Week 53: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Prepare these questions for Sunday, April 13, 2014.  We will not meet on April 6 due to Spring Break.

1 and 2 Timothy are letters from Paul to his friend and protege, Timothy. While Paul was in prison the church at Ephesus had a lot of corruption in the form of leaders who were taking too much money from the people, a lot of dissent within the community of believers, and a lot of arguments about which laws should be followed. To help, Paul sent Timothy to lead the church there and sent Timothy these two letters. The letters were meant to both encourage Timothy and to be read aloud to the church and, hopefully, help Timothy lead more effectively.

1. 1 Timothy has a decent amount of specific advice for the Ephesians. Paul gives instruction for worship, how to treat young widows, and how Christian slaves should act toward their masters. How does this advice for a different time and place have relevance for you life today?

2. 2 Timothy is primarily Paul's letter of encouragement to Timothy as he deals with the difficult Ephesians. What general advice does Paul give Timothy? Choose a particular verse or phrase that encourages you to memorize.

Titus is a letter from Paul to his co-worker Titus who was working with the church on the island of Crete. They had the same problems that the Ephesians did; namely arguments about circumcision, what foods to eat, and pursuing "mysterious" knowledge.

3. Paul encourages the people of all ages and stages of life to be humble, obedient, and respectful. Why was this such a hard message for people to take to heart? Why is it an important message for the Christian church?

While Paul was in prison in Rome he met an escaped slave named Onesimus who had become a believer and helped Paul deliver his messages to the churches around the Roman Empire. Philemon was the man from whom Onesimus escaped. When Paul needed Onesimus to return to the city of Colossae, he wrote Philemon this letter asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus and greet him as a fellow brother in Christ.

4. Although it is hard for us to relate to the slave owner in this case, Philemon was the wronged party in their culture and their time period. His slave had run away and probably stolen from him in the process, but the slave returned with a letter from Paul asking for forgiveness and to be taken back as a brother. Would you be willing to put aside your justified hurt or anger and still love the person who wronged you? What does this letter reveal to us about Jesus and His message while here on earth?

Week 52: 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians

Prepare these questions for Sunday, April 13, 2014. We will not meet April 6 due to Spring Break.

Yet another letter from Paul to a church community he helped to found, 1 Thessalonians is addressed to the people of Thessalonica. It is a letter of encouragement to the people to keep up the good work and to answer some theological questions they had.

1. Read chapter 4, verses 9-12. What advice does Paul give the Thessalonians for how to live their lives? What do you think of this advice?

2. At the end of Chapter 4 Paul addresses concerns about what happens when Christians die. What did he tell the Thessalonians and how does this information affect your view of death?

3. Read Paul's final instructions at the end of chapter 5. What final few pieces of advice does he give and what does this tell you about the struggles the Thessalonians were having?

In 2 Thessalonians Paul again writes to Thessalonica. It seems that some of what Paul said in his first letter was confusing and he wanted to clarify some points.

4. The believers in Thessalonica had apparently been told by someone that "the Day of the Lord" had already come and they were afraid they had missed it. This phrase was used in the Old Testament to mean a time when God's judgement punished the evil. What does Paul say in Chapter 2 about when God's final judgment will happen?

5. What warnings did Paul give against idleness and what do you think that means for modern believers?