1 Thessalonians 1-3 Missionaries and Their Converts
Thessalonica is in northern Greece. This epistle is thought to be the earliest-written of Paul’s New Testament epistles, having been written in about 50 A.D. from Athens (or perhaps Corinth). Again, Paul begins with lovely words toward the Saints, such as grace, peace, thanks, prayers, faith, love, patience, hope, glory, and joy (1:1-3; 2:20).
- Read 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9 and 2:2, 5-11. What was the manner of Paul and his companions as they taught the gospel to the Thessalonians? What do you see that could help in sharing the gospel in our day?
- Note that verse 5 emphasizes that simply sharing the word of God is not sufficient—it must be accompanied by power and the Holy Ghost, in order to be effective.
- According to 1:7-8, what subsequent influence did the Thessalonian Saints have upon others?
- What price did the Thessalonians pay to embrace and live the gospel, according to 1:6 and 2:14?
- In 3:2-7, 10-13, what “follow-up” did Paul and the other missionaries carry out, in order to help retain the Thessalonian converts as active church members? (See also 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Moroni 6:4-6.)
1 Thessalonians 4-5 The Return of Jesus Christ
Read verses 1-12 and make a list of the things Paul counseled the Thessalonians to do, and to strive to become.
Next, Paul teaches about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
- What things did Paul say in 4:13-14 about the righteous who die before the Second Coming?
- What things will happen when Christ returns, according to 4:16-17?
- What will happen to those who are spiritually unprepared for His return, as stated in 5:2-3?
- Note that in verse 3 Paul compares the coming of Christ to a woman who is about to deliver a child—this is a fitting comparison, because as the time draws nearer, the signs of the baby’s coming are more and more pronounced, including greater pains (see also D&C 136:35).
- How will things be different for those who “are not in darkness,” according to 5:4-5, 7?
- What counsel did Paul offer the “children of light” (the righteous) in 5:6, 8? What does it mean to you to “watch and be sober”?
In the April 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson declared: “Today, the Lord’s work in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is moving forward at an accelerated pace. The Church will have an unprecedented, unparalleled future…. Remember that the fulness of Christ’s ministry lies in the future. The prophecies of His Second Coming have yet to be fulfilled. We are just building up to the climax of this last dispensation—when the Savior’s Second Coming becomes a reality…. A necessary prelude to that Second Coming is the long-awaited gathering of scattered Israel…. We not only teach this doctrine, but we participate in it. We do so as we help to gather the elect of the Lord on both sides of the veil…. Our safest insurance is to continue to be worthy of admission to His holy house. The greatest gift you could give to the Lord is to keep yourself unspotted from the world, worthy to attend His holy house. His gift to you will be the peace and security of knowing that you are worthy to meet Him, whenever that time comes…. Difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested…. Anchored in pure doctrine, you will be able to step forward with faith and dogged persistence and cheerfully do all that lies in your power to fulfill the purposes of the Lord. You will have days when you will be discouraged. So pray for courage not to give up!… I promise you that as you follow Jesus Christ, you will find sustained peace and true joy. As you keep your covenants with increasing precision, and as you defend the Church and kingdom of God on the earth today, the Lord will bless you with strength and wisdom” (“Preparing the World for the Savior’s Second Coming,” April 2020 general conference).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, Paul ends this letter with various items of counsel for daily living. Which of these verses stands out most for you?
2 Thessalonians 1-3 “Be Not Weary in Well Doing”
This second epistle to the Thessalonians was likely written from Athens, in about 52 A.D. In the first two chapters there is a continuation of the theme of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming:
- What do you find that can help you and others prepare for the Second Coming, in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-8?
- In 2:1-4, Paul made it clear that the return of Christ was not “at hand” (verse 2), but that there would be a “falling away first” (what is now termed the Great Apostasy), wherein Satan would hold power.
- But, what did Paul say would happen to Satan, in 2:8?
- What words of comfort and counsel did Paul have for the righteous, in 2:13-17; 3:2-5, 13? If you were to add one more verse of comfort and/or counsel for the righteous Church members of our day, what would you say?
- What might you do that will help you more in your preparation (of yourself and others) for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?