so that we are not surprised,
even though we do not have precise information about
timing? (The problem with night thieves is that it is dark
(so they are harder to see) and we are sleeping (we have a
low level of awareness). Paul says live like it is day and
keep your level of awareness high.)
- Read Luke 21:34-36. When Paul was talking about the light,
day, night, sleeping and drunkenness, he was speaking in
generalities. It was clarity versus obscurity. What does
Jesus tell us are the practical barriers to clarity? The
barriers to being in the light and being alert? (The
anxieties of life that cause us to look away from
- My guess is that most of the readers of this lesson
are not running around drunk all the time. Did you
know that texting while driving is like drinking
while driving - in terms of driver alertness? What
about texting, surfing the Internet, and television
watching while living? Does this make us less alert
to reality? Are we distracted from what is going on
- How do you handle anxiety? Do you try to distract
yourself or look to God for help?
- For most Americans, "judgment" comes in the form of a
speeding (or some other kind) of traffic ticket.
Think of your last ticket, were you alert or
distracted when the police pulled you over? (Paul and
Jesus tell us not to live a distracted life. Pay
attention to God things and pay attention to signs of
His Second Coming.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:7. Do you spend most of your waking
time during the night or the day? Do you think that could
make a difference in your behavior?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Paul again uses some interesting
illustrations. What do a breastplate and helmet do? (They
protect you against attacks.)
- How can faith, love and hope protect us against
attacks? (Recall that the problem, according to
Jesus, is being distracted by anxiety. Faith, love
and hope guard against anxiety. Faith, love and hope
help us to keep from being distracted by the world.)
- How does "self-control" play a role in the goal of
not being distracted? (If you want to avoid being
distracted by the problems of life, pay attention to
how much of your problems you create! A little self-control goes a long way toward living a more peaceful
- Wrath Avoidance
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10. What is God's appointing for
us? (Salvation, not wrath.)
- Re-read 1 Thessalonians 5:10. According to this verse,
when it comes to living together with God, does it matter
whether we are awake or asleep? (This text rather clearly
says, "no," it does not matter.)
- What does this mean?
- I looked at a number of translations to see if the
NIV was unique in conveying the idea that we live
with God whether we are awake or asleep. The NIV is
not unique in this. It seems to me there are three
ways to understand this:
- Jesus died for everyone whether they are part
of the darkness or the light.
- We are saved by grace, and whether we are
sleeping or alert, we are saved. The difference
is that the alert people will not be shocked by
the Second Coming.
- The NLT looks back to the discussion in the
prior chapter about what happens to those
Christians who died before the Second Coming
and says we are saved by Jesus whether we are
"alive or dead."
- Which one (or more) of these possible
explanations do you think is a correct
understanding of this? (We have previously
discussed that the Thessalonians had some
serious sin issues. Paul calls them (v. 5) "all
sons of the light." I think that is the grace
message. Like the Thessalonians who chose God,
we wrestle with sin without losing our
salvation. However, since Paul says that those
who "belong to the night" (v. 5) are not only
surprised, but that "destruction will come on
them suddenly" (v. 3), I do not understand
verse 10 to mean that those who sleep, and who
are part of the night, will be saved.)
- Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Last week when Paul told us
about the Second Coming, and that all who believed in
Jesus, whether living or dead, would go to heaven with
Him, he ended with "encourage each other with these words
( 1 Thessalonians 4:18). Paul did not need to explain why
this was encouraging news. Explain why 1 Thessalonians
5:11 is encouraging news? (The verses that we studied in
this lesson are the heart of the gospel! Jesus died to
give both the good and the bad the possibility of
salvation. If we choose to be sons and daughters of the
light, by accepting grace, then we will not be surprised
by the Second Coming and we will not be destroyed by it!)
- Friend, are you encouraged by that news? If you have not
given your heart to Jesus, and chosen to become a child of
the light, will you do so right now? Why be surprised and
destroyed when Jesus returns?
- Next week: Church Life.
* 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.