Discussion Guide for 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10
These questions are not about giving a right or wrong answer, but about letting people express what their viewpoints are and where they received those views.
- What have you imagined the return of Christ to be like?
- Do you believe your imagination is informed mostly by movies, Scripture, or what somebody else has told you?
- Have you ever changed your vantage point of the second coming?
Theological Views on the Return of Christ
This week’s sermon is the second of two that will deal with the subject of eschatology in 1 Thessalonians.
Three years ago, Austin preached through the book of Revelation. We published a glossary of terms regarding last things to help life group leaders to discuss the topic with others.
I published this glossary because texts like 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 are often read in the American church with the assumption of dispensational premillennial theology. This viewpoint believes that Jesus will return to take up Christians into heaven by means of a rapture immediately before a seven-year worldwide tribulation.
While that theological system is certainly within the bounds of orthodox Christianity, we also need to be aware and consider other systems of thought that are faithful to Scripture and held by other Bible-believing Christians.
Understanding Differing Viewpoints
It’s highly likely that there will be different viewpoints of the end times represented in any small group. So you need to at least know where some of them come from.
The real difference in vantage points does not have to do with Christians disagreeing on the nature and timing of the millennial reign of Christ. We ALL agree on the second coming of Christ and that his kingdom WILL permeate its reach to the ends of the earth.
The true break in views of Christ’s return is between those who are destined to rule alongside Christ and those who don’t even recognize that they are destined to eternal destruction as a result of his judgment. This is the major concern of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-10
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
- Why is the return of Christ described as being like “a thief in the night?” v. 2
- Do you believe we are living in a day in age when people are expecting peace or are expecting destruction? v. 3
- Why are Christians not to be surprised by the events of “the day of the Lord” even though we cannot speculate on the timing? vv. 4-7
- Which elements of the future do you feel uncertain about today?
- What is the role of faith, love, and hope as we face the future? v. 8
- How would you rate your own confidence in the life that is to come? vv. 9-10
Close the group time with small groups of prayer (3-4 people of the same gender). Take time in this session to let each person pray for someone who they are not confident is ready for the Day of the Lord.