Posted by Milo Hurley for July 28, 2012 Sabbath School
1 How does Paul’s writing demonstrate humility?
- Although the author of Thessalonians (5:1), Paul writes mostly in the first person plural to include his fellow laborers:
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy . . .” (1:1)
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1:2)
“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi . . .” (2:1, 2)
“Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone” (3:1)
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God” (4:1)
2 Why does “grace” always precede “peace” in Paul’s salutations (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; see also the beginning of his other letters)?
- Peace is a fruit of grace (Rom. 5:1).
- Paul emphasizes this sequence by writing, “grace to you and peace” rather than “grace and peace to you.”
3 In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul mentions faith, love, and hope. Is this sequence random or intentional?
- In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle places love — “the greatest of these” — last.
- The last item in a list is usually the most important.
- Perhaps he places hope last in Thessalonians because of the focus on end-time events.
4 What is the true doctrine of election (1 Thess. 1:4)?
- Predestination teaches that God (s)elects who will be saved.
- It subtracts freedom of choice from the salvation equation.
- It portrays God as tyrannical (not only do the wicked burn forever — it is their divinely appointed destiny!)
- The key to understanding true election is found in yet another sequence. Ending a parable, Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).
- All who can be found are invited to the king’s wedding, but only those who follow the dress code are selected to attend the festivities (verses 8-13).
- Jesus explained this dress code in Matthew 25, where the Lord chooses who will be saved at His coming. Only those who have loved their neighbors as themselves “inherit the kingdom” (verses 31-36).
5 Is it ever appropriate to look to someone besides Jesus as an example (1 Thess. 1:5-10)?
- Paul and his fellow laborers gave an example of endurance under persecution (remember Philippi).
- By receiving “the word in much affliction” (verse 6), the Thessalonian believers in turn became examples to others.
- “And you became followers of us and of the Lord.” Although the Gospels had not been written yet, Paul upheld Jesus as the ultimate pattern.