2 Thessalonians 1–3

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 210–12


Introduction

Paul had taught the doctrine of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ with such power that the Saints in Thessalonica were eagerly preparing for it. Then some false notions crept into the Church from teachers who speculated that the coming of the Lord was already at hand. Many Thessalonians were so caught up in this belief that they discontinued their daily labors to simply wait for the Lord’s coming. In this Epistle Paul further defines the signs of the Second Coming.

Prayerfully study 2 Thessalonians 1–3and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 275–79.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 2 Thessalonians 1–3.

New Testament Video presentation 19, “The Second Coming” (4:51), can be used in teaching 2 Thessalonians 1:1–2:3(see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

2 Thessalonians 1:1–2:3. Church leaders can help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We should pray for and be obedient to the leaders of the Church.

(40–45 minutes)

Show the class a calendar without dates and a clock missing the hour hand. Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 49:7to determine what these objects could represent. Ask:

  • Would any of you like to know the exact time of the Second Coming? Why?

  • What problems could arise if we knew the exact day or hour of the Lord’s coming?

Invite students to read Alma 34:33, 35and look for what those verses teach about procrastination and its consequences. Testify of the importance of always being spiritually prepared and of not putting off our repentance.

Tell students that the Thessalonian Saints misunderstood Paul’s teachings about the Second Coming. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17and ask: What phrase in these verses may have been falsely interpreted to give the idea that the Second Coming would soon occur? (“We which are alive”; vv. 13, 17.)

Paul wrote a second letter to clear up misunderstandings about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:3–10looking for key words or phrases that showed the Second Coming was still in the future. Ask:

  • What would the Saints experience before the Second Coming?

  • What comfort did Paul offer?

  • Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3. What else would happen before the Lord’s coming?

  • Why would this have been disappointing to the Saints in Paul’s time?

  • How would you have felt?

Help students understand the following phrases:

“Be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter” (v. 2).

Do not be concerned by false teachings you hear, but listen only to those in authority.

“Let no man deceive you” (v. 3).

Beware of those who teach false doctrines.

Discuss the importance of prophets in helping us prepare for the Second Coming. Ask: How can they help? Explain that you are going to read three case studies and ask students to think about how they would handle each situation.

Case Study 1:A boy in your seminary class has expressed concern about the things he has heard about the Second Coming. He wants to know if there is enough time for him to plan on a mission, college, marriage, and children. How would you answer him? Discuss their responses, then share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life.

“One day you will cope with teenage children of your own. That will serve you right. Later, you will spoil your grandchildren, and they in turn spoil theirs. If an earlier end should happen to come to one, that is more reason to do things right” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59).

Ask:

  • How is this insight from Elder Packer comforting?

  • What challenge comes in knowing that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ may be far in the future?

Case Study 2:A friend tells you she attended a fireside in which the speaker had a dream about the Second Coming and was told to teach the Saints certain things they must do to be ready. Your friend doesn’t know if she should do what the speaker said or not. What would you say to her? Discuss their responses, and then share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“We are entitled to personal revelation. However, unless we are set apart to some presiding office, we will not receive revelations concerning what others should do. …

“Occasionally someone will claim to have received authority to teach and bless without having been called and set apart. …

“That is why the process of sustaining those called to office is so carefully protected in the Church—that all might know who has authority to teach and to bless.

“An unusual spiritual experience should not be regarded as a personal call to direct others. It is my conviction that experiences of a special, sacred nature are individual and should be kept to oneself” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 17; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14–15).

Ask:

  • According to Elder Packer, who can receive revelation for the Church?

  • Who is benefitted by unusual spiritual experiences?

  • Whose counsel should we follow?

Case Study 3:Your sister came home concerned because her seminary teacher said that the signs of the Second Coming were almost all fulfilled, great catastrophes were coming, and if Church members did not get their food storage now it would be too late. What would you say to your frightened sister? Discuss their responses, and then share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“Over the sweep of Christian history, some believers have, by focusing on a few prophecies while neglecting others, prematurely expected the Second Coming. Today, while we are obviously closer to that great moment, we are in the same danger. …

“In the context of such cautions, I have no hesitancy in saying that there are some signs—but certainly not all—suggesting that ‘summer is nigh’ (Matthew 24:32). …

“Members of the Church need not and should not be alarmists. They need not be deflected from quietly and righteously pursuing their daily lives” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 6–8; or Ensign, May 1988, 7, 9).

Ask:

  • Have all the signs of the Lord’s coming been fulfilled?

  • What does Elder Maxwell counsel us to do?

Testify that living prophets, seers, and revelators have been sent to help prepare us for “the day of the Lord.” Share the following testimony from President Brigham Young:

“Are you prepared for the day of vengeance to come, when the Lord will consume the wicked by the brightness of his coming? No. Then do not be too anxious for the Lord to hasten his work. Let our anxiety be centered upon this one thing, the sanctification of our own hearts, the purifying of our own affections, the preparing of ourselves for the approach of the events that are hastening upon us. This should be our concern, this should be our study, this should be our daily prayer. … Seek to have the Spirit of Christ, that we may wait patiently the time of the Lord, and prepare ourselves for the times that are coming. This is our duty” (in Journal of Discourses, 9:3).

Encourage students to follow President Young’s counsel.

2 Thessalonians 2:1–3(Scripture Mastery). Paul prophesied that an apostasy would take place before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

(10–15 minutes)

Invite two students to role-play the part of a missionary companionship. Ask a third to take the part of an investigator. You might want to have them practice briefly before class, or give them directions on index cards when class begins. Assign the missionaries to tell how Jesus Christ restored the true Church to the earth. Have the investigator ask: “If Christ’s Church has been on the earth since He established it here, why would there need to be a Restoration?”

Invite the class to suggest what answers they might give to this question. Ask: How frequently do you think a question like this is asked of our missionaries? Tell students that understanding the doctrines of the Apostasy and of the Restoration will be critical in their missionary experiences.

Have students read 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3. Ask:

  • What is “the day of Christ”?

  • What will happen before that day?

Explain that the falling away is also known as the Great Apostasy. Read the Joseph Smith Translation of 2 Thessalonians 2:7–9looking for what brought the Apostasy about. Ask:

  • What might Satan’s “signs and lying wonders” have been?

  • Besides the Great Apostasy (the falling away of the Church), what other kind of apostasy is there?

  • If individuals can fall away also, what kinds of “signs and lying wonders” does Satan use to deceive them?

  • How can we avoid Satan’s signs and lying wonders?

  • Why would Satan be interested in encouraging us to fall away?

Have students read 2 Thessalonians 3:1–7looking for what we can do to avoid individual apostasy. Share your testimony of the truths just taught. Conclude by reading the following statement by President Harold B. Lee:

“Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet. … You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself … ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you. …’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152; see also D&C 21:4–6).