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Future Glory | Present Trial: 2 Thes. 1:1-4

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September 12, 2021 :: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

Having completed our study of every verse of Paul’s first letter to the young church in Thessalonica, Greece, we come to Paul’s second letter. It’s likely that the first letter was written in or around the year 50 AD, and the second is probably right on the heels of the first, months later perhaps. The themes are largely the same in the two letters, with some notable exceptions. The second is shorter and skips the subjects of sexual immorality and love in favor of expansion of details about the return of Christ Jesus, general exhortations and further defense of Paul’s ministry. At only three chapters, there is no lengthy introduction (as 1 Thessalonians has a 3 chapter introduction and 2 chapter body) and Paul seems to get right to the point. Because of this there is an urgency to the letter.

This young church in Thessalonica is experiencing suffering (see 1 Thess 1:6; 2:14 and 2 Thess 1:4-10). Thus it becomes forever applicable to all who suffer, especially those who undergo persecution because of their belief in Jesus. This letter’s detailed contents about end times and perseverance through trial make it even more relevant as a practical handbook.

The language of persecution is found here, but it is unclear what kind of afflictions are involved. Todd Still, in his extensive research on the subject, makes this conclusion about the persecution: ‘it is best understood as vigorous, non-Christian opposition which likely took the form of verbal harassment, social ostracism, political sanctions and perhaps (some kind of) physical abuse.’”—Gupta, N. K.

I want to challenge you to do something bold this week: Read the entire letter of 2 Thessalonians every day. For extra credit (I jest), begin by reading the entire letter of 1 Thessalonians as a proper backdrop. You will be blessed in the reading, I promise.

Group Discussion Questions:
  1. Open your group time by everyone briefly answering this question: What is the Lord teaching you at this point in your life?
  2. It may be good to recall the context and chronology of the founding of the church at Thessalonica with a review of Acts 15:36-17:15. This covers most of Paul’s second missionary journey and summarizes in short order his time in Thessalonica.
  3. Have someone in your group recap Paul’s first Thessalonian letter in short outline form. It’s okay to review or skim the letter to refresh your memory. This is not a test, but if it was it would be open-book.
  4. Through the 18 separate studies/sermons through 1 Thessalonians (if you studied it in your small group etc.), what topic, thought or application was most significant for you? If you did not do the study, skip this question.
  5. What is a significant trial (either “affliction” or “persecution”) that you’ve experienced first hand? What role did your faith play in this trial? How? Share briefly with your group.
  6. How would you define faith to a stranger or someone outside Christianity?
  7. Paul seems to suggest that “love for one another” is a major part of persevering through trials. Do you agree? How so?
  8. What’s the difference between persecution and affliction?
  9. How does a Jesus follower practically “persevere” through these experiences? How have you persevered?
  10. End your group time by praying specifically for any who sharply feel the sting of persecution or affliction.
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