Matthew 1–4

“Lesson 2: Matthew 1–4,” New Testament Teacher Manual (2018)

Introduction and Timeline

Matthew 1–4 constitutes a prelude to the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1–2, you will have the opportunity to study about the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ. One of the messages of these chapters, in keeping with Matthew’s theme of fulfillment of prophecy, is that the Savior’s birth fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. In Matthew 3, John the Baptist declared that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and “he that cometh after me is mightier than I” (Matthew 3:2, 11). These declarations prepare the reader for the baptism of Jesus Christ, at which time Heavenly Father declared that He was “well pleased” with His Son (Matthew 3:17). In further preparation for His public ministry, Jesus Christ went into the wilderness “to be with God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:1 [in Matthew 4:1, footnote b]). Satan also tempted Jesus in the wilderness—but Jesus promptly rejected each of his temptations.

lesson 2 timeline

Chapter Overviews

Matthew 1

Matthew gave a genealogy of Jesus Christ, showing His descent from Abraham and David. Joseph learned from an angel that his espoused wife, Mary, was to bring forth a son, who would be the Savior.

Matthew 2

Wise Men from the east visited the child Jesus. Joseph was warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions and took his family to Egypt for safety. Herod ordered the death of young children in the area surrounding Bethlehem. Joseph learned of Herod’s death in a dream and took his family to Nazareth.

Matthew 3

John the Baptist preached and baptized in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus Christ was baptized, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him, and the Father acclaimed Him as His Beloved Son.

Matthew 4

Jesus Christ dismissed the temptations of Satan in the wilderness and began His earthly ministry by preaching repentance, teaching, healing, and calling disciples to follow Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 1–2

Genealogy and Birth of Jesus Christ

Ask students to skim Matthew 1:1–16 and discover what this scripture passage contains. After students have identified these verses as the Savior’s genealogy, ask them to take a closer look at the verses and identify any names they recognize. Ask which ancestors of Jesus are named in the very first verse. (David and Abraham.) To help students better understand this detail, ask a student to read the student manual commentary for Matthew 1:1, 17.

  • Why would it have been significant for Matthew’s Jewish audience to read that Jesus Christ was a descendant of David and of Abraham? (As students share their ideas, make sure they understand this truth: Matthew emphasized that Jesus Christ’s birth fulfilled ancient prophecies.)

The Birth of Jesus

Show your students a picture of the Nativity, including Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. You could use The Birth of Jesus (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 30; see also LDS.org). Ask one of your students to briefly summarize to the class the account of the birth of Jesus. This will quickly get students thinking about the events connected with the birth of Jesus Christ. You may want to list main parts of the story on the board as your student relates them. Explain that Luke 1–2 contains parts of the account of the Savior’s birth, which you will study later in the course.

Display the following chart on the board or on a poster, or give a copy to your students on a handout:

Ancient Prophecy

New Testament Fulfillment

Event That Fulfilled Prophecy

Isaiah 7:14

Matthew 1:18–25


Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1, 5


Hosea 11:1

Matthew 2:13–15


Jeremiah 31:15

Matthew 2:16–18


Have students read Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18–25, looking for what prophecies were fulfilled. After students have found answers (virgin birth, child named Immanuel), write them on the board in the appropriate box. Assign students individually or in pairs to read the other sets of verses listed in the chart to discover other events that fulfilled prophecy. Fill in the remainder of the chart as students report their findings.

Explain that many Jews living at the time of Jesus Christ’s birth were familiar with Old Testament prophecies. Ask students to imagine Matthew’s Jewish readers, who had waited many years for Old Testament promises to be fulfilled.

  • What do you think it would have been like for Matthew’s readers, who knew the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah, to read Matthew’s account of the Savior’s birth?

  • What does it mean to you to know that the Savior’s birth fulfilled ancient prophecies?

  • What other significant truths or insights did you gain from reading Matthew 1–2? (Possible answers: Jesus’s name bore witness of His identity and mission. The name Immanuel bears witness that God is with His covenant people. Many of the Jews, who should have been aware of the signs of the Messiah’s birth, failed to recognize them, while believers from foreign lands noticed the signs and acted upon them. Satan cannot overthrow the purposes of God. Inspired dreams are one means of receiving revelation.)

Many families around the world today read from Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2 during the Christmas season. Suggest to students that it is appropriate at times other than Christmas to read some of these ancient prophecies in our families and discuss their fulfillment. Invite students to watch for additional instances throughout the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus Christ fulfilled ancient prophecy.

Matthew 3:1–12

John the Baptist Preached in Judea

After reminding students that one of the themes in Matthew is that Jesus Christ fulfilled ancient prophecies, ask students to look in Matthew 3:1–3 and find out who else fulfilled ancient prophecy. (John the Baptist.)

  • According to Matthew 3:3, which Old Testament prophet wrote about John the Baptist? (Isaiah. You might need to explain that “Esaias” is Isaiah, and that Matthew 3:3 quotes from Isaiah 40:3.)

  • According to Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew 3:3, what would John the Baptist do? (Prepare the way of the Lord.)

Ask a student to read aloud Matthew 3:4–12, and ask the other students to raise their hand each time these verses mention a way in which John the Baptist helped people prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As students raise their hands, pause in the reading and have them identify and explain what they notice. (Possible answers: He baptized people. He taught people to confess their sins. He called people to repent. He taught people that a time of judgment was coming. He taught that the One coming after him was greater than him and would baptize with the Holy Ghost.) As students respond, ask them to explain:

  • How would that action or teaching of John the Baptist help prepare people for Jesus Christ?

  • What can we do to “prepare … the way of the Lord” in our lives?

You might point out that students are about to “meet” Jesus as He enters the story line in the Gospel of Matthew and invite them to prepare their hearts to learn from Him.

Matthew 3:13–17

The Baptism of Jesus Christ

Have students consider the following situation: They are having a religious conversation with a friend who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During the course of the conversation, the subject of baptism comes up. The friend questions why we need to be baptized. In his or her mind, the only requirement to be saved is to repent and accept Jesus Christ in one’s heart. Ask a few students how they might explain the need for baptism to their friend.

After several responses, ask a student to read Matthew 3:13–15.

  • As recorded in Matthew 3:15, what reason did Jesus give for asking John to baptize Him? (As students share their ideas, help them understand this truth: Jesus Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.)

video iconRather than having a student read Matthew 3:13–15, you might choose to show the video “The Baptism of Jesus” (2:55) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, available on LDS.org. This video covers Matthew 3:13–17. Before you show the video, ask students to follow along in their scriptures as the video is played. Explain that although we do not know the actual words John spoke when baptizing Jesus, we do know that John had proper authority and that Christ’s baptism was performed by immersion. At the conclusion of the video, ask: What reason did Jesus give for asking John to baptize Him? Then have students mark Jesus’s words, found in Matthew 3:15. Then continue with the teaching suggestions below.

  • What do you think it means that Jesus Christ was baptized “to fulfil all righteousness”?

Encourage students, as they work through the remainder of Matthew 3, to look for additional truths they might teach to others about baptism.

Ask your students to turn to 2 Nephi 31:5–12. Have a student read verses 5–6 and note the question Nephi asked in verse 6. Students may want to write this reference in the margin of their scriptures as a cross-reference to Matthew 3:15.

Have students study 2 Nephi 31:7–9 and identify how the Savior fulfilled righteousness by being baptized. (He showed the children of men that He humbled himself before the Father. He witnessed to the Father that He would be obedient to Him. He showed the children of men the narrow gate by which they should enter, setting an example for them.)

Help students see the importance of baptism for all people by having a student read 2 Nephi 31:10–12. Bear testimony of this truth: It is important for all men to repent and to follow the Savior’s example by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Ask students to skim again Matthew 3:13–17, looking for additional truths regarding baptism. What gospel truths do you learn, or have you learned, from these verses? (Possible answers: The members of the Godhead are separate and distinct Beings. Jesus Christ was baptized by immersion. Both John the Baptist and God the Father testified that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.)

  • How do these verses teach that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct from one another? (Jesus Christ was in the Jordan River, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him, and Heavenly Father spoke from heaven.)

  • Where else in the scriptures can we read about the separate nature of the members of the Godhead?

If time permits, consider having students search some of the following scripture references and discuss how they further witness that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct persons: Matthew 26:39; John 17:3; Acts 7:55–56; Hebrews 1:1–2; Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; Joseph Smith—History 1:17. The student manual commentary for Matthew 3:13–17 can assist you as you discuss the separate nature of the members of the Godhead in class.

Matthew 4:1–11

The Savior Was Tempted in the Wilderness

Have students quietly read Matthew 4:1–11 and look for how Jesus Christ responded to Satan’s three temptations. Ask the students:

  • What did you notice about how the Savior dealt with Satan’s temptations?

Tell the students you are going to give them a moment to ponder the answer to the following question before they share their thoughts:

  • What do you learn from Jesus Christ’s example in dealing with temptations that can be applied in your life? (As students share their ideas, help them understand these principles: When we fast and pray, we have greater spiritual strength to overcome temptation. Scripture study prepares us to overcome temptation. We have the ability to choose to dismiss temptations quickly.)

Have students read the student manual commentaries for Matthew 4:3–10 and for Matthew 4:4–11. Write on the board: If we follow the Savior’s example, we can overcome temptation.

Then ask the following questions:

  • How can we benefit from scriptural knowledge during a time of temptation?

  • What else could we do to help us overcome temptations?

To deepen students’ understanding of these verses, consider having a student read the student manual commentary for Matthew 4:2–10. Write three headings on the board: (1) Physical Appetites; (2) Pride, Fashion, and Vanity; and (3) Riches and Power. Invite students to name common temptations faced today that are examples of each of the three categories. As students name temptations, list them on the board under the appropriate category.

Have students read Hebrews 2:17–18; 4:15–16, and discuss as a class:

  • Why was it necessary for the Savior to experience temptation?

  • Why is it important for us to understand that Jesus Christ experienced the same kinds of temptations we face today?

After discussing students’ responses, conclude today’s lesson by giving students a few minutes to write in a study journal or on a piece of paper their response to one of the following questions:

  • How can I better apply the Savior’s example when facing temptation?

  • What can I do now to be better prepared for temptation when it comes?

Encourage students to follow through with what they have written. Testify that as they consistently do so, they will gain increased ability to resist temptation.