Soil, Seed, Fishes and Food

EasyEnglish Study Unit 4 (Level B) on the Gospel (Good News) of Matthew 13-16

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

 (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.


Matthew 13:1–9

We should listen to Jesus.

 

Jesus told a *parable. It was about a farmer. Many people listened to Jesus. He wanted them to believe what he taught.

 

Here, Matthew started something that was new in his book. He gave an account of Jesus’ *parables. When Jesus taught before this time, he used some little *parables. (Read 5:13; 6:26–30; 7:24–27 and 9:16–17.) But now *parables were important. They were Jesus’ main way to teach the people.

There was another change in Jesus’ work here. It was an important change. The religious rulers had made a final decision about Jesus. It was this. Jesus was from the devil (12:24). Jesus knew what this meant. They would never receive him. (Read 21:31–32.) They had chosen not to accept him. So the time had come to leave them. (Read 12:15.) Some people would hear him gladly. He was ready to go to them now. (Read 12:16–21.)

This explained something. Jesus changed the place where he taught. It had been the *synagogue. Now he went to the beach (verse 1). He also used a different method to teach. It would benefit the people who wanted to obey him. But it would make it harder for those who refused to accept him. (Read the explanation of verses 10–17 below.)

There was a large crowd of people. So Jesus found a suitable place to speak to them (verse 2). Then he began to tell the story. Maybe a farmer was working on one of the hills near there. Certainly, the hearers would know exactly what Jesus was talking about.

In ancient Israel, the fields were long and narrow. There was a path for the public between each field. Because people used the path so much, it became very hard. The farmer scattered the seed by hand. So it was natural that some seed would fall on the path. The seed might be very good seed. But it could never grow when it fell there.

Most of the hilly areas in Israel were rocky. The soil was not very deep. Hard rock was just under the surface. So there was not much water in the soil. A seed would begin to grow in this kind of soil. But, without water, it would soon die. A good farmer would not throw seed where there were weeds. But, weeds always seem to grow more quickly than good seed. So the strong weeds would soon kill the good seed. The farmer would plough after he had scattered the seed. This was usual at that time. This made it harder for the good seed to grow.

But there was the seed that fell into good soil. It produced a harvest. Jesus gave different sizes of the crop. The sizes that he gave were 100, 60 or 30. In the ancient country called Israel, the size of 10 would be good. But Jesus might not be referring to the whole crop. He might be referring to the grains that each seed produced. If so, farmers might expect these higher numbers. But the numbers were not important. Jesus was teaching about growth in spiritual matters. And all spiritual growth should make people glad.

Questions

 

1. Think of the different kinds of soil that are in this *parable. Do any of them describe what you are like? In what ways are you like them?

2. Write your own *parable. Make it fit with modern times. But show the same truths as Jesus did. How do these truths affect us today?

3. Think about the farmer, the seed, the soil and the harvest. What can we learn from them? Apply these things to yourself first. Next, apply them to the people who are in your church. Then apply them to people who are not in the church. How does this *parable help us to understand non-Christians better?

Matthew 13:10–23

Jesus explained the *parable.

 

*Parables can do two things. They may confuse people. Or they may make things clear. This *parable shows us our spiritual state.

 

The *disciples heard Jesus’ story. Then they asked a natural question. It was, ‘Why are you using this way to teach?’ (verse 10.) Jesus’ reply was in two parts. They are in verses 12–15 and verses 16–17. Jesus also gave a brief statement of the main points in verse 11.

First, *parables could confuse the people who heard them. Some people chose not to believe. They might have had a little understanding. But they refused to listen. So, the stories confused them (verse 12). Jesus gave the reason for this. It is in verses 14 and 15. He repeated Isaiah 6:9–10. They had chosen not to believe. So they could not receive the truth. They could not *repent. The *parables of Jesus just showed what they were like. This is still true about people today.

But some *parables can help people who hear them. *Parables can help people to understand the truth. Some people want to know the truth about Jesus. So they listen to what he says. These people will understand the *parables. So, the same words can have the opposite effect. They confuse those who refuse to believe. They give clearer understanding to those who want to obey Jesus. (Read verses 16–17.)

Think about the greatest spiritual men in the *OT. There were God’s people. Examples of these are Noah and Abraham. Also there were the *prophets. Examples of these are Samuel and Isaiah. They knew that a very special person would come at some time. But there was so much that they did not know. The person who wanted to follow Jesus knew more than they did! He or she would learn that Jesus was that special person. People who lived in *OT times had so many hopes. And Jesus was the answer to them all.

First, Jesus told the *parable. (Read verses 3–9.) Then he explained why he taught by *parables. (Read verses 10–17.) Finally, he would explain how to understand them.

The seed and the soil

It was not important here to know who the farmer was. The important thing was the seed. The seed was like the word of God. The main lesson was about the effects of the ‘seed’. It had a different effect on those who heard God’s word. The people who heard God’s word were like the various types of soil. The lessons that Jesus taught are still true today. They are:

►  The way that we receive God’s word is most important. There is nothing wrong with the message. There is nothing wrong with the person who brings that message. The problem is with those who hear it. Jesus compares them to different types of soil.

►  It is impossible to teach some people. The seed that fell on the path could never grow. The farmer might be very skilful. The seed could be the very best seed. But it would not grow. Some men and women can be like this. They do not want to know the truth. They may hear the good news about Jesus. But they never really listen to it. So they can never benefit from it.


►  Some people do not realise that God’s word is vital. Jesus described ground where there was not much soil. There were rocks just underneath the surface. Jesus was speaking about people who do listen to him. They like his message. It is the answer to their sense of need. So they are often eager to welcome it. But this desire does not last.

►  Some people are busy with many things. With them, it is like the seed that fell among thorn bushes. (Note: A thorn is sharp, like a needle.) There was nothing wrong with the soil. The person who is like this receives God’s word. He or she even acts in a Christian way for a time. But there is a problem. There are other important things in that person’s life. Soon, he or she has no time for the things of God.

►  Some people have the right reactions to God’s word. With them, it is like the seed that fell into good soil. The size of the ‘harvest’ will depend on their gifts. But each one of them will be useful in the service of Jesus.

This passage showed attitudes to Jesus and to his message. We can often have the wrong attitudes ourselves. We do not like to think about this. It is a natural reaction. But we must be willing to listen to Jesus.

Questions

 

1. How could the different types of soil refer to non-Christians today? How could they apply to Christians today?

2. There are many problems in the church today. Could they come because people do not hear God’s word properly? What things in the church could spoil our ‘harvest’?

3. Some people today want to obey Jesus at first. But they do not become real *disciples. How do the different types of soil describe them? (Look at your answers to question 1.) What can we do to help these people?

Matthew 13:24–30, 36–43

Good people and evil people may live next to each other

 

Evil people may live next to Jesus’ *disciples. But it will not always be like this. Jesus explained about it.

 

Chapter 13:24–52 forms a section of the book of Matthew.

►  Verses 24–30: *Parable of the weeds

►  Verses 31–35: Two more *parables

►  Verses 36–43: Jesus explained the *parable of the weeds

►  Verses 44–46: Two more *parables

►  Verses 47–50: *Parable of the net. (This has the same meaning as the *parable of the weeds.)

Matthew chose two main *parables. He recorded Jesus’ explanation. He showed their importance. (Read verses 24–30, 47–50 and 36–43.)

The weeds

This *parable used an event which was common in ancient Israel. It would be very familiar to farmers. There was a weed called ‘the bearded darnel’. It grew very fast. It is still common in Israel. It is especially common in the region called Hebron.

When the weed begins to grow, it looks exactly like wheat. Wheat is the good grain. It is only easy to recognise the weed later. But, by that time, the roots of the wheat and the roots of the weed are together. Nobody can pull up the weed. If they tried, the wheat would come up too.

But, at the time of harvest, it is vital to separate the weed from the wheat. The weed has a bitter taste. It is most unpleasant. There is some poison in it too. It causes people to fall over easily. It also makes them bring up any food that is in their stomachs.

An enemy might plant the weed secretly in a farmer’s field. *Roman laws forbade it. So this must have happened often. There were strict punishments for anyone who did it too. In Jesus’ story, an enemy had been working. Normally, the servants’ question would be natural (verse 28). But, the farmer knew that the crop had grown too much. So the weeds and wheat (good grain) must grow together. At the time of harvest, the farm workers must pull up the weeds. Then they would burn the weeds.

What the story means

First Jesus described the various parts of the story. (Read verses 37–39.) Then he explained what the story meant. (Read verses 40–42.)

Jesus had already taught about his *kingdom. One day, the extent of that *kingdom would be the whole world. (Read verses 31–33.) But, the people in the world are a mixture. Some of them are good. And some of them are evil. This is the same today as it was then. There are people who obey Jesus. And there are those who refuse to serve him. They often live next to each other.

In Jesus’ story, even the *angels could not understand this. But Jesus had an important point to teach here. It was this. The present state of the world is not the final one. God will remove all that is evil. That time will come. (Read Joel 3:13; Jeremiah 51:33 and Hosea 6:11.) God must punish those who refuse to obey Jesus. Then his *disciples will be able to enjoy his *kingdom completely. (Read verse 43.)

Jesus used strong words in verse 42. He described God’s final punishment. It would be for those who refuse to accept God’s ways. They must suffer for ever. The *Jews would know what he was describing very well. (Read Jude 6–7; Revelation 14:9–11 and 20:10 too.) Jesus’ words were very serious. So he wanted those who heard him to understand his words. He wanted them to listen to his warning. Then he wanted them to do something about it (verse 43).

Wicked people and people who follow Jesus will live next to each other. Jesus did not say why he would allow this. But we know the reason from other verses that are in the Bible. One of them is 2 Peter 3:9. God has great *mercy. He does not want to punish anyone. He is giving more time for people to *repent.

Questions

 

1. What things in this passage can comfort me? What things can test me?

2. Some religious groups have tried to live completely separate lives from other people. Is this possible? How much should we involve ourselves with the world? (Note: The ‘world’ refers to non-Christians in the world. It can also refer to events in and pleasures in the world.)

3. We work with non-Christians. We often live next to them. How can we warn them about their terrible future? (Note: Jesus says that Christians have their ‘roots together’ with non-Christians. Some Christians’ lives are not different from the lives of their non-Christian friends. But this is not what Jesus meant. We are living next to them. But we should not be like them.)


Matthew 13:31–35, 44–46

Big trees grow from little seeds

 

The *kingdom of Jesus began in a small way. But it will have a wonderful future that will never end.

 

Jesus lived in the district called Galilee when he was a child. He did much of his work there. Mustard bushes grew in Galilee. They had tiny seeds. But each seed could grow into a very large bush. It would be 12 to 15 feet tall. The birds would make their nests in it. Jesus was referring to this bush. It was a familiar description in the ancient world. The *OT used it too. (Read Ezekiel 31:6.) In that verse, the tree with birds in it described a great *kingdom. That *kingdom referred to the whole world.

Jesus taught that he had brought God’s *kingdom. But this must have been hard for the *Jews to believe. Their *prophets spoke about a *kingdom that included the whole world. People thought that Jesus was only a teacher and healer (someone who made people well). His work was only in a very small area.

So, in this passage, Jesus was teaching about the future. One day, God’s *kingdom would include the whole world. This was just what the *prophets had promised. (Compare Isaiah 2:2–4; 25:6–9; 35:1–10 and 65:17–25.) Jesus had begun to establish that *kingdom. The signs were there already. (Jesus repeated Isaiah 35:5–6 earlier. Read Matthew 11:5.) The beginning of the *kingdom was small. But it would grow. One day, Jesus would rule the whole earth.

Another *parable taught the same truth. (Read verse 33.) Yeast is a substance that makes bread rise. The woman mixed it into the flour. At first, nobody could see the yeast. But, when the bread was ready, it was different. Everybody could see the effect of the yeast then. It is the same with God’s *kingdom. Jesus is establishing it. People may not be able to see it now. But, one day, it will be there for everybody to see.

In verse 35, Matthew repeated Psalm 78:2. This Psalm spoke about how people might use *parables in future times. Jesus showed more wonderful things in *parables than other teachers did. He was the greatest teacher.

Precious treasure

(Note: Treasure means something that is very valuable. This treasure was so precious that nobody could ever know its value.)

There were no banks in the ancient world. Ordinary people had no official way to keep their money safe. They would hide any valuable things in the ground. The ground was often the safest place. There were many battles in Israel. And people would often have to run away. But first, they would bury their valuable things in the ground. They hoped that they would be able to return one day. Then they could dig up the valuable things again.

Even recently, there have been wonderful discoveries in Israel. One example was the Dead Sea Scrolls. This was a complete library of scrolls. (Note: The scrolls were rolls of skin from animals. People would write on the skin, and then roll it up.) Someone had hidden them in a cave. They referred to the time of Jesus. Perhaps there had been a discovery in Jesus’ time too. So Jesus would use it in his *parable.

The man who was in the story probably had to look for work each day. He was certainly very poor. He wanted to buy a field where he had found a treasure. But first, he had to sell all that he had. But he was still willing to do it. He wanted that treasure so much.

The next *parable (verses 45–46) was very similar. But the man was a rich seller. In the ancient world, there was something special. It was a pearl (a precious stone). People would rather own a pearl than anything else. In this story, the rich seller found a very special pearl. He, too, sold everything that he had. But he was willing to do it. He wanted to enjoy the pearl so much. It would be such a pleasure to him to own it.

Jesus repeated the same lessons in the two *parables. He had a reason for doing this. There were important truths. He wanted the people to understand them.

►  To be in Jesus’ *kingdom was a delight. The worker went with joy to buy the field. He wanted the treasure that he had found. But the seller was looking for something special too. It would bring him much joy. And other people would admire him. It was a very special treasure. To follow Jesus and to enter his *kingdom is still a delight.

►  To enter Jesus’ *kingdom means that we must give everything. We may be rich or we may be poor. But we must be willing to leave everything. Then we must follow Jesus.

►  There were two types of discovery in the two *parables. The first discovery was a surprise. The man did not expect to find it. But the seller was searching hard for pearls.

It is the same with the riches of Jesus’ *kingdom. Some people find Jesus when they are not expecting to find him. Other people have been searching for him for a long time. Whatever way that it happens, it is still a great event. A person finds and enjoys Jesus’ *kingdom. This is the very best experience that anyone could have.

Questions

 

1. What joys have you known when you found Jesus? Was your discovery of him a surprise? Or, were you searching for him for a long time?

2. How should members of the church show people that Jesus is such a special treasure?

3. In the *parable, the two men must sell all that they had. What does this mean for us today?

Matthew 13:47–58

God will judge *sinners

 

Jesus said that God must judge people. He emphasised this. It would happen to all non-believers. Then the people judged Jesus. His own people refused to accept him too.

 

In Israel, people used a certain kind of net in which to catch fish. It was a large square net. It had ropes at each corner. It also had heavy things that made the net hang well. But, when the boat moved, the ropes pulled the net into a shape. It caught the fish as the boat dragged it through the water. (It was called a drag-net.) This type of net caught all sorts of fish. The boat would return to land, dragging the net. Some of the fish were not good for people to eat. So the people who caught the fish must check them all.

Jesus lived in a place where people’s main job was to fish. So most of those who heard him would know about the nets. The story taught the same lesson as the story about the good grain and the weeds. (Read verses 49–50. Compare verses 40–43.) Jesus taught the same truth twice. He explained it each time. This was to make sure that those who heard him had understood him.

Read verses 51–52. Here, Jesus showed that religious experts could believe in him too. There was nothing to stop them being his *disciples. The teachers of the *Law and the *Pharisees knew the *OT well. They thought that they understood it too. And they thought that Jesus’ teaching was different from the *OT. But the *OT and Jesus’ teaching matched. A good teacher would notice this. And Jesus wanted those who heard him to understand this too. In his book, Matthew often showed how they matched. He showed how the *OT pointed to Jesus.

People who came from his home refused to accept Jesus (verses 53–58)

In these verses, Matthew began a new section of his book. He described people’s reactions to Jesus.

Jesus returned to Nazareth. That was the town where he grew up (verses 53–54). There, he went to the *synagogue. It was the last time that Matthew recorded that Jesus went there. People were surprised that Jesus was in the *synagogue. The people heard his words. They saw his actions too. But they could not believe in him. They gave an excuse for this. (Read verses 55–56.) They were familiar with Jesus and his family. They thought that they knew all about him. So they refused to accept him (verse 57).

Because of this, Jesus would not do many *miracles there. It was for the same reason that he spoke only in *parables. People would not believe in him. So he would not teach them in any other way.

Matthew recorded this incident here on purpose. In the *parables, Jesus had been describing most of the *Jews. They were like bad soil. They were like weeds. They were like fish that men must throw away. Now, the people who were in Jesus’ own district would not believe in him. They refused to accept his wisdom. They saw his wonderful actions. But they still did not recognise the source of the actions. They did not see that his actions were evidence of the work of God’s Spirit. They did not know that Jesus was the Son of God. So they did not understand that his *disciples were his real brothers.

Questions

 

1. You can think that you know Jesus very well. But you may not really understand him. Is this possible? If so, explain how it could be possible.

2. Jesus clearly believed that knowledge of the *OT was vital. Why is it vital?

3. Do people in your culture have their own ideas about Jesus? Do these ideas show what Jesus is really like? Do the people in your church have their own ideas about Jesus? Do they match what the Bible teaches about him?

Matthew 14:1–12

People can know the truth, but still refuse to change their ways

 

This is a sad story. A man knew that God’s word was true. But he was too weak to receive it.

 

Here, ‘Herod’ was Herod Antipas. He was a son of Herod the Great. His mother was Malthace. She was wife number 4 for his father. Herod Antipas was ruler of Galilee. He married a daughter of Aretas 4 from Nabatea. But Herod had sex with a married woman. (The word for this kind of sex is ‘adultery’.) She was the wife of his half-brother, Philip. Then Herod married her. (Her name was Herodias.)

John the *Baptist continued to tell Herod that his actions were wrong. So Herod put him in prison. (Read verses 3–4. Read 3:1–6 too. It will remind you about John.) Herod was not obeying three of God’s commands. First, he had sex with a married woman. (God forbids this in Exodus 20:14.) Then he divorced his first wife. And he did not have a good reason to do that. (Read Deuteronomy 24:1–4.) He also married his brother Philip’s wife. (Compare Leviticus 20:21.)

Of course, Herodias hated John. She had tried to make Herod to kill him. But Herod was afraid to do it. So, she was ready for any chance to kill John. She would even use her daughter. Salome was her daughter from her first marriage. In the ancient world, a princess would never dance in public. Such dances were usually *sexual. But this is what Salome did. She was only a young woman at the time of this incident. (She was probably between 13 and 15 years of age.) But she still agreed to her mother’s wicked plan. Later, she married a relative too. She married her great uncle! (He was the brother of one of her grandparents.)

In 11:1–13:52, Matthew recorded much of Jesus’ teaching. There are two subjects in these chapters. They are *faith and *unbelief (lack of *faith). A new section of the book began in 13:53. It continued to 18:35. In these chapters, there is a record of two main things. There was Jesus’ teaching. But also there were his *miracles. But first, there were two separate incidents. In both incidents, people’s reactions to Jesus were not good. There was the *unbelief of the people in Nazareth. This is in 13:53–58. Now, in 14:1–12, there was Herod’s reaction.

The Bible does not prove that God exists. Psalm 14:1 says that only the fool denies it. Herod knew that John had messages from God. (Read Mark 6:20.) He knew that John spoke the truth. We know that Herod had a guilty conscience. Herod thought that Jesus must be John. He thought that John had come back to condemn him (verses 1–2). He had listened to John. He had protected him. But Herod still hated John. Other things were more important to him than peace with God.

There were at least three reasons for this. First, Herod was afraid of what his friends might think of him (verse 9). He was also very afraid of his wife. Also, he was afraid about God’s demands. This chapter described his typical way of life.

But these pleasures did not last for Herod. Herodias persuaded Herod to do something that was stupid. He asked Caesar (the chief *Roman ruler) if he could have the title ‘king’. But, an enemy of Herod sent a message at the same time. He told Caesar that Herod was planning to fight against Caesar’s rule. So Herod did not get the title. He had to go away to Gaul. (This is modern France.) He lost everything except Herodias. She showed that there was something good about her. She chose to stay with him.

Questions

 

1. Have you met people whose reactions are the same as Herod’s reaction? What sort of people are they? How can you help them?

2. Some people are ‘almost believers’. These people can use up much of the church’s resources. How should the members of the church deal with them?

3.There can be strong *sexual images in art, films or books. Can these images ever be right? Some people say that they can be all right. How can you know which ones are right?

Matthew 14:13–36

The *Messiah gave a big meal. He walked on water too.

 

An event showed that Jesus is the *Messiah. Another event showed that he rules over nature.

 

Read about Jesus’ *miracles again. They are in chapters 8 and 9. They were events. But they were also like *parables. Here, Matthew described two more *miracles. They are in 14:13–33. Jesus fed 5000 people. Jesus walked on the water. These *miracles were also *parables. They really happened. But there were lessons that we can learn from them.

Then Matthew described two examples of *unbelief or lack of *faith. (Read 13:53–58 and 14:1–12.) The two *miracles now give a contrast. They describe *faith. It is real *faith, but it is weak *faith. At the same time, they show who Jesus really was, and who he still is.

Jesus wanted a brief rest from his work (verse 13). This was not surprising. Remember that he was human! There was something else. His cousin, John, had just died. (Read Luke 1.) People would kill Jesus too. He needed to prepare for this. So, he needed to be quiet.

But this was impossible. The crowd followed Jesus. He pitied them. So he did not satisfy his own needs. He satisfied their needs instead. (Read verse 14.) The *disciples were not like Jesus. They did not like it when the crowd did not go home. So the *disciples were unkind to the people. They showed that they did not really care about the people. (Compare 15:23; 19:13 and Luke 9:49–50 too.)

Jesus used this situation to teach the *disciples. He showed them that they had a responsibility (verse 16). But they just complained. They could not do anything. They did not have nearly enough food (verse 17). Then Jesus showed them that they had him. The *miracle showed something about Jesus. He was all that they needed. He was their supply.

The *disciples took their own small supply of food to him. Then they could do something about the needs of the people. Jesus blessed the bread and the fish. He broke them into pieces. Then those pieces multiplied in the hands of the *disciples. There was a belief about the *Messiah. It was that he would provide a big meal for his *disciples. This was exactly what Jesus did here!

We must have real *faith (verses 22–36)

We can learn at least 5 lessons from Jesus’ control of the storm. They are about a person who has real *faith. (Note: In this section, ‘he’ refers to both ‘he’ and ‘she’.)

►  He will always make use of all the truth that God shows. That person does not just agree with the truth. He will be ready to act because of that truth (verses 27–28). Jesus told the *disciples not to be afraid. The language of the original *NT was *Greek. In the Greek NT, he said to them ‘I am’. This was a clear reference to God. It was the name that God called himself in the *OT. (Read Exodus 3:1–17.) Peter agreed that this was true. So he used what Jesus taught. Peter tried to do something that was impossible. But he did not think first. (Compare Luke 9:57–58 and Matthew 16:24–25.)

►  A person with *faith will use all of life’s circumstances. They can be opportunities for two things. They can be a chance for spiritual growth. They can bring honour and praise to God too. The storm was a severe trouble for the *disciples. But it made them sure that Jesus was God (verse 33). They recognised this clearly for the first time. They *worshipped him as God. Jesus showed them that nature must obey him. (Read 8:23–27.) Jesus will always use a person’s troubles. The troubles can help that person to grow in a spiritual way.

►  A person with *faith will not be too afraid to act in the way that he should (verse 26).

►  He may have very hard tests. It is easy to speak against Peter. He should not have looked at the wind and the waves. But Peter was already doing something that was impossible. Then his *faith began to fail. Because *faith is *faith, there will be ‘storms’ in each believer’s life. There will be fears and doubts. The answer is always to look to Jesus.

►  A person with *faith will show it by trusting Jesus completely. Peter began to sink. Then he cried, ‘*Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately put out his hand to him. He helped Peter in his great need. Only Jesus has the resources to help us. Only he can make our *faith strong. We must always look to him. We must always come to him.


Questions

 

1. Is there something in your life now that is impossible? Jesus may be asking you to trust him about it. Then you will be able to do that impossible thing. Talk to him about it now.

2. When should members of a church try to do something that is far beyond their resources? (This could be a plan to build. Or it could be special big meetings.) They could have great *faith. Or they could be being stupid. How can we know the difference between these two things?

3. The 5000 people could represent the people in the world. We could represent the *disciples. If so, how does the big meal apply to modern life?

Matthew 15:1–20

The arguments between Jesus and the religious leaders

 

Jesus gave two contrasts. There was *OT *faith and the *Jewish leaders’ *faith. And there were the words of the *Law and the real meaning or intention of the *Law.

 

The main section is 13:53–18:35. These verses are a small section in it. There was an argument. It was between Jesus and the religious leaders. It developed from this time until his death.

Something would help to explain this section. In the *OT, God gave great religious principles. He gave great moral principles too. He wanted to show the people what the principles meant. So he gave the people some pictures. He gave the *Jews some ceremonies and practices. But, by the time of Jesus, things had changed. Ceremonies and practices had become the most important things. To the *Jews, that was what real religion meant. The people concentrated on these things. They forgot the reason why God had given them.

The religious leaders added many rules too. These rules became more important than the *OT laws. Now the people must obey the new rules. They were called traditions. Often, this meant that the people did not obey God’s laws. Now, real religion was just acts. In one way, the leaders were making religion easy. People could achieve all that was necessary by themselves. But in another way, the leaders were making religion hard. They asked the people to do so many things. It was just impossible to do them all. (Compare 11:28–30.)

Jesus only used the *OT. So, what he taught was very different from the religious leaders. That meant arguments. This information should help us to understand the verses here.

To be clean outside (the body) and inside (the soul)

The religious experts arrived. They wanted to argue with Jesus. They had come from Jerusalem. They reminded Jesus about one of their rules. They said that his *disciples were ignoring it. It was the rule about how and when they should wash their hands.

To the *Jews, it was vital to be clean in a religious way. But this seemed to be impossible. They would always be dirty. So they developed a complicated system. They hoped that this would solve the problem. They must wash their hands in a special way. They did this first when they got up in the morning.

There was another time for this complicated system. At first, it was just for the priests. People would bring gifts to God at the *Temple. The priests could eat part of the gifts. But, first, they must wash their hands in a special way. Later, this system applied to all *Jews who said that they were really religious.

Many *Jews would keep water ready in their homes. They would use it before a meal. There was a minimum amount of water that they could use. It was enough water to fill ten empty eggs! Someone poured this water on both hands. The person must point the fingers up. The water must run down the hand. Then the water must drop off. This was because the water itself was now ‘dirty’. It had touched the ‘dirty’ hands. It must not run down the fingers again. Or the fingers and the hands would both be ‘dirty’ again.

Then they repeated the process. This time the person must point the fingers down. There was one final thing to do. They must rub each hand with the fist of the other hand. (Note: This meant that the person bent the fingers into the hand. The person held them there very hard.) The person might be a strict *Jew. If so, he would do all this between each part of the meal as well.

The leaders asked Jesus a question. Jesus did not answer it immediately. Instead, he showed them that their religion was wrong. It was against God’s word! All people should give honour to their parents. They should respect them. God expected this. (Read Exodus 21:17 and Leviticus 20:9.) The law was quite clear (verse 4).

But the leaders thought that this law meant too much responsibility. So, they invented their own law. It was in the cause of religion too! God had a greater claim on them than their parents had. So, the leaders said, ‘Give the money to God.’ (The word for this kind of gift was ‘Corban’. Read Mark 7:11.) Then, they could not use it for their parents. But the giver was God’s manager. So, the giver could use it himself. God had given him the responsibility of his parents. But a man could avoid it in this way. He could even use God’s authority to do that. Jesus was saying that this practice was wrong in verses 4–6.

Jesus spoke clearly to these leaders. They were just pretending to be good. He repeated Isaiah 29:13. God had said these words to religious leaders. It was in the time of Isaiah. This was 800 years before the time of Jesus. But the leaders had still not learned the lesson.

Jesus said something even more important in verses 10 and 11. A person may be ‘dirty’ or wrong. But lack of a ceremony did not cause it. What made a person really ‘dirty’ or wrong came from inside them. (Read verses 16–20.)

The reaction of the *Jewish leaders was not a surprise. But it was a great pity. (Read verse 12.) They did not understand the *OT principles of real religion. Perhaps they were unable to understand them. Maybe they could not understand because they did not want to understand. So they had invented their own religion. But it could only lead to hell.

Questions

 

1. People must do certain things before they can be ‘real Christians’. Some people insist on these things. But these things are not in the Bible. Can you think of any things like this? Do you insist on any of them yourself?

2. Some Christians teach about things that you must not do. They teach more about these things than about the things that you can do. What could this passage teach these Christians?

3. Some people are ‘almost Christians’. Other people may think that they are Christians, but they are not. But they insist on certain ceremonies. We might think that these ceremonies are not necessary. Should we oppose them? Or could they be a way to real *faith?

Matthew 15:21–28

*Faith for the whole world

 

Jesus healed the daughter of a non-*Jew. This shows that *salvation is for all people.

 

This was a most important story. In verses 1–20, the *Jews tried to prove that Jesus was wrong. Jesus showed them that they were not really God’s children. They were going to hell. Here, Jesus welcomed a non-*Jewish woman. The *Jews would think that this was very bad. To them, she was ‘dirty’. She belonged to a group called Canaanites. They were non-*Jews (Gentiles). But they lived in Israel.

There was a wonderful *miracle. But Matthew thought that something else was more important here. It was the way that Jesus dealt with the woman. She had a desperate need. So she came to Jesus. She knew that he could help her. She knew too that nobody else could help her. She even seemed to have some understanding of who he really was. She called him the ‘Son of David’. (Read the notes about 12:22–37.)

Note the contrast here. The *Jewish leaders had the *OT. They should have known that they needed the *Messiah. They should have recognised him when he came. Instead, they did not know that they needed anything. They were unable to recognise Jesus. They just argued with him. This woman did not have the advantages that the *Jews had. But she knew her need. She knew, too, that only Jesus could help her.

Verses 23–26 seem to be strange at first. Jesus seemed to be saying that the woman was asking for too much. He seemed to tell her that he only came to help the *Jews. Maybe this explained the *disciples’ unkind attitude in verse 23. They were thinking like the religious leaders thought. They thought that *Jews had a special claim on God. But Jesus certainly did not believe this.

There are two ways to understand this passage. The *disciples may be saying: ‘Send her away. Do not do anything for her.’ If so, Jesus would be copying the *disciples’ own thoughts. (Read verses 24 and 26.) But the woman had real *faith (verse 28). She showed that she belonged to the real people of God (verse 24). It did not matter that she was a non-*Jew (Gentile). Then Jesus healed the woman’s daughter. In the *NT, to get better was often a sign of *salvation. So his words and his action told her that God received her.

Or the *disciples may have been saying: ‘Send her away. Give her what she wants.’ Jesus replied that, at present, his work was for the *Jews first. But he still encouraged the woman’s *faith. She proved that she did have real *faith.

Questions

 

1. Are there any groups of people whom you think may be beyond Jesus’ help? What hope is there for them?

2. Are there people who are foreigners in your area? (Their culture is different from yours too.) They are like the woman in this story. Is there anything that you could do to help them?

3. Should we still think that the *salvation of *Jews is the most important thing? Is this what Jesus would want?

Matthew 15:29–39

Another special meal

 

Jesus offered another big meal. But now it was for non-*Jews. His *kingdom was now open to all people.

 

Jesus fed 4000 people. At first, another *miracle like this may seem to be unnecessary. (Compare how Jesus fed 5000 people. This is in 14:13–21.) The two stories seem very similar. But Matthew recorded them both. There was a reason for this.

Jesus had been in a non-*Jewish area. It was called Gennesaret. It was next to the Sea of Galilee. (Read 14:34–35.) In 15:21, Jesus was near Tyre and Sidon. This was an area to the far north of Galilee. In this passage, Jesus was in Galilee again. He was in the area of the Ten Towns. Its name was the Decapolis. But he was still on the non-*Jewish side of the lake. Verse 29 suggests this. Mark 7:31 confirms it. Another detail confirms it too. The *Greek word for ‘basket’ in 14:20 is a *Jewish word. But in 15:37, it is a non-*Jewish word. This shows that Matthew’s facts were accurate.

Jesus fed 5000 people. This event was at the end of his work among the *Jews in Galilee. So, 15:1–39 described Jesus’ work in mainly non-*Jewish country. There he fed 4000 people. This event finished a brief time among the non-*Jews (or Gentiles). *Jewish people who were sick came to Jesus. He healed them (14:14). Gentiles who were sick came to Jesus. He healed them too (15:31).

Matthew referred here to many passages that are in the *OT. They are all from the same book. First, there was Isaiah 52:7. It said that someone would declare the good news of *salvation. He would do this on a mountain. That was what Jesus did (verse 29). Next, there was Isaiah 52:7–10. *Salvation would come to people who were from all over the world. At that time, Jesus was working among non-*Jews. They represented the nations of the world.

Isaiah 35:5–6 described someone who would heal. Matthew used the same words in verses 30–31. The whole of Isaiah chapter 35 was about the same subject. It showed that the results of *sin would end. Isaiah 25:6–12 described the final big meal. God would have this big meal for all his people. Here, on the mountain, Jesus provided a big meal. Also there was Isaiah 29:18–19, 23. The *Jews would be God’s friends again. Matthew used the same sort of words in 15:31.

Matthew must have thought that these verses were important. One day, God’s *kingdom would be complete. There would be people from all nations in it. Here, Jesus provided a big meal for non-*Jews (Gentiles). Jesus provided the same big meal for *Jews and Gentiles. This showed that non-*Jews can be proper members of God’s *kingdom. But they must recognise who Jesus is. They must believe that he is God’s rescuer.

This passage taught about Jesus. There were three important lessons.

►  Jesus brought good news that came from God. Matthew repeated several passages from the *OT here. *Jews who read his book would understand why he used them. Jesus was the person whom the *OT described. He would declare God’s *salvation. He would bring God’s peace to the world.

►  Jesus himself would achieve this *salvation. He would stop the terrible results of *sin. Isaiah 35:5–6 told about great *miracles. Matthew used the same words about Jesus in verses 30 and 31. We know, too, that the results of *sin will end. The rest of Isaiah 35 declared this. Jesus fed 4000 people. That reminds us of God’s final big meal.

►  Jesus makes men and women to be friends with God. He makes them into holy people. The reaction of the people in verse 31 was like Isaiah 29:18–19, 23. Jesus is the Saviour (someone who saves). He helps his *disciples to be holy.

Questions

 

1. Pretend that you were there when Jesus fed the crowd. You were a Gentile (non-*Jew). Remember that Jesus was a *Jew. So, you would think that he must be against you. Imagine that you met Jesus. What would his attitude really be to you?

2. Many people in our own districts today have great needs. It may not be for actual food. What other needs are there? How can members of the church help them?


Matthew 16:1–12

The signs that prove who Jesus is

 

Some people refused to believe. There was plenty of evidence. But nothing would convince them.

 

These verses are very similar to 12:38–42. So, Jesus repeated some of his teaching. Matthew recorded it again too. This showed that the subject was important.

Some people chose not to understand (verses 1–4)

The *Pharisees and the *Sadducees wanted to test Jesus (verse 1). So they asked him to do a *miracle. It would be like a sign. It would prove that he came from God. Read 12:38–42. These verses explain more about the incident. Jesus refused to do what they asked. The signs or proofs were already there. People who were willing to learn would know about them.

People would look at a red sky in the evening. They would know that the next day would have good weather. But a red sky in the morning meant the opposite. There would soon be a storm. This was what happened in ancient Israel. (This is true in other parts of the world today too.) The *Jews knew how to understand signs like these. So Jesus told them to do the same with him.

They could already be sure that he came from God. Here are some of the signs or proofs:

•           Nobody else ever spoke as he did. (Read 7:28–29.)

•           He had done many great *miracles.

•           He could control nature (Read 8:27.)

•           Even evil *spirits knew him (8:29).

•           His whole life and work were already proof enough.

If the *Jews would not believe all these signs, then nothing would convince them.

Then Matthew said something that was sad. He said: ‘Jesus left them and went away.’ (Read 15:22 too.) He will never stay with people who do not want him.

The *disciples did not understand (verses 5–12)

We do not know why the *disciples did not understand Jesus’ words (verse 6). But Jesus’ answer was clear. He was talking about the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees. The *disciples must be careful about their teaching. Jesus taught something that was important. It was this. People’s thoughts affect the way that they act. And people’s actions affect the way that they think. This was true about the *Pharisees and the *Sadducees. The way that they thought affected their reaction to Jesus.

Jesus described their teaching. It was like yeast. This substance makes bread rise. That was why the *disciples thought that Jesus was talking about bread! But in the Bible, yeast was often a word picture. It described something that affected all that it touched. It grew and it was powerful too.

We may want to know what teaching Jesus was thinking about in this passage. He did not explain. But, from what we know about the *Pharisees, we can suggest certain things. First, the *Pharisees had a wrong opinion of themselves. They thought that they were very holy. They thought that their lives were very good. So, they believed that they had a special relationship with God. Because of this, they could not understand that they needed Jesus.

The *Pharisees had a wrong opinion of God’s purpose for the world too. God wanted all people to love him and to enjoy him. The *Pharisees had failed to understand this. They did not want to share their God with the rest of the world. They were selfish with their religion. They only cared about obeying all the details of their laws.

To the *Pharisees, the world that is future was not important. So they thought that this life was most important. That was especially true about the *Sadducees. It made it very hard for them to receive Jesus.

Even today, it is easy to have attitudes like these. If we do, the result will be the same. We could easily think that we do not need Jesus either.

Questions

 

1. Do you wish that God would give you ‘signs’ of his will? He has already given many signs. They are in the Bible. They are in history. They are in your own life. Make a list of them.

2. Should people who belong to churches expect signs or *miracles today? When do *miracles help people to hear the word of God? When do they make it harder for people to hear the word of God?

3. What things stop people from receiving Jesus today? How can we help these people?

Matthew 16:13–20

Who do you think that I am?

 

What Jesus’ *disciples understood about his work and about who he was.

 

Jesus was teaching his *disciples more about himself. He had begun with a warning. (Read verses 5–12.) Then, he asked them a question. It was a very personal question. He said: ‘But what about you? Who do you say that I am?’

The *disciples gave the answers of some other people (verse 14). The *disciples did not mention the very negative attitude of the *Pharisees. (Read 10:25 and 12:24.) But the *disciples repeated Herod (14:2) and other people. Those people all said that Jesus was a great person. They even said that Jesus was special. Nobody else was like him. But those answers were not enough.

Peter spoke for the *disciples (verse 16). None of them completely understood the words. But Peter made a very important claim. He said: ‘You are the Christ (*Messiah).’ He was recognising that Jesus was the chief *prophet of God. In Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, Moses had spoken of this person. A great *prophet would come one day. Peter believed that Jesus was that great *prophet.

God spoke to Isaiah too (Isaiah 55:4). God promised to send a great leader and a master of the nations.

The *Jews believed that the *Messiah would be a great priest. He would be a priest for ever. This belief came from Psalm 110:4. *Jews believed that the *Messiah would be a king for ever. This belief came from Psalm 2:6. The *disciples believed that Jesus was both a priest and a king. Peter also described Jesus as ‘the Son of the Living God’. Jesus was God and Creator. (He created all things.) He keeps and supports all things too. (Read John 1:1–3 and Hebrews 1:1–3.)

The true Lord (Master, Ruler) and false lords

All these events happened near Caesarea Philippi. This was a town to the north of Galilee. Jesus left Galilee. And he left the crowds who had followed him. He wanted a quiet place. This was so that he could spend more time with his *disciples.

We might ask why Jesus would choose Caesarea. It was an important religious centre. It was the main place for the *worship of Baal. Baal was the chief god in the country called Syria. Those who *worshipped Baal made all human pleasures their god, especially sex. But people also said that Pan was born there. Pan was the *Greek god of nature. Men and women *worshipped Pan. They were *worshipping what God made, instead of the Creator. (The Creator is he who created all things.)

There was a great *temple in Caesarea too. This was a special, large building. There, people would *worship the emperor (ruler). He was just a man. But people *worshipped him. They said that he was the master of the world.

All these things may be the reasons why Jesus chose this place. There were many other claims upon people. But Jesus called people to follow him only.

Peter, the rock (verses 17–19)

Men and women cannot understand spiritual things clearly on their own. Some people do understand them. If so, it is only because God has helped them. Here, Jesus showed a very important truth.

Jesus used two words in verse 18. Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke. In Aramaic ‘Kepha’ meant a rock. ‘Kephas’ was a name. Many people suggest that the rock was Peter’s *faith. Other people think that Jesus was referring to himself as the rock. Other people think that Peter himself was the rock. Probably, it was none of these ideas.

The *disciples were *Jews. They probably thought that Jesus meant the stone for a foundation. Abraham was like this kind of stone. (Read Isaiah 51:1–2.) The building was the *OT people of God. Abraham was its first stone. Jesus said that Peter was the first stone of the *NT church. (Note: The *NT church is the people of God.)

Something made Peter like a rock. It was his words in verse 16. He was the first person to really understand who Jesus was and is. He was the first of many people who would believe the same thing. 1 Peter 2:4–9 describes all believers as like ‘stones that are alive’. Here, in Matthew 16:16–18, Jesus was teaching an important truth. It was for anyone who wanted to be a member of the real church. Peter’s words here would always be the principle. (Note: The church does not refer to a building. It refers to people who belong to Jesus. So, ‘the church’ means all real believers. They are the ‘stones that are alive’.)

The last words of verse 18 are hard to understand. The original *Greek translation is important. It says: ‘The gates of Hades will not defeat it.’ In the Bible, the word ‘Hades’ can mean ‘hell’. But it can also mean ‘grave’. So it sometimes refers to death.

In the ancient world, many towns or villages had a large open space. It was behind the main entrance. This entrance was called the ‘gate’. It was here that people met together. They would make decisions about their lives and their village or town. Jesus could be referring to any plan that came from the ‘gate’ of hell. No plan that came from there would ever defeat the church. But, Hades could mean ‘death’. If so, it means that death itself would never defeat the church. This seems to be the most likely meaning.

To *Jews, the ‘keys’ in verse 19 would mean teaching that had authority. All *Jews would clearly understand this. So, Jesus was saying: ‘I will give the message of God. I will give it to you, Peter, and to all other stones who are like you.’ What men and women did with that message would decide their eternal future. (Eternal means before time began; for all time and for ever.)

Questions

 

1. Who do people say that Jesus is? Write a list of answers. What is your own answer? How would you explain it? How can you live by it?

2. What gods do people *worship in today’s society? Do the members of your church ever *worship false things? (These false things could be important people or ideas. They could be wrong ideas about God himself. They are any things that become more important than God to people.)

3. Some people say that it does not matter what a person believes. They say, too, that there are many ways to get to God. What would you say to these people?

Matthew 16:21–28

Jesus was the *Messiah. But he was not like the *Messiah that the *disciples expected.

 

The *disciples had discovered who Jesus was. But they did not understand that the *Messiah must suffer and die.

 

Jesus had agreed that Peter’s words were true (verse 16). He was the *Messiah for whom everyone was waiting. The *disciples must have been very excited. They would want to tell this good news to everyone. But Jesus forbade them to do this (verse 20). Some years later, Matthew saw two reasons for this. First, the *disciples must learn the real nature of the *Messiah. Then, they must learn the meaning of a real *disciple of Jesus. Only then could they really announce that he was the *Messiah.

Isaiah 52:13–53:12 described the *Messiah. He would not be a great political leader. He would be a servant who suffered. Jesus said that he was going to suffer. But Peter tried to stop him (verse 22). Peter had always had the normal *Jewish hopes. So, he thought that Jesus must not suffer and die. He just could not believe what Jesus was saying.

Jesus had just called Peter a ‘rock’. Now, he said that Peter’s words were from *Satan (the devil). Peter did not want to believe Jesus’ teaching. So, Jesus commanded Peter to be quiet. This showed Jesus’ wisdom. Even Peter could not understand the truth. So the *disciples needed much more teaching. Only then could they tell other people that Jesus was the *Messiah.

Jesus’ death was absolutely necessary. The *disciples needed to understand that. Later, Peter understood it more than any of the *disciples. (Read Acts 2:23; 3:18 and 1 Peter 1:11.) Peter was clear that Jesus’ death was necessary. It gave full meaning to the *OT. But Peter taught more than this. He taught that it was the only way of *salvation for men and women. (Read 1 Peter 2:21–24.) Jesus died instead of them. He saved them from the death that they deserved.

What it means to be a real *disciple (verses 24–28)

Jesus wanted his *disciples to say ‘No’ to themselves. They must obey him completely, in everything. They must give themselves completely to Jesus. Then they must serve him. These things are still true for us today. The standards are not just for some special believers. But they are for all those who want to be his *disciples. They are for all those who want to share his *glory too.

In verses 25–28, Jesus encourages us with three truths.

►        The life of a real *disciple is the only way to live life properly. It is a life that God approves of.

►        Those who follow Jesus will have a reward that lasts for ever. (Read verse 27.)

►        Real *disciples can know Jesus Christ as king before they die. (Read verse 28.)

The Bible does not say that Jesus’ *kingdom will appear at once. There was the time when people expected Jesus’ *kingdom. This was in 17:1–8. Then his *kingdom came. This happened slowly. First Jesus died and came alive again. He went back to heaven. Then he sent the Holy Spirit. Finally, Jesus will return to earth. Then he will complete his *kingdom. Before they died, the *disciples had Jesus’ new life in them. They had the Holy Spirit who was living in them.

Questions

 

1. As Christ’s *disciple, what have I lost in this life? What have I gained by being a *disciple? Is there something wrong in my life that must go? Decide a definite time when you will do it.

2. Plan a meeting for your church. The subject is: ‘When the Son of Man comes’. What will you include in the meeting?

3. There are three important things. They are: to be humble; to suffer; and to be weak. Non-Christians think of these things as failure. But Jesus was a servant. He suffered much. He died on the cross in great weakness. Does this mean that non-believers can never understand? What is the answer?

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).

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.

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

glory ~ the power and greatness of God; his great beauty; in the *OT, people saw it as a very bright light or fire; in the *NT, we see it especially in Jesus (John 1:14); Christians can show God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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.

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.

mercy ~ kindness to someone who does not deserve it; it is a very strong word; there are several meanings in it; there is love and pity; to have mercy means to forgive *sins; there is more information about this word; it is in the section for 5:7–9.

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.

parable ~ a story; it uses ordinary, familiar things to teach truths about God.

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.

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.

repentance ~ this is the act of a person who *repents.

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.

sexual ~ about sex.

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

sinner ~ a person who *sins.

spirit ~ spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits usually called angels. Bad spirits (also called evil spirits, or demons) live in the air round us. Their leader is called Satan.

synagogue ~ the *Jews’ special building in which they *worship God.

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.

unbelief ~ lack of *faith.

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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