Lesson 128

1 Thessalonians 3–5

“Lesson 128: 1 Thessalonians 3–5,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

The Apostle Paul desired to strengthen the faith of Thessalonian Church members. He taught them about the Resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and taught them how to prepare for the Second Coming.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Thessalonians 3–4:12

Paul desires to strengthen the faith of Thessalonian Church members

handout iconProvide students with a copy of the following true–false quiz concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and ask them to select the answer true or false next to each question:

handout

1 Thessalonians 3–5

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 128

  • T / F 1. The faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming will not be resurrected until the end of the Millennium.

  • T / F 2. The faithful Saints who are alive at the Second Coming will be caught up to meet Christ when He comes.

  • T / F 3. The Second Coming will surprise everyone as a thief in the night.

Explain that you will not provide answers to the quiz at this point but that students can discover the correct answers during today’s lesson. Invite students to look for truths about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as they study 1 Thessalonians 3–5.

Remind students that after preaching the gospel for a short time in Thessalonica, Paul, Silas, and Timothy were forced out of the city by Jewish leaders (see Acts 17:5–15). Later, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to check on new converts and strengthen their faith. In 1 Thessalonians 3:1–7, we learn that Timothy reported to Paul that the Saints had remained faithful despite experiencing persecution. Timothy also likely reported that the Saints had many questions about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote his epistle to the Thessalonian Saints to answer their questions.

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 3:9–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul said he prayed for during his absence from the Thessalonian Saints.

  • What did Paul say he prayed for during his absence?

  • What does the phrase “perfect that which is lacking in your faith” in verse 10 mean? (Paul desired to strengthen the faith of Church members in Thessalonica.)

Explain that one way Paul sought to strengthen the faith of Thessalonian Church members was to help them better understand how to prepare for the Second Coming. Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul hoped the Lord would do for the Saints to prepare them for His Second Coming.

  • What did Paul hope the Lord would do to prepare the Saints for His Second Coming?

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 4:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul exhorted the Saints in Thessalonica to do to prepare for the Second Coming.

  • What did Paul exhort the Saints in Thessalonica to do to prepare for the Second Coming?

Assign each student in the class one of the following references (depending on the size of your class, more than one student may be assigned the same reference): 1 Thessalonians 4:2–5; 4:6–8; 4:9–12. Invite students to read their assigned references and answer the following questions (you may want to write these questions on the board):

  • What did Paul exhort the Saints to do to please the Lord?

  • How do you think living that teaching would help them be prepared for the Second Coming?

After sufficient time, invite several students to report their answers to the class.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

Paul teaches about the Resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Display the picture The Second Coming (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 66; see also LDS.org).

The Second Coming

Explain that the Thessalonian Saints misunderstood certain aspects of the Second Coming. They worried that Church members in Thessalonica who had died would not be able to experience the blessings of the Second Coming.

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14, 16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about the faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming. Explain that Paul used the words asleep and sleep to refer to those who are dead.

  • What truth did Paul teach about faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming? (Students should identify the following truth: Faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming will be resurrected when Christ comes again.)

  • What does the phrase “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” in verse 14 mean? (The faithful Saints who are resurrected at the Second Coming will be caught up to meet Jesus Christ and will descend with Him in glory [see D&C 88:97–98].)

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about faithful Saints who will be alive when Christ comes again. Invite the student to also read the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 15, footnote a. Then invite him or her to read the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 17, footnote a. You may want to point out that the Joseph Smith Translation replaces we in these verses with they, reflecting that the Second Coming would not occur in Paul’s day.

  • What truth did Paul teach about faithful Saints who will be alive at the Second Coming? (Students should identify the following truth: Faithful Saints who are alive at the Second Coming will be caught up to meet Jesus Christ when He comes.)

Invite students to read 1 Thessalonians 4:18 silently, looking for what Paul hoped the Saints would do after hearing these truths about the Second Coming. Invite students to report what they find.

  • What comfort do you find in these doctrines about the Second Coming?

1 Thessalonians 5

Paul teaches Thessalonian Church members how to prepare for the Second Coming

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 5:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the two analogies Paul used to describe the timing of the Second Coming.

  • What are the two analogies Paul used to describe the timing of the Second Coming? (“A thief in the night” [verse 2] and “a woman with child” having labor pains [verse 3].)

Explain that a thief in the night usually comes “unexpectedly and without warning” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:54).

  • What does Paul’s analogy of a thief in the night teach us about the Second Coming?

  • What does Paul’s analogy of a woman in labor teach us about the Second Coming?

After students answer the preceding questions, you may want to point out that Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following concerning the analogy of a woman in labor: “She does not know the hour or the minute of the child’s arrival, but she does know the approximate time” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:54). Based on this analogy, we might also consider how trials preceding the Second Coming are similar to labor pains. But just as the arrival of a baby is wonderful, so will the Second Coming be wonderful to the righteous.

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 5:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why faithful Saints will not be surprised by the Second Coming.

  • Why will faithful Saints not be surprised by the Second Coming?

  • What does it mean to be “children of light”? (The phrase “children of light” in verse 5 refers to faithful Church members who “cast off the works of darkness” [Romans 13:12], have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and will therefore be prepared for the Second Coming [see D&C 106:4–5].)

  • What does it mean to “watch and be sober”? (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

  • How would you summarize what Paul taught the Thessalonian Saints about how to prepare for the Second Coming? (Using students’ words, write the following truth on the board: If we are faithful and watch for the signs preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, then we will be prepared when He comes again.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, and ask the class to listen for how we can prepare for the Second Coming:

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“The earth is full of calamity, of trouble. The hearts of men are failing them. We see the signs as we see the fig tree putting forth her leaves; and knowing this time is near, it behooves me and it behooves you, and all men upon the face of the earth, to pay heed to the words of Christ, to his apostles and watch, for we know not the day nor the hour” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:52–53).

  • According to President Smith, how can we prepare for the Second Coming?

Invite students to review the true–false statements and the answers they wrote at the beginning of class.

  • Based on the truths you have learned in this lesson, would you change any of your answers? (Answers: [1] False, [2] True, [3] False.)

Summarize 1 Thessalonians 5:7–22 by explaining that Paul further counseled the Saints on how to prepare for the Second Coming.

Invite students to read 1 Thessalonians 5:12–22 silently, looking for what Paul counseled the Saints to do to prepare themselves and others to meet the Savior at His Second Coming. Encourage students to select an item of counsel that stands out to them. Invite students to answer the following questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board.)

  • What counsel from 1 Thessalonians 5:12–22 stands out to you?

  • How can living this counsel help you and others be prepared for the Second Coming?

  • How would you encourage someone to use this counsel in daily life?

After sufficient time, invite students to report their answers to a classmate.

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul said God would do for His faithful Saints as they prepare for the Second Coming.

  • What will God do for His faithful Saints as they prepare for the Second Coming?

Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson, and invite students to faithfully prepare for the Second Coming.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Thessalonians 4:17. “Caught up together”

“The Joseph Smith Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 reads: ‘Then they who are alive, shall be caught up together into the clouds with them who remain, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord’ (in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, footnote a). Many Christians use the word rapture (from a Latin term meaning ‘caught up’) when referring to the time when the righteous will be caught up to meet the Savior at His coming” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 450).

1 Thessalonians 5:19. “Quench not the spirit”

“Toward the end of 1 Thessalonians, Paul gave several items of practical counsel on how to prepare for the Lord’s coming (see 1 Thessalonians 5:6–23). As part of his counsel, Paul asked the Saints to ‘quench not the Spirit’ (1 Thessalonians 5:19). To quench the Spirit means to extinguish or stifle the influence of the Holy Ghost in one’s own life (see also Ephesians 4:30–31). Elder David A. Bednar [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] pointed out that to fully enjoy the companionship of the Spirit, we must avoid activities that will drive the Spirit from us:

“‘If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.

“‘… As we become ever more immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognize impressions when they come and the influences or events that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost’ (‘That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,’ Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 451).

1 Thessalonians 5:20–21. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”

As members of the Church, we have been admonished to examine and to prove (or test) the things we read, hear, or have been taught. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that we can test the truth of what we have read, heard, or been taught by comparing it to the teachings of God’s words in the standard works (see Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:203). If what we read, hear, or have been taught is not in harmony with God’s words found in the scriptures or the words of His living prophets and apostles “so far as they accord with the … standard works,” then we have the responsibility to reject it as untrue (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:203). If it is true, then we have the responsibility to live by those teachings.

1 Thessalonians 5:22. “Abstain from all appearance of evil”

“Paul taught the Saints to abstain from all ‘appearance’ of evil, or in other words, from all ‘kinds’ of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22, footnote b). Church officials have also used 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to teach that we should avoid appearing as though we are doing something evil. For example, President James E. Faust [of the First Presidency] taught: ‘I strongly urge you that if there is any question in your minds or hearts about whether your personal conduct is right or wrong, don’t do it. It is the responsibility of the prophets of God to teach the word of God, not to spell out every jot and tittle of human conduct. If we are conscientiously trying to avoid not only evil but the very appearance of evil, we will act for ourselves and not be acted upon’ (‘The Devil’s Throat,’ Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 51). Paul offered similar counsel in 1 Corinthians 8:9–13” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 451).