1 Thessalonians 2:17-18
Our Adversary, The Devil
1. In v. 17 Paul expresses the strong feelings that he and his missionary companions had for the Thessalonian brethren by describing how they had been forcibly separated. In the phrase but we, brethren, having been taken away from you . . . the Greek word for taken away (aporphanizō—#642) is a very descriptive word. What is the significance of Paul’s use of this word in this verse?
2. What sentiment does Paul convey when he says in v. 17 that he had been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit?
3. At the end of v. 17 Paul uses two superlatives to describe the intensity of his feelings. Paul says that he is all the more eager with great desire to see your face. Paul does not use such intense language in his other letters to the various churches. What does this verse say about his relationship to the Thessalonians?
4. In v. 18 Paul then reveals why he had been unable to return to Thessalonica . . . for we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. The specific reason Paul had been unable to return was because Satan hindered us. The term hindered (egkoptō—#1465) is used metaphorically. What does the term mean and what metaphor is being used?
5. We know that the Thessalonian Jews were the primary instigators of the persecution and opposition to Paul and his teaching. How would Paul have known that it was Satan who was responsible for hindering them?
6. We see Satan active in his role of hindering men and women in Scripture. Can you cite examples of Satan acting to disrupt and influence characters in Scripture?
7. Biblical scholars and theologians say that demonic activity on the earth was the strongest during the time of Christ and the first century of the church. These scholars are also of the opinion that demonic activity in the world today is approaching that same level. What sort of events in the world today would lead scholars to this conclusion? Do you agree?
8. How can we defend ourselves from the attempts of Satan and his demons to oppress and influence us? What must we do?
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
Suffering For The Gospel
1. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul lists 3 of the main components of salvation . . . receiving the word of God, accepting the word of God and performing works that result from salvation. Explain the significance of each in the process of salvation as Paul lays it out in v. 13.
2. In v. 14 Paul exhorts the Thessalonians by pointing to the fact that they became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews. In what way were the Thessalonians “imitating” the churches in Judea?
3. When Paul refers to suffering at the hands of your own countrymen, who is he referring to?
4. In v. 15 Paul lists 3 ways in which the Jews had persecuted God’s representatives in the past. When Paul says that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus, what does he mean, since it was the Romans who executed the Lord?
5. What is Israel’s history in regard to killing the prophets?
6. In v. 15 Paul points out a tragic irony regarding the Jews. Paul says that they are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men. What is he saying? What is the irony of his statement?
7. In v. 16 Paul states how the Jews were hostile to all men . . . hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. What does this say about the Jewish hostility toward the gospel?
8. In v. 16 Paul states the result of the efforts of the Jews in hindering the spread of the gospel . . . with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. The idea behind the use of always is that it had been a characteristic of the nation of Israel, at all times, to oppose God. Secondly, in the phrase, fill up the measure of their sins, the word measure means “the full amount, so as to make it complete.” What is Paul saying in his statement here in v. 16?
9. At the end of v. 16 Paul points out the outcome of Israel’s long national history of opposition to God . . . But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
a. What does the word utmost (telos— #5056) mean?
b. What does Paul mean when he says that God’s wrath has come upon them to the utmost?
10. God’s wrath is His holy and eternal hatred of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of God against evil. It is the holy anger of God stirred into activity against sin. Just as love is an action verb, so “wrath” is also an action verb. God’s wrath is His actions, activated by His anger and hatred of sin. In what way is the nation of Israel currently under God’s wrath? (see Isaiah 6:8-13 and Matthew 13:15)
11. In light of Israel’s long national history of disobedience and idolatry, the fact that they oppose the gospel of Christ and the fact that they are currently under God’s wrath, what should be our attitude and actions toward national Israel?