Unit 26, Day 2: 1 Thessalonians

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


The Apostle Paul wrote to the Saints in Thessalonica after learning they had been faithful to the gospel amidst persecution. He praised them for their faithfulness and willingness to teach the gospel. Paul also taught them about the Resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and he taught them how to prepare for the Second Coming.

1 Thessalonians 1–2

Paul praises the Thessalonian Saints for their faithfulness in affliction

Locate Thessalonica on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” located in the Bible appendix. The Saints in Thessalonica were some of the earliest European converts to the Church. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had first preached there during Paul’s second missionary journey but were driven out of the city by some of the Jewish leaders (see Acts 17:5–15). The Thessalonian Saints continued to be persecuted even after Paul and his companions left. Paul later wrote this epistle to the Saints to encourage them as they faced persecution.

  1. journal icon1.

    Have you ever tried to share the gospel with someone? In your scripture study journal, write about your experience. Consider the following questions: How was your message received? In what ways were you blessed because of your efforts to share the gospel? What are some challenges we might experience as we try to share the gospel with others?

As you study 1 Thessalonians 1–2, look for truths that can help you as you share the gospel with others.

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:5–6, looking for how the Apostle Paul had shared the gospel with the Thessalonians when he was with them. You may want to mark the words word and power in verse 5.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the difference between the “word” and the “power” of the gospel.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“The true gospel consists of two things: The Word, and The Power. Anyone can have the word; the books in which it is written are universally available. But the power must come from God; it is and must be dispensed according to his mind and his will to those who abide the law entitling them to receive it.

“The word of the gospel is the spoken or written account of what men must do to be saved. …

“But actual salvation comes only when the power of God is received and used; and this power is the power of the priesthood and the power of the Holy Ghost” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:42–43).

Consider marking in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 what the Thessalonians did after they had been taught the gospel by the word and power of God.

From 1 Thessalonians 1:5–6 we can learn the following principle: As we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ by the word and power of God, we can help others become followers of the Lord and His servants.

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:7–9, looking for how the example of the Thessalonian Saints affected other believers around them.

From the example of the Thessalonian Saints, we can learn the following truth: We can share the gospel through our example.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In the following statement, underline what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said is the most effective way to share the gospel: “The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives [see Alma 5:14], if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words’ [in William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd, Share Jesus without Fear (1999), 22]” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 77).

Think about when someone else’s example helped you to either accept the gospel or more fully live the gospel.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1–13, Paul wrote about his earlier ministry in Thessalonica. He addressed some critics in Thessalonica who questioned his sincerity and motivations during his ministry. Paul defended himself by describing the sincere and earnest manner in which he and his companions had taught and served the Saints. His words are reminiscent of those found in Doctrine and Covenants 12:8: “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity.”

Paul had not been back to Thessalonica after he was driven out during his second missionary journey (see Acts 17:10). He said he had been unable to return because he was “hindered” by Satan from doing so (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Paul did not give any details about how Satan hindered him from returning to Thessalonica, but it is clear that persecution from Jews had already forced Paul to take many detours in his journey (see Acts 17:14–15).

1 Thessalonians 3–5

Paul teaches the Thessalonian Saints about the Second Coming

Mark whether you think the following statements about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are true (T) or false (F):

  1. ____ 1.

    The faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming will not be resurrected until the end of the Millennium.

  2. ____ 2.

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

  3. ____ 3.

    The Second Coming will surprise everyone as a thief in the night.

As you study 1 Thessalonians 3–5, look for truths about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ that will help you know the correct answers to the true–false quiz (the answers are also included at the end of the lesson).

In 1 Thessalonians 3:1–7 we learn that Timothy reported to Paul that the Saints had remained faithful despite experiencing persecution.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13, looking for what Paul hoped the Lord would do for the Saints to prepare them for His Second Coming. Consider marking or noting in your scriptures what you find.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12 we learn that Paul urged the Saints to become sanctified, or made clean and pure, through obedience to God’s commandments, which Paul and others had taught them.

The Second Coming

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

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–14, 16, looking for what Paul taught about faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming. He used the words asleep and sleep to refer to those who are dead.

From these verses we learn the following truth: Faithful Saints who die before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be resurrected when He comes again.

The phrase “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 means that the faithful Saints who are resurrected at the Second Coming will be caught up to meet the Savior and will descend with Him in glory (see D&C 88:97–98).

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, looking for what Paul taught about the faithful Saints who are alive when Christ comes again. Also read the Joseph Smith Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 (in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, footnote a, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, footnote a).

From these verses we learn the following truth: Faithful Saints who are alive at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be caught up to meet Him when He comes.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18, looking for what Paul hoped the Saints would do after learning these truths about the Second Coming.

  1. journal icon2.

    Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What comfort do you find in these doctrines about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1–3, looking for the two analogies Paul used to describe the timing of the Second Coming.

What do you think Paul’s analogy of a thief in the night teaches us about the Second Coming?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: “[The Lord] shall come as a thief in the night, unexpectedly and without warning, to the world, to those who are in spiritual darkness, to those who are not enlightened by the power of the Spirit” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:54; see also Matthew 24:42–43).

Elder McConkie also 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 the trials preceding the Second Coming are similar to the pains of labor. But just as the arrival of a baby is wonderful, so will the Second Coming be wonderful to the righteous.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:4–6, looking for why faithful Saints will not be surprised by the Second Coming. You may want to mark or note what you find.

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

We learn the following principle from 1 Thessalonians 5:4–6: 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.

President Joseph Fielding Smith

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that ways we can prepare for the Second Coming are “to pay heed to the words of Christ, to his apostles and watch” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:53).

Review your answers in the true–false quiz at the beginning of this lesson. Based on the truths you have learned, would you change any of your answers?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:7–22 the Apostle Paul counseled the Saints on how to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12–22, looking for what Paul counseled the Saints to do to prepare themselves and others to meet the Savior at His Second Coming.

  1. journal icon3.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      What is one item of counsel from 1 Thessalonians 5:14–22 that stands out to you?

    2. b.

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

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24, looking for what Paul said God would do for His faithful Saints as they prepare for the Second Coming.

Based on what you have learned today, determine what you will do to better prepare yourself for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Write your goals and plans on a piece of paper, and put the paper where it will help remind you of those goals and plans.

  1. journal icon4.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied 1 Thessalonians and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher:

Answers to the true–false quiz: (1) False, (2) True, (3) False.