1 Thessalonians, lesson 1

1 Thessalonians

Lesson 1:

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for divine grace and enablement to tap into Your word of truth, wisdom, knowledge, and insight. We pray for soft, receptive, teachable hearts, spiritual eyes to see and ears to listen. We peay for the anointing and presence of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Introduction:

Author, Date, Recipients:

Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians from Corinth between 49 AD to 51 AD was to the church in Thessalonica, Acts 18:1-18.

Theme:

The theme of 1 Thessalonians is the return of Christ at the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. When Christ returns, Christians who had died and Christians are still alive will be resurrected into glorified bodies to meet Him in the air.

Setting:

In his second missionary journey, Paul and his workers Silas and Timothy established the church in Thessalonica. He was there only there for three weeks and many Gentiles believers came to know the Lord. Due to strong opposition and persecutions from the Jews, Paul had to flee Thessalonica to Berea. From there Paul went to Athens, and later to Corinth. At Berea, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to assist and check on the church there. Timothy returned to Corinth and reported to Paul that the church in Thessalonica was thriving and the congregation there was very fervent for the Lord. On hearing this Paul wrote 1 Thessalonica to encourage the church.

In the first-century AD, Thessalonica was a flourishing seaport and capital of Macedonia, modern day northern Greece, and had a population of 200,000.

Purpose:

In his short time in Thessalonica, Paul had taught the believers about the second coming of Christ. However as time went by, many Christians in Thessalonica had died and they were that Christ had still not returned. Paul reassured them that Christians who had died before Christ’s return will not miss out on the resurrection.

Outline:

Greetings: 1:1 Opening

Prayer and Encouragements: 1:2-3:13

Instructions: 4:1-5:22

Doxology: 5: 23-28

Application:

Paul’s teaching on the rapture is laid out for us in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. The rapture precedes the second coming of Christ. Christians will be resurrected into glorified bodies to meet the Lord in the air. The rapture is imminent and could happen at any time. We will not miss the rapture if we confess of our sins, believe in the finish work of Christ on the cross, and surrendering our lives to Christ. Those who are left behind on earth will face the tribulations.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for salvation and justification by grace through faith in Christ. We confess that we are sinners saved by grace, we believe that You died on the cross as a substitionary atonement for sins, we surrender our lives to You, in Jesus’name, Amen.

Jude

Jude: now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, Bread of Life, Light of the world, Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and True Vine, teach us Your word. We pray that You will help us to unlock the book of Jude and give us the keys to understanding and application, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Introduction:

Scholars agree that the author of Jude is Jude, the half-brother of Jesus Christ and the brother of James the just, Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3. It is believed to have been written around 65 AD. This is a general epistle written to all Jewish and Gentile Christians to warn them against the immoral, false, ungodly, heretic Gnostic teachers who maintained that salvation by grace is a license to sin.

Matthew 13:55, “is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?”

Mark 6:3, “is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him”.

VV 1-2, 1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude identified himself as a bondservant or slave of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James. His audience was those sanctified by God and preserved by Jesus Christ. Greek for preserved is “teteremenois”, which means kept. Greek for sanctified is “kletois”, which means called. Christians are divinely called by God and kept in the faith by Jesus Christ. Jude pronounced mercy, peace, and love to his audience.

VV 3-4, 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jude initially wanted to write a general letter on salvation but he changed his mind when he saw immoral and ungodly men who perverted the grace of God and taught wrong doctrines to the Christians.

V 5, But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

God delivered the Jews under the leadership of Moses out of Egypt but because of unbelief, they perished in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb made it into the promised land after 40 years of wilderness wandering.

V 6, And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

This verse supports the view that in Genesis 6:4, fallen angels had sex with women on earth and produced giants. These fallen angels were to keep locked up in the bottomless pit.

Genesis 6:4, “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown”.

VV 7-8, 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

The Gnostic teachers behaved like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. God destroyed these two cities were because of immorality and sexual perversion.

Genesis 19:29, “So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived”.

V 9, Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

God buried Moses after his death and His body was never found. According to Jude, satan disputed with God over Moses’ body because he was a murderer. Archangel Michael challenged satan saying “The Lord rebuke you!”.

V 10, But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.

The Gnostic teachers spoke evils, behave like beasts, and were corrupted in their activities.

V 11, Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

These immoral, heretic and false Gnostic teachers behaved like Cain, Balaam, and Korah of the Old Testament.

The story of Cain is found in Genesis 4. Cain and Abel were brothers. God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s offering because Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain. Out of jealousy and wickedness, Cain murdered Abel.

The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24. Balaam was a greedy Jewish prophet who accepted a bribe from the Moabite King Balak to curse Israel. Every time Balaam wanted to curse Israel, he ended up blessing Israel.

The story of Korah is found in Numbers 16. Korah and his followers were Levites who challenged the leadership of Moses and Aaron. God divided the ground under their feet and buried them and their families alive.

V 12-13, 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

The Lord’s supper in the first century Church was also called the agape feast. These false teachers would come to the agape feast serving themselves, behaving badly, causing harm, and deceiving the Christians.

Acts 2: 46-47, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’’.

1 Cor 11: 20-21, “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk”.

VV 14-15, 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

According to Jude, Enoch the 7th descendant of Adam prophesied about these false teachers, quoting from the book of Enoch, a pseudo-epigraphical book, which is not part of the Christian Canon.

VV 16-19, 16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

The false heretic teachers were boastful, lustful, ungodly, opportunistic, and dishonest who grumbled and complained. Jude reminded his audience to remember and hold fast to the words of the apostles.

VV 20-23, 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Jude encouraged his audience to live holy lives, to pray in the Holy Spirit, and to love God. He encouraged his audience to have compassion for some and to save others by pulling them out from sin and judgment.

VV 24-25, 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless, before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

The epistle of Jude ended with a beautiful doxology, giving praise, honor, and glory to God, our Savior.

Application:

The epistle of Jude reminds us that there are false teachers out there who come as wolves in sheepskins to deceive Christians. We need to stay vigilant and build up a strong foundation of scripture. We need to countercheck with scripture whatever we hear to discern false theology.

Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for speaking to us through the epistle of 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Thank You for preserving Your inspired, inerrant, and infallible word through the millennium for our benefit. Thank You for Your amazing love, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

3 John

3 John: do not imitate what is evil but what is good

Lesson 10:

Introduction:

Scholars agree that the author of 3 John is John the apostle, who wrote this epistle around the same time as 1 John and 2 John, between 85-95 AD. John rebuked Diotrephes, a dictatorial leader in the Church around Ephesus who rejected itinerant teachers sent by John and excommunicated those who supported the itinerant teachers. The epistle was written to Gaius who supported John’s itinerant teachers.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray that You will open our spiritual eyes, ears, and hearts to understand scripture and wisdom to apply spiritual truth into our lives. We pray that You will speak to each one of us individually through Your word, in Jesus’ name, Amen,

3 John 1-14, Gauls, Diotrephes, and Demetrius.

VV 1-4, 1 The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

This epistle from John, the Elder, was addressed to the beloved Gaius whom he loved in truth. John prayed for Gaius’ health, material, and spiritual prosperity. He rejoiced when other Christians testified to him that Gaius was walking in the truth.

VV 5-8, 5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

John commended Gaius for his generosity in receiving, showing hospitality, and looking after the needs of itinerant teachers that he sent to him.

VV 9-10, 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

John rebuked a dictatorial leader called Diotrephes, who rejected itinerant teachers that John sent to the churches in the region of Ephesus. Diotrephes even excommunicated those who supported the itinerant preachers.

VV 11-12, 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.

John warned his audience and us not to do evil but to do good. Those who do good are from God, those who do evil do not know God. John commended Demetrius who had a good testimony.

VV 13-14, 13 I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

John wanted to write a longer letter but he preferred to speak to them in person by visiting them soon. He pronounced peace to them as a farewell greeting.

Application:

We are to do good and not evil. We are not to imitate Diotrephes, the dictatorial leader, but to imitate Gaius and Demetrius who supported preachers and teachers of the Word. There is no place for dictatorial leaders in the kingdom of God.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for speaking to us through the epistle of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Thank You for the timeless messages that transcend time, culture, geography, history, and language. Help us to have a strong foundation in the Word so as not to be deceived by false doctrines, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Exodus

The Israelites of the Exodus did not enter into the promised land of rest because they doubted God’s promise. Today, if you do not believe in Christ, you will not enter His rest. Today, if you hear God’s voice, you must believe and accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour. There is a heart shaped vacuum in your heart that only God can fill. You will be restless until this heart shaped vacuum in your heart is filled by the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

2 John

2 John; this is love, that we walk according to His commandments

Lesson 9:

Introduction:

Scholars agree that the epistle of 2 John was written by apostle John who wrote 1 John around the same time, 85-95 AD. John wrote this epistle to warn his audience against the same heretic gnostic teachers.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray that You will enlighten our spiritual insights to study your word with boldness and confidence. We pray that we will abide in You and Your words will abide in us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

2 John 1-13, walk-in truth and obedience

VV 1-3, 1 The Elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I but also all those who have known the truth, 2 because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever. 3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

John, the Elder, wrote this epistle to the elect lady and her children. Scholars are not in agreement as to the identity of this elect lady, whether this was a real person or just a figure of speech. Her children refer to the Christians in the region of Ephesus. John loved them in truth and prayed that truth abides in them forever. He pronounced grace, mercy, and peace to them from Father God and Jesus, the Son, in truth and love.

VV 4-6, 4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

John rejoiced that his audience was walking in truth, obedience, and love. The test of loving Christ is obedience to his commandment to love.

VV 7-11, 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Deceivers speak of the heretic gnostic teachers, who rejected the incarnation of Christ and had the spirit of antichrist. Those who follow the false doctrines of the heretic gnostic teachers do not know God. John warned his audience to reject these heretic gnostic teachers, do not invite them into their houses, and do not even greet them.

VV 12-13, 12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.

John hoped to be able to meet his audience personally to share in their joy. He sent them greetings from their elect sister, whoever she was.

Application:

We are to beware of false heretic teachers. Today, false teachers are preaching false doctrines and cults are peddling false theology. The only sure way to discern false doctrines is to have a strong foundation on the word of God. Do not be deceived by false preachers who claim to be from God but are not.

2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for wisdom and discernment to tests every spirit because not all spirit is from You. We pray for the spirit of wisdom, understanding, discernment, and insight to rightly divide the word of truth, to discern and reject false doctrines, in Jesus’ name, Amen.