Consider how your life would change if you knew the future—if you could accurately predict the weather or outcomes of baseball games. If you could know how your life is going to turn out, would you live today differently? In the bigger picture of God’s plan for the world, we do know the future. God reveals the outcome of His plan for humanity in His Word.
In the Book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul wrote about the future to encourage believers facing persecution. Their hope as believers then is the same as our hope as believers today. We look forward to a final resurrection, the return of Jesus, and the judgment of the world.
Around AD 50, the city of Thessalonica was filled with those who worshiped idols, Greek and Roman gods, and even the Roman emperor himself. So when Paul started a church there, he quickly faced persecution and was forced to flee the city. Even though he could not return, Paul still loved the young church and was concerned for them, so he sent Timothy to check on the believers.
Timothy reported back with good news—though the church was suffering from persecution, they were holding tightly to their faith. They did have some misunderstandings about Christianity, especially the return of Jesus, but they were working hard for the Lord. Paul wrote a letter to encourage the believers and to clear up misunderstandings about the future and what happens when Christians die.
Perhaps Paul’s greatest message was about the return of Jesus. On that day, Paul said, believers will be freed from their sufferings. On the Day of the Lord, Jesus will return for His people and judge the wicked. That’s a promise we can still claim today.
Paul’s letter gave believers hope. The hope we find in the Bible is stronger than just wanting something to happen; biblical hope is expecting with confidence because we know God is faithful and true.
The prophets in the Old Testament told about the Day of the Lord, a day when God would come to judge the world and save His people. Paul said that in the future, on the Day of the Lord, Jesus will return for His people and judge the wicked. Believers live with hope, knowing that Jesus will come again.
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
- Babies and Toddlers
- The Bible is God’s Word.
- Believers live with hope because Jesus will come again.
- Jesus promised He would come back.
- Paul helped Christian understand Jesus’ return.
- Paul said to be ready for Jesus to come back.
- Believers have hope because Jesus will come again.
- What is the Bible about? The Bible is about God’s plan to save people through Jesus.
- Paul told the church to stand firm as we wait for Jesus’ return.
- What is the Bible about? The Bible is the story of God’s plan to save people through Jesus.
UNIT KEY PASSAGE
- Acts 4:12
- “Paul’s Third Journey” (Acts 18–21)