Key Passage: Revelation 22:12-13
Big Picture Question: When will Jesus return to earth? No one knows when Jesus will return except God Himself.
Christ Connection: No one but God knows when Jesus will return, but Christians should be ready for Him. When Jesus returns, unbelievers will be punished for their sin and those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
This week our journey takes us to the church that Paul planted in Thessalonica. The Bible says that the Day of the Lord will be a time of judgment for evildoers (Mal. 4:1) and a time of salvation and deliverance for believers (Rom. 11:26). The Day of the Lord will come quickly (Zeph. 1:14). So imagine getting word that the Day of the Lord had already come. This is what happened to the church at Thessalonica. Some were convinced that they had missed Jesus’ second coming, and they stopped working.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church to address this misunderstanding and to encourage the believers in their faith. Paul reminded the believers that no one knows when Jesus will return. Only God Himself knows. Believers must continue to work hard—doing God’s work and providing for themselves—until the moment Jesus comes. Paul even commanded the believers to stay away from people who lived irresponsibly.
Like many early Christians, the believers at Thessalonica faced persecution for their faith. Paul encouraged them not to fall away. He told them to stand strong in what they believed about Jesus. He encouraged them to “not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thess. 3:13). Life was probably difficult for the new believers, and Paul assured them that God would reward those who are faithful to Him and punish those who are against Him. (2 Thess. 1:5-7)
Paul prayed that the gospel would spread quickly, and he asked the church to pray as well. He prayed that in the midst of confusion and persecution, the Lord would give them peace. No one knows when Jesus will return except God Himself. Believers can stand firm through persecution and live in peace because on the great and glorious Day of the Lord, unbelievers will be punished for their sin and those who trust in Jesus will be saved.
Activity: Invite your spouse or an older child to step out of the room. Before they go, whisper to them when you want them to return (in 60 seconds, for example). Invite the others to write down when they think he or she will return. Did they guess correctly? Read Matthew 24:36. How should Christians live if we don’t know when Jesus will return?