Seminary
Lesson 127: 1 Thessalonians 1–2
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“Lesson 127: 1 Thessalonians 1–2,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 127,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 127

1 Thessalonians 1–2

Introduction

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Saints after learning that they had been faithful to the gospel amidst persecution. He praised them for their faithfulness and willingness to teach the gospel. Paul described the reason he preached to the Thessalonian Saints.

Suggestions for Teaching

1 Thessalonians 1

Paul praises the Thessalonian Saints for their faithfulness in affliction

Invite students to share positive experiences they have had while trying to share the gospel with others.

  • What are some challenges we might experience as we try to share the gospel?

Invite students to look for truths as they study 1 Thessalonians 1–2 that can help them in their efforts to share the gospel.

Invite students to locate Thessalonica on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” located in the Bible appendix. Ask a student to read aloud the following description of the Saints in Thessalonica:

The Saints in Thessalonica were some of the earliest European converts to the Church. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had first preached there during Paul’s second missionary journey but were driven out of the city by some of the Jewish leaders (see Acts 17:5–15). The Thessalonian Saints continued to be persecuted even after Paul and his companions left. Paul later wrote his epistle to the Saints to encourage them as they faced persecution.

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 1:2–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Paul rejoiced over the Saints in Thessalonica.

  • Why did Paul rejoice over the Saints in Thessalonica?

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 1:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul had preached the gospel to the Thessalonians during his previous visit.

  • According to verse 5, how had Paul preached the gospel to the Thessalonians? (With words and with the power of God.)

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite the class to listen for what the word and power of the gospel refer to.

McConkie, Bruce R.

“The true gospel consists of two things: The Word, and The Power. Anyone can have the word; the books in which it is written are universally available. But the power must come from God; it is and must be dispensed according to his mind and his will to those who abide the law entitling them to receive it.

“The word of the gospel is the spoken or written account of what men must do to be saved. …

“But actual salvation comes only when the power of God is received and used; and this power is the power of the priesthood and the power of the Holy Ghost” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:42–43).

  • According to Elder McConkie, what does the word of the gospel refer to? What does the power of the gospel refer to?

  • According to verse 6, what did the Thessalonians do after they had been taught the gospel by the word and power of God? (They became followers of the Lord and His servants.)

  • How would you summarize Paul’s teachings in verses 5–6 as a principle? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: As we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ by the word and power of God, we can help others become followers of the Lord and His servants.)

  • What can we do to prepare ourselves to teach the gospel by the word and power of God?

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 1:7–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else the Thessalonian Saints did after they had received the gospel.

  • What else did the Thessalonian Saints do after they had received the gospel? How did their example affect other believers around them?

  • What truth can we learn from these verses about how we can share the gospel? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truth: We can share the gospel through our example.)

To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:

Uchtdorf, Dieter F.

“The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives [see Alma 5:14], if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words’ [in William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd, Share Jesus without Fear (1999), 22]” (“Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 77).

  • How can being an example be a more effective way to share the gospel than only speaking about the gospel?

  • How has someone’s example helped you to either accept the gospel or more fully live the gospel?

1 Thessalonians 2

Paul describes how he and his companions ministered to the Thessalonians

Explain that after Paul praised the Thessalonian Saints for their righteous example, he reminded them of his love for them and of the example he had set when he had previously preached the gospel to them.

Write the following scripture reference and question on the board:

1 Thessalonians 2:1–13

  • What words or phrases describe the righteous example Paul and his companions set for the Thessalonians?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Thessalonians 2:1–13 while the class follows along. Or, instead of inviting students to read aloud, you could invite them to search these verses in small groups, in pairs, or individually. Ask students to look for words or phrases that describe the righteous example Paul and his companions set for the Thessalonians. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

After sufficient time, invite students to come to the board to list one or two words or phrases they discovered. Ask them to explain how those words or phrases can guide our efforts to set a righteous example for others.

Summarize 1 Thessalonians 2:14–18 by explaining that Paul said the Saints in Thessalonica were being persecuted for accepting the gospel. He told the Saints that he had tried to visit them again but had been “hindered” by the adversary (verse 18).

Invite a student to read 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul described as his “hope, or joy, or … rejoicing” (verse 19).

  • What did Paul describe as his “hope, or joy, or … rejoicing”?

  • How might Paul’s hope, joy, and rejoicing reflect Heavenly Father’s hope, joy, and rejoicing for us?

Conclude by testifying of the truths identified in this lesson. Invite students to ponder how they can share the gospel both by speaking about it and by setting a righteous example. Encourage them to act on the promptings they receive.

Commentary and Background Information

1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3. “God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”

Paul often began his epistles with declarations of both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, affirming the doctrine that the Father and the Son are separate beings.

1 Thessalonians 1:4. “Your election of God”

The word election in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 refers to being chosen by the Lord based on worthiness in the premortal life to be numbered among His covenant people. The elect “are given special blessings and duties so that they can bless all the nations of the world” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Election,” scriptures.lds.org).

1 Thessalonians 1:6–9. “Ye were ensamples to all that believe”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described why Paul rejoiced in the Thessalonian Saints:

“Paul rejoiced in the fact that what he had told the Thessalonians was not meaningless words to them, for they had listened with great interest, and what was taught them produced a powerful desire for righteousness in their lives. … Paul was pleased that the gospel message had been received with such joy and happiness, despite many hardships. Finally, he noted what must have been their crowning achievement—that they were inspiring examples to all their neighbors and that from them the word of the Lord had extended to others everywhere, far beyond their boundaries. Paul paid tribute to them when he told them that wherever he traveled, he found people telling him about their remarkable good works and faith in God” (“There Am I in the Midst of Them,” Ensign, May 1976, 56–57).