The King is Here

EasyEnglish Study Unit 1 (Level B) on the Gospel (Good News) of Matthew 1-4

www.easyenglish.info

Stephen Dray

translation into EasyEnglish by Mary Read

(Based on the Crossway Bible Guide, used by permission of Crossway Books, Leicester, LE1 7GP, England.)

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

WYCLIFFE ASSOCIATES (UK)

EasyEnglish Ó TRANSLATION (Level B)... Mary Read

LINGUISTIC CHECKER... Sue Hunter

 

MATTHEW

Crossway Bible Guide

BY

Stephen Dray

 (Used By Permission of Crossway Books

Leicester LE1 7GP, England.)

A Study of the Gospel (Good News) of Matthew

For personal study,
and for study by a group.

DISCOVER MATTHEW

By Stephen Dray

LIST OF CONTENTS

How to use this Bible guide

The structure of this Bible guide

Introduction to Matthew

A Study of each chapter of the book

(Note:  Each Section will be in a box, so that you can easily find a particular passage.
It will look like this: Matthew 1:1–17 .)

NOTES:

There is a Word List at the end of this book.

This gives the meanings of difficult words.

These words have a star like *this in front of them in the text.

There may be other words that you do not understand.

If so, please tell us.

*OT means Old Testament. It is the first part of our Bible.

*NT means New Testament. It is the second part of our Bible.

In the Bible, verses are the divisions of a chapter.

How to use this Bible Guide

This Guide is for personal Bible study. The studies are short. This makes them ideal for daily use. You may prefer a longer time of study. If so, you could use groups of 3 to 5 studies. This would give you a better idea about a longer Bible passage. You may not want to use them all. If so, you can choose from the ‘4 other ways’ at the end of this book. Regular study is vital, whatever method you choose.

This Guide is for the leaders and members of small groups.

This guide is for teachers of the Bible too. It gives ideas for talks. Its advice will help in preparation too. The teacher can use it for adults and children.

1. Personal Bible Study

·          Read the text several times. If it is possible, use more than one translation.

·          Think about what you have read.

·          Write down your own thoughts about the passage.

·          Look at any other notes that are available to you.

·          Use the notes in this book. Read all the Bible references too.

·          Answer the questions that are at the end of each section. They have a purpose. It is to help you to use the passage in your own situation.

·          End with prayer. This is a good habit. Pray about the things that you have learned.

Note: This kind of study may be too hard for you. Or, you may only have a short time to spare. Here is an idea for you too. Read the Bible passage. Read the notes in the Bible Guide. Think about one of the questions. Then, pray about what you have learned. This method would take about 15 minutes.

2. Bible Study in a Group

Get Help

You may not have led a group before. But you may know of somebody who has. If so, you should ask for advice. There are books about the subject too. You may not have any other help available to you. But do not worry. Just ask for the help of God’s Holy Spirit.

Use your Bible Guide to plan a programme

This Guide explains the book of Matthew. It should help members of a group to benefit from their studies. It is not ideal to divide God’s Word into small parts. The authors did not intend this to happen. But it can be hard to benefit from long passages. So, this Guide uses smaller sections.

You may have a series of meetings to lead. You may decide to give the members just an impression of Matthew. If so, you should select studies. They must be suitable for each meeting. First, read and study them yourself. Then prepare a brief statement of the studies. Give a copy to each member, if you can.

Do not try to do more than one study in a meeting. Choose the most important study. Choose the one that makes the message clearest.

You may not intend to study the whole book. If so, choose a series of studies that will suit the number of meetings. It is better to use studies that follow each other. Then you will understand the whole section. You could do something else. Choose one of the ‘4 other ways to study Matthew’. You will find them at the end of this book.

Prepare to lead

 If you wait until you are the perfect leader, you will never start. The vital parts of preparation are:

►        Pray. This is not just in words. It is an attitude too. You are putting your trust in God. ‘*Lord, I cannot manage to lead this meeting by myself.’

►        Know the passage that you are going to study. This means that you must read the text carefully. Read it several times, so that you are familiar with it. Then, read this Bible Guide study. If any other books are available to you, read them too.

►        Have a clear idea of your aim for the meeting. Make notes on how you will start the meeting. Perhaps you could repeat the lessons of the previous time. Suggest your ideas for the present study. But, never force the group to give the answers that you want. Listen to their ideas.

Things that the leader of a group should do:

Pray about the meeting.

Decide what you want to achieve in the meeting.

Prepare the information.

Be sure about the questions to use. They should encourage good group discussion.

Encourage silent members. (You must do this in a gentle way.)

Stop other members from talking too much. (Again, you must do this in a gentle way.)

You will not know all the answers. Do not pretend that you know everything.

Listen to the members of the group. And value what they say.

Some people think that they are always right. You may tend to be like this. But it is not good. Here is something to remind you. Say to yourself: ‘I will not force my ideas on the group.’

Have several ideas for prayer. (They must be of common interest to the group.)

You should study the Bible so that you can use it in your daily lives. (You should not just make it agree with your own ideas.)

Find means for action and change in your lives. (You are not just having a nice talk.)

You should all enjoy the experience together.

3. What we can expect to learn from Matthew’s *Gospel:

·          The *OT tells us about many hopes. It describes many things that people could expect. And Jesus is the answer to them all.

·          Jesus is the *Messiah. He is God who became man. He shows this by the authority of his teaching. He shows it by the nature of his *miracles too.

·          The stories about Jesus are facts of history. Matthew was recording the truth.

·          Jesus teaches about various subjects. There is the *Kingdom of God. He tells what Christians should be like too. Also, there are specific matters. There is the matter of divorce. There is the subject of remarriage too.

·          Jesus is the hope of the world. Matthew shows how the Good News is for everyone.

The structure of this Bible Guide

 

This guide has separate sections. They should make things easier to understand.

First section

 

This is the main section. It gives the meaning of the passage.

Every study has this section at the beginning. It describes the passage in the fewest possible words.

The second main section is:

Questions

 

 

Every passage has special questions. They are for personal study and for study by a group. They come after the main section. Some questions are for each person. Some of the questions can be helpful for the whole group. It could be a group in your church or in a home. Other questions affect us as members of God’s people all over the world. There are three main purposes for the questions. They are:

►        to help people to think about the passage.

►        to show them how to use the text in ‘real life’ situations.

►        to encourage them to think, discuss and act!

As leader of a group, you may think of other questions. These may be better for your group. So, note them in your time of preparation.

More explanation

 

 

Some passages need more explanation. This section will help you to understand them. It gives extra information. This explains the facts in the passage. Here is one example in Matthew. We read about the *Pharisees. We can learn more about them. Then we will understand their reactions to Jesus. It is a technical section.

Important truths

 

 

This section gives more details. Not every passage has it. It is for passages that have important subjects. Or they may have important teaching. These truths need more study. There is a reason for this. It will help us to become mature Christians. This is a technical section too.

Introduction to Matthew’s *Gospel

The writer of the book of Matthew

We cannot be sure who wrote the book. There is nothing in it to identify the author. But, the first traditions of the church all agree. A *disciple of Jesus wrote it. His name is in Matthew 9:9. The words of the *Gospel seem to agree with this. It is what we would expect a *Jew to write. Matthew (Levi) respected authority. He was sure that Jesus Christ was King. So, the tradition is probably right. This book assumes that Matthew is the author.

[Note: A *Jew is a person from the *Jewish nation. God chose the *Jews to be his special people. (Read Deuteronomy 7:6–8.) Our *OT (the first part of the Bible) tells their history. Their language is Hebrew. Jesus was a *Jew.]

When the author wrote the *Gospel

The author says nothing about the date. Tradition said that it was the first one of the 4 *Gospels. (This is why it is at the beginning of the *NT.) But, between 1800 and 1900, opinions changed. People thought that Mark was the first *Gospel. Matthew seemed to depend on Mark for information. Some things in Matthew seemed to be available to Mark only. So, the usual date that people give for Matthew is between *AD 70 and AD 79.

But there is a problem with these dates. People found first copies of parts of the *NT. These have much earlier dates. Then, in *AD 70, the enemy destroyed the city of Jerusalem. Surely, Matthew would have referred to this event. So, it is possible that he wrote the *Gospel in *AD 45. Or, it could have been soon after that date.

If that is true, Matthew wrote his book soon after the events. So, the author is describing events that he would remember clearly. This would be true about his readers, too. All of this would show that Matthew was writing the truth. The events actually happened. They are a part of history.

The reason that the author wrote the *Gospel

He probably wrote the book to *Jews. He wanted to convince them that Jesus was the *Messiah. A careful study of the *Gospel will show this. Some of these facts are:

·    He shows the family of Jesus. It was the same as the family of the *Jews.

·    He claims that the *OT gave facts about Jesus’ birth. They were facts about the *Messiah.

·    He has an interest in the *Law.

·    He tells about other *Jewish customs. (One example is in Matthew 15:1–9.)

These things all suggest something. It is this. The author wrote the *Gospel especially for *Jews. Of course, he insisted that it was for all nations too. (Read 28:16–20.) But, he was still showing that God chose the *Jews first. They were his special people. They would bring God’s good things to the nations. (Read Genesis 12:1–3.)

So, we can believe that Matthew wrote to *Jews. He wanted them to know that Jesus is the *Messiah. Jesus would save them from the results of their *sins. He would rescue them from the power of that *sin in their lives.


Matthew 1:1–17

It is true! God saves.

 

The stories about Jesus in the *Gospels are true. They really happened. They tell us how God completed his plan. His plan was to save men and women. He wanted to save them from the power and the results of their *sin.

 

Matthew wrote the first book of the *NT. His job was to collect taxes. He became one of Jesus’ best friends. (Read Matthew 9:9–13. Then read Mark 2:13–17 and Luke 5:27–32.)

Matthew was writing down what actually happened. He wanted his readers to understand this. Look at the first words of his book. They seem to just tell Jesus’ family history. But it is probably more than this. Matthew was introducing the whole book. He was saying, ‘This book gives the history of Jesus Christ.’

Many of us know the name ‘Jesus Christ’ very well. So, we miss something. It is that ‘Christ’ was not just a name. The name described his job. God chose him for a special purpose. The word comes from a *Greek word ‘christos’. This is a translation of the *Hebrew word ‘meshiah’. To a *Jew, this meant the one who would save them.

The *OT is full of promises about the *Messiah who would come. *Jews in Matthew’s time knew about the *Messiah. The *Romans had been their rulers for many years. *Jews hoped that the ‘Christ’ would save them from the power of the *Romans.

The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘he will certainly save’. (Read 1:21.) *Jews expected the Christ to have the name of Jesus. So, many mothers gave this name to their sons. They hoped that their child would be the *Messiah. This Jesus was the son of Mary. Matthew believed that he was the Christ.

But, Jesus came to save the *Jews from much more than the *Romans. He came to save them from the results and power of their *sin (verse 21). He came to establish a *kingdom. His *kingdom would be much greater than any other one.

Read Genesis 22:18 and 2 Samuel 7:16. The *Jews knew these passages. They are about the *Messiah (Christ) who would come. He would save them. The *Jews would know him when he came. They were sure about this. Christ would come from the families of both Abraham and David. These two men were the greatest *Jews who had ever lived. Matthew tells us that this was true about Jesus. He was ‘the son of David’. He was ‘the son of Abraham’.

The beginnings of families

People want to discover who their past family members were. The word for them is ‘ancestors’. Today, there is much interest in this subject. In many parts of the world, it has always been vital. This was true about the *Jews. They kept careful records. Either the oldest members of the family would remember. Or, they would write down the names. Matthew was writing especially to *Jews. So, it was important to give proof. He must show that his claims about Jesus were true.

Matthew began his book with a list of names. He divided it into three sections. Each section has 14 names.

The first section begins with Abraham. He was the first man to have a promise like this from God. The promise was that God would send someone special. This person would be from Abraham’s family. He would come to save people. (Read Genesis 12:1–3.)

The first section ends with David. He was the *Jews’ greatest king (1:2–6a). So, Matthew showed the human part of God’s promise. David was the greatest member of Abraham’s family. This was true until the time when Matthew lived. But, after David had died, his *kingdom divided. It became two separate parts. Then, it stopped being a great *kingdom. But God gave greater promises to David. (Read 2 Samuel 7.) The person who would save them would be greater than David.

The second section continues with David’s family. It ends at the time of the *exile.

Then there is the third section. This deals with the years from the *exile to the birth of Jesus Christ. (This is in 1:12–17.) Some people claimed to be the *Messiah. This happened even before the time of Matthew. But there was nobody who could convince the people. Then, Jesus came. Matthew shows that Jesus is the *Messiah. All of God’s promises in the *OT come true in him.

Questions

 

1.Some people say that the stories about Jesus just contain truth. This religious truth is what matters. It is not important whether they actually happened. What would you say to these people?

2. What is the most important thing to tell non-Christians? What does your church group think? Matthew emphasised that ‘God saves’. Do you agree with him?

3. Jesus will establish a *kingdom one day. Do you concentrate on this fact? Or, do you care more about what you can get from him now? Discuss your ideas with the group.

Matthew 1:18–25

God became human for us

 

Jesus was God. He was also completely human. The story of his birth showed how this could be true.

 

God promised to send the Christ (*Messiah). Jesus is the Christ. Matthew has told us this. He has shown us that Jesus had the right family. He was the son of Abraham. He was the son of David too. Now we want the story to begin!

Matthew did not tell us all the facts about Jesus’ birth. But we can be sure about two great facts. He told us enough for this. First, a virgin gave birth to Jesus. (Note: A virgin is someone who has never had sex.) Second, Jesus’ strange birth was special. It had special meaning.

Joseph and Mary had agreed to marry. This agreement would be for a year. Then there would be the marriage. (Read more about this at the end of this section.) It was during this year that Joseph found out about something. Mary was going to have a baby. Of course, he thought that she must have had sex with another man.

God’s law demanded action. Joseph wanted to give honour to God in his life. But, he did not act before he had thought about it. Then, he had a very clear dream. He knew that it was from God. An *angel brought a message to Joseph. It was hard to believe it. Mary was going to have a child. But she had not had sex with another man. She was still a virgin! Her child belonged to God in a special way. He was from the Holy Spirit. This was exactly what God had said would happen. The *angel reminded Joseph about this. Joseph was familiar with the *OT. So, he would know the words from Isaiah 7:14.

Joseph acted very bravely. He obeyed God’s message. He married Mary. Probably, some people laughed at him. They would think that there had been sex before marriage. Some friends would know that he would not do this. They might think that he was not obeying God’s laws. Other people might accuse Mary. They might say that she was a wicked woman. They might say that she would have sex with any man for money! It is not always easy to obey God!

Matthew explained why this strange event happened. God became a man. He did this to ‘save his people from their *sins’ (verse 21). Men and women can do many good things. But all people have bad habits. The bad habits come from *sin. All of the *OT and all of human history show us this. Men and women are unable to help themselves. This is very sad. People need someone who will rescue them. The Bible teaches something more. People are *sinners. They are against God. In the end, God must punish them.

So, in these verses, Matthew suggested a truth. He would explain more about it later.

Questions

 

1. God called Joseph to do a very brave thing. Is there any part of your life where you are like Joseph? What could you learn from this passage to encourage you?

2. Christians believe that Mary was a virgin. (She had not had sex with any man.) They teach that it is true. Why do you think that this is important? (The *NT only mentions the special birth clearly twice.)

3. We live in a world where people often suffer. They are often sad. What message does this passage give your church to declare? What does it suggest that your church could do about it?

More explanation

 

Customs of *Jewish marriage

There were three periods to a *Jewish marriage. First, there was the ‘engagement’. This was often while the couple were still children. The parents would use someone else to arrange it. This still happens today in many places. The couple might not even see each other. Marriage was a serious matter. You could not trust the emotions of young people.

The second period was the ‘betrothal’. This was an official agreement. It was between the two young people. It meant that the engagement should continue. Up to this time, it could end. After the betrothal, they could not end the agreement. It lasted one year. During this time, people spoke to them as if they were man and wife. But they did not live together. Divorce was the only way to end it. Joseph and Mary were in this period when we first hear about them. The marriage was at the end of the year of betrothal.

Joseph was a good man. This meant that he obeyed God’s *Law. Some laws spoke about women who had sex with many men. There should be a public meeting about the matter. Then there should be a divorce. (Read Deuteronomy 22:23–29.) By the time of Joseph and Mary, the *Jews did not kill people for this *sin. But, there was another way to deal with it. The *Law seemed to allow a ‘secret’ divorce. (Read Deuteronomy 24:1–2.) Joseph was a kind man. So, he decided to have this kind of divorce. That would mean that Mary’s shame would not be so bad.

Important truths

 

Birth by a virgin (someone who has never had sex)

Matthew told how a virgin gave birth. People often doubt his account. Even some important teachers of the *OT have questions about it. In verse 23, Matthew repeated Isaiah 7:14. He used the word ‘virgin’. These teachers say that Isaiah’s word just means ‘young woman’. (The Hebrew word is ‘alma’.) ‘Alma’ is the closest word to ‘virgin’ in Hebrew. (Note: Hebrew is the *Jews’ language.) It does not necessarily mean someone who has never had sex. But it does seem to suggest a virgin. It comes from a word that means ‘secret’. In fact, the *OT never uses the word ‘alma’ about a married person.

There is another explanation. Isaiah may be referring to an event that would happen soon. But he could have been pointing to a much greater event too. Matthew would be writing about the greater event. Whatever Isaiah meant, we can be sure about one thing. It is this. We know that the Bible is true. *NT writers never changed the meaning of the *OT.

Matthew 2:1–12

A royal priest

 

The wise men (‘Magi’) visited Jesus. This visit showed three things about Jesus. He is a king. He is a priest. He is God himself. It suggested something else too. He would suffer greatly because he always obeyed God.

 

Matthew did not tell us about Jesus’ birth. He had a main interest. He wanted to explain why it was important. He did this by describing some strange events. They happened after Jesus’ birth.

Jesus’ birth was exactly as the *OT had said that it would be. The *prophet Micah lived more than 800 years before Jesus. Micah had promised that a great ruler would come. His birth would be in Lesser Bethlehem. (Lesser means less important.) This was the place where David was born. (Read Micah 5:2.) The people knew that it would be after the time of the *exile. But, nobody had come. So, the people were still waiting (verses 4–5). But this small village was exactly where Jesus was born!

Matthew recorded the gifts that the Magi (wise men) brought. So, he must have thought that the gifts were important. He believed that each one shows us something special.

►        Gold shows us about royal things. This is true even today. But, in the *OT, it was also a sign that something was holy. There was a lot of gold in the *temple. (Read 1 Kings 6:20–22.)

►        Frankincense is a perfume. (This is a substance with its own special good smell.) People used it in ancient times. *Jewish priests used it in the *Temple. It was one of their duties. In *OT times, their main duty was to bring gifts to God for the people. Usually, the gifts were perfect animals. The animal died instead of the person who brought it. It was as if the people were paying a price to God. The payment was for their *sin. The people knew that they deserved God’s punishment.

►        Myrrh was another perfume. (This is a substance with its own special good smell.) In Bible times, people used it to reduce pain. They used it when they buried people too. It helped to make the funeral less awful. In the *OT, myrrh was also a sign that people were loyal to God.

Matthew believed that these gifts were signs. They showed the fact that Jesus was a holy king. He obeyed God. Because he served God, he would suffer and die.

Perhaps Matthew wanted us to think about something else too. People had different reactions to the news about Jesus’ birth. King Herod knew and believed God’s word. Herod had no doubts that the Magi would find the Christ in Bethlehem. He said, ‘When you find him’ (verse 8). But Herod was more interested in himself. He had his own ambitions. So, he tried to defeat God!

Also, there were the chief priests and the teachers of the *Law. They had a different problem. They were professional Bible experts. But they failed to use the *OT in their own lives. They showed little interest in the Magi’s news. All of the *OT points to Jesus. But these men still had no interest in him.

The Magi (wise men) had little knowledge about Jesus. But they travelled great distances. They dealt with many difficulties. They really wanted to find him. When they first saw him, they gave him honour. Yet, he was only a tiny baby. These men ‘*worshipped’ Jesus. *Worship is for God only. Matthew tells us that the baby was God himself. In some way, even the Magi knew this!

Questions

 

1. People in this passage had different reactions to Jesus. What lessons can we learn from them?

2. Jesus came into this world for a purpose. He came to obey his Father. He came to serve us. He also died for us. What does this mean for the life of your church?

3. We must tell the Good News (gospel) to other people. What does this passage tell us about the gospel’s contents?

More explanation

 

Herod

The Bible mentions several people who were called Herod. Herod the Great ruled Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod the Great was born in 73 BC. (Note: BC means Before Christ. Christ means *Messiah.) Herod killed many people. So, he was always afraid that someone would kill him. At the time of his death, he had evil plans. He was planning to kill more than 3000 people. He had already killed his wife and his sister’s husband. He even killed his mother and some of his sons. This was because he was afraid of them.

All this explained Herod’s reaction to the report of the Magi (wise men). It helps us to know why the news affected ‘all the people in Jerusalem’ too. When Herod worried, other people usually suffered! Soon, the mothers of Bethlehem would know this. They would suffer from the cruelty of the king.

Maybe Herod was worried most about something that the Magi said. They spoke about someone who was ‘born as the king of the *Jews’. Herod knew that he was not the proper king. He became king by using evil methods.

Jesus was born a short time before Herod’s death. (Compare verses 1 and 19.) Herod died in the first quarter of 4 BC. Jesus was probably born in 5 BC.

The Magi and the star

Magi were religious leaders. They were the wise men in Persia and Media. This is now Iran and other countries near there. We do not know how they knew about Jesus. Perhaps it was by a dream. Maybe it was similar to the dream in verse 12.

We do not know what star the Magi saw. Many people have tried to identify it. Some of them suggest that it was Halley’s Comet. (Note: ‘Comet’ comes from a Greek word ‘kometes’. It means a star with a long tail.) But this appeared in 12 BC (Before Christ.) So, it was too early to show Jesus’ birth. Another comet is more likely to be the star. The Chinese recorded a comet in 5 BC. It would have been like the star in verses 9 and 10. Its tail would have pointed down ‘over’ Bethlehem. (We know more details about this comet. See the ‘Tyndale Bulletin’ 43.1, 1992.)

The chief priests and the teachers of the *Law

These men were religious and political leaders. They ruled in ancient Judea. Judea was a part of Israel. They met together in a group. The name of this group was the Sanhedrin.

The chief priests included the present and previous High Priests. They also included priests from whom they would choose the new High Priest. They were all members of another group. The name of this group was the Sadducees.

Also, there were the teachers of the *Law. ‘Scribes’ is another name for them. (Some English translations of the Bible use this name.) They must make sure that people obeyed the laws. They must also teach God’s words. They were the experts in *Jewish religion. They were usually *Pharisees.

(Note: *Pharisees and Sadducees: There is more information about these two groups. It is in the section for 3:4–10.)

Matthew 2:13–23

God controls everything

 

God does what he promises. He protects and looks after his children.

 

There is not much information about Jesus’ early life. Matthew soon completed his account. He did this in three short paragraphs. These are in verses 13–15, 16–18 and 19–23.

Herod realised that the Magi (wise men) were not coming back. He acted immediately. Probably, this happened a few days after the visit of the Magi (wise men). Herod wanted to be sure that nobody else could be king. So, he killed all the children who were younger than 2 years of age. Bethlehem was a very small village. But there would still be between 15 and 30 babies.

But, men and women cannot stop God’s plans. Herod himself would die soon. Jesus escaped his evil plan. God told Joseph about the danger before it happened. So, he could take the child and Mary to Egypt. This was the nearest safe place.

Then Herod died. So, Joseph could return with his family. Verses 19–23 describe this. He did not want to go back to Bethlehem. This does not surprise us. The new ruler was Archelaus. He was as bad as his father, Herod. He had already killed 3000 people. So, Joseph was anxious. But God understood this. He told him to return to his former home. This was in Nazareth. (Read Luke 2:4.) Archelaus did not rule there. There were many dangers. But God was protecting and caring for Joseph, Mary and the baby. He can do the same for us too.

All of God’s promises in the *OT come true in Jesus. Each of the three short paragraphs ended by repeating words from the *OT. Matthew tells us that they came true in Jesus. (Read the section after ‘Questions’.)

There is one more thing to notice here. Joseph obeyed God. But this was not always easy. First, there was the fact that Mary was having a baby. Then there was the birth of Jesus. These events completely changed his life. Sometimes, he was confused and anxious. He did not know what to do. He only knew that God had helped him before.

At other times, he knew part of God’s plan. But he did not know all of it. (Compare verses 20 and 22.) It was hard for him to marry Mary. She was having a baby. People did not understand. They spoke against him. But, Joseph still learned something important. It was this. To obey God was the best way. God protected him, even in times of great danger.

Questions

 

1. Think about Joseph’s experience. Use the lessons of his life in your own situation.

2. How does this passage encourage your church group? How does God guide a group of Christians (believers)?

3. Think about the cruel murders in 2:16. There is so much suffering in the world. Is there something that you could do? How could you show that the Christian message has an answer?

More explanation

 

How Matthew used the Old Testament (*OT)

Matthew says that these *OT passages refer to Jesus. But at first, they do not seem to have anything to do with him!

Verse 15 repeats Hosea 11:1. There, the *prophet showed how God saved Israel’s people. They were in Egypt. He brought them back to their own land. This had happened many hundreds of years before. So, some people cannot understand how the passage could refer to Jesus. Perhaps Matthew used it in the wrong way. Maybe it was something that was familiar to *Jews only at that time.

But the *NT writers used the *OT. They saw similar things between the *OT story and Jesus’ life and work. Careful study will show this. They felt that Jesus matched with the whole history of the *Jews (Israel). He even lived it all again.

God brought the *Jews out of Egypt. He wanted them to bring God’s *salvation to the world. They failed to do this. But Jesus would succeed. So, he too went to Egypt and returned from there. This was to show that he had come to save the world. He had come to bring the knowledge of God to all people. Of course, Hosea was not actually speaking about this. But it was quite fair for Matthew to use his words.

Read verse 18. Matthew was doing something similar there. He repeated Jeremiah 31:15. It told about a sad time in Bethlehem. The young people of the village would go away into *exile. So, the words could not be about Herod’s murder of the babies. But Jeremiah’s words were a message of hope. The enemy would destroy the land. But there was still hope. God would save his people. He had not forgotten his people. He would not remove his promises from them.

Again, Matthew saw that those days and his own days were similar. Once, God had brought hope to a sad people. He saved them. Now, in Jesus, God had done it again. Jesus still brings hope to desperate people. He saves them from the results and the power of their *sin. This was the hope for which the world was looking.

Verse 23 is more difficult. Matthew did not tell us where the words came from. Some people suggest that he was thinking about Isaiah 11:1. The word ‘branch’ is there. In *Hebrew, the word sounds like ‘Nazareth’. Other people think that he was using Numbers 6. This is because it mentions the ‘Nazirite’. Both of these passages came true in Jesus. But, these words only sound similar to the name Nazareth. They have no real connection with it.

Matthew repeated some words of ‘the *prophets’. (These are the books that the *prophets wrote. They are in our *OT.) So, he was probably thinking about several passages. In fact, Nazareth was a very small village. People ‘despised’ it. This means that it was very unimportant to them. People thought that it had nothing of value. (Read John 1:45–46.) Many times, the *OT said that people would ‘despise’ the *Messiah (Christ). (Read Psalm 22:6–8, 13; 69:8, 20–21; Isaiah 49:7; 53:2–3, 8; and Daniel 9:26.) These verses describe good people. They also describe the *Messiah. People ‘despise’ them both.

Matthew realised something. So did other writers of the *NT. It was about the language of these verses. They referred especially to Jesus. (Compare Matthew 12:24; 27:21–23, 63; Luke 23:11; John 1:11; 5:18; 6:66; 9:22, 34.)

Matthew 3:1–3

Be ready!

 

Only those who really *repent will enjoy the benefits of Jesus’ work.

 

Matthew now spoke about later events. He did this just after he had told about Jesus’ birth. These events happened 30 years later. The time was just before Jesus started his special public work. Matthew must have thought that the events were important. He said, ‘In those days’. This meant: ‘In those important days’.

A great leader usually sent someone ahead of him. The name for this special person was a ‘herald’. His job was to prepare for the arrival of the leader. Jesus was a king (2:2). He had a herald too. The *OT had said that this herald would come. Isaiah 40:3–5 told about him. He would come before God himself came. Matthew said that the verses referred to John the *Baptist. Usually, nobody would give his talks in the desert. He would go to where there are people to listen! But this was what John did. It was what Isaiah had said would happen too.

Note: Many *OT *prophets spoke about events in the near future. But they often suggested that these events could refer to something more. They pointed to much greater events. They would be a long time in the future. These verses in Isaiah are like this.

*Repent!

John was a herald. Someone important was going to arrive. He was much greater than John. The herald’s task was to make sure that everyone was ready. This was exactly what John did. His message was very clear. Most people would not want to hear it. He called them to *repent. If they did not *repent, something bad would happen. He warned them about that.

We may want to know what John meant by the ‘*kingdom of heaven’ (3:2). It meant that God would establish his rule over the whole earth. The *OT told about this time. It described ‘the *kingdom of God’. Another name was the ‘*kingdom of heaven’. John said that this *kingdom ‘is near’. God would act very soon. Men and women could enjoy God’s *kingdom for themselves. But, they must be ready. They would not just arrive there. John emphasised this. They needed to do something. Most important, they must *repent.

To *repent is not just to feel sorry about something. There are all sorts of reasons to be sorry. Perhaps someone discovered what we did. Maybe we suffered for our actions. We may have hurt other people. But, *repentance is different.

God promised that he would give many good things. It would happen soon. But men and women must be ready. Jesus spoke the same message. (Read Matthew 4:17.) But there was a difference. Jesus taught how these good things would come. They would come because people knew him. (Read Mark 1:15 and Matthew 13:16–17.) John promised good things. These good things began to arrive. They started when Jesus came.

Questions

 

1. How could your life show that you have *repented? What evidence should you expect in your life?

2. *Repentance is necessary. How does your church emphasise this when they tell the Good News about Jesus? Do they emphasise it too much, or too little? How can they do it in the right way?

3. John spoke the truth to the people. How can we learn from his methods?

Important truths

 

The *kingdom is near

John said that God’s *kingdom was near. He said that God’s *judgement was coming soon. But this does not seem to be true. More than 2000 years have passed since then. God’s final *judgement is still in the future. Jesus has not returned to earth yet. The Bible itself gives information about these things.

►  There would be two arrivals of Jesus. The Bible describes them both. But, they sometimes seem like one event. At other times, the Bible talks about them separately. Jesus’ work began the events that will lead to the *judgement.

►  The enemy destroyed the city of Jerusalem. This happened only 40 years later. The *NT described this event as the certain *judgement of God.

►  When people refuse to believe, they become worse. For such people, *judgement is starting to happen.

►  God’s time is different from our time. Peter spoke about this. He said, ‘For the *Lord, a day is like a thousand years.’ (Read 2 Peter 3:8.)

But none of these points gives a complete answer. There is still a problem in this passage. Probably, John was speaking about certain people. It was those people who would not recognise who Jesus was. They would receive God’s *judgement for a special reason. They always refused to believe. They chose to do this. So, God would leave them in that state.

Matthew 3:4–10

True and false *repentance

 

People may declare that they are God’s *disciples. God wants them to be really sorry about their *sin.

 

In *OT times, God spoke to his people by *prophets. But there had been no *prophets since the death of Malachi. That was in about 400 BC (Before Christ). The *Jews believed that God would use *prophets again. They thought that it would be when God’s *kingdom came. John’s clothes were different. This was like some of the *OT *prophets. (Read Zechariah 13:4; 1 Samuel 28:14 and 2 Kings 1:8.) His words seemed like *prophets’ words too. People travelled a long distance to hear him. Many of these people recognised who John was. They obeyed his message.

When this happened, John *baptised them. He put them in the water of the Jordan river. *Baptism was a common ceremony in the ancient world. It was often a sign. It could show that a person was clean from something evil. Or, it could show that they were entering into a new society. (Note: There were many ‘secret societies’. They used this practice to welcome new members. Other groups in the ancient world did this too.)

Many people wanted to do something about John’s message. *Baptism was the way that they showed this. It was a sign. It showed that God had taken away their *sin. John was preparing them for God’s *kingdom. Jesus would start this *kingdom. Later, Jesus’ *disciples *baptised people too. (Read John 3:22; 4:1, 2.) This also became a sign. It showed that people wanted to follow Jesus. It showed that they had entered his *kingdom. (Read Matthew 28:18–20 and Romans 6:4.)

A different life

There were two important religious groups. They were the main ones in Israel then. They were *Pharisees and *Sadducees. Members from both these groups came to John. They asked him to *baptise them. We might expect that this would please John. But he was angry with them. He did not believe that they had *repented. They wanted God to accept them as his people. Maybe, they thought that *baptism was sufficient. But John emphasised something. It was this. The result of real *repentance will always be a different life.

The same thing happens today. Many people believe that *baptism alone makes them God’s people. But this is not true. First, people must *repent of their *sin. They must want to live in a way that will please God. They will obey God. Only then does *baptism have meaning. It shows that *repentance is real.

In verse 7, John dealt with a problem. It was the problem of the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees. The snake was a sign to the *Jews. It was a sign for wicked things. A snake (serpent) first deceived humans. (He told a lie to Eve; and he made it seem like the truth.) This caused *sin in the world. John said to the religious groups: ‘You are all like snakes.’ They would hate this description. But John wanted to give them a shock. They were not being honest with themselves. They did not realise that they were in great danger of God’s *judgement.

Both groups believed that God was especially pleased with them. There was a reason for this. God had made many promises to the first members of the *Jewish nation. Those first *Jews lived a long time ago. But, surely, the good things that they had done would still count. This was what the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees thought. So, the two groups believed that they could claim benefits from the past for themselves.

Read verses 9–10. John was saying something important here. God is very good to us. But this means that we have responsibility. He promises to save. But there is a rule. God will only accept people if they *repent.

Questions

 

1. What importance does *baptism as a Christian have for you?

2. What should the church expect in the lives of those who want *baptism? Parents may bring children for *baptism. What should the church expect to see in the parents? Also, there are the friends who will have a special interest in the child. What should they be like?

3. Do you think that modern speakers should ever speak as John spoke? (Read verses 7–10.) If so, where should they do this? To whom should they speak like this? On what occasions should they speak like this?

More explanation

 

*Pharisees and Sadducees

We do not know how these two groups began. But, we do know some facts about them. There were the *Pharisees. They would not accept other cultures and customs. They felt that these things would stop them from being holy. The *Pharisees insisted that people must be very careful to obey God’s laws. So, they added many extra regulations. They thought that these rules would help people. The rules would stop them from becoming ‘dirty’ with *sin. *Pharisees tended to be proud. They thought that they were very good people. They did not like those who did not have the same beliefs.

Also, there were the Sadducees. They were very different. They believed the first 5 books of the *OT. They believed that only these books were God’s words. They had another main belief. It was this. Dead people could never come alive again. (The *Pharisees believed that this could happen.) The Sadducees enjoyed power. To gain it, they were even willing to have lower standards. They were rich and powerful. The High Priest and his family were members of this group.

Important truths

 

God’s anger

The Bible speaks about God’s anger. This does not mean that God has bad moods. He does not get angry for no reason. But God hates all that is evil. He hates all that is wicked. This is what God’s anger means.

This is why God’s anger must be against every human person. Nobody can ever live by God’s standards. (Read Ephesians 2:3.) People experience his anger in this life. (Read John 3:18, 36 and Romans 1:18.) But his main anger is for the future. (Read Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 and Revelation 14:10.) There is a connection with the return of Jesus. (Read Malachi 3:2–3; 4:1–5.) Men and women must really *repent. They must trust Jesus. Only then can they escape God’s anger.

Matthew 3:11–17

The most important thing

 

Jesus is God. He *baptises with the Holy Spirit. But he still wanted John to *baptise him.

 

The crowd believed that John was a *prophet. But John told them that he was like a slave. In ancient Israel, this had a certain meaning. It was a slave’s task to carry his master’s shoes. Then John made another claim. It was even more surprising. The *OT says that God is ‘the greater or more powerful one’. (Read Daniel 9:4 and Jeremiah 32:18.) The *OT promised that God’s Christ (the Messiah) would come. John said that this *Messiah would be God! He would not be just a man, as John was.

Also, there was John’s work and the task of the Christ. There would be a great difference between them. Christ (the *Messiah) would *baptise with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Humans cannot really *repent. They cannot live a life that pleases God. They do not have the power to do it. But, the Christ would provide that power. John could only *baptise as a sign of *repentance. The Christ would give real *repentance. He would make men and women holy (like God).

What John had said finally came true. It was on the Day of Pentecost. (Read Acts 2. It will explain about the Day of Pentecost.) From that day, God gave the Holy Spirit to all his people. His work showed in their lives. Every day, there was *repentance. Every day, they became more holy. But, there is something else about Jesus’ *baptism of fire. If it did not make holy, it would burn. (Read 3:12.) Jesus came to bring life. But, there will be people who refuse him. They will know him as judge one day. John 3:16–21 teaches a similar lesson.

Jesus’ *baptism

John did not think that he should *baptise Jesus. John knew enough about Jesus to know this. John was a *sinner. Jesus was not a *sinner. But Jesus insisted on *baptism. Perhaps he wanted to deal with John’s doubts and fears. Maybe, Jesus was showing something to John. He was willing to share with *sinners. He was willing to take their punishment. His gentle reply in verse 15, may suggest this.

But, the most important part of this section is in verses 16 and 17. The dove (a bird) was a sign in the ancient world. It was a sign of moral goodness and kindness. But something was more important. The Spirit came on Jesus in a way that people could see. This meant that Jesus was now ready for his work. He would be able to *baptise with the Spirit too.

Something even more wonderful happened next (verse 17). God the Father spoke. He declared that Jesus was the Son of the Father. Jesus was God. This man was the Christ (*Messiah). He was the man about whom John spoke. God is holy. He must hate and judge *sin. But, he is also the God who loves. Because he loves, he sent his Son to save people. God was very pleased with the work that Jesus was going to do.

There is one final detail in this section. It is in verses 13–17. We learn that the Father was pleased with the work of the Son. The Spirit came to help Jesus with his work. So, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were working together. They were working to save *sinners. They still do this same work today. This is very wonderful.

Questions

 

1. How would you describe Jesus to one of your friends?

2. The work of the Holy Spirit is vital to every real believer (Christian). How do the leaders of your church explain the Holy Spirit’s work? Does their teaching agree with this passage? If it does not, why is this?

3. Non-Christians need to understand the love of God in Jesus. How can you help them?

Important truths

 

The *baptism with the Holy Spirit

The phrase ‘*baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is common today. It often refers to experiences after a person becomes a Christian. But, read Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5 and 11:16. These *NT references are clear. They refer to the first experience of a Christian. The use of the word ‘*baptism’ confirms this too. Ancient societies used this word. They used it for the ceremony when a person joined the society. So, it was about the beginning of a person’s decision to join.

So, ‘*baptism with the Spirit’ is a *NT phrase. It is one of the ways to describe a special event. It is the event when a person becomes a Christian. It emphasises two things. First, God lives in a real Christian. Then, that person has what he or she needs for a holy, good life.

There will be many other new experiences of God. These will happen after a person becomes a Christian. The believer can enjoy them in the days and years afterwards. But people should not call these experiences the ‘*baptism in the Spirit’.

The Son of God

Many false teachings have come from these words. They do not mean that Jesus was not really God. They do not mean that he was born in heaven, some time after his Father. John 1:1–3 shows us that this is not true.

But, a son has the same nature as his father. A man is human. His children are human too. It is the same when the Bible speaks about ‘God’s son’. God is God and Jesus is the son. It means that he has the same nature as the Father. So, he is God! This was the claim that Matthew was making about Jesus here. Matthew’s readers would have understood this.

Matthew 4:1–11

The test

 

Jesus is the Son of God. God showed this to everybody. He did this at Jesus’ *baptism. The devil, (or *Satan), did not like this. So, he gave Jesus some very hard tests.

 

Jesus was ready to identify with all the needs of *sinners. (Read 3:13–17.) He had the same temptations as we have. (This word means that someone or something is tempting us to *sin.) Jesus suffered like us too. But his temptations were special. It could not be the same for anybody else. The devil was testing a fact. It was the fact that Jesus was the ‘Son of God’. Notice when these events happened. It was just after a great experience. (Read 3:16–17.) The word ‘then’ emphasised this.

It can be the same for us. We may have a great spiritual experience. We may have a great success against Satan (the devil). Then, it can be hard to deal with another temptation. This was true for Elijah. (Read 1 Kings 18 and 19.) It was also true for Jesus.

Jesus went to the place where he would have his great test. Matthew said something unusual. He said that God’s Holy Spirit took Jesus there. It was part of God’s plan for Jesus. He would be ‘perfect by the things that he suffered’. (Read Hebrews 2:10.) God often uses the temptations that come into our lives. It can be his way to make us grow in our Christian lives. But, we must remember something. Matthew emphasised it. God allows the devil to tempt us. But, when evil attracts us, that is the devil’s work.

*Satan did not just tempt Jesus at the end of 40 days. (Read verses 2–3.) He tempted Jesus for the whole period. (Read Luke 4:1–13.) There was no quick escape from his tests. Often, the same is true for us.

Let us think about the first temptation. The devil seemed to be referring to 3:17. There, God confirmed that Jesus was his Son. *Satan was trying to spoil Jesus’ confidence in these words. *Satan said ‘If’. He wanted Jesus to test the truth of God’s words.

The devil had used this method before. He tried to bring doubts into Eve’s mind. (Read Genesis 3:1–6.) There, in the garden, Adam and Eve failed the test. Here, Jesus passed the test. He was confident in God. He trusted God and his word. He reminded the devil that all people must respect God. So, Jesus said words from Deuteronomy 8:3. Deuteronomy is in the *OT. The devil’s methods do not change. They are the same today. The way to overcome the devil does not change either!

The devil had some more tests for Jesus. This time, the devil said something from the Bible. (The words are in Psalm 91:11–12.) He wanted Jesus to test God’s word. The place where this happened was probably important. *Satan’s test was on the roof of the *Temple. The *Temple was the place where God lived. So, surely God would look after his Son. God was very near. He was able to help too. There could not be a better place. Jesus could do something wonderful. Then a crowd of people would follow him!

Jesus answered the devil in the same way. He used the Bible. Jesus knew Psalm 91. There, God promised to protect his children. But Jesus said words from Deuteronomy 6:16. We must not use God for experiments. Jesus knew the Bible. He understood its correct meaning too. In this way, he overcame the devil. The lesson for us should be clear.

Then there was the last test for Jesus at this time. It was probably a vision. (This is like a dream, but the person is often awake.) The devil showed Jesus ‘all the *kingdoms of the world’. He was able to do this ‘in a moment of time’. (Read Luke 4:5.) But, the test was still very real. The devil offered power on earth to Jesus. This was instead of spiritual authority.

But, there was a price for this power. Jesus must accept *Satan as his spiritual leader. He must *worship *Satan. Jesus knew *Satan’s purpose. Again, Jesus said words from the Bible. (The words are in Deuteronomy 6:13.) God is the only one whom people must *worship. Then the devil left Jesus (verse 11). The devil will leave us too. (Note: Luke 4:13 reminds us of another fact. *Satan ‘went away to wait until a better time’. For us too, the same thing will happen. *Satan will come back.)

Questions

 

1. How well do I know my Bible? When the devil tempts me, could I answer him in the right way? (A good idea: Write down any verses that would help you. There will be many of them. So, you could do this for a long time.)

2. Jesus had the same sort of tests that we have. How should this help us with temptations (when someone or something is tempting us to *sin)?

3. What does this passage teach about the spiritual battle?

4. How does this passage explain the world in which we live?

Matthew 4:12–25

Action

 

Jesus’ special public work began. He taught and he healed people. These things showed who he was. We shall think about what people’s reactions to him should have been.

 

John’s work ended. Then, Jesus’ work began (verse 12). He worked mostly from a small town. It was called Capernaum. It was a special place in Galilee. It was important to Matthew. This was because of the *OT. Capernaum belonged to Zebulun and Naphtali. These were two of the 12 tribes (family groups) of the *Jews. An *OT *prophet spoke about them. The wonderful words are in Isaiah 9:1–2.

This place was in the north of Israel. For centuries, the people who lived there had had very hard times. They had suffered much. There had been political trouble. There had been military trouble too. There were constant attacks from their enemies in the north. The words of Isaiah’s *prophecy showed this. But he promised something good to those same people. One day, they would be the first to benefit. They would have light instead of darkness.

The Bible often uses the word ‘light’ as a picture. It makes us think about laughter. We think about living a great life. But, there are two other special uses for the word. It reminds us about the knowledge of God. It also reminds us about the fact that God is present. Matthew believed that this *prophecy had now come true. It was happening as Jesus began his work. He declared the start of the *kingdom of heaven.

Jesus’ words are in verse 17. They are like John’s words. Jesus made it clear which people had hope. They were people who knew something. They knew that they had *sinned against God. They knew that they deserved his punishment. But they turned to him with *repentance. There was such good news for them. This could be true for the people of Galilee. It did not matter that they were poor. They were suffering much. They were anxious. Their needs were great. But, the good news was still for them.

The first *disciples

At this time, Jesus asked 4 men to join him. They were Peter, Andrew, James and John. There was a custom in Israel at that time. *Disciples would gather round a teacher. But, Jesus was different. He called the men to him. He expected them to follow him. This clearly showed that he had authority.

But Jesus was not like a teacher who is at school. He was not giving information to students. They followed him. This meant that they were joining him in the work. That work was to call men and women to *repent. They must call them to believe in God too. To these 4 men, it meant that they must leave their jobs. Their work for Jesus must be more important than their families. It could be the same for us today. Jesus deserves the best.

Now we come to the last three verses of the chapter. They are an introduction to 5:1–9:34. They describe the nature of Jesus’ special public work. Jesus did three things.

·    He taught the truths of the Bible. He would go as a visitor to the synagogue. (This was the *Jews’ special building in which they *worshipped God.) Priests would invite him to speak.

·    He declared the good news. It was about the *kingdom of heaven. (Read verse 17 too.)

·    He healed many people. These actions taught three things. Matthew 8:1–9:34 shows them.

            1.         They confirmed Jesus’ message. (Compare John 14:11.)

            2.         They showed that he was the *Messiah. The *prophets had spoken about him.
                        (Read Isaiah 35:5; 53:4–5; 61:1 and Matthew 11:2–6.)

            3.         They proved that God’s *kingdom had begun to arrive.

The life and the work of Jesus disturbed many people. It also caused excitement. That was in Galilee. But it was true about other places too. This is not a surprise.

Questions

 

1. Jesus invited the first 4 *disciples to follow him. Study their reactions to Jesus. What do you think that you should learn from these *disciples? They left their jobs and their families. Does Jesus usually expect us to do the same? If not, how do we know when we should do this?

2. Christians should bring people to Jesus. They should then teach them how to follow Jesus. Read this passage again. What can we learn about how we could do these things?

3. Verse 16 describes certain people. Where might we find them today? Other people think that religion is something bad. To them, it is like going into the dark. How can we help them to find Jesus as the ‘light’?

Word List (Words with a *)

AD ~ AD is any date after the birth of Jesus.

angel ~ a being from heaven who brings messages from God; God especially created angels to serve him; God sends them to serve people too (Hebrews 1:14).

baptise ~ a *Greek word; it refers to a ceremony; it means to put someone in or under water for a brief time; Mark 1:4–11; Romans 6:3–8; Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11); Jesus baptises with fire (Matthew 3:12).

baptism ~ the name for the ceremony when someone *baptises another person.

Baptist ~ a person who *baptises people (John the Baptist).

disciple ~ a person who follows a leader; a student; one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose; a person who obeys Jesus today.

empire ~ very big *kingdom.

exile ~ someone who must leave their own land, often for a long time; it can also mean the time when this happened; it usually refers to the time when it happened to the *Jews.

faith ~ to believe in someone or something; to be really sure about the things of God and Jesus his Son.

Gospel ~ one of the 4 books at the beginning of the *New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when they wrote the first part of our Bible.

Jew ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a person who believes the *faith of the Jews, called Judaism.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.

judgement ~ when God or a person says what is right or wrong; he tests behaviour; he decides if it is right or wrong; then he acts on the decision; judgement can be about legal or moral matters; judgement can mean when God punishes people.

kingdom ~ a kingdom is where a king rules. God is the King of all Christians and all Christians are in his Kingdom.

Law ~ the Law usually refers to the first 5 books in our Bible; Moses wrote them.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we obey them.

Messiah ~ the *Lord Jesus Christ; it is a *Hebrew word, ‘meshiah’; the same word in *Greek is ‘christos’, Christ. God promised the *Jews that the Messiah would save them; we read about him in the *OT; then Jesus came; but the *Jews did not believe in him (John 1:11). Many *Jews are still waiting for Messiah to come.

miracle ~ a wonderful thing that only God could do; it could not happen in a natural way.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible.

NT ~ New Testament; the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.

OT ~ Old Testament; the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

Pharisee ~ a member of a *Jewish religious group; they claimed to obey all *Jewish religious laws and customs; there is more information about them; it is in the section for 3:4–10.

prophecy ~ a special message from God; it could tell about the future; it is one of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians chapters 12–14).

prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people; in *OT days, a prophet often wrote books; these books were called ‘The Prophets’.

repent ~ to turn away from evil and towards God; this choice will mean a complete change of life; in the *NT, the *Greek word is ‘metanoia’; this means a change of mind.

Roman ~ a person from Rome; the Roman *Empire consisted of the many countries that the Romans ruled.

Sadducees ~ a member of an important *Jewish religious group; they believed only the first 5 books of the *OT; they did not believe that dead people could live again; there is more information about them; it is in the section for 3:4–10.

salvation ~ rescue from *sin or danger; the *Hebrew word is ‘yasha’; the *OT uses it 353 times; people may be in trouble or danger; someone rescues or saves them; this may be God or a person; the *NT speaks about salvation in three ways; it is past, present and future (2 Corinthians 1:10).

Satan ~ the devil; the enemy of God.

sin ~ when we do not obey God’s rules.

Temple ~ the *Jews’ special large building for God; it was in Jerusalem. The enemy destroyed it in *AD 70; since that time, *Jews’ special buildings for *worship are called synagogues; other groups build temples too; they *worship false gods in them.

worship ~ the word can be a verb or a noun; to honour God with words of prayer and praise; it is a way to appreciate God for himself; we are also being grateful for all that he has done; we can worship God together; each person can worship God too. (Important note: people can worship false gods; they give to a false god what belongs to God only.)

 

By full permission of author and publishers

Wycliffe Associates (UK) EasyEnglish© Translation (Level B)

AD 2003

WYCLIFFE ASSOCIATES (UK)

EasyEnglishÓ TRANSLATION (Level B)................................... Mary Read

LINGUISTIC CHECKER........................................................... Sue Hunter

© 1997–2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words – new lexicon).

July 2004

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