|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 19. Example Studies: Matthew, Ch.1
A sample of "Bible Alive" studies
This is a sample page of Bible Studies from chapter 1 of Matthew's Gospel, from the "Bible Alive" series. The opening studies in this particular set are somewhat unusual in that they suggest you do quite a lot of looking up verses in the old Testament if you are to get the most out of the study. However, if this is your first time at doing this level of study, then by all means, leave such looking up until some later time!
To see the origin of this series, please go back to the testimony page.
Matthew's Gospel, chapter 1
Bible Alive Studies : Rochford, Essex (c) 1997
Each of the Gospels has its own distinctive character. Matthew is the Gospel that appears to have been written for a Jewish audience with many references to the Old Testament prophecies showing Jesus as their coming Messiah.
Like Luke, it has details pertaining to Jesus' birth but from Joseph's viewpoint rather than Mary's. The author, or at least compiler, of this Gospel was probably Matthew, one of the twelve, an ex-tax collector, good at short hand note-taking and privy to the affairs of the twelve.
Our Approach to Matthew
Within Matthew there are six “discourses” or sections of pure teaching material, the best known being the “Sermon on the Mount” in chapters 5 to 7. This first set of studies will therefore cover the first four chapters running up to that Sermon. Because of the extensive material in Matthew there will be other sets of studies through Matthew in four chapter blocks.
What we will see in this set of Studies:
These first four chapters simply introduce us to the Son of God from the Jewish perspective, his family tree, the details surrounding his birth and early days, the arrival of John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, Jesus' baptism and temptation and the start of Jesus' ministry.
PART 1 : “According to Plan”
In this first Part we will see the genealogy (which most of us are tempted to miss!) that shows Jesus' place firmly established in history, Jesus' place according to human origins. This is then followed by a “semi-supernatural” narrative affecting Joseph which is shown by Matthew to be entirely in keeping with God's divinely stated plan.
The message to us from this first chapter must be that Jesus came with a combination of human and divine factors, God in human form, entirely in accordance with God's decreed plan as found in the Old Testament. There is no accident in anything to do with the coming of Jesus, it is all in God's sovereign purpose.
Study No.1 : A Faulty Family Tree? : Mt 1:1-6
A. Find Out:
1. To whom is Jesus first linked? v.1
2. How far back does the genealogy go? v.2
3. How many women are mentioned? v.3,5,6
4. How is David described? v.6
1. Why should a genealogy of the Son of God be included and important?
2. What do you think is the significance of Abraham and David being included in Jesus' family tree?
We may be tempted to write off genealogies but we need to remember that ALL Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16 ). Jewish writers (Old Testament especially) weren't concerned to ensure that every person in the family tree were included, only that the flow of the tree was clear.
Jesus is referred to as the son of the greatest king of Israel , David, and son of Abraham, the man of faith, the father of the Jewish race. Matthew identifies Jesus' family with a Jewish royal line, and the line that goes back to the father of the race. Jesus' home is within the race chosen and raised and blessed by God.
Next observe the women, who are important to God, who are included in this traditionally male family tree. There was Tamar (v.3) who brought about her pregnancy to continue the family tree through strange ways (see Genesis 38), Rahab, a Gentile prostitute who, by faith, earned her place with Israel (see Joshua 2), Ruth, a Gentile who married into the Israelite fold and remained in faith (see book of Ruth), and Uriah's wife stolen by David (see 2 Samuel 11 & 12), a reminder of the shame of man and grace of God.
Each of these women tell us something about the God of grace and mercy, who sent His Son to save sinners. This is either a tree of shame....... or grace!
1. People are important to God. His Son came in the form of a person.
2. All humanity is imperfect, but God comes to redeem who He will.
WE RECOMMEND YOU ONLY DO ONE STUDY A DAY TO ENSURE YOU REALLY TAKE IN THE BIBLE.
Study No.2 : Good Kings before Exile? : Mt 1:7-11
A. Find Out:
Look up the following verses and check which of these kings were “good” kings: 1 Kings 11:4-9, 14:21-24, 15:1-3, 15:11, 2 Chron 17:3, 19:1-3, 20:35, 21:4-7, 26:3-5,16, 27:1,2, 28:1-5, 29:1,2, 31:20,21, 33:1-17, 33:21-23, 34:1,2, 36:9
1. If these kings were representative of mankind, what do they teach us?
2. Why do you think they are shown by Matthew in this family tree?
Yet again, and perhaps even more so, our temptation might be to write off these verses in Scripture and we need to remind ourselves yet again that ALL Scripture is inspired etc. (2 Timothy 3:16). What do a bunch of kings teach us? Well you really must look up the verses above to get a feel for this, so if you haven't done that, please DO go back and look them up. What do we find?
First , this IS a family tree where son follows father and so humanly speaking the family can be traced right back to king David. Jesus was again and again called the son of David.
Second , this is a tree of failure: the vast majority of these kings failed in their spiritual and moral leadership of the nation. (You need to look at the table that follows below). Even kings who started off well, failed in later life. Yet this is the family tree that is associated with the coming of the Son of God. This is the family into which God placed divine seed so that with a human egg, a divinely human being would come forth, the Son of God.
Israel knew great glory in the reigns of both David and Solomon and yet both of them failed the Lord. Yet He is not ashamed to be associated with them! May we hear the same message again: God is a God of redemption who comes to sinners to redeem them.
1. All men sin and fall short of the glory of God.
2. Yet God comes and lives in the midst of fallen mankind to redeem it. He comes to redeem you and me. We need it!
SPECIAL NOTE : KINGS OF JUDAH
In Matthew 1:7-11 we read of the kings of Judah who followed from David up to the exile. The following is what Scripture says of them:
* = not mentioned in Matthew's listing
Read this list and pray and worship God!
Study No.3 : The Essential Fathers : Mt 1:12-17
A. Find Out:
1. From where does this part start? v.12
2. Read Haggai 1:1 Who was Zerubbabel?
3. With whom does the tree finish? v.16
4. Compare Luke 3:23-27
5. What three phases does Matthew see? v.17
1. What clue in these verses indicates Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus?
2. If that was so, why might this family tree be so important?
3. Why, within this, should the inter-testament period be so important?
C. Comment :
Let's deal with the difficulty first: why is Matthew's family tree different from Luke's? Well first of all Matthew finishes with Joseph while Luke starts with words that could indicate that his tree isn't Joseph's but perhaps Mary's instead. Second, as we have previously noted, Matthew like many Old Testament writers isn't concerned to include every person, just those significant people providing the link. Third, the word “generation” can quite possibly mean “period” which can include more than one person. Matthew is simply saying there are three ordered, significant periods of history in the family tree.
Now why would Matthew bother with this form of tree anyway? Well, often in Jesus' ministry the Jews sneered at him and said “You can't be the Messiah because you don't come from a royal family!” Matthew seeks to show that Jesus' family name was a good name with a royal pedigree. The post exile period links the royal dynasty to Joseph and thus gives Jesus a royal family title.
Now who are all of these unknown men, men mostly not referred to elsewhere in Scripture? Just ordinary individuals, but they are each significant, as they tie Jesus to the royal family.
1. Each person is significant in some way in God's plans.
2. I may be unknown to most but I'm known and important to God!
Study No.4 : Joseph's Dilemma & Dream : Mt 1:18-21
A. Find Out:
1. What was Mary & Joseph's relationship? v.18a
2. How did she come to be pregnant? v.18b, 20b
3. What sort of person was Joseph? v.19a
4. So what did he decide to do? v.19b
5. What happened to change his mind? v.20
6. Why was the son to be named Jesus? v.21
B. Think :
1. Why did Joseph want to divorce Mary?
2. How does that indicate a virgin-birth?
3. What else in this passage indicates that?
We now move from the family tree background to Matthew's account of what happened prior to the birth of Jesus, particularly as it affected Joseph. From the Jewish viewpoint, men were the more important and so Matthew deals with Joseph's side of the story.
First he establishes that Joseph is NOT the father of Jesus. In fact when Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant, he believes there must be another man involved and decides to quietly divorce her (when a couple were betrothed there was already a legal tie).
Second, Matthew establishes that there was NO other man involved! A divine messenger tells Joseph that it is the Holy Spirit who has produced a miracle within Mary. No man was involved.
Third, Matthew establishes that the son to be born is to be special and his name, Jesus (a fairly common one in those days), was to have significance. Jesus, or its other form, Joshua (or Jeshua), means deliverer, and the angel tells Joseph that this child will in fact deliver people from their sins. From the outset this child is set apart as different! Different in the way he was conceived and different in respect of his purpose in life, and not because Matthew thinks that was how it ought to be, but because that was how God had revealed it to Joseph.D. Application:
1. Jesus' arrival on earth was by supernatural means.
2. He is worthy of our worship, for His is the Son of God.
Study No.5 : According to Plan : Mt 1:22-25
A. Find Out
1. Why was this happening? v.22
2. Who had he said would give birth to what? v.23a
3. What was he to be called and what did it mean? v.23b
4. What did Joseph do when he woke up? v.24
5. Yet what didn't he do? v.25
1. What is the significance of what is happening according to Matthew?
2. What does Joseph obviously feel about his dream?
3. What is the significance of the prophetic name to be given?
Joseph has been dreaming and has seen the angel come and speak to him to tell him what is happening is of God, so this is the first indication of divine intervention. However, says Matthew, all that was happening was exactly in accordance with what God had already declared through the prophet Isaiah centuries before.
Again and again in the Old Testament, we find the heart and purpose of God breaking through, as the prophets caught something of it (see the studies in the series “Messiah in Isaiah”). Isaiah had prophesied that a young woman, almost certainly an unmarried young woman, a virgin, would have a child who would be a son and she would call him Immanuel, as an indication of her belief that God was with them.
When Joseph wakes up he responds to the dream and does not proceed with his prior intention to divorce
Mary. Note here therefore, the faith of two men: first of Joseph who simply believes what he has dreamt and proceeds on the basis of what he has heard, and second, Matthew as he applies the Isaiah prophecy to what is happening. For him it is obvious that this was simply the fulfilment of what God had already said. Both these two men are examples to us of simple faith that responds to the simple revelation of God.
1. When God speaks, through whatever form, do I hear and accept it as His word and respond to it?
2. God is with us! That is the most wonderful news. Rejoice in it!
RECAP No.1: "According to Plan" : Matthew, chapter 1
In this first group of 5 studies we have seen :
- the genealogy of Jesus, that shows us:
- its origins in Abraham, the father of faith
- David, the man after God's own heart
- various women demonstrating the grace of God
- kings who failed, further showing the grace of God
- a number of “unknowns” - all are important
- the preparation of Joseph by God:
- his intention to divorce Mary
- the angel coming in a dream
- the revelation about Mary and her son
- Joseph's response to God's revelation
This is a chapter laden with the grace of God. This is all about God coming to fallen mankind. When we
meditate on the family tree, there can be no doubt about our need. We NEED a Saviour!
1. People are important to God
2. People are sinners but God comes to redeem them3. God is a God of the supernatural & we need to believe it
4. God speaks to us & we need to learn to hear Him
5. God wants a people who will respond when He speaks
Thank the Lord for the wonder of His grace that comes to us sinners, not with the intention of destroying us but of delivering us.
PART 2 : "Divine Directions"
In this next Part, where we see much that is familiar through the Christmas story, watch for the amazing way that God brings guidance to ensure the protection of Jesus, the tiny baby. There is also a variety of people to be watched here: Joseph with his simple faith, the wise men with their simple faith, and Herod with his evil malice and jealousy. Watch! Faith triumphs over evil!