The aim of this devotional Bible study is to grow in understanding both the importance and application of Biblical encouragement.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-14
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing… 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Observation and reflection
Context: Paul wrote this letter to express his thanks and joy about the steadfast faith of this young church, and also to answer questions about Christ’s return and judgment and the future resurrection of those who are alive and those who have already died.
- As is always a good practice, briefly summarize the following sections in your own words:
- Verses 1-3
- Verses 4-10
- Verses 11 and 14
- In the context of this passage, why did Paul find it necessary to instruct the church to “encourage one another” (verse 11, 14)? [hint: see the coupling word “therefore” connecting the thoughts in verses 9-10 to verse 11]
- Various types of people need encouragement: despondent, hopeless, or tired people.
- What type of people needed to be encouraged in this congregation? (verse 14)
- Why were these people in this state of mind?
- With what message would Paul have you speak to these people to encourage them?
- In one sentence write down what this passage and context teach you about the ministry of encouragement.
Imagine of your mission team get arrested by Islamic security police in Iran, and after two weeks of interrogation, a short court proceeding leads to the verdict: “Religious terrorism – execution set in one week from today!” Some young members on your team are really afraid to die…
Or, You and a friend shop at Century City for their engagement ring, and suddenly masked gunmen rob the jeweler you’re in, commanding you fall on the floor. The episode turns into a hostage drama and your friend is shot in the chaos. Bleeding from her abdomen, you see the fear in her eyes; she knows Jesus but is really afraid of the uncertainty of death…
With this Scripture in mind, how will you encourage and build up your fearful, believing friends as they face immanent death?
Spend some time talking to Jesus about His return, your resurrection, Judgment Day and life beyond death. Bring all your thoughts and fears and questions to Him. Then affirm all that you know to be true and certain, thanking Him for His Holy Spirit which leads us in all truth.