Study Guide

1-2 Thessalonians Hope

Hope

Jesus […] rescues us from the wrath that is coming. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, NRSV)

Jesus […] delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10, KJV)

Okay, so right off the bat, Paul mentions that the end times are coming. And they're coming soon. Good news? Jesus will save all the faithful. Bad news: there's gonna be wrath. Lots and lots of wrath.

May he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13, NRSV)

May stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:13, KJV)

So there are some qualifications for future salvation? Yup! It's not like Jesus will rescue every rando on the street wearing a cross necklace. You've gotta work on being "blameless" before the world ends. Good luck with that.

The Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thessalonians 4:6-8, NRSV)

The Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:6-8, KJV)

Uh-huh, so God's vengeance is coming in the near future. Fun for the whole family! In this future state, Christians are also working towards super holiness. God likes to set the bar high.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NRSV)

I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, KJV)

Some folks are worried that dead Christians won't be able to share in all the goodness up there in the clouds with the Lord. They are dead, after all. But Paul says that Jesus will raise the dead and take the holy ones to Heaven. Paul will be glad he put in this loophole when he dies before the Rapture goes down.

When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! (1 Thessalonians 5:3, NRSV)

When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3, KJV)

While believers are busy becoming holy and waiting for Jesus to return, the rest of the world is thinking things are pretty good as is. Wrong. When you're most comfortable, that's when destruction will get you. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Paul!

For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, NRSV)

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, KJV)

Hmm…this verse doesn't jive much with the whole "free will" thing. If God allows everyone to freely choose him, then why does it seems like he's picking and choosing certain people to be saved? Does that mean that God decided who would be damned, too?

It is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, NRSV)

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, KJV)

The end of the world doesn't seem like it would be a good time (what with all the angels and fire and vengeance), but apparently it will be for Christians: they'll get the satisfaction of seeing their oppressors tormented for all eternity. Don't say they didn't warn you, oppressors.

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, NRSV)

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, KJV)

The whole end of time thing is definitely going down in the future, right? …Right? Apparently some folks have been spreading the rumor that the future awesomeness Christians were hoping for has already happening. Weird. How did they miss all the trumpeting?

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8, NRSV)

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8, KJV)

More weird future prophecies. The end of time will have something to do with the "man of sin." Right now, he's being restrained, but soon, people will see him for the sinful creep he is. Now, if we just knew who the heck we're talking about, we would be good.

For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13, NRSV)

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13, KJV)

Seems all this "the world is ending very soon" talk has made some people a little lazy. Think about it: if you thought you were gonna be raptured into Heaven any minute now, would you worry about running that extra load of laundry? But the community can't function like that, and the author needs everyone to start pulling their own weight…whether or not they think Jesus might descend from Heaven on a cloud tomorrow morning.