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LESSON 1 – MATTHEW BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1: MATTHEW
The book of Matthew stands at the gateway from the Old Testament into the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we find many prophecies foretelling the coming of a promised Deliverer and King. These prophecies are like identification pictures or photographs, which describe what the coming King would be like, what He would do and what would happen to Him. The Spirit of God directed Matthew to present the Lord Jesus Christ as the King to the nation of Israel. So Matthew makes many references to Israel’s Bible, the Old Testament writings. Matthew looked back into those Old Testament books and found many of these “identity pictures.” As he writes the story, he includes many of these pictures so that Israel(and all of us) might recognize this great King and bow down to worship and obey Him. Of course, the other New Testament writers also quote from the Old Testament, but Matthew does so much more than the others. Apart from the genealogies, there are over 250 direct and indirect references to the Old Testament in his book. He quotes from every book in the Old Testament except five (Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Obadiah, Nahum and Habakkuk). In a sense, Matthew is like a gatekeeper who carefully identifies the One who is the promised Deliverer-King. (See John 10.1-3). He proves over and over that Jesus Christ is the real King by comparing Him with those pictures in the Old Testament. As we go through Matthew's book together, you may want to notice each picture and write down the references in your Bible.
In chapters 1-2, we will read about the genealogy and birth of this great King.
In chapter 3, we see the King’s herald and forerunner.
In chapters 4-18, we find the King’s public life of service, mostly in Galilee.
In chapters 19-20, the King goes from Galilee to Jerusalem, the City of the great King.
In chapters 21-27, He is in Jerusalem as the rejected King, condemned and put to death.
In chapter 28, He rises from the dead and appears to His followers. The reader may find it helpful to mark the King’s journeys on a map. See if your Bible has a good map in the back. As you read through Matthew find each place, He visited and draws lines from place to place. You may want to draw a larger map of your own to keep the lines separate as He went back and forth. You will notice that most of the time was spent in Galilee, until chapter 21. We will see why later on.
LESSON 1: THE BIRTH OF THE KING
A king must have royal ancestors to have right to the throne. There must be a record of his family lineage. So Matthew introduces Jesus Christ as a descendant of King David and of Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish people. He was the first one to receive a direct promise from God that the coming Deliverer would be from his family, Genesis 22.18. King David, Israel’s greatest king, was the last one to receive such a promise, 1 Chronicles 17.11-14. Jesus is the New Testament name for the combination of two Old Testament names meaning Jehovah the Saviour, or, The Salvation of the Lord. The name Christ in the New Testament and Messiah in the Old Testament both mean the Anointed One. In Old Testament times the prophets, priests and kings in Israel were anointed with oil. That is, oil was poured on them as a sign of special office. So this name tells us that Jesus is God’s anointed and appointed King and Saviour. We are going to see how Matthew presents Him in this special way. In Matthew 1:2-17 the ancestors of Jesus Christ are traced from Abraham through David to Joseph and Mary the mother of Jesus. This is divided into three parts of Israel’s history and each part includes 14 persons. This was probably done as an easy way to remember the genealogy:
1. From Abraham to King David, verses 1-6
3. From Exile, (King Jeconiah) to Jesus Christ, verses 12-16.
If you trace the Old Testament, history of the kings you will find three that were omitted here (Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah). This probably was because of their connection with the wicked king Ahab and Jezebel. But the interesting thing to note here is that four women are listed in this genealogy. Usually this was not done by Jewish recorders, but the Holy Spirit directed Matthew to mention them here: Tamar, verse 3; Rahab, verse 5; Bathsheba, wife of Uriah, verse 5; Ruth, verse 6. All of them tell us about the grace of God. Each is linked with sin: Tamar reminds us of the sin of Judah, Genesis 38; Rahab was a prostitute, Joshua 6; Ruth suffered because of Naomi’s and Elimelech’s disobedience, Ruth 1; and Bathsheba was linked with king David’s sin in 2 Samuel 11. But each woman was listed with the ancestors of our Lord Jesus by the great grace of God. “Where sin abounded God’s grace has abounded much more,” Romans 5.20. It is the same wonderful grace of God that places us, as unworthy sinners, in HIS family when we receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour, by faith. Are you in HIS family? Some readers may wonder why Matthew’s genealogy is different from Luke’s. Very briefly, we would mention that Matthew presents Jesus as King, so he traces His ancestors through king David via Solomon for the line of royal title down to Joseph. Luke traces Mary’s ancestors through king David’s son Nathan, Luke 3.31. Luke goes right back to Adam because he presents Jesus as the Son of Man. Matthew presents Jesus as Israel’s king back through David to Abraham. So in this way Matthew introduces the King to Israel and to the world. He gives us proof that Jesus is great David’s greater Son with every right to the throne of Israel.
THE ROYAL BIRTH, MATTHEW 1.18-25
Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was engaged to be married to Mary. This engagement was as binding as marriage itself regarding purity and loyalty. Joseph was a man who did what was right, and Mary was a virgin. So it must have been a shock to him to learn that Mary was pregnant before they were actually living together. What should he do? The Jewish law was clear that if he exposed her publicly as a wicked, unfaithful girl, she should be put to death, Deuteronomy 22.22-24. But he could privately give her a paper of divorce and break the engagement-marriage legally, Deuteronomy 24.1. No doubt, his heart was heavy as he thought about this during the night. But an angel appeared to him in a dream and explained what had happened. Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit of God. The new baby was to be more than just a man; He was the Son of God, Luke 1.35. Joseph was also told what name to give the baby JESUS. And the reason for that name: He will save His people from their sins. How happy Joseph must have felt! The long-promised Saviour was coming, and to live in his home! The Old Testament promise was being fulfilled after all those centuries! Now we find the first “identity picture” from the Old Testament. Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7. Find the verse where Isaiah foretold that a virgin, an unmarried young woman, would give birth to a son and name him Immanuel (which means: God with us). Also, find two verses in Isaiah 8, which tell about Immanuel, God with us. So now, Joseph understood God’s wonderful Secret, 1 Timothy 3.16. It was necessary that Jesus be born of the virgin. If Joseph were the blood-father of Jesus, He would have been born a sinner just like all of us. Then He could never be our Saviour. He would have to die for His own sins. But God’s plans were perfect. Joseph was told to take Mary home as his wife. He was to accept the legal responsibility for the child. And this is what Joseph did, verse 24. When the baby was born Joseph, His legal guardian, gave Him that precious name - JESUS.
Jesus, oh how sweet the Name;
Jesus, let all earth proclaim
His worthy praise forever!
And the other name of the King is Immanuel, God with us. Who can understand the wonder of it all? The great Creator of the universe came down to live among mankind, John 1.3, 14. He came to seek and save lost sinners, Luke 19.10. He came to save us from our sins. Praise His Name!
CHAPTER 2: THE ROYAL CHILD
Verse 1. Matthew now tells us that Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea, which was about 5 miles (7 kilometres) south of Jerusalem. It was during the reign of King Herod the Great. Herod had been appointed king of Judea by the Emperor of Rome. But to most Jews he was a foreigner who had no claim to the throne. Actually, he was an Edomite that is a descendant of Esau who sold his birthright, Genesis 25.29-34. The real throne of David was empty. The nation of Israel should have been expecting their true King at any time. But they were not.
Verse 2. But some other people were looking for Him. Somewhere to the east of Judea there were some men called Magi or wise men. They were men who studied the stars. They may have been high-ranking officials in their country. (Compare Jeremiah 39.3, 13 where this title occurs in some old Bibles). We do not know for sure where their home was, but they must have been very important men, and wealthy. Best of all they were looking for a Child who had been born King of the Jews. So they came to Jerusalem, the capital city, where they would expect to find Him. They asked, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” They had seen His star back home in the east country and they came to worship Him. This star may have been a special star or comet sent by God at just the right time to signal the birth of the great King. (God is perfectly able to do such a miracle!) God gave this “sign” in order to cause those Wise Men to leave home in search for the new King. They probably travelled at least four months or longer to Jerusalem, see Ezra 7.9. Why did they call the star “His star”? They were not Jews but they may have heard about the verse in Numbers 24.17, which had foretold a Star arising out of Jacob (Israel).
Verse 3 tells us that these visitors caused people in Jerusalem to be greatly upset, especially Herod. He knew about the Jewish belief that a Messiah was promised. He did not like the idea of some other king taking over his territory.
Verse 4.So he called together the religious rulers of the people, the chief priests and scribes (teachers of the law). These men would surely be able to tell where the promised King was to be born. Yes, they could and did so right away. And here is another “identity picture” from the Old Testament. It is found in Micah 5.2. (Look it up and mark it in your Bible).
Verse 5 and 6. “In Bethlehem” was the answer. Compare Matthew 2.1. Bethlehem means “the house of bread.” It is where the Bread from Heaven, our Lord Jesus, came down to bring life and satisfaction to hungry, needy men and women. See John 6.33-51.
Verse 7 and 8. Herod then called the Wise Men for a secret, private meeting. He asked them exactly when they had seen the star. Then he told them to go to Bethlehem, search carefully for that child and report back to him so he could also worship Him. Of course, he did not really intend to worship Him; he hated Him and wanted to kill Him. So the new King had enemies already. Herod’s hatred was more than mere human hatred. Behind Herod moved “enemy number one,” Satan, the devil himself, the old serpent, the great dragon. We read about him in Revelation 12.1-9. There it is explained how Satan tried to destroy the new King as soon as He came to earth. Back in the Old Testament, he had tried various ways to destroy the royal line and prevent Christ’s coming to earth. And during Christ’s life on earth Satan attempted to kill Him before His time, for example, see Luke 4.28-30. Do you know of any other such times? (* See Footnote)
Verse 9. Of course, the Wise Men knew nothing about Herod’s plans. They hurried on their way and were overjoyed to see “the star” again, low over Bethlehem, right by the house where the Child was. Their long search was ended.
Verse 10 and 11. What a thrill filled their hearts as they saw the Child! What was their response? They bowed down before Him. They offered gifts to Him. He was only a Child—but they recognized Him: a King. He was only a few months old—yet they knew He was from Eternity (see Micah 5.2 again). He was a “human” baby—but they worshiped Him as God. *Footnote: The serious Bible student would be interested in looking at the following references, which we have no space to deal with here: Genesis 3.15; 4.1-8, 25; 6.1-2; 16.1-4; Exodus chapters 1-14. Compare Genesis 49.10 with 1 Samuel 23.14; 2 Samuel 7.12-13; 1 Kings 1.17; 2 Kings 11.1-3; 12.1. How could they recognize GOD in this little child? We can be sure the Holy Spirit had revealed it to them by that verse in Micah. The entrance of God’s Word gives light, Psalm 119.130. Their eyes were opened to behold the King Himself in that little form. So they at once opened their treasures and presented their offerings to Him. This is the same word as is used of offerings to God in Hebrews 5.1; 8.3-4; 9.9, and many other times. This Child was God Himself in human form. What a wonderful truth! No wonder they bowed and worshiped Him. Have you done so?
Their gifts were: Gold—this spoke of Christ’s Deity, Glory
Incense—fragrance, beauty of His Holiness
Myrrh—used in burying people; spoke of Death.
How touching! The Divine One, the Holy One, born a King, was also born to die—for you and me!
Verse 12. What a contrast between Herod, the hateful murderer, and these Wise Men, loving and worshiping! Herod planned to kill the innocent Child, but God had other plans. We now note four dreams in which the Angel of the Lord appeared—first to the Wise Men. They were warned not to return to Herod, so they obeyed and went home by another road.
Then in verse 13, Joseph is warned in a dream to leave Bethlehem at once and take the Child and His mother to Egypt for safety.
Verse 14 and 15. Joseph obeyed at once. Another “identity picture” is applied here - Hosea 11.1, Out of Egypt I called my Son. Out of Bethlehem came the promised Ruler. Out of Egypt came the Son of God. This is another witness to the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was only a child at this time but He was the Son of God all the time.
Verse 16 and 18. Herod became very angry when he found out that the Wise Men had tricked him. But it was really God who had spoiled. Herod’s plans. God was mocking him, Psalm 2.1-4. No hands could be laid on God’s Son until His hour would come, John 7.30. But wicked Herod ordered that all boys in Bethlehem area, under two years old, be killed. In this way, he thought he could kill this new King. It is sad to read how the broken-hearted mothers wailed and wept for their lost children. But even this was another “identity picture” referring to the coming of the King. It is found in Jeremiah 31.15. Matthew relates this to the present grief of these mothers. The tomb of Rachel was just about a mile (2 kilometres) north of Bethlehem. Matthew says this weeping was like the weeping of Rachel, the mother of Israel, weeping on behalf of her children as she looked over Bethlehem that sad day.
Verse 19 tells us that Herod died. God punished him for his great crime. The destroyer was destroyed himself. This reminds us that God is still on the Throne of the Universe. He notices every wrong, hears every cry, and counts every tear. He is going to punish every sinner sooner or later. Herod died. The wages of sin is death, Romans 6.23.
Verse 20-22. Once again the Lord spoke to Joseph in a second dream, “Go back home to Israel, it’s safe now.” So Joseph returned with the Child and His mother. Then in a third dream, He told him to go to the province of Galilee instead of Judea. So they settled in a little town called Nazareth. Here another “identity picture” is linked with Messiah’s experiences:
Verse 23. The prophet’s word was fulfilled, He will be called a Nazarene. Only in this case no specific Old Testament reference can be found which uses just those words. Nazareth was a place of bad reputation and was held in contempt by many, see John 1.46. For Jesus to be from Nazareth would be a rather shameful thing. This might remind us of verses like Isaiah 53.1-3. The Lord on earth was always humble. Some Bible teachers think Isaiah 11.1 is referred to, by the title Branch of the Lord. The Hebrew word there is Netzer meaning a twig or sprout in contrast to a mighty tree. (The word sounds like Nazarene.) Our Lord was born in a humble manger, Luke 2.16, in a humble town, Micah 5.2; and moved to despised, humble childhood in Nazareth. But in spite of all that, we must notice how very important this Child is in this chapter: HE was born a King, Matthew 2:2; HIS star, Matthew 2:2; Ruler and Shepherd, Matthew 2:6; search for THE child, worship HIM, Matthew 2:8; the place where the Child was, Matthew 2:9. Notice how HE is always mentioned before Mary: verses 11, 13-14, 20-21, They bowed down and worshiped HIM, verse 11; offered gifts to HIM, verse 11; searched for the Child, verse 13; called My Son, verse 15; the Child’s life, verse 20. Sixteen times, HE is preeminent.
MICROSOFT WORD FORMAT OF LESSON AND TEST FOR - LESSON 1 – (Click on the "Microsoft Word" word in blue to choose this option)
TEXT DOC OF TEST FOR - LESSON 1 - (Click on the "Text Doc" word in blue to choose this option)
TEST 1: MATTHEW CHAPTERS 1 and 2
Write the letter of the correct answer on the line on the right next to each statement.
1. To have the right to the throne a King must: .....................................
a. have a lot of money.
b. be a good soldier.
c. have royal ancestors.
2. The following were anointed with oil: .....................................
a. prophets, priests, Levites.
b. prophets, priests, kings.
c. prophets, Levites, kings.
3. The names Christ and Messiah both mean: .....................................
a. Holy One.
b. Anointed One.
c. Mighty One.
4. In Chapter 1, the ancestors of Jesus are traced from: .....................................
a. Abraham through David to Joseph.
b. Adam through David to Joseph.
c. Abraham through Moses to Joseph.
5. Jesus could not be the natural son of Joseph because: .....................................
a. He would be born poor.
b. He would be the son of a carpenter.
c. He would be born a sinner.
Write T for TRUE and F for FALSE after each of the following.
6. King Herod was a descendent of King David. TRUE ............. FALSE ................
7. The chief priests and scribes knew where the promised Messiah was to be born. TRUE ............. FALSE ................
8. Herod intended to worship the Christ child. TRUE ............. FALSE ................
9. Satan tried to prevent Christ's coming to Earth many times. TRUE ............. FALSE ................
10. Herod was pleased when the wise men did not return. TRUE ............. FALSE ................
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Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen