1 Thessalonians 3
Summary: Paul spent three weeks in Thessalonica preaching the Gospel. In that three weeks people came to faith in Christ and the Church was established. However, the Gospel was making such an impact it upset many of the unbelievers and they began to persecute the Church. Paul and his team were chased out of town. Four months after leaving he sent Timothy & Silas back to check on the Church. They reported back to Paul that even in persecution the Church was thriving and their faith was known all over the region so Paul wrote back to encourage and answer questions that had been raised there.
(V. 1-5) Here we see Paul highlight sacrifice and suffering. In order to establish the believers in Thessalonica, Paul was willing to take on the burden of ministry in Athens by himself. The main idea here is that when it came to the kingdom of God being built up, Paul was willing to sacrifice his own comfort in order to advance God’s kingdom. Paul also reminds us that the Christian isn’t immune to suffering. In fact, he states clearly “you yourselves know that we are destined for this” (Acts 14:22). His fear was that in the middle of suffering the young Church wouldn’t sustain. We’re reminded here that suffering will be a part of life. The difference between the Christian & the world: the Christian has a faith that brings hope in the midst of the suffering.
(V. 6-10) Paul, even in the midst of his own afflictions, finds comfort in one place: the people & kingdom of God being advanced. The thing to note here is that personal self gain isn’t the focus of Paul’s joy, it’s seeing others gain (spiritually might i add). A selfless heart is hard to adopt but you can see from Paul’s life what happens if you do.
(V. 11-13) Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is simple: to abound in love. When we develop a love for Jesus & others it will result in holiness. Our disconnect with holiness begins when we love ourselves more than Jesus. When Christ becomes our ultimate treasure we begin to love & care for others properly just as Paul does for these believers.
How has your week been spiritually? / What is God teaching you?
What sins are you struggling with that you need to confess?
(V. 1-5) Name a time when you willingly sacrificed for the kingdom of God to advance? How or what did you have to sacrifice? Was it worth losing for the kingdom to grow?
(V. 1-5) How can suffering help someone grow in their faith?
(V. 1-5) Paul says “we are destined for this”, why would God allow suffering for believers?
(V. 6-10) What are some reasons we don’t find this kind of joy in the growth of others?
(V. 6-10) What was different between Paul’s life & yours that made him love God’s Church this way?
(V. 11-13) Of all things Paul could pray for, why was love the thing he talked about?
(V. 11-13) If you loved your (spouse/parent/relative) the same way you love your church family, what would they do or say?