February 3, 2013
Focal Scripture Passage:
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
To lead students to an awareness that modern Christians are being
persecuted, and to commit to responding to that persecution in an
intelligent and constructive way.
Read the notes on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 found in the Sunday School
Teacher Book. Do some research on persecution of Christians around the
world by visiting the Voice of the Martyrs website (http://www.persecution.com/)
and clicking on the “Newsroom” and “Pray” links. Prepare the index cards or
slips of paper described in the conclusion step. Write the word “Persecution”
on the marker board or chalkboard.
(Create Learning Readiness): Ask
if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (1 Thessalonians
5:18 & 22). Ask how they have been doing at living by God’s guidelines this
Direct the class’ attention to the word “Persecution”
on the board. Say the following: “We know from church history that
Christians were persecuted in ancient times. The book of Acts reveals that
Stephen and James were both killed for their faith. Most of the twelve
apostles died at the hands of persecutors. Paul was often beaten and
imprisoned, and finally he was beheaded. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
tells us that many Christians were killed in England and Europe centuries
ago. Christians have been persecuted down through the centuries, but surely
in our modern age of tolerance and enlightenment that no longer happens.
Or, does it? Are Christians still facing persecution today?”
After members respond to that question,
share some of the things you have learned in your research. Tell the class
that Christians face persecution today in over 40 countries around
the world. Violent, but non-deadly persecution is the common means of
suppressing Christianity in Iran. Many Chinese Christians are becoming
prisoners or martyrs, because their government wants to completely eradicate
Christianity. Christians in North Korea are imprisoned, tortured, and
Christians are indeed experiencing
persecution today. In this lesson we will learn how God responds to such
persecution and how we should respond to it.
HEART OF THE LESSON
Introduce 2 Thessalonians.
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2.
Briefly introduce the book of 2 Thessalonians to the class.
Tell them Paul wrote this letter from Corinth shortly after writing 1
False teachers had crept into the church. There had even been a
forged letter, supposedly from Paul, sent to Thessalonica (2 Thess. 2:2).
The Thessalonians were fearful they had missed the Rapture and were enduring
God’s wrathful judgment.
Paul wrote this second letter to calm their fears and give them
Our Endurance makes other
Ask a volunteer to read 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4.
Ask: “According to verse 3, what about the Thessalonian believers
made Paul thankful?” (their growing faith and love).
Ask: “According to verse 4, what caused Paul to glorify God?”
(their patience and faith in spite of persecutions and tribulations).
Ask: “Why do you think the Thessalonian Christians experienced
persecution?” (the same Jews who ran Paul out of town and chased him to
the next town were still in Thessalonica, persecuting the church).
The truth we can learn from these verses is that our endurance
makes other Christians thankful.
If we face persecution, we should endure faithfully and patiently,
because that will help other believers.
God will Avenge Our
Ask the class to listen for how God responds to the persecution of
Christians, as you read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
Ask: “According to verse 6, what will God do to those who
persecute Christians?” (repay them with trouble and persecution of their
Ask volunteers to read Romans 12:19 and 2 Peter 2:4-9.
God is keeping score, and those who persecute Christians will face
special punishment. Paul told his readers to rest and take comfort with him
in the fact that Jesus will one day repay persecutors.
Explain to the class that verses 7-10 describe the Second Coming of
the Lord Jesus.
Remind them that 1
Thessalonians 4 taught about the Rapture, when Jesus will snatch His
children away from the earth to be with Him.
These verses describe the time
when Jesus Christ will return bodily to the earth to destroy His enemies and
set up His earthly kingdom.
Ask: “According to verse 8, what will Jesus do?” (take
vengeance on those who don’t know Him).
Ask: “According to verse 9, what will happen to them?”
Explain that the word
“destruction” doesn’t mean they will cease to exist – it means they will
eternally be in pain, agony, and torment.
The Bible describes this as the
Second Death (Rev. 20:12-15). This will happen when Jesus returns to
establish His earthly kingdom.
Benefits of Experiencing
Ask: “How many of you want to be persecuted?”
No one looks forward to or enjoys persecution, but the Bible tells us
there are some benefits to being persecuted.
Ask a volunteer to read 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
Tell the class that persecution shows that you belong to Jesus Christ
and are worthy of the kingdom of God.
Suffering doesn’t make you worthy, but
it shows (as a manifest token) that you are worthy. When you suffer persecution for the Lord Jesus, it shows that you
belong to Him and will spend eternity with Him.
Ask the class to listen for the
things Paul prayed for the persecuted Thessalonians, as you read 2
Thessalonians 1:11-12 (he prayed that they would live worthy of God’s
calling and that He would fulfill His purpose for them).
Ask: “Who receives glory when Christians faithfully endure
persecution?” (the Lord Jesus Christ).
Tell the class that religious persecution is not just something that
happened a long time ago. Christians today are being persecuted. The
reason this is happening is found in 2 Timothy 3:12. Read that
verse. Terrorists want to kill Americans because (a) we call ourselves
Christians and (b) we have historically supported Israel. While we here at
home may not experience violent persecution such as a terrorist attack, we
sometimes experience discrimination, ridicule, or ostracism simply because
we are Christians.
Ask: “How does God feel about the
persecution of His children?” (He doesn’t like it and He promises to
avenge it). Ask: “How should we respond to persecution?” First,
don’t worry because God is watching over all His children. Second, if
you are being persecuted in any way, thank God that He considers you
worthy to suffer for Him (Acts 5:41; 1 Thess. 5:18). Finally,
we should pray for those who are persecuted.
Ask: “Will you pray for Christians around
the world who are enduring persecution? Will you thank God when you are
counted worthy to suffer for His name? Will you trust God to repay
persecutors in His time and His way?” Lead a closing prayer.
Give everyone an index card or slip of paper on which you have written or
printed the words: “Pray For Persecuted Christians.” Ask them to put this
prayer reminder card somewhere they will see it every day.