Man…the post below is so encouraging…I love seeing our young people engaged in the exploration of who Christ is.
As we remember, the church in Thessalonica had just been planted, when Paul and company had to leave town under threat of violence. That meant that these new Christians didn’t have much time to learn a very detailed theology or set of doctrines which could define their faith. On top of that, they were now facing pressure and persecution for believing in Jesus as the Christ. When Paul sent Tim to find out how they were doing, we glean from the verses we’ll look at that they had some questions about what they should believe…and what they were waiting for.
The Christians of the early church were all expecting that Jesus was going to return any minute, they had no idea it would take as long as it has. For them, the pressures they were facing made sense if Jesus were just about ready to burst on the scene. But then, before Jesus had time to come back, some from their group died. “Now what?” they may have asked? Do they miss out? Did Jesus fail in their case? Did they mess up somehow?
Paul sets out to answer these questions they apparently posed, and gives them a crash course in eschatology. In v13-14 Paul says that he doesn’t want them to be sad like people who have no hope. That small statement is huge in it’s implication! What is the greatest threat that mankind faces? What is the strongest threat any tyrant can impose upon a people? With that quick phrase, Paul tosses finality out the window, and effectively pulls the rug out from under death’s imposing presence.
What does Paul cite as the basis for this hope? (v14)
V15-17 are the foundational verses that support the doctrine of “the rapture” of the church. How do you interpret what he’s writing there, in light of the context of comforting people who were concerned about their deceased loved ones? What is the emphasis of v17, in your opinion?
Paul indicates how this doctrine should effect them, in v18. What effect does the doctrine of the end of this world and Christ’s return have on you?
Stuff to ponder. See yer’ Sundee.