June 23, 2024 – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Lesson Date: June 23, 2024

Focal Scripture Passage: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

AIM: To lead students to discover how deeply Paul was concerned for the believers in Thessalonica, and to commit themselves to show concern for their brothers and sisters in Christ by seeking to encourage and strengthen them.


Before class: Read the notes on 1 Thessalonians 3 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the words “Concern” and “Selfishness” on the board.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct everyone’s attention to the word “Concern” written on the board.  Ask: “How would you define the word concern?”  Allow time for some responses, and then tell the class one dictionary defines concern as “marked interest or regard usually arising through a personal tie or relationship.”[i]

Ask: “Do you have more concern for people you know and love, or for total strangers?” (people you know and love).  To stress this point, tell the students if they heard about a shooting at a local school or business, they would be saddened and pray for the safety of those involved; but if one of their family members was at that school or business, they would be deeply concerned and go to great lengths to try to find out if their loved one was safe.  Tell the students that we are usually most concerned for those we love and care about.

Direct everyone’s attention to the word “Selfishness” written on the board.  Tell the class that selfishness is the opposite of concern.  Explain that true concern values others more than self, while selfishness is the exact opposite, valuing self more than others.

Tell the students that the title of today’s lesson is Concern for the Brethren.  Tell them we will discover how deeply concerned the Apostle Paul was for the new believers in Thessalonica, as well as some ways we can encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of 1 Thessalonians.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Christ or Religion?; we discovered some differences between genuine Christians and people who are merely religious).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Phil. 1:6).
  2. Paul’s Unselfish Concern.
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2.
    • Ask: “What caused Paul to send Timothy back to check on the Thessalonian believers?” (his concern for them was so great he could wait no longer to learn how they were).
    • Ask: “How did Paul describe Timothy?” (he said Timothy was his brother in the faith, a minister of God, and Paul’s fellow laborer in the Gospel of Christ).
    • Ask: “What two things was Timothy supposed to do for the Thessalonian believers?” (establish them and comfort them).
    • Tell the class that new believers must be established, taught, and built up in the faith, and believers facing opposition and persecution (like the Thessalonians were) need to be comforted and encouraged.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 3:3.
    • Ask: “What was Paul afraid would move or shake up the new believers in Thessalonica?” (his afflictions).
    • Explain the following:
      • Paul had been imprisoned and finally run out of Philippi (Acts 16:16-40).
      • The unbelieving Jews ran Paul out of Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-10).
      • Those same unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica followed Paul to Berea, running him out of that town, too (Acts 17:10-14).
      • Paul suffered much affliction for the cause of Christ.
      • Rather than being concerned about himself and his problems, however, Paul was more concerned that his afflictions might discourage the new believers in Thessalonica.
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5.
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, what had Paul already told them?” (that he would suffer tribulation).
    • Tell the class when Paul could stand it no longer, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to learn how the believers were doing.
    • Ask: “According to verse 5, what was Paul’s fear?” (that the tempter [Satan] had tempted them and they had fallen away, which would have meant Paul’s labor there was in vain).
    • Summarize: Paul’s unselfish concern is evident in the fact that he was far more concerned with the spiritual well-being of the Thessalonian believers than with his own safety.
  3. The Thessalonians’ Faithfulness Encouraged Paul.
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7.
    • Ask: “According to verse 6, what kind of report did Timothy bring back to Paul?” (a good report of their faith and love, and that they remembered Paul fondly and wanted to see him again).
    • Tell the class that genuine believers want to spend time with other believers; when someone claims to be a Christian but has no desire to gather with other believers at church, his or her salvation is suspect.
    • Stress the fact that our faithful church attendance encourages other believers.
    • Ask: “According to verse 7, what did this good report do for Paul?” (it comforted him in his affliction).
    • Explain that Paul was always facing opposition, persecution, and imprisonment, but he was encouraged and comforted by the faithfulness of the Thessalonian believers.
    • Tell the class that our faithfulness (or lack of it) has a great impact on other Christians, encouraging them.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 3:8-9.
    • Ask: “What did Paul say in verse 8 would enable him to go on living?” (if the Thessalonian believers stood fast or firm in the Lord).
    • Tell the class that standing firm in our faith helps others keep on living for the Lord.
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, what did the Thessalonians’ strong and firm faith do for Paul?” (it brought him great joy).
    • Tell the class that our faithfulness brings joy to other Christians.
    • Summarize: Because of his great concern for them, the faithfulness of the new believers in Thessalonica greatly encouraged Paul, in spite of his own afflictions.
  4. Pray for Other Believers.
    • Ask: “Have you ever told someone you would pray for them about some need, but then forgot to actually pray?” (they probably have).
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10.
    • Ask: “What did Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians cause him to do?” (pray for them).
    • Ask: “How often did he pray for them?” (he prayed earnestly night and day).
    • Ask: “What did he pray for them?” (that he might see their faces and help them grow in their faith).
    • Tell the students that we should pray for the spiritual growth of other believers.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12.
    • Ask: “What did he pray in verse 11?” (that God would lead him back to them).
    • Tell the class that we should pray for opportunities to fellowship with other believers.
    • Ask: “What else did Paul pray in verse 12?” (that they would love each other even more, and love those outside the church).
    • Tell the class that we should pray for abounding love among the brethren.
    • Summarize: Genuine concern for other believers will move us to earnestly pray for them.
  5. The Ultimate Reason for Concern.
    • Ask: “Why do you think Paul had such great concern for the Thessalonian believers?” (allow time for some responses).
    • Read 1 Thessalonians 3:13.
    • Ask: “What did Paul desire for the Thessalonians?” (that God would establish their hearts and make them unblameable in His sight).
    • Ask: “Based on the last part of this verse, why did Paul want them to be established and unblameable?” (because Jesus is coming back).
    • Explain the following:
      • Hold up a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly.
      • “Jesus is coming back!” is the title of our quarterly, because the return of Christ is mentioned in every chapter of both Thessalonian letters.
      • We should strive to be “unblameable in holiness before God” because Jesus is coming back.
      • We should desire the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    • Summarize: The ultimate reason we should have concern for fellow believers is that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning soon.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the class that the title of today’s lesson is Concern for the Brethren.  Direct their attention to the words “Concern” and “Selfishness” on the board.  Remind them that selfishness is the very opposite of concern.

Ask: “How did Paul demonstrate unselfish concern for the Thessalonian believers?” (he was more concerned with their spiritual well-being than he was with his own physical well-being).

Ask: “Are you concerned for your brothers and sisters in Christ, or are you selfishly concerned only for yourself?”  Tell the students that selfishness is hardwired into our fallen human DNA.  Tell them we all struggle with selfishness and desire our comfort more than the comfort of others, so we must consciously work to have and show concern for our fellow believers.

Ask: “What are some ways we can show concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ?” (allow time for some responses, which will probably include praying for one another and trying to meet practical needs).  Tell the students some other actions that demonstrate concern for our fellow believers include the following:

  • Attend church faithfully – v. 6
  • Remain faithful to the Lord – v. 7
  • Stand firm in our faith – v. 8
  • Try to help them grow in Christ – v. 10
  • Love one another – v. 12
  • Remind each other that Jesus is coming back – v. 13

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Tell them to ask the Lord to give them a deep love and concern for their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Tell them to confess and turn away from selfishness, and to put the needs of others ahead of their own.  Allow a moment for silent prayer, and then voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Thessalonians 3:12.  Tell them to do something tangible to show love or encouragement to a fellow believer this week.

[i] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concern

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