Discussion Guide for 1 Thessalonians 2:14-3:5
In our text today, Paul discusses the hardships faced by the new believers in Thessalonica. Compare their struggles to any persecution Christians in America face today.
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! 17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
Persecution in America vs. Everywhere Else
Most Americans are aware that persecution exists in the world. Very few of us, however, can claim to have an experience of persecution that resembles the story of the Apostle Paul.
For us, persecution more often takes the subtle form of social disapproval.
Christians in other places, however, often face discrimination, exile, poverty, imprisonment, or death. This video tells the story of a Christian in one of the most persecuted churches on earth.
- How is persecution in the world today similar and how is it different from the persecution experienced by Paul and the Thessalonians?
- How can persecution sometimes exist in our context in America?
- Does “softer” persecution in America still present a temptation against the faith of a believer?
- How does the affection and love for the church help faith to withstand persecution?
- Are there ways for us to support and pray for believers who face more blatant forms of persecution?
- How could you use this passage as an encouragement to people facing persecution in any form today?
What is the greatest test to your faith? How can we pray for you in that test?
For more on how we should deal with persecution, see this week’s sermon.