1 Thessalonians Bible Study – Week 5

God’s Will For Your Life (4:1-12)


Welcome to Week 5 of your 1 Thessalonians Bible Study.

In this lesson, we’ll be covering 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 which marks a shift in tone within this letter. From now on, Paul will be mainly exhorting and teaching the church about various issues.

The first two items on his teaching list include:

  1. The sanctification of the church members
  2. The ethic to love one another

NOTE: In order to share intimately on the first subject (which deals with our sexuality and sexual purity) it may be necessary to split the group by gender if you are leading a mixed gender study.

God Desires Sanctification For His People (4:1-8)

Read 1 Thess 4:1-8.

Notice that Paul uses the term «sanctification» three times.

Questions to Reflect on the Passage

  • How does Paul use the word «sanctification» in each case? What is it describing or what action is being requested?
  • Twice, Paul contrasts «sanctification» to other actions. What are those other actions?
  • What does it mean to possess one’s own vessel?
  • How would one defraud their spiritual brother / sister on this issue of sexuality? What is the warning attached to this prohibition?

Questions to Reflect on Your Life

Paul’s teachings in this section are fairly straightforward (with the exception of a few phrases that may be more difficult to understand…)

However, sex is a difficult subject to treat in the church primarily because:

  1. There is a great deal of shame often associated with sex (either outside of marriage and even among married couples).
  2. Many Christian men struggle secretly with sexual addictions of varying intensities and types.
  3. There are very few safe spaces in the church where one can deal with these struggles honestly and openly.

The following questions are meant to stimulate honesty and vulnerability on this issue but should only be answered if the group is mature enough to listen, pray for and help one another through these struggles.

It is my experience that the only way to have TOTAL victory in this area (aside from supernatural willpower) is by being brutally honest with one another, in a safe environment, with people to hold us accountable.

In other words, though you fell into this sin cycle alone, it is likely you will need your fellow brothers / sisters to help extricate you.

  • Why do you think sexual purity poses such difficulties in the lives of many men?
  • How would you categorize this area of your life? Do you live in sexual purity or would you describe this as an ongoing battle in your life?
  • What contributes to your being unable to move past this issue? What steps would you need to take to have victory in this area?
  • What are your feelings / ideas / beliefs about premarital sex?

Love One Another (4:9-10)

Paul moves on from his exhortations on sanctification to one of the central commands within New Testament Christianity.

Read 1 Thess 4:9-10

Questions to Reflect on the Passage

  • What does Paul tell the Thessalonians to do in this section?
  • Who are «the brethren» that Paul talks about in this section?
  • According to Jesus, how does one demonstrate what Paul is asking the Thessalonians to do (John 15:13)? What characteristics define what Paul is requesting of the Thessalonians (1 Cor 13:4-7)?

Questions to Reflect on Your Life

Loving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ forms a critical part of what it means to be a church.

Jesus himself commands us to «love one another» as a sign of being one of his followers.

Paul’s famous passage on love (1 Cor 13:4-7) does not speak to romantic love but rather to the kind you express for those within the faith community.

It speaks of a person who is patient and kind to others, who doesn’t get offended easily and who is not prideful or egotistical.

  • What does loving your brothers (and sisters) in Christ look like for you? Which of the characteristics of love in 1 Cor 13:4-7 do you need to cultivate more in your relationships with other believers?
  • Are there folks in church you find unlovable or difficult to love? Why is that? How does this section challenge you with these relationships?
  • Do you find it difficult to be a loving person? What is holding you back from truly pouring your heart out for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
  • Choose a person whom you would like to love more this week. It need not be someone with whom you have a conflict (though it can be). What will you do this week to show that person you really do care for them in the way that these previous passages suggest?

If you’d like help on having working through conflict and having more healthy relationships, check out our series on the Matthew 18 Community.  It contains 10 lessons based on Matthew 18.