Thessalonians 1 & 2 Thessalonians        

A Bible Study

1 Thessalonians  Contents:
Greetings and Thanksgiving  11-10
Founding the Church in Thessalonica  21-16
Timothy's Encouraging Report  217 - 313
Living to Please God  41-11
The Coming of the Lord  413 - 511
Final Instructions  512-28

2 Thessalonians  Contents:
Thanksgiving, Faith, Patience, Prayer  13-12
The Man of Lawlessness  21-12
Thanksgiving  213,14
Prayer, Warning, Final Greeting  216 - 318
Final Signature  316-18

1 Thessalonians         [Contents]


The 1st letter was written while Paul was in Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey.
      The 2nd letter, also from Corinth, followed about 6 months later in AD 52.
His time in Thessalonica was short, but effective - see Act 171-10
The new, untaught believers were also persecuted.
      They needed encouragement, truth, endurance and hope.
      The thrust of both letters is varied, but eschatology is predominant.
Thessalonica was a big, busy seaport with about 200,000 people.
      Act 74 suggests that the church included some Jews,
            but were mostly Gentile converts.

Greetings and Thanksgiving  11-10         [Contents]

Silas and Timothy were with Paul in Corinth and joined him in writing this letter.
The greeting starts with repeating the definition of being Christians:
      in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  11a
What mattered in their spiritual life was not what they had said or experienced,
      but simply whether they were in Christ, or not.

Grace and peace to you.  11b
Like righteousness and salvation, grace and peace are God's gifts to be treasured.
Gifts are not earned or deserved, but are an expression of love.
      When this love is real, the gift is also real.
      It is permanent and can never be taken away.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, ... nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro 835-39
Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know this truth. It was his prayer.

He was faithful in prayer for them, giving thanks to God - with good reasons:
1. your work produced by faith
2. your labour prompted by love
3. and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

He also wanted to remind them that they were each loved by God,
      and that he has chosen you.  14
This is so important when suffering unjust persecution.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name.  Is 431
They could only know God's love and choice by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the
      Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and
      Achaia. ... your faith in God has become known everywhere.
It is only the Spirit of God who can enable a man to suffer persecution with joy.
It was not the words, but the lives of the Thessalonians that proved their faith.
They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead
      Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
      Waiting requires patience.
      Patience is greatly aided by being certain that as Christ was raised,
            so we are and will be raised with him.

Ro 63-11  Eph 26
      Thus we are spared from the eternal judgement that awaits the wicked. 59
      Some use 110 and 59 to try to justify a 'pre-tribulation rapture'.
            But the coming wrath refers to the eternal judgement by Almighty God,
            not the 7 year tribulation when all the world suffers.  Rev 6 - 19
            It is only relieved by the victorious return of Christ.  Rev 1911-21

Founding the Church in Thessalonica  21-16        [Contents]

Paul lists some of the basic facts about the 3 week visit that started the church:
Our visit to you was not a failure.  21
      Not only was the church founded in such a short time, it continued to grow.
We dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.  2
      Violent opposition was from jealous Jews.  Act 175
We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  24
      Paul was not self-appointed but undeniably converted and chosen by God.
We never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed.
We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone.
      Unlike many modern money-seeking evangelists.
We shared with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.  28
      Such was their genuine love and concern for their eternal well-being.
We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.  211,12
      Some consider Paul's leadership as authoritative and out of date -
            especially when considering the role of women in the church.
      But here we see his style as a loving father bringing strength and comfort.
      His earnest desire was to see the church becoming spiritually mature.

We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.  213
      Paul reasoned with them from the scriptures.  Act 172
      This contrasts with much modern day ministry, that magnifies social customs.
            Many bishops/priests do not give scripture its appropriate authority,
                  and disregard the parts that they don't like.  e.g. Lev 2013  Ro 127
            All 3 UK main political parties want to redefine marriage.
      It is the revelation of truth from God's word that brings new life to a man,
            conviction of sin, assurance of forgiveness and the gift of righteousness.
You, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews.  214
      The Thessalonians were willing to suffer for the truth they had learned.
      Paul commends them - for he too suffered much from ungodly men.
      It is better by far to suffer now than to deny our Saviour.  see also 1Pe 13-9
The wrath of God has come upon them fully.  216
      But thankfully believers are spared; for they are in Christ Jesus.

This was the firm foundation of the church in Thessalonica.
      We would be wise to do likewise. The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ.

Timothy's Encouraging Report  217 - 313         [Contents]

Out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. ...
      you are our glory and joy.
      but Satan stopped us. 218 We are not told how.
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy ... to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.  31,2
Paul had warned them that there would be many trials; life would not be easy.
When we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.
I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you.

Today Christians in Muslim, Hindu and Communist countries expect trials.
      They eagerly apply such letters as this.
In UK we are no longer respected or even envied, but despised or ridiculed.
      But times are changing rapidly and we should also expect persecution.
      'Equality' and 'human rights' will not work for Christians, but against us.
      Paul's encouragement of nearly 2,000 years ago will be very relevant.

Timothy brings good report of their faith and love:
      since you are standing firm in the Lord.  38
      And also that they too longed to see Paul again.

Paul's conclusion: May he strengthen your hearts
      so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father
      when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
      In other words, may God enable you to keep 'right on to the end of the road'.
      Holiness needs to be a characteristic of all Christians, in every age.
            It can so easily be compromised or lead to being critical of others.
            See 'Holiness' by J C Ryle - a most excellent book!
      Paul looks earnestly to the great day of Christ's return and rule on earth.
            No one relishes the Tribulation - Maranatha, Come Lord, come quickly!

Living to Please God  41-11         [Contents]

Paul encourages them in two areas to please God more and more.  41,10
1.Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen.  44,5
2.You yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.  49
He then adds:
      Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business
      and to work with your hands.
If we heed each of these instructions it will be pleasing to God.

The Coming of the Lord  413 - 511         [Contents]

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God
      will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
Or as he writes in the Roman letter:
If we have been united with him like this in his death,
      we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
  Ro 65
There are also stages in this resurrection.
      We are now currently alive and in Christ,
            but we also await the release of physical death to see him.

Paul then continues with this second stage
      and what will happen when the Lord returns to earth as King.

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.  415-17
A clear account of what will happen at the Rapture.

The first question is when?
About times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety', destruction will come on them suddenly.  51-3
The 2nd Coming of the Lord will be sudden and largely unexpected,
      but not without warning to the righteous who are alert.
We are not given a timetable, but Revelation reveals a sequence of events.

What are these events that must happen first? How are warned?
Paul is not concerned here about the Tribulation,
      his emphasis is on building up their hope and assurance of resurrection.
      Therefore encourage each other with these words.  418
      He wants them to know that Almighty God was not blind to their unjust trials;
            trials that are intense but temporary.
            What our Master bore, so will his servants.  Jn 1518-21  Math 1018-42
      Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
            who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
            and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
            Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
            so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
  Heb 122,3
      Paul tells them again Jesus rose from the dead; and so will you.
      Jesus certainly has the last word - and it is eternal love and joy!
      The world proves to be a wicked place,
            but Jesus will change that when he returns
                  and we meet the Lord in the air.
                  And so we will be with the Lord for ever!


                  Therefore encourage each other with these words.  418
            Only the rule of Christ on earth can bring righteousness and justice,
                  stability and truth, and the end of deceit and satanic wickedness.
You, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light ... So ...
      let us be alert
      let us be self-controlled,
      putting on faith and love as a breastplate,
      and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
This is no day for sloppy, lazy compromising behaviour.
      It is a time for personal discipline and helping others.
      It is not me 'having a good time', but honouring the name of Jesus.
      In every circumstance remember Jesus is Lord and King.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath
      but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
      He died for us so that ... we may live together with him.
Some have used this to claim Christians are raptured before the Tribulation.
      The wrath here is not the brief (7 years) of Tribulation (Rev 6-19),
            but the eternal judgement of hell by Almighty God.
      Throughout these verses Paul is helping us to view our glorious eternal destiny,
            rather than despair in the present persecution. He concludes:
      Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
            just as in fact you are doing.
      Many popular churches today are more concerned about joy now,
            and fail to make any real preparation for the days ahead;
            days not of "You've never had it so good" but "You've never had it so bad"!
      I have never heard anyone preach, or even refer to what made Daniel appalled.
      As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them
      Another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; ...
            He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints ...
            The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.
      When rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise.
      He will become very strong, but not by his own power.
      He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does.
      He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people.
      He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior.
  Dan 721,25 823-25a

With each of these quotes Daniel adds:
      Until the Ancient of Days came
            and pronounced judgment in favour of the saints of the Most High
      But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away
            and completely destroyed for ever.
      Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
  Dan 722 726 825b
Like the slaves in Babylon and the persecuted Christians in Thessalonica,
      the church will have to go through the 7 years of Tribulation.
But then Jesus returns!
      Think about that!
            His glorious, righteous kingdom will be for ever.
                  It is wonderfully described in Rev 21,22 and Ezek 47

Final Instructions  512-28         [Contents]

Respect those who work hard among you,
      who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.

Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.
      Live in peace with each other.  512,13
      Criticism of leaders who don't get everything right is all too common.
      On the other hand respect must be earned.

Leaders should:
      warn those who are idle
      encourage the timid, help the weak
      be patient with everyone
      make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong
      always try to be kind to each other
      have this letter read to all the brothers.
      The task of leadership requires sensitivity, courage and endurance;
            not to mention preaching, pastoral care, worship, meetings, delegation .....

All the church:
      be joyful always
      pray continually
      give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
      do not put out the Spirit's fire
      do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.
      avoid every kind of evil.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless
      at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
      This last sentence is of the greatest comfort and encouragement.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  528  Amen!

2 Thessalonians  

Introduction       [Contents]

This letter was written just a few months after the 1st letter,
 while Paul was in Corinth with Silas and Timothy.
He saw the need
      to again encourage this persecuted church,
      to correct the deception caused by false teachers,
      to insist on obedience to God's clear commands.

Thanksgiving, Faith, Patience, Prayer  13-12         [Contents]

News of the increasing faith and love in the church is reason for thanksgiving.
      And they were learning to endure persecution.
      As a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.  15
Paul assures them when the day of God's just judgement comes:
      the troublemakers will be punished and you will find relief.
>Then the Lord will be glorified in his holy people.  110
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you,
      that our God may count you worthy of his calling,
      and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours
            and every act prompted by your faith.
As at the end of his previous letter, Paul reminds them that it is only
      by the grace and power of God that his plans for the church are fulfilled.
      We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.  112

The Man of Lawlessness  21-12         [Contents]

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way.  21-3

If the day of the Lord has already come,
      then they have nothing to look forward to.
      And if so, why were they still being persecuted?
It was true, the Lord had already come - and fulfilled his promise to redeem us.
      But he has promised to return and come a 2nd time to be our King.
      The false prophets were preaching a single coming of the Messiah.
Paul proves there is a 2nd Coming by telling them of the Lawless one.
      They might have been excused that Nero was the Lawless man,
            but these letters were written in AD 52, Nero ruled Rome 54-68 AD.
      He quotes from:
            Daniel's dream of 4 beasts followed by a 'little horn' that grew. Dan 78
            He had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.
            He saw this horn waging war against the saints and defeating them.
            After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones;
            he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High
            and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws.
            Then Gabriel came to Daniel and revealed another vision:
"I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power."  Dan 819-25
            This 'master of intrigue' had not yet appeared.
            There was deceit, but it had yet to 'prosper' to the extent Daniel had seen.
            This vision concerned a distant future  Dan 826, in the time of wrath  Dan 819
            The words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.  Dan 129
      Paul knew the end was near, but had not yet arrived.
            He would say the same truth today; though the end is now nearer!
      The false prophets did not consider the prophecy of Daniel.
      It is vital to read and learn all scripture, not just the nice, favourite parts.

Paul continues: Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.  25-7

He reminds the Thessalonians God is the Almighty One,
      and he restricts Satan in what he can do on God's earth.
      But the day will come when the 'little horn', 'the stern-faced king', the Beast,
            the lawless one will be allowed to reign on earth for 3½ years
            (during the last ½ of the Tribulation).
The secret power of lawlessness is already at work.  27
      Indeed he was, and he still is. Today it is becoming more obvious.
      God's commandments are being overthrown, marriage is threatened,
            Christianity is threatened by ecumenical and multi-faith adherents,
            creation by God has been outlawed by evolution theorists,
            anti-terrorism laws and fear of global warming empowers governments,
            abortion kills 180,000 babies every year in UK,
            homosexuality is supported by all the main political parties,
            EU is a federal dictatorship controlled by an unelected Commission,
            A 'One World Government' is stated objective of many,
            Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderbergers,
            Skull and Bones (and other Masonic 'clubs') all influence/control Gov.'s,
            rising power of Islam, military advancement of China and Russia ...
            The examples of wicked power and deceit are endless.
            They could cause us to fear and doubt - but God, Almighty God is King.

This is what Paul reminds the Thessalonians.
Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow
      with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming.
      Our God remains Sovereign throughout.

      As he wrote to the Romans:
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Ro 837-39

Paul then warns the church about being deceived
      (as Jesus also did in Math 244, 11, 24)
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.  29-12
God works many miracles and does extraordinary things; but so does Satan.
      Beware, be careful, learn to discern; especially if it is widely popular!
      See also the warning given in Rev 1313,14 about the False Prophet.
      It is Jesus Christ, 'the Truth', who is to be loved rather than his miracles.
      It is his Word, given in scripture, that is to be believed;
            not the words of man, however attractive and charismatic they may be.
      Love and seek holiness; abhor all wickedness that the world delights in.
Satan and the world encourage selfishness, greed and lust, thirst for power.
      But he is a murderer, the 'father of lies', the arch-deceiver. Jn 844
      He is very clever at making the counterfeit attractive; but the end is death.
God loves humility, holiness, righteousness, justice, truth and creating.
      May the Lord our God protect us from all delusion
            and reveal himself to our hearts and minds.
      He delights to save our souls and to transform our nature to be like him.

Thanksgiving  213,14         [Contents]

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord.  213a
      Because from the beginning God chose you to be saved.  213b
      That you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  214
How saved?
      God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit
      and through belief in the truth.
So ... stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you.  215

Prayer, Warning, Final Greeting  216 - 318         [Contents]

1.May our Lord Jesus Christ himself ... encourage your hearts
      and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
            Even in persecution, if God be for us, who can be against us?
            They needed God's presence and his courage and strength to stand firm.
2.Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you. 31
            Paul always had a zealous heart for evangelism.
            It needs some encouragement in today's church.
3.Pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men.  32
            There is always opposition to Christ and his gospel; Satan hates it.
            Many political leaders pretend to be good men,
                  but their attitude to Christ reveals their wickedness.
      The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.  33
4.May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.  35
            The Lord is patient and persevering, he does not give up.
            May we also keep going , even if the way is sometimes hard.

Some of the Thessalonians were idle, so Paul commands the church
      to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. ...
      We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
      If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
      Does this seem harsh?
      Paul was very concerned that 'spongers' should not weaken the church
            by diverting resources.
      Lazy, work-shy attitudes can be very infectious.
            Blessing is not me having a good, easy, care-free time.
      As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.
            Night is coming, when no one can work.
  Jn 94

Final Signature  316-18        [Contents]

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Paul wrote this final blessing with his own hand, as a signature.
      The rest he had dictated.
True peace is a rare experience in this world.
      Peace with God and peace with fellow men.
      All too often there is competitive strife and differing views;
            certainly in the world, but tragically also even in the church.
It was the same 2,000 years ago - Paul earnestly seeks and prays for peace.
How achieved?
      Only by the grace of God being practically present in all our lives.
Let us never grow weary of the spiritual battle for the sake of a quiet life.