A Six-Week Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Whether it's waiting in a long line at the grocery store or waiting for the doctor to call with results—waiting is hard. For everyone. In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Paul is addressing a church community that was struggling to wait for Jesus to return. But the question isn't necessarily "When?"—but rather, "How do we live while we wait?"

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1. What do we want to be known for?

What's your "thing?" You know—that thing that people know you for? Maybe it's, "She's funny," or "He's got a kind smile," or "She really likes Star Wars." As Christians (and as the church), there are some characteristics we should be known for, like compassion, love, forgiveness, grace. We aren't always good at it—and it's something the church in Thessalonica was trying to get better at, too.

Sunday Watch Message
Monday: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
Saturday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 1-2


In Acts 17, Paul and his companions—specifically, Silas—traveled to the city of Thessalonica and began what is largely considered to be the first Christian church. After preaching three weeks in a row about how Jesus is the Messiah they’d been waiting for, it says in Acts 17:4, “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.”

The first church was made up of converted Jews, Greeks, and powerful women. What a beautiful thing: a group of people who believed that Jesus rose from the dead and accomplished what God had set out to accomplish from the beginning—final victory over sin and death. But this first church caused a lot of suspicion with neighbors, friends, and family. In the Roman world, allegiance was supposed to be given to Caesar, not Jesus. If someone other than Caesar was considered king, aka the most important person in your life, that caused unrest among the people. A mob ensued. People saw Paul as a threat and wanted to eliminate him. But Paul narrowly escaped during the quiet of the night. He had to leave the city and church he loved dearly.

Six months later, in approximately 50 or 51 AD, Paul penned the first letter to the church in Thessalonica. He had heard that, despite the persecution and despite his absence, the church was thriving in the face of suffering. But they were longing for Jesus to return and make things right, especially for those who had already been martyred for their faith. Would Jesus come back today and raise them back to life? Would he return and bring justice to the world? Why wasn’t he coming back...now? Those are the questions Paul sought to answer in this first letter to the Thessalonians.

2. How should we live?

So now that we know what we should be known for...how do we get there? It's the choices you make day in and day out, it's your habits—it's how you live. And living the life that Paul encourages can be really tough in a world that's moving further and further away from God.

Sunday Watch Message
Monday: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
Saturday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 3 & 4:1-12


While we wait—what kind of life are you living? You may even wonder: What kind of life am I supposed to live? An easy way to assess how you’re doing is to reflect on whether your love for God and people is growing or not. It’s that simple. The Christian life is summed up by love for God and for people.

Ask yourself: How’s my love for people these days? Is it growing or decreasing? Why is that? Spend some time reflecting on how you’re doing and ask God to fill you with his love.

Then ask: How’s my love for God these days? Is it growing or decreasing? Why is that? Spend some time reflecting on how you’re doing and ask God to help you love him more.

3. How should we grieve?

Life includes loss. It's just a fact. And while logically you might know you'll make it through—it probably doesn't feel like it when you're in the thick of grief. It can be tempting to fall back into what's comfortable, leaning on old habits to avoid the feelings. But what if you leaned into those feelings...and found hope along the way?

Sunday:  Watch Message
: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 5:7-11
Saturday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 4-13-5:11


Grief is hard. There’s no way around it. Losing someone you love is as painful as it gets. But grief experts will tell you: You can’t avoid it. Grief will find its way back into your life eventually. So, let’s dig into it.

Name someone in your life you miss and grieve for: What did you love about that person? How can you honor their life as you live? Re-read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. Do you believe that you’ll see them again? Grief is hard. But there’s hope in Jesus’ promise to reunite his people when he returns.

4. Is it the end?

It's the culmination of what we're ultimately waiting for: Jesus' return. When Jesus comes back for his church to make everything right. We're waiting...we're watching...but no one knows when the end will be. In the meantime, continue to live and lean into gratitude, prayer, relationships, and joy. Then, you'll be ready for the end, when it comes.

Sunday: Watch Message
Monday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Friday: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Saturday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-18


When is Jesus returning? When will the world end? As much as every generation of scholars and prophets tries to predict, here’s the real answer. We just don't know when. So next time someone tells you they know, they don’t.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It will be obvious to believers.
  • We don’t need to be scared—we should be excited.
  • For those who have faith in Christ, the return of Jesus will be better than any earthly day we could ever imagine.
  • No one knows the exact date, including you.

Sometimes, our Bible reading consists of just one verse. It may take you two seconds to read, but if you allow it, the verse can speak to you all day. For the next few days, write down one thing each day that you are thankful forpraying for, and can rejoice for.

5. How should we deal with persecution?

It's maybe not the happiest thing, but it's reality: Jesus warned his followers that they'd face hard things because of their faith—but he also promised to be with them and give them strength. So...how do we tap into that strength in the face of persecution?

Sunday: Watch Message
: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-28
Tuesday: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
Wednesday: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12
Thursday: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Friday: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
Saturday: Re-read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-28 & 2 Thessalonians 1-2 


Paul heard that things were getting worse for the church in Thessalonica. As a result, he wrote to them again in the letter now known as 2 Thessalonians for these reasons:

  1. to remind them to maintain hope despite persecution
  2. to clarify that Jesus had not already returned (but would, someday)
  3. to encourage them not to remain idle while waiting for his return

This church was facing intense persecution. People were dying and being martyred for their faith. The church community was being harassed continually. From the beginning, our faith in Christ was meant to be counter-cultural. While we wait for the world to be made right, we pursue lives of holiness. Although culture says to go ahead and believe whatever you want, Jesus says to put him first and live a holy life set apart according to God’s commands. Although culture says you can sleep with whoever you want, Jesus says to save sex for the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. Paul is urging believers to live a life of faithful obedience—full of love, joy, and peace—no matter what the world throws at us. By the way, he’s also reminding people that we are not to live at war against the world or against culture. Instead, we are to be known as people who love others, work hard, and bless the least of these with the resources we’ve been given.

In culture, comfort is king. But we are not called to comfort. We are called to endure on behalf of Christ. As we persevere through hardships, we are joining with Jesus who suffered the ultimate punishment. When we suffer, we are uniquely participating in the mission of Jesus.

Ask yourself: What are some ways you can live sacrificially this week or respond to hatred with love and grace?

6. How should we deal with toxic people?

So you're doing your best to live and love the way Paul outlines in 1 & 2 Thessalonians, but there's someone in your life who's dragging you down. They're "toxic," if you will. Should you walk away? Stick it out? And...what if you don't have a choice? Yes, we should love all people, but not all people should influence us equally.

Sunday: Watch Message
: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Tuesday: 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5
Wednesday: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Thursday: 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15
Friday: 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18
Saturday: Re-read 1 & 2 Thessalonians


While we are called to love all people, we are not called to let everyone have equal influence in our lives. In fact, there are people we are supposed to stay away from.

That doesn’t mean we don’t show love to those people, but it is up to us to filter how much they impact us. One way to do that is to grow your community with people who lead you to be more like Jesus. Consider volunteering at church, joining a group, or learning more about organizations we partner with through Make A Difference. These are great ways to meet other Christians!

The more you fill your bucket with godly voices, the less you’ll need reassurance or connection from the people who bring you down.