This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I will focus in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will be posting a summary page with some thought about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey!
The Big Picture of 1 and 2 Thessalonians:
These two books were written by Paul, Silas (also known as Silvanus), and Timothy to the church in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians was likely one of the first letters sent by Paul (and his team) to various churches sometime around A.D. 50-51. It’s a letter mainly of encouragement. They had shared the good news about Jesus with the people of Thessalonica but were concerned that maybe hard times would have pushed them away from the faith. That wasn’t the case and Paul’s team was excited to see them standing firm in their faith and wanted to encourage them in that.
2 Thessalonians was sent a while later and echoes the charge to stand firm in the face of persecutions. They also clarify some things that were causing questions from the first letter, ask for prayers, and outline a picture of what living as a follower looks like.
Death and the End Times in Thessalonians:
Both of these books, though small, actually talk a lot about what happens after death and Jesus’ return. It was a key theme in the second letter as the people were concerned Jesus had already come back and they missed it. They also were becoming idle in their work since they didn’t see a point if Jesus was coming back for them soon. Here are some truths we learn about Jesus’ return from these two letters:
- We have hope when we grieve. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) This doesn’t mean we don’t grieve but we have hope in it because…
- Jesus died and was raised to life; the same will be true for believers who die (1 Thessalonians 4:14)
- When Christ comes back, we can’t miss it, it’ll be loud! (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
- Jesus himself will come back. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
- Both those who have died already and those believers still alive will be taken to heaven together (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
- The news about the end times is GOOD news, worth encouraging each other with, not something to dread (1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11)
- We cannot anticipate this return; it will happen unexpectedly (1 Thessalonians 5:2)
- The day of Jesus’ return will be one of praise from those who believe (2 Thessalonians 1:10)
- There will be people who will claim they are god before Jesus comes again (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
- Jesus wins! Satan and all who follow him will be destroyed forever (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book or books each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse per book. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
REFLECTION: Who do you know that fits these three characteristics of faithful work, loving deeds, and/or enduring hope. Take some time today to thank them and encourage them!
- “… We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. …” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3)
REFLECTION: In what current troubles do you need strength and encouragement in order to not be shaken? Ask God to send people to stand alongside you in the midst of them.
- “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
REFLECTION: How might you live out one or more of these commands this week?
- “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
REFLECTION: What is your faith prompting you to do right now? How can you depend on God’s strength and power in order to accomplish it and live a life worthy of His call?
- “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situations. The Lord be with you all.”
REFLECTION: Where do you need to depend on the Lord of peace to live in peace this week?
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video for 1 Thessalonians
- The Bible Project summary video for 2 Thessalonians
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for 1 and 2 Thessalonians
- The 66 in 52 Schedule and Tracking Sheet
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through the whole book. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!