Thessalonians: Thief in the Night


Scripture verse (I Thess. 5:2): “For you yourselves know that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night”


  1. Students should memorize the verse and understand its context and content.
  2. Students should have some knowledge of the 2nd coming of Christ.

Background on the book:

            Actually, if Paul’s letters were put in the order in which they were written, Galatians would be first, followed by I Thessalonians.  Paul had founded the church in Thessalonica (Find it on the map, now called Saloniki.) after leaving Philippi on his 2nd missionary, during which Paul had changed his travel plans after seeing a vision of a young man in Macedonia calling out for help. Thessalonica was the leading city of Macedonia of its day, located on the Aegean Sea and on the Great Northern Highway of the Romans. Paul preached to both Jews and Gentiles, and the church there had both. After leaving Thessalonica, Paul was worried and sent Timothy back to check on the young church.  When Timothy joined Paul in Corinth, Paul wrote the 1st letter to the Thessalonians, around AD 50-51.

            II Thessalonians was written by Paul about a year after the first letter, probably in AD 52.  Here he congratulates the believers for their continued spiritual growth and corrects a false teaching concerning the last days that had developed.


Possible Lesson Plan:

1.      Open with prayer.

2.      Scripture lesson: Have each student read one chapter and report on its salient points. We’ll begin assuming you have no more than 6 students for discussion purposes. If you have only 3-4 students, skip I Thess 3 and II Thess 1, having the teacher summarize these chapters.

·         I Thess. 2: The work of an apostle and its fruit – What is the ministry of an apostle like Paul consist of? How is it accomplished? Do we have any apostles, or anyone with an apostolic ministry today? How did the Thessalonians show that they had become true believers, and thus demonstrate the success of Paul’s ministry? (persecution endured)

·         I Thess. 3: The love of an apostle for the church -- How does an apostle FEEL about the believers he has ministered to? What did Paul do about this? (sent Timothy). Who is Timothy? How does Paul feel after Timothy’s return?

·         I Thess. 4: Sanctification – What is it? How is it manifested? What kind of life is pleasing to God?

·         I Thess. 5: The Second Coming – When will it be? How should we behave with this knowledge?

·         II Thess. 1: Christian response to persecution – Is persecution to be expected? How do we respond? What is the final result for the persecutor? For the persecuted? Where do we state this in the Beatitudes?

·         II Thess. 3: Discussion of orderliness within the church – How is a Christian life lived out in the church? How do we deal with those who do NOT work for the unity of the church? What’s a “busybody”? Is it easy to “not grow weary in doing good”?


3.      Review the background of the letter. Paul was busy with other ministries, but saw the difficulties of this young church as so important that he could spare his helper Timothy to take this letter to them.


4.      If you have a recording of Handel’s “Messiah”, play “The Trumpet Shall Sound” nice and loud for the class.


5.      Discussion questions:

What is the second coming of the Lord? What will it be like? Who will be

victor forever? Who will be defeated forever? When will the Lord come? Do we know? Can we know? Why should we even want to know? Why are there so many beliefs about Christ’s return? Why do so many Christians spend so much time studying endtime prophecies and trying to pinpoint His return? Should differences in belief about the 2nd Coming divide Christians? Is the emphasis of the Nicene Creed on that He will come again or when He will come?

What if you heard on the news right now that Jesus had been sighted?

What’s the first thing that comes into your mind? Are there things you want to “finish up”? (school, marriage, having children) Do you know some people who are not Christian? Are you afraid for them? Do you think Christ will return in your lifetime? Why or why not? If He does not return soon, the world will ________? Are we living in the “last days”?

If you knew for certain Christ would return next year, would you live your

     life differently? Why didn’t Jesus tell us when He was coming back?


6.      Close with prayer.