Nov 19 – 24 Pentecost
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Coming of the Lord
Background: This book is most likely one of the earliest Christian texts in existence. Paul probably composed the text from Corinth in 50-51 CE. It is uncertain whether Paul is replying to a letter, but it is likely he isn’t. Generally, it appears Paul is writing to help establish the identity and shape the theology of the Thessalonian church.
Theme: This passage falls at the beginning of a section that describes the Lord’s coming (parousia) and addresses the nature of Jesus’ second coming. This passage offers a detailed discussion about the nature of the timing of Christ’s return. It also serves as a reminder of the difficulties of predicting the end time or of the signs that signal the end of creation.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. It would be helpful to skim the remainder of 1 Thessalonians for context.
* Provide a summary of Paul’s focus in this passage – what is the point he is trying to make to the Thessalonians?
* Do you think Paul believed that Christ was returning soon? Why might he be telling the Thessalonians that Christ’s return would be like “a thief in the night”?
* Why would there be an intense focus on the timing of Christ’s return?
* What might the danger be of trying to predict the day/date of Christ’s return?
* Discuss the imagery of Christ’s return being as inevitable as labor pains.
* If the Thessalonians truly know the times and the seasons of Christ’s return why might Paul respond to them with this passage?
* If “peace and security” are harbingers of sudden destruction why would we want security? Do you think Paul is commenting about chaos and anarchy? If so, how is he commenting on chaos and the presence of chaos in God’s realm?
* If we are aware that difficulties are coming why might we be surprised by the coming difficulties?
* What is the reference about being clad with armor in response to? How does this passage differ from the previous passage?
* Why might Paul describe a “breastplate of faith and love” and a “helmet of the hope of salvation”? Why connect these traits to these pieces of armor?
* How does the breastplate and helmet (previous question) connect to other aspects or stories in Paul’s Epistles?
* Do you think verses 9 and 10 are a summary of Paul’s claims about the life we have in Christ?
* How are we supposed to encourage others? How do we encourage others in the midst of suffering without sounding Pollyanna or deluded?
* How do we use this passage to shape the message of hope and love while suffering and being oppressed?
* What is the challenge levied on us in this passage? Especially in the context we live in?