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Matthew Introduction

Matthew Introduction

Matthew’s Gospel has the most chapters of the four gospels (though Luke has more words and verses). Primarily, this is because Matthew includes large sections of Jesus’ public teaching, including the three chapters devoted to the Sermon on the Mount. The early church believed that the author was Levi, also known as Matthew, who was previously a tax collector and became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  

Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life is focused on presenting the good news to the Jewish people. There are at least nine instances where the author points out how Jesus is fulfilling God’s plan as described in Old Testament scripture, and Jesus himself speaks numerous times about the importance of fulfilling the Law and the scriptures. The Gospel itself makes more than sixty direct or indirect references to scriptures. Matthew intends to help his own people, the Jews, to understand how Jesus is the Anointed One, prophesied to come, and who came to fulfill all things.

Matthew also take care to show how Jesus removes burdens from the people in his understanding and demonstration of God’s love. Jesus protects the poor, the hurting, women, and diseased. He came for them, and Matthew wants to make sure that the Jews understand.

It appears that Matthew had the advantage of using Mark’s Gospel, since ninety percent of Mark is repeated in Matthew, though not always in the same order. Many early Christian writers believed that Matthew was written first, and that Mark extracted from Matthew to provide a smaller, more concise version. However, Mark’s text seems more primitive, and it would be surprising for him to have excluded so much good material Matthew presents. Also, Mark provides more detail than Matthew in a number of the stories, so it seems more likely that Matthew has made Mark more concise in the miracle stories rather than the other way around. Matthew is so much longer than Mark because he includes much more material about Jesus’ teaching.

One interesting feature of Matthew’s telling of the story is that several times Matthew reports two people where the other Gospel writers report only one – two demoniacs, two blind men, the donkey and its colt (instead of just the colt). There are actually two stories of two blind men, and two multiplications of loaves and fishes, two stories of healings resulting from touching Jesus’ clothes! Perhaps Matthew knew of multiple instances and brought them together in a single story to gain the corroboration of two witnesses. Or equally possible, Matthew was reporting as an eye witness, but only one of the blind men (or demoniacs) spoke, so the other gospel writers seized only on the one who spoke and reported about him.

Matthew Guide to the Transcommntary

Matthew Guide to the Transcommentary

This is a little bit more than a translation and a bit less than a full commentary.  It serves a similar function to the Amplified Bible, though that work’s purpose was to provide a complete sense of the meaning of the words used by the writers of scripture.  This work has a somewhat different purpose:

  • To convey as close as possible the actual meaning of the sentences as they would have been understood at the time they were originally spoken or written.  To accomplish this for twenty-first century Americans, dynamic equivalent words and sayings have been used at a sentence level.  An attempt has been made to preserve intended wordplay and irony from the original author.

  • We have attempted to clarify ideas, references, and thought sequences that would have been clear to first century audiences but are not clear to modern audiences because of differences in culture, customs, language, or degree of familiarity with Old Testament scriptures and Messianic prophecies.  The phrasing of the translation itself aims at that clarity, but we have also added words, phrases, and sentences to the narrative for improved understanding.  All such additions are in brackets [].  This allows the reader to have the explanatory additions when reading but also insulate these additions from the translated scripture – indeed, with a little effort they can be skipped entirely when reading aloud.

  • Color codes for different types of additional material are intended to further aid understanding:

- As in many editions, the words of Jesus are shown in red.

- Words of Father God or the Holy Spirit are shown in blue.

- Green is used for words added to descriptive narrative because they are implied or as commentary to explain the context.

References to scriptures are shown in gold.

  • As in many translations and editions, we have added headings in bold to help understand when a new theme is introduced by the author.

  • The author frequently refers to "Christ" or to "Jesus Christ".  We have employed the words “the Anointed One” rather than "Christ", since that is the meaning of “Christ”.  We wanted to avoid the sense of "Christ" as Jesus’ surname, yet still recognize it as a well-known title.

  • We have also added study questions at the end of each chapter to help you think more thoroughly about the meaning and application of the author’s writing.

An example of the use of bold headings, color, and brackets can be seen in the following paragraph taken from Matthew 21:

The triumphal entry into Jerusalem

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they arrived at [the village of] Bethphage on the Mount of Olives [the hill which overlooks Jerusalem]. Jesus sent out two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village across from us [probably Bethany] and you will immediately find a female donkey tied up and its young colt as well. Untie the donkey and bring the two animals to me. If anyone questions you, say to them, ‘The Lord needs them’. Then they will send the animals [with you] right away.” All this was done to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king is coming to you, humble and sitting on a donkey, and a colt, the child of a donkey.’” [The introduction of the quote comes from Isaiah 62:11, but the primary quote is from Zechariah 9:9.] The disciples did as Jesus directed them, and brought the donkey and its colt, and put on the donkey and colt their [extra] clothes and set him [riding] on them.

We will have succeeded in this translation if you the reader find that you can read this Gospel with greater comprehension and enjoyment than ever before.  Please let us know if you find the various supplementary materials helpful. or too distracting, or if you have any other suggestions about how to improve this approach to translation.

Richard Tittle, pneuma9@gmail.com

Matthew Chapter 1

Matthew Chapter 1

Jesus’ ancestors from Abraham

1The list of the generations of Jesus the Anointed One, [who was] descended from Abraham [the father of the Jews], and descended from David.  [Matthew's list apparently is designed to show: 1) Jesus is a descendant of Abraham and therefore is Jewish all the way down to his father Joseph, and 2) He fulfills the prophecies that the Anointed One would be of the line of David.] Abraham fathered Isaac [Genesis 21:2-3]. Isaac fathered Jacob [Genesis 25:24-26]. Jacob fathered Judah [Genesis 29:35]. Judah fathered Perez and Zerah through Tamar. [The full story is in Genesis 38. Tamar was Judah's daughter-in-law. Tamar tricked Judah into sexual relations with her when neither of Judah's sons Er or Onan gave her children, and Judah didn't take care of her by finding her a husband. God vindicated her by giving her twins. The story of the birth is Genesis 38:27-30.] Perez fathered Hezron [Genesis 46:12 and 1 Chronicles 2:5].

[The remainder of the generations leading to King David are also listed in 1 Chronicles 2:9-15 and Ruth 4:13-17.] Hezron fathered Ram. Ram fathered Amminadab. Amminadab fathered Nashon. Nashon fathered Salmon. Salmon fathered Boaz through Rahab. [The story of Rahab is in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6:25. Rahab was a prostitute who saved the Jewish spies who led Israel into the promised land. Rahab’s husband Salmon may have been one of the two spies.] Boaz fathered Obed through Ruth. [The story of how the Moabite woman Ruth became an Israelite is told in Ruth 1-4.] Obed fathered Jesse. Jesse fathered David.

King David fathered Solomon [2 Samuel 12:24] through her [Bathsheba] who was married to Uriah. [2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David's adultery with Bathsheba, his conspiracy to have her husband Uriah killed in battle, and then his taking Bathsheba as his wife.] Solomon fathered Rehoboam. [1 Chronicles 3:10-16 lists the same line of kings as Matthew down to the time of the exile.] Rehoboam fathered Abijah [2 Chronicles 11:20]. [The following descendants are all in the line of the kings of Judah.] Abijah fathered Asa. Asa fathered Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat fathered Jehoram. Jehoram fathered Uzziah. Uzziah fathered Jotham. Jotham fathered Ahaz. Ahaz fathered Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah fathered Manasseh. Manasseh fathered Amon. Amon fathered Josiah. 11 Josiah fathered Jeconiah [Jehoichin] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. [Several kings are purposely left out of the line of descendants mentioned, likely because of their evil lives - namely Ahaziah son of Jehoram, Joash son of Ahaziah, and Amaziah son of Joash. Also, Josiah's sons Jehoichim and Zedekiah served as kings, but are brothers of Jehoiachin, and not part of the royal line leading to Jesus.]

12 After the exile in Babylon, Jehoiachin fathered Shealtiel [1 Chronicles 3:17-19]. Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel. [The scripture appears to show that Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel's brother Pediah. Since no sons are listed of Shealtiel in the scriptures, he may have died childless and his brother produced the seed that preserved his family line. Zerubbabel figured prominently in history, as part of the first return from the exile. Along with the priest Jeshua, he rebuilt the Temple and served as governor of Jerusalem under the Persians. Both Haggai and Zechariah spoke prophecies concerning him. Ezra and Nehemiah both mention him.]

[The remainder of the ancestors are not recorded elsewhere in scripture, so are based on sources no longer available.] 13 Zerubbabel fathered Abihud. Abihud fathered Eliakim. Eliakim fathered Azor. 14 Azor fathered Zadok. Zadok fathered Akim. Akim fathered Elihud. 15 Elihud fathered Eleazar. Eleazar fathered Matthan. Matthan fathered Jacob. 16 And Jacob fathered Joseph, the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus the Anointed One. [Only 13 generations are mentioned, unless Jehoiachin is counted a second time. It is also highly likely that the list skips some generations, since the period between Jehoiachin and Jesus is just over 600 years, which would lead to an average span between generations of 47 years, which is unlikely for the era.]

17 All of the generations from Abraham to David are 14. The generations from David to the Exile are 14. And the generations from the Exile to the Anointed One are 14. [Matthew is providing a symbolic, numerological way of showing the Jewish genealogical history leading to Jesus, even though he is certainly aware it is not exact. As already pointed out, there are omissions in both the second and third sets.]

Family and birth of Jesus

18 The birth of Jesus, the Anointed One, happened like this. When Mary (who would become Jesus' mother) was already engaged to Joseph but before they were married, Mary was discovered to be already pregnant, [though this was] through the Holy Spirit[, not because she had sexual relations with Joseph or any other man]. 19 Her [betrothed] husband, Joseph, was committed to doing what was right but did not want to publicly shame her, so he decided to release her from the marriage promise privately. [In that time, a betrothed couple was considered husband and wife, and therefore the sin of sex with another man would require divorce. It seemed obvious that Mary had sinned but Joseph was not vindictive, though he had the right to see her tried and stoned for the sin.]

20 While he was thinking [about what he needed to do], the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which was conceived in her is by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” [Psalms 130:8 says that God will save the people from their sins. The Hebrew name Jesus means “God saves”.]

22 These things took place to accomplish what the Lord had spoken through the prophet [Isaiah 7:14], saying, 23 “See, a virgin will be pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will call him, ‘Immanuel’”, which translated [from the Hebrew to the Greek] means “God among us”. [It was not unusual to give a person two names - in this case, for the angel to say the child's name would be Jesus (“God saves”), and for the scripture to say his name was Immanuel (“God among us”). The angel made it clear that the child about to be born was the prophesied child. God would have to be “among us” to “save us”.]

24 When Joseph got up from his sleep, he then accomplished what the angel of the Lord had told him - he received Mary as his wife, 25 though he did not [consummate the marriage and] have sexual relations with her until after the baby was born. He gave the baby the name Jesus.

Discussion questions

1. If this Gospel is addressed primarily to Jews, do you see why the author would be careful to show the genealogy tracing back to David and Abraham?

2. Why do you suppose the genealogy included women who were involved in sexual sin? Why do you suppose God allowed Mary’s pregnancy to also cast doubt on her chastity?

3. What is the significance to you of the names “Jesus” and “Immanuel”?

Matthew Chapter 1 discussion questions
Jesus' ancestors from Abraham
Family and birth of Jesus
Matthew Chapter 2

Matthew Chapter 2

Wise men’s search for Jesus

At the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Herod reigned in Jerusalem [a short distance away]. Wise men [who studied the stars and their positions and meanings] came from the east and said, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him.” [When they were in their home country to the east (possibly Babylon or Nabatea), they regularly studied the heavens and had seen a configuration of stars that signified that a great king had been born. They understood the one who had born was not only a king but also God and worthy of their worship.]

Wise men's search for Jesus

When Herod heard this, he was upset, and all of Jerusalem with him. [Herod could not tolerate having a rival, and if Herod was upset then he was going to make sure that the entire city was upset as well.] When he had gathered together all the chief priests and interpreters of the Law, he demanded to know where the Anointed One was supposed to be born [according to scripture and the sayings of the rabbis]. And they told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for it is written by the prophet [Micah 5:2], ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not least among the princedoms [cities] of Judah, for out of you shall come a prince [governor] who shall rule my people, Israel.’

[Now that Herod knew generally where to look, he needed to know how old this child was and exactly where he was living in Bethlehem, because it was his intention to kill this rival.] So Herod privately sought the wise men, to find out exactly when the star appeared [and presumably the date of the child’s birth]. He sent them off to Bethlehem, saying, “Look for the child until you find him, and then send word so that I can come and worship him too.” After they heard what the king told them, they departed.

And, amazingly, the star which they had seen first in the east, went before them, until it stood [in one place] over the location where the child was. [It is hard to imagine an astronomical phenomenon in the sky which explains this, whether planetary conjunction, supernova, or comet, since none of these hovers over a single spot on the earth. Therefore, its explanation is more likely miraculous than a simple astronomical phenomenon.] 10 When they saw the star [marking the location], they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 When they came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and they bowed down and worshipped him. And they opened their treasure boxes and presented him gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. [Gold is fitting for the wealth of a king, frankincense for the worship of a God, and myrrh for the anointing of a body in the sacrifice of death.] 12 And being warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed a different route to return to their home country.

13 After the wise men departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up and take the young child and his mother, and flee to Egypt and stay there until I give you the word, for Herod is searching for the young child to destroy him." 14 When Joseph woke up, he [did exactly as told and] took the young child and his mother in the night and traveled with them to Egypt. 15 And they stayed there until the death of Herod. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet, which says, “Out of Egypt I have called my son”. [Hosea 11:1 describes Israel as God’s son whom he protected for a time in Egypt prior to the Exodus. Matthew is saying that Jesus’ life identifies with the nation and fulfills Hosea’s words in a deeper way.]

Herod’s murder of the children

16 When Herod realized he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious, and he sent forth [soldiers] and ordered them to kill all the children two years old and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding region, based on the time [of the infant king’s birth] that he had carefully obtained from the wise men. 17 This fulfilled what was spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah, 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah of weeping and mourning, for Rachel is mourning her children – she refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.” [Rachel, as Jacob’s favorite wife whom he loved, was considered the mother figure for all Israel.  She wept as she died, giving birth to a child she would never know. Jeremiah 31:15 describes sorrow over the exile of the Jews as Rachel weeping. Since Rachel’s tomb is near Bethlehem, Matthew sees Jeremiah’s words fulfilled in a deeper way by this terrible act related to the life of Jesus.]

Herod's murder of the children

Return of Jesus’ family

19 When Herod died, again an angel appeared to Joseph in Egypt through a dream, 20 and said, “Rise up and take the young child and his mother and return to the land of Israel, for those that sought [to take] the young child’s life are dead. 21 And Joseph [followed the instruction of the Lord and] took the young child and his mother and entered the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that [Herod] Archelaus ruled in Judah in place of his father Herod [the Great], Joseph hesitated to go there. Instead, with another warning through a dream, he chose instead to go to the region of Galilee [even though it was ruled by another of Herod’s sons, Antipas]. 23 He arrived and settled down in the city of Nazareth, which fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophets, “He [the Anointed One] shall be called a Nazarene.”

Return of Jesus' family

[Isaiah 11:1 was known as a prophecy concerning the Anointed One, and it says, “There will come a rod (nezer) out of the root of Jesse, and a branch (nezer) out of his roots will give fruit.” Jesse was the father of King David. The word “branch” has the same consonants (n, z, r) as the word “Nazarene”. Matthew is saying that Jesus fulfilled a prophecy of Isaiah that the Anointed One would be a descendant of David, because of the similarity of the words “branch” and “Nazarene”. While this may seem a far-fetched reference Matthew is reaching for, perhaps the Lord is simply revealing to Matthew the deeper degree to which Jesus was the fulfillment of all the writings of scripture.]

Discussion questions

1. How do you understand God allowing the birth of his son into the world to cause the death of other innocent children?

Matthew Chapter 2 discussion questions

2. Why do you think Matthew used so many scripture references to prove Jesus was the one that had been promised to come?

3. Why did God need to appear in dreams to Joseph and the Wise Men, rather than in person like he did to Mary? Have you ever had a dream where you felt God communicated to you?

Matthew Chapter 3

Matthew Chapter 3

Ministry of John the Baptist

In the days [before Jesus’ ministry began], John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judah, and said, “Change your ways, for the kingdom of heaven has arrived! [The Anointed One who represents God is about to show up, and you need to be ready for him.]” For this [John’s ministry] is what was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, when he said [Isaiah 40:3], “[This is] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight pathways for him.’”

Ministry of John the Baptist

John had clothing made of camel’s hair and a belt of leather. His food consisted of locusts and wild honey. And all [the people from] Jerusalem, Judea, and around the Jordan went out to him. They were baptized in the Jordan by him, as they confessed their sins.

But when John saw the Sadducees and Pharisees [rival religious parties] coming to the place where he baptized [to evaluate how much they might need to worry about him as a rival religious leader], he said to them, “Generation of vipers, who informed you to run away from the coming wrath [of God]. [Jesus would specifically describe later how judgment would come to this generation for their rejection of God.] Therefore, show forth the fruit worthy of repentance [as evidence that you are ready to live submitted to God]. Don’t think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father [and therefore we are God’s chosen people who will be saved from destruction automatically because we are Jews].’ I say to you, God can raise up children of Abraham from these stones. 10 And already the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that doesn’t bring forth good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. [Every individual life will be judged.]

Baptism of Jesus

11 “I baptize with water for repentance, but after me comes one who is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not even worthy to carry, and he will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly process the harvest on the floor. He will gather his wheat in the granary but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Baptism of Jesus

[When grain is harvested, it is piled in the barn. The farmer throws the harvest in the air and uses a large hand-operated fan to create a wind. The wheat falls into his grain container, and the chaff is blown beyond the container. The farmer then stores the wheat and burns the chaff. John is quite blunt and confrontive. Those who love and serve God are the wheat, and those who are out for themselves and ignore God are the chaff. The wheat is preserved for everlasting life and the chaff is burned in the fires of hell.]

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John [at first] would not allow him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you are coming to me?” [In John 1:32-33, John the Baptist says he didn’t know that Jesus was the Anointed One until the Spirit came down on Jesus. However, Matthew’s account shows that John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus, must have strongly suspected Jesus was the one.]

15 And Jesus answered him, “Let it be this way now, for it is good to fulfill all righteousness.” [Jesus was setting an example for all men and humbling himself before God and man. There would be a time to come when Jesus would be recognized as the sinless one and the king of all creation.] Then John let him [be baptized]. 16 And as soon as Jesus was baptized, when he came up out of the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. 17 And there was a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved son, who pleases me very much.” [This was a common formula for an earthly father – to bless his son at the time of recognizing him as heir and declare the son is approved to represent the father.]

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think God thought it was important to have John the Baptist prepare the way before Jesus came?

Matthew Chapter 3 discussion questions

2. What was the value of Jesus being baptized if he was God’s son and had committed no sin?

3. How would it have affected Jesus to hear the voice from heaven praising him? How would it affect you to hear that from your father?

Matthew Chapter 4

Matthew Chapter 4

Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness

Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tested by the devil. [When people are first hired or promoted, they are tested before being fully released in their strength.] And when he had fasted [stopped eating] for forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. When the tempter [Satan] came, he said to Jesus, “If you [really] are God’s son, command these stones to become bread.” But Jesus answered, saying, “Man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus' temptation in the wilderness

[The temptation was to prove who he was. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to counteract the temptation placed in his mind. Jesus was laying the foundation of his ministry and taking a stand. In John, he said, “I only do what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19, John 8:28). He wasn’t saying he couldn’t produce bread, only that he wouldn’t do it on his own initiative, unless he first saw the Father doing it or heard the Father saying to do it.]

Then the devil took him into the Holy City [Jerusalem] and stood him on a high corner of the Temple, and said to him, “If you are God’s son, throw yourself off. It is written, ‘He shall give his angels charge over you, and in their hands, they shall lift you up, in case you strike your foot against a stone’ [Psalms 91:11-12].” And Jesus replied again, “It is written, ‘You shall not test the Lord your God’ [Deuteronomy 6:16].

[The temptation was to use his privilege as God’s son, rather than trust God’s promises. Satan wanted him to react rather than act in obedience to the leading of God. This time, the devil tried to make the temptation more attractive by using scripture to justify it, but Jesus knew the scripture was taken out of context, and had no trouble choosing an appropriate scripture-based reply to counteract the temptation.]

Again, the devil took him to the highest of mountains, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, and said to him, “I will give you all of this if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan. For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him alone’ [Deuteronomy 6:13]”. 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and ministered to him.

[A forty day fast is difficult enough, but these temptations left him in need of strengthening. Jesus himself likely described this whole experience to the disciples later. It may seem that Jesus handled the temptations rather easily, but we don’t understand how weak he was after forty days with no food. Luke 4:13 tells us that when the devil left it was until he could find a better opportunity. Perhaps he never expected that Jesus would swallow his rather obvious invitations. If these temptations were to work like they do with most of us, he was attempting to plant thoughts in Jesus’ head about taking shortcuts. Once the tempter can get us to think independently of God, especially when we are at our weakest, then he has already won the battle, as he did with Adam and Eve. But Jesus loved and trusted his Father too much to ever deviate from his path. If he had fallen to any of these temptations to act as God rather than man, he would have forfeited the ability to die sinless in our place.]

Jesus in Galilee

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put into prison, he departed [from Judea] for the [province of] Galilee. [Apparently, he heard from the Father that he was now to make his ministry base in the north, where he and most of his disciples were from. This would also avoid run-ins with the chief Jewish leaders for a while.] 13 And he moved [his home] from Nazareth [where he grew up] to Capernaum which is along the sea [called the Sea of Galilee though it is actually a lake], in the region of [the Jewish tribes of] Zebulun and Naphtali.

Jesus in Galilee

14 This fulfilled what was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, 15 “In the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles [non-Jews], 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light has arisen [Isaiah 9:1-2].” [Matthew sees very clearly that when Jesus moved to Galilee, he in fact was that light foretold by Isaiah’s prophecy. The greatest outpouring of light through Jesus was in the region primarily populated by non-Jews, who did not know God, and was therefore a region of darkness.] 17 From this time [when Jesus moved to Capernaum], he began to preach, saying, “Change your way of thinking, for the kingdom of heaven is right here right now. [Expect God to work in your life, for he cares about your needs.]”

18 Walking along the sea, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon who is known as Peter, and Andrew his brother. They were casting their nets, since they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me [as my disciples] and I will make you fishers of men”. 20 Without hesitation, they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there, he came upon two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and Jesus also called them [to follow him]. 22 James and John left their boat and their father and followed him. [According to John 1:35-41, Jesus already met these four through John the Baptist around the time Jesus was baptized by John. Luke 5:1-11 tells this story of this calling of the first four disciples in more detail, including the story of the miraculous catch of fish.]

23 Jesus traveled all around the [region of] Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, declaring the good news of the kingdom [that God is near at hand and he wants to bless his children], and healing every infirmity and every sickness among the people. 24 And the reports about him went throughout all Syria [the larger region, including the areas farther north than Galilee, Samaria, and Judea]. And they brought to him all who were sick with various kinds of sicknesses and torments, including those who were demonized or mentally ill, and those who were paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Great crowds of people followed him from Galilee, Decapolis [the Roman district on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee], Jerusalem, and Judea, and beyond the Jordan River [modern day Syria and Jordan].

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think Jesus fasted to meet the tests? Didn’t that make him weaker?

Matthew Chapter 4 discussion questions

2. Has God ever moved you to an unfamiliar location to make your home? How was it different, and what response did that draw from you?

3. Why did Jesus need disciples? Didn’t that make his job harder? Why do you think they were so eager to follow him?

Matthew Chapter 5

Matthew Chapter 5

Good news of God’s kingdom

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up a hill, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. [Jesus had not yet selected the twelve, so this teaching was probably for all his followers. The “Mount of the Beatitudes” near Capernaum, is the traditional site of this teaching.] He opened his mouth and taught them, saying, [Whatever you are going through, if you will let God have his way in your life, even the worst things will be turned around. You may think that your life is full of bad news, but in the kingdom of heaven, God makes all things work for your benefit. The more you cooperate with him, the higher the payoff.] It’s good news[, not bad,] if you are poor in spirit[, depressed or lacking energy or enthusiasm], for you have the kingdom of heaven. [You may believe that those who are empty or lacking in their spirits have no hope. But Psalms 34:19 and Isaiah 61:1 both say much the same thing - it’s good that you aren’t self-sufficient because you will be more open to God and he will make you rich in spirit.]

Good news of God's kingdom

“It’s good news[, not bad,] if you are grieving [because of what you have lost], for you shall be comforted. [You may feel that nothing can replace what you have lost. But Isaiah 40:1 and Isaiah 61:2-3 talk about why those that grieve will be comforted. God cares about you and will bring you healing, restoration, companionship, and a rich life.]

“It’s good news[, not bad,] for you who are gentle[, who aren’t aggressive and don’t think highly of themselves], for you shall inherit the earth [Psalms 37:11]. [Aggressive, angry people may look like they are winning but God will look out for those who don’t push for their own way, and will grant you prosperity, if not in this life than in the life to come.]

“It’s good news[, not bad,] for you if you are hungry and thirsty for righteousness [and justice], for you will be satisfied. [The world is not at all satisfying, for the unrighteous and unjust often seem to be rewarded, but Isaiah 55:1-2 tells us that only God can satisfy that hunger and thirst. Thus, your hunger is for God to set the world in right order, including your own hearts. In the kingdom of heaven, as you hunger for God, and forgive others, God fills your hearts and satisfies your souls.]

“It's good news[, not bad,] for those who are merciful, for they shall receive mercy. [You may feel that the merciful are often taken advantage of, but 2 Samuel 22:26 explains that God rewards our good-heartedness. God’s plan of love expects that you will forgive others, and your own forgiveness is withheld until you do so (Matthew 6:14-15). In kingdom life, you honor others whether they deserve it or not, and you leave it to God to honor you.]

“It's good news[, not bad,] for those with clean hearts, for they shall see God. [You may think that clean hearts will always be disappointed by the darkness and dirtiness of the world. However, when your eyes are focused, you will be filled with light (Matthew 6:22-23), which in turn is what allows you to see God in all things. When you think in a pure way, the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8).]

“It’s good news[, not bad,] for those who make peace, for they shall be called children of God. [You may feel that it is the very nature of the world and even of men to be in division and at war with one another. But God sent me to bring reconciliation between God and men, and among all men (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).]

10 “It’s good news[, not bad,] for those who are persecuted for the sake of doing what is right, for they shall see the kingdom of heaven. [You may feel you’ve done something wrong if people are angry at you and try to stop you. I am telling you that when you follow God, people feel threatened and afraid and they will seek to stop you. They have done it to me and they will do it to you (John 15:18-21). But all of heaven will help you and sustain you when the world is against you.] 11 It’s good news[, not bad,] when they insult you, badger you, and accuse you falsely because of me. 12 Rejoice and be very glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. This is the same way they persecuted the prophets before you [so you are in good company]."

Salt and light

13 “You [who are beginning to believe the good news of the kingdom] are the salt in the earth. [Whatever is going on around you, your faith and action is what makes the world taste good to others, knowing that God loves them and cares for them.] If salt loses its effectiveness, then what can ever make it salty again? It’s good for nothing, except to be thrown out, and trampled under men’s feet! [If you don’t walk in faith, then you have lost your effectiveness.]

Salt and light

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Men [likewise] don’t light a lamp and then put it under a basket. Instead they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 So [in the same way] let your light shine in front of everyone so that they can see your good works and glorify your heavenly father. [Your faith in action is what gives people confidence that God is at work in the world.]

How to fulfill God’s Law

17 “Don’t think that I have come to invalidate the Law and the Prophets [or any of the scriptures]. I have not come to invalidate them but to fulfill them. [Jesus intends to reveal more completely the truth and purpose for many of the commandments of God and demonstrate how to accomplish them the way God intended. He also was prepared to fulfill prophecies, especially those that were understood by the teachers and interpreters of the Law as describing the spiritual leader called the Anointed One, who was to come and deliver Israel.] 18 For I am telling you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not even the smallest part of the Law will pass away until all of it is fulfilled. [The scriptures point to a holiness that God expects of every person and collectively of nations. Every time a person or nation ignores God’s ways there is a negative consequence, but obedience to God’s ways leads to God’s protection and blessing. Deuteronomy 28 describes very well the consequences of both obedience and disobedience.]

How to fulfill God's Law

19 “Whoever violates one of the least important of these commandments and teaches others to do so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. [God dislikes both rebellion and laziness. Though we may gain eternal life, our heavenly rewards will be measured by how much we love God and his ways.] 20 But whoever will do [what the commandments say] and teach others to do the same, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I am telling you, unless your righteousness [obedience to God’s commandments] is greater than that of the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, you won’t even enter [or experience] the kingdom of heaven."

[The religious leaders were known for inventing interpretations of God’s commands that they could turn to their own advantage and satisfy their own desires. Jesus is saying that observance of God’s ways needs to be at the heart level. If not, we won’t even be living a kingdom life. You must obey God to see the benefits of his ways. In fact, living a kingdom life means living out of a place of love rather than a place of self-protection and fear.]

Anger equals murder

21 “You have heard what was said since ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’ [Exodus 20:13], and ‘Whoever murders will receive just punishment’ [Deuteronomy 17:8-11]. 22 But I am telling you, whoever is enraged at his brother is worthy of judgment, and whoever says to his brother, “You’re worthless”, should be required to go before the council, and whoever says, “You wicked fool”, is in danger of burning in the trash dump. [If you think going before the council and being burned in the trash dump are appropriate forms of punishment for murder, I am telling you they are appropriate as well for murdering with your words and emotions.]

Anger equals murder

23 [As you think about how your anger kills others, think as well about reasons others may be angry with you.] When you are in the process of making a sacrificial offering before God, if you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar, go and make peace with your brother first, then return and offer your gift to the Lord. [How can you make a true sacrifice before God if you are not at peace with your brother.]

25 [And if the problem is so serious that one of you has brought it before the court, make every effort to] agree with your accuser quickly while you are on the way to the court, before you are brought before the judge, and the judge condemns you to the jailer, and the jailer puts you in prison. 26 I tell you the truth, you won’t get out until you have paid the entire debt. [You were angry at your brother, but what if he is angry at you? And don’t wait, hoping to be justified by evidence in your favor. Perhaps the judge will rule against you and you are the one who will be thrown into jail. And if you don’t forgive and get reconciled, it’s like being thrown into emotional prison anyway, and you will never get out until you let go of your hurt and forgive.]

Lust equals adultery

27 [It all comes down to selfishness. Lack of forgiveness comes out of putting ourselves first. Just as important is how men and women treat each other.] You have heard that it was said [in the Law and by your ancestors], ‘Do not commit adultery’ [Exodus 20:14]. 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman with sexual desire has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, then pluck it out, because it’s better for you to lose one of your body’s parts than your whole body be thrown into the place of burning judgment. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, then cut it off and throw it away, because it’s better for you to lose one of your parts than your whole body be thrown into the place of burning judgment. [Rather than allow yourself to sin, even in your mind, take radical action to restrict what you allow yourself to do with your eyes, hands, feet, and any other part of you.]

Divorce equals adultery

31 [Out of that same selfishness and lack of self-control, men seek divorce.] It has been said, “Whoever would divorce his wife, then [simply] give her a divorce decree [to make it legal] [Deuteronomy 24:1-4]. 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, unless she was sexually unfaithful, he will be causing her to commit adultery [because usually she will need to marry again since men control all the resources]. And whoever marries the one who was divorced is also committing adultery. [Marriage is a covenant relationship and is not to be discarded unless it has already been broken by adultery.]  [Jesus is simply explaining that the Law is not broken only by actions but by intent, and that we are to take seriously every commitment. He is not wanting us to keep the Law simply by the letter, but by the heart. Also, he is not saying that divorce is unforgivable only that it is sinful.]

Honoring your word

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said since ancient times, ‘Do not break an oath, but instead carry out what you have sworn to the Lord’ [Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:1-2, Deuteronomy 23:21-23]. 34 But I say to you, don’t swear at all! Neither by heaven, since it is God’s throne [where God rules from], 35 nor by earth, for it is God’s footstool. Not by Jerusalem, since it is the city of the great king [God]. 36 Nor should you swear by your head, for you don’t have the power to make one hair either white or black [only God can do that].

[Anything you decide to do, simply make up your mind to do it, and then ask God to help you accomplish it.] 37 Let what you say be simply yes or no [to indicate whether you intend to do something]. Anything more than that comes from the Evil One. [The religious traditions fought over which oaths were binding. Jesus is saying it’s not the oath that should be binding, but your intention to honor your own word. Otherwise, you are neither reliable nor honest.]

Power of love over revenge

38 [When it comes to revenge,] you have heard that it has been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  [The law of retaliation is first described in Exodus 21:23-25 and is designed to give fair compensation but not allow escalation.] 39 But I say to you, don’t pay back evil. [Instead, don’t resist what is done to you or is taken from you, but show love and kindness in return.]  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other as well. [You may feel hurt or insulted but make it clear that you will not retaliate even if they hit you again.]

40 “If someone feels you owe them something and takes your sweater or coat, give them your cloak as well. [Even if their taking of your coat seems unfair, give them an additional item of greater value.] 41 And if someone would force you to go a mile for them [to carry or deliver something], be willing to go even farther [or do more than they intended]. 42 If someone asks you for something, give. Or if someone wants to borrow something of yours, don’t turn them away empty-handed. [In every situation where someone would hurt or insult you, take from you unfairly, or otherwise do you injury, turn the tables by not responding with anger or hurt. Instead, love them by giving them even more than they ask. What Jesus is telling us here is not additional laws that we must observe. These are strategies for turning evil to good.]

[Anything you decide to do, simply make up your mind to do it, and then ask God to help you accomplish it.] 37 Let what you say be simply yes or no [to indicate whether you intend to do something]. Anything more than that comes from the Evil One. [The religious traditions fought over which oaths were binding. Jesus is saying it’s not the oath that should be binding, but your intention to honor your own word. Otherwise, you are neither reliable nor honest.]

43 “You have heard that it has been said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. [The scripture is from Leviticus 19:18. It was common among the Jewish interpreters of the Law to speculate whom scripture is saying is our “neighbor” and therefore by contrast whom we have the right to hate. Jesus is saying that, at some level, everyone is our neighbor.] 44 But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’, 45 that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun shine on both those who are evil and those who are good, and he sends the rain to both the righteous and unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, why should you be rewarded for it. Even the tax collectors do that! 47 And what if you greet your friends only? That’s just like everyone else. Don’t the non-Jews do that? [I’ve been describing to you how to] 48 be perfect just like your Father in heaven is perfect. [Live a life trusting God and loving others, not simply a superficial life that follows rules.]

Lust equals adultery
Divorce equals adultery
Honoring your word
Power of love over revenge

Discussion questions

1. How can it possibly be good news, as Jesus says, if you are depressed, or grieving, or in need? What is the element that turns it from bad news to good?

Matthew Chapter 5 discussion questions

2. In verses 13-16, Jesus talks about sharing the “good news”. In your own life, are you more likely to share good news or bad news. Are you “salt” and “light”?

3. Do you agree with Jesus that thinking bad things towards others is the equivalent of doing bad things? Is that really true? 

4. What are some areas of your life where you could practice strategies that may turn bad things aimed against you to good? For instance, what positive thing could you do when people drive poorly on the road around you?

Matthew Chapter 6

Matthew Chapter 6

God’s reward versus self-reward

“Watch yourself as you perform your good works. Don’t make a display of them before men, or you will lose the reward you would receive from your father in heaven. [God rewards only what we do out of love. If we do things for gain, then we have already received the reward. Love doesn’t draw attention to itself. But in heaven, God will reward every good act we have done on the earth out of love.] Likewise, when you give to those in need, don’t sound a trumpet [and draw attention to yourself], as the pretenders do both in the synagogues and in the streets, so they can be acknowledged by men. The truth is, they have their reward. [As Jesus says later (Matthew 10:39), if we try to save our own life, we lose it, but if we lose or let go of our life for the sake of God’s kingdom, then we gain eternal life. Likewise, if we try to gain our own reward, we lose God’s reward, but if we work for the kingdom simply serving God, we will gain God’s reward.] So when you give to those in need, don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [don’t keep a record], so that your giving remains secret. Your Father sees [all things including] what is done in secret, and he will reward you.

God's reward versus self-reward

“And when you pray, don’t do like the hypocrites do, for they love to stand in the synagogues and the street corners and pray so they can be seen by men. The truth is, they have already received their reward. But when you pray, go into a hidden room and pray to your Father who also is hidden, and your Father, who sees all that is hidden, will reward you. [God will reward you through answering your prayers, but he will also give you credit that will lead to eternal reward for your good works that are given out of love for others and obedience to God.] And when you pray, don’t babble on and on like the non-Jews, for they think God will listen to them better because of how long they pray. There’s no need for that because your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The Lord’s Prayer

“Instead, [acknowledging the way God wants to work with us hand-in-hand,] pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, you are holy [and we want to be holy too]! 10 Let your rule come, and your plan be executed [right here], so life on earth becomes just like heaven [no darkness or sin or sickness]. 11 Please give us exactly what we need for this day. 12 And forgive our debt to you for anything we have done against you, just as we forgive the debt of others for what they have done against us. 13 Help us by leading us away from temptation and rescue us from the evil one [who feeds us lies we are tempted to believe].’ 14 For if you do forgive men their offenses against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your offenses.

The Lord's Prayer

16 “Likewise, when you fast, don’t be like those hypocrites, who put on a sad face, not keeping up their personal appearance just so everyone will know they are fasting. The truth is, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head [taking care of your hair] and wash your face, 18 so that no one can tell you are fasting. And your Father, who is hidden, and sees what is done in hidden places, will reward you. [The earthly reward for fasting will be victory over one’s own flesh and increased spiritual authority. There will also be a heavenly eternal reward for good works due to love and obedience.]

19 [Men like to get their rewards sooner rather than later and through their own efforts. But I tell you,] don’t accumulate riches for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust may eat them up, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But instead, accumulate your riches in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can eat them up, and thieves cannot break in to steal. [Good works, done out of love for both God and your fellow men, are recorded in heaven, and at the time of eternal judgment, God will give a just reward to be enjoyed in heaven.] 21 For where your treasures are, your heart will be also. [If your treasures are earthly, like important positions, the praise of men, or a large bank account, then that will be where you will focus. But if you care more about what God thinks and about the needs of your brothers, then that’s where your attention will be.]

Focusing on God rather than ourselves

22 [The way you look and think about things can be either positive or negative.] The eye is the lamp of the body. If the way you see things is healthy and positive in expectation, then you will bring light into your being. 23 If, however, your outlook is unhealthy and negative, then your whole self will be full of darkness. If your eye [the lamp for your inner being] is dark, then how deep is that darkness! [Your attitude and expectation colors all you perceive. If you are focused on your own self, then all your perceptions will be based on negative expectations and on how to protect yourself and your possessions. If you are focused on God and serving others, then your perceptions will be based on positive expectations of God’s love and support.]

Focusing on God rather than ourselves

24 “A slave cannot serve two masters. He will love the one [he finds kinder and to whom he feels loyal] and hate the second one [whose demands make it harder to serve the one he loves]. He will despise the second one and be devoted to the first one. You cannot serve both God and possessions. [If you love God, your thoughts will be focused on how to serve him, and you won’t care about your possessions. If you love your possessions, you will have a very hard time serving God.]

25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t focus on your life, what you will eat or drink, or on your body, what you will wear. For isn’t your life more than food, and isn’t your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air. They neither plant nor harvest nor store grain, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you of greater value than them?

27 “Which of you by worrying can add inches to your height [or time to your life]? 28 And why do you worry about your clothing? Think about the wild flowers in the field. They don’t need to work or make their clothing. 29 And I am telling you, even Solomon in all his glory did not compare to one of these flowers. 30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven [for fuel], will he not much more clothe you, [even though you are still] men of little faith?

31 “Therefore, don’t worry at all, saying, ‘What do we have to eat, or what can we drink, or how shall we be clothed?’ 32 The non-Jewish peoples seek exactly for the same things [and they haven’t been taught about God]. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. 33 But give priority to the kingdom of God [how God is working around you] and his righteousness [what he wants you to do] and all these other things [that you need] will be yours as well [because as you do God’s work he will do your work]. 34 Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow today, for tomorrow will have its own worries, and each day has enough trouble of its own [and God will solve each problem if you put it in his hands].

Discussion questions

1. What rewards do you think Jesus is talking about that we will receive in heaven? Do you think that it is truly worth letting go of today’s rewards to gain heavenly rewards?

Matthew Chapter 6 discussion questions

2. Based on what Jesus says, do you think it’s wrong to want to be successful in this life? How does Jesus think we should go about it?

3. What is God drawing your attention to that’s “his kingdom”? What are the “right actions” he is putting in front of you?

Matthew Chapter 7

Matthew Chapter 7

How we look at others

“Don’t be critical, or you will be criticized. For the measure you give out, that’s the same measure you will receive. [God has implemented a law of sowing and reaping within the fabric of reality, and it works automatically. If you are positive towards others and towards the world, you will receive positive back. If you are negative, you will receive negative. That’s why it’s so important to see things positively in the first place (Matthew 6:22-23)].

How we look at others

“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you even say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when in fact there is a log in your eye. [When you have a big fault yourself, you won’t even see accurately enough to help someone else deal with their small fault.] You hypocrite! First get rid of your log and then you really can help someone get rid of their speck. [First, deal with your own faults before you try to help someone else deal with theirs.]

“Don’t give what is holy to the dogs, or cast your pearls before pigs, or the pigs may trample those pearls under their feet and turn around and tear you up. [Be careful whom you try to help with a problem, because not everyone appreciates wisdom or good advice even if it comes straight from God. They may either ignore what you say or even turn in anger on you.]

Believing God is good

[Don’t hesitate to ask God for what you need or desire.] Ask [for something] and you will receive. Look for it and you will find it. [When you have found it,] knock [on the door] and it will be opened. For the one who asks receives, and he who looks finds, and to him who knocks it’s opened. [Even though God knows what we need, he rewards our pursuit of what we need in faith. That pursuit begins with asking for what we need. Once we ask, God will guide us as we search. And once we find what we need there may still be obstacles. God tells us to knock expecting that the door will be opened and we will have what we pursued.]

Believing God is good

[Many who have experienced disappointments in their past do not ask because they believe wrongly that God may hold back or postpone our answers either because of our sin or to build up our endurance. It is true that our sin especially unforgiveness can hold back answers and God helps us to grow as we wait, but it's God's very nature to give us what we ask for - it's his primary way of building up our faith.] For which of you, if your son asked you for some bread, would give him a stone? 10 Or if he asked for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 If you who are evil [compared to God] know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?

12 [Just as God will do whatever you ask him for, be also willing to be the instrument by which God will accomplish what others need.] Whatever you want men to do for you, do likewise for them, for this is [the same as what is said in] the Law [the Old Testament books that precede Isaiah in our current Bible] and the Prophets. [An example from the Law is Leviticus 19:18, and an example from the Prophets is Zechariah 8:16.] 

Discerning trees by their fruit

13 “Enter through the narrow gate! For there is a wide gate and a broad path which take you to your destruction, and many go that way, 14 because the [narrow] gate is hard to find and the pathway is difficult that leads to life, and few find it.

Discerning trees by their fruit

15 [Speaking of the path of destruction.] watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but are vicious wolves. [They appear to be gentle and humble, but they are out for themselves and will take advantage of you once they have your confidence.] 16 You can recognize them [the false prophets] by their fruits. Do you find grapes on thorn trees? Do you find figs on thistle bushes? 17 Likewise, every good tree produces good fruit, but every corrupted tree produces diseased fruit. [Even if someone looks good, check their references to see what effect they have on others.] 18 A good tree can’t produce diseased fruit, nor can a corrupted tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 So it’s by their fruits [not by their outward appearance] that you will recognize them.

21 [I’ve already said don’t judge based on appearance. Also, don’t judge based on whether someone says the right things.] Just because someone says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, doesn’t mean they will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day [the Judgment Day], ‘Haven’t we prophesied in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and done many powerful works in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I’ve never known you. Leave me, you workers of unrighteousness! [Don’t seek to impress me by doing good works. Let your heart be totally changed by listening to me and obeying what I say.]

24 “It’s whoever hears all of what I am saying and puts it into practice [who is my follower!] This person is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. 25 When the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon the house, it didn’t fall because its foundation was a rock. 26 And everyone who hears all of what I am saying and doesn’t put it into practice is like the foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 When the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon the house, it fell and was completely destroyed.”

28 And when Jesus had finished saying all this, the crowds were astonished at his teaching. 29 For he taught them as one who knew what he was talking about and not like the teachers of the Law.

Discussion questions

1. Is Jesus saying we should never discern or give feedback to others?

Matthew Chapter 7 discussion questions

2. How much do you live with disappointment? Do you think God is stingy? How much are you willing to trust that you will get what you are looking for as you ask, seek, and knock?

3. Have you ever been taken in by someone’s good speech? How do you make good decisions about whom to trust? What are good fruit that you can rely on?

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