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Sabbath School Lessons on Matthew
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 1: Son of David *
Introduction: We start a new series about the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew was a disciple of Jesus who had been a tax collector for the
Romans - a profession despised by the Jews. What a miraculous turn-around that Matthew should write one of the accounts of Jesus! What
an interesting background for Matthew's writing. Let's dive into our
study and learn more!
- Read Matthew 9:9. What skills does a tax collector bring
to Jesus' mission? (Tax collectors "bid" to collect the
taxes for a certain region. Matthew's profit was the
difference between what he paid the Romans for the right
to collect taxes and the amount he collected. This
requires someone who keeps careful records, has initiative
- Read Matthew 9:10-11. Why would the Pharisees ask this
question of the disciples, rather than Jesus? (They
probably thought the disciples had the same low view of
tax collectors as they did. This teaches us something else
about Matthew, he didn't care what others thought about
him - or at least he cared less than he cared about having
- If Matthew cared so much about money, why did he
leave his tax collector's booth and follow Jesus?
(Apparently, he had decided it was time for a change.
Are you ready for change?)
- The Genealogy of Jesus
- Quickly scan Matthew 1:1-16. Put yourself in Matthew's
place, how would you start a book about Jesus? Would you
want it to be dull and tedious?(That would not be my goal.
But, since Matthew was already detail oriented, that would
be a part of how he normally looked at things. This is
obviously a lot of detail.)
- Read Matthew 1:1. Why would Matthew decide to start out
naming these two men as being in Jesus' ancestry? (If,
like Matthew, you have a bad background, you might decide
to start out showing that Jesus has a great background.
Matthew links Jesus to the two most prominent men in
Jewish history. Abraham is the great man of righteousness
and David is the great warrior king.)
- Read Isaiah 11:1-2. Who is Jesse? ( Matthew 1:6
reveals Jesse is the "father of King David.")
- Matthew's readers would be familiar with Isaiah
11. What is the importance of this link to King
David? (Isaiah 11 is a prophecy about the
- Read Revelation 5:5. What does this reveal
about the preaching of the disciples? (They
linked the triumphant Jesus to King David.)
- Read Acts 2:29-33. Peter ( Acts 2:14) made this
statement on Pentecost. What does this tell us about
the Spirit-directed understanding of Jesus'
disciples? (Jesus fulfills the prophecies pointing to
- Read Genesis 12:1-3. Explain the last part of this
promise to Abraham? (This is a promise that the
Messiah will come through Abraham. Matthew is not
just connecting Jesus with important people in Jewish
history, he begins his argument by making these links
to show that Jesus is the Messiah.)
- We won't go through all of the detail that Matthew lays
out to show the human ancestry of Jesus, but does this
detail make sense for a man who is used to keeping
meticulous records? (Yes. Matthew provides proof to those
who doubt the bona fides of Jesus' heritage. Let's peek at
a couple of interesting points in this detailed proof.)
- Read Matthew 1:3 and Matthew 1:5-6. We see three
women listed, Tamar, Rahab and "Uriah's wife." What
do you know about these three women? (Genesis 38
reveals that Tamar posed as a prostitute. Joshua 6
discloses that Rahab was a prostitute. 2 Samuel 11
tells us that Bathsheba (Uriah's wife) was involved
in a sex scandal with King David.)
- Matthew does not need to name these three women.
Since he is trying to show Jesus' bona fides, why
would he add them to Jesus' human history? (Recall
that Matthew has a dubious background. Matthew
probably added them to show that Jesus could
sympathize with someone like him and the rest of us
- Read Matthew 1:17. Consider how the Jews were doing during
those three periods of time. If Abraham and David
represented the time the nation was moving towards
greatness, what about the next two periods? (The nation is
not doing well.)
- What point is Matthew making about Jesus? (By
pointing to the downhill slide of Jewish fortunes,
Matthew underscores the need for Jesus, for a Messiah
to rescue them.)
- Birth of Jesus
- Read Matthew 1:18-19. What amazing fact does Matthew
reveal? (Jesus not only has a fabulous human ancestry, but
Jesus is also God. The Holy Spirit is His "Father.")
- Why add the part about Joseph's thoughts of a quiet
divorce? (It shows that Joseph is a good man, and it
makes Matthew think that Jesus has something in
common with him - a background which others will
- Read Matthew 1:20-21. What claim is Matthew making about
Jesus? (Jesus, fully man and fully God, will save His
people from their sins. This is the Messiah. We now have
an additional witness to the angelic testimony.)
- Read Matthew 1:22-23. Matthew faces a real challenge. A
man with an unsavory background is writing a book about a
man who was crucified by the Roman authorities. His story
is that Jesus was born unlike any other person in history.
Credibility is Matthew's greatest problem. How does he try
to meet that challenge? (Once again, he directs the
attention of his readers to a Messianic prophecy of
Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 7:14.)
- Would this convince you? (Put yourself in the place
of Matthew's Jewish audience. He shows Jesus'
genealogical bona fides, and He links Jesus to the
Messianic prophecies that these people have already
accepted. Virgin birth is something Isaiah has
already told them to expect - so this is not a story
too fantastic for his audience.)
- Read Matthew 2:1-2. What kind of people are these Magi?
(Commentators tell us that they were intellectuals "from
the east" who studied science and the movements of the
stars. King Herod gave them an audience which shows that
he considered them worthy of his time.)
- Why would Matthew add this detail for us? (He wants
us to know that scientists saw something in the
heavens that pointed to the birth of Jesus. Do you
see how Matthew draws all of the strings of proof
together to convince us that Jesus is the Messiah?)
- Read Matthew 2:3. What is important about the nature of
this disturbance? (Everyone, from the King on down, gave
credence to the report of the Magi. This is not an
- Read Matthew 2:4-7. On what basis is King Herod convinced
that the Messiah has been born? (Credible scientists have
discovered a star pointing toward Jesus. The religious
teachers confirm, based on prophetic scripture, that the
Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem. The message to us is
that if the King and the scientists believed, you should
- Read Matthew 2:9-13. If you were a lawyer arguing evidence
to a jury about who Jesus is, what are the most important
points from these last verses that you would argue? (A
"star" points to the place where Jesus is born. The magi
are so certain of their finding that they worship Jesus
and give Him valuable gifts. This shows they understood
Jesus to be a someone to worship. Supernatural forces save
Jesus from danger, since Herod believes the story so
thoroughly, that he is willing to commit murder.)
- Read Matthew 2:14-18. We see again that Scripture points
to Jesus and that Herod is convinced that Jesus is the
Messiah. In the context of the murders that resulted, what
new element is introduced here? (Who suggests evil to
Herod? There are supernatural forces opposed to Jesus. If
you believe in a controversy between good and evil, evil
knows that Jesus is the Messiah who must be destroyed.)
- Friend, how about you? Are you convinced by Matthew that
Jesus is the Messiah? Why not accept Him as your Savior
- Next week: The Ministry Begins.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.