“Unit 2, Day 1: Matthew 1–2,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 2, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
Matthew gave the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and an angel declared Jesus’s divine parentage to Joseph. Wise Men from the East traveled to find and worship the young child. Joseph was told in a dream to take his family to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill Jesus.
Look at a photograph of your parents, and see if you can identify any physical and other traits you inherited from them. On the lines below, list some of these traits (such as eye color, hair color, height, personality, or intellect):
As you study Matthew 1–2, look for truths about the Savior’s parents—Heavenly Father and Mary—and traits He inherited from them.
Matthew 1:1–17 lists the Savior’s ancestors. Verse 1 mentions that Jesus Christ was a descendant of David (who slew Goliath and later became king of Israel) and Abraham (who is known as the father of God’s covenant people).
“Old Testament prophecies declared that the Messiah would be a descendant of David (see 2 Samuel 7:12–13; Isaiah 9:6–7; Jeremiah 23:5–6) and that an offspring of Abraham would bless ‘all the nations of the earth’ (Genesis 22:18; see also Abraham 2:11)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 12). Matthew wrote specifically to a Jewish audience and wanted them to know that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. The genealogy given in Matthew 1:1–17 shows that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the rightful heir to the throne of David. As you study the book of Matthew, look for other examples of how Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.
Read Matthew 1:16, looking for a title given to Jesus.
The word Christ is the Greek form of the Aramaic word Messiah, which means “the anointed.” In the premortal existence, Jesus Christ was anointed by Heavenly Father to be our “Prophet, Priest, King, and Deliverer” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Anointed One,” “Messiah,” scriptures.lds.org).
As recorded in Matthew 1:18, Matthew explained that Joseph and Mary were espoused. This means they were engaged and legally bound to each other but not yet living together as husband and wife. However, before the wedding, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant.
Read Matthew 1:19, looking for what Joseph intended to do.
“To put her away privily” means Joseph planned to resolve the matter of Mary’s pregnancy without forcing her to face public humiliation.
What does this verse teach us about Joseph’s character and his love for Mary?
Read Matthew 1:20, looking for what happened while Joseph was considering ending his betrothal (formal engagement) to Mary.
Why did the angel tell Joseph not to be afraid to proceed with his marriage to Mary?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote the following about Joseph receiving his own witness of the truth:
“Joseph pondered and prayed. Was Mary with child by the power of the Holy Ghost or in some other way? As to the true father of the unborn child, Mary knew; Elisabeth knew; Zacharias knew. They all gained their testimonies by revelation, and Joseph must now learn for himself in the same way. …
“We may well suppose that Mary told Joseph of her condition; that she then went to Elisabeth; that Joseph struggled with his problem for nearly three months, being fully tested; that Gabriel brought the word; that Joseph sent word to Mary of his conversion; that she returned again in haste and joy; that immediately the second part of the marriage ceremony was performed” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:332–33).
To understand the meaning of the phrase “conceived … of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:20), read the following statement by Elder McConkie: “Just as Jesus is literally the Son of Mary, so he is the personal and literal offspring of God the Eternal Father. … Matthew’s statement, ‘she was found with child of the Holy Ghost,’ properly translated should say, ‘she was found with child by the power of the Holy Ghost.’ (Matt. 1:18.) Luke’s account (Luke 1:35) accurately records what took place. Alma perfectly describes our Lord’s conception and birth by prophesying: Christ ‘shall be born of Mary, … she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.’ (Alma 7:10.) Nephi spoke similarly when he said that at the time of her conception, Mary ‘was carried away in the Spirit,’ with the result that the child born of her was ‘the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father.’ (1 Ne. 11:19–21.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:82–83).
These teachings affirm the following doctrine: Jesus Christ is the divine Son of Heavenly Father and Mary. Consider writing this doctrine next to Matthew 1:18–25 in the margin of your scriptures.
Recall the photograph that you looked at of your parents and the list you wrote of traits you inherited from them. Then read the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, looking for why it is important to understand that Jesus is the divine Son of Heavenly Father and Mary: “That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father. … In His nature would be combined the powers of Godhood with the capacity and possibilities of mortality. … The Child Jesus was to inherit the physical, mental, and spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that characterized His parents—one immortal and glorified—God, the other human—woman” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 81).
What did Jesus inherit from His Father? What did He inherit from His mother?
Because Jesus was the Son of an immortal Father and a mortal mother, He had the capacity to live eternally if He chose, as well as the ability to die. This divine nature uniquely qualified Him to be able to suffer for our sins, die on the cross, and be resurrected (see Alma 34:9–10).
- Imagine that you have an opportunity to help a friend with a non-Christian background understand who Jesus Christ is. How would you explain the divine nature of Jesus Christ to this friend? Record your answer in your scripture study journal.
Who brought gifts to the Savior after He was born?
The Gospel of Matthew is the only Gospel to include the account of the Wise Men. Write your answers to the following questions about the Wise Men in the space to the right of the question.
What do you know about the Wise Men?
How did the Wise Men know the Messiah had been born?
Why did the Wise Men want to find the Messiah?
How did the chief priests and scribes know where the Messiah would be born?
What did Herod want the Wise Men to do after they found the Messiah?
What did the Wise Men do instead?
Now read Matthew 2:1–12, looking for the answers to these questions. Correct or adjust your answers as needed.
Did you learn anything new about the Wise Men? If so, draw a star next to the questions where you learned something new.
“Who these men were we are not told, but it is certain they were not ordinary men. That they were privileged to search out the Son of God and give Him gifts, and that they were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they were actually prophets on a divine errand” (Bible Dictionary, “Wise Men of the East”).
The Wise men were “led by the Spirit, to behold the Son of God and … returned to their people to bear witness that the king Immanuel had indeed been born in the flesh” (Bible Dictionary, “Magi”).
People often assume that the Wise Men visited the Savior on the night of His birth, along with the shepherds. However, Matthew 2:11 suggests it was sometime later, between one and two years (the Wise Men found Jesus in a house, not a manger, and He was a “young child,” not a baby). Also notice that the reason Herod wanted the Wise Men to report to him after they found the Messiah was so he could kill Him (see Matthew 2:13).
How did the Wise Men know where to find the Messiah?
The example of the Wise Men helps us understand the following principle: If we sincerely and diligently seek the Savior, we will be guided to Him.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can you diligently seek the Savior?
Once the Wise Men found the Savior, they presented their gifts to Him. One purpose for this was to worship and adore Him. What can we learn from Wise Men’s example of giving gifts to Jesus?
To understand how we can offer meaningful gifts to the Savior, read the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In ancient times when people wanted to worship the Lord and seek His blessings, they often brought a gift. …
“Is there something in you or in your life that is impure or unworthy? When you get rid of it, that is a gift to the Savior. Is there a good habit or quality that is lacking in your life? When you adopt it and make it part of your character, you are giving a gift to the Lord. Sometimes this is hard to do, but would your gifts of repentance and obedience be worthy gifts if they cost you nothing? Don’t be afraid of the effort required. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Jesus Christ will help you make of yourself a worthy gift” (“When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign, May 2004, 12).
- Ponder Elder Christofferson’s statement, and consider what gifts you feel you should offer the Savior. In your scripture study journal, record these ideas and plan how you will give these gifts to Jesus Christ. (If the gifts you would like to give the Savior are of a highly personal nature, you may write them on a separate piece of paper to keep and refer to, and then write in your scripture study journal that you completed this assignment.)
Commenting on the early years of Jesus Christ’s mortal life, Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave the following overview:
“Although the chronological order of the travels and sojournings of our Lord’s early years is not entirely clear, the following seems reasonably certain:
“(2) Guided by divine providence, they traveled to Bethlehem, the city of David, where Jesus was born in a stable. (Luke 2:1–7.)
“(3) On the eighth day, while the couple was still in Bethlehem, Jesus was circumcised. (Luke 2:21.)
“(4) Following the days of Mary’s purification, a forty-day period (Lev. 12), the holy family traveled to Jerusalem where Jesus was presented in the temple, with Simeon and Anna then bearing record of his divine Sonship. (Luke 2:22–38.)
“(5) Thus, having ‘performed all things according to the law of the Lord,’ they then went immediately to Nazareth. (Luke 2:39.) Obviously the wise men had not yet come to worship their King, because following their visit comes the flight to Egypt. That they could not have gone to Egypt and returned to Bethlehem within the forty-day period is clear (a) because they were in Egypt at the time of Herod’s death which did not occur until about two years after the nativity, and (b) because they returned from Egypt to Nazareth, not Bethlehem.
“(6) Next, for some unknown and unrecorded reason, Joseph and Mary and the child returned to Bethlehem, obtained a house there, and were part of the community life when the wise men came. (Matt. 2:1–12.)
“(7) Warned of God, the holy family now fled to Egypt for a sojourn of unknown length, possibly one of only a few weeks or months. (Matt. 2:13–15.)
“(8) After Herod’s death they returned with obvious purpose of settling again in Bethlehem, where they must have had an adequate place to live. But fearing Archelaus, son of Herod, they forsook the Judean province for the greater security of the Galilean. Hence their return to and abode in Nazareth. (Matt. 2:19–23.)
“(9) From then until his formal ministry began, a period of perhaps twenty-seven or twenty-eight years, our Lord continued to live in Nazareth. (Luke 2:51–52; I. V. Matt. 3:22–26.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:108–9).
As recorded in Matthew 2:13–23, Herod became angry after the Wise Men “departed into their own country” (Matthew 2:12) without telling him where the Messiah was. Hoping to kill the Messiah, he ordered that all children two years old and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area be killed.
Read Matthew 2:13–14, looking for how Joseph knew what to do to keep his family safe.
Where did Joseph take Mary and Jesus?
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus stayed in Egypt until Herod died. As recorded in Matthew 2:19–23, God instructed Joseph through dreams to take his family back to Judea, and they settled in the city of Nazareth.
How did Joseph’s sensitivity to spiritual things bless others’ lives?
Complete the following phrase to create a principle we can learn from Joseph: If we are sensitive to the Spirit, then .
- Ponder what you can do to be more sensitive to the Spirit so you can receive guidance and direction in your life (see 2 Nephi 32:3). Record your thoughts in your scripture study journal, and make a goal to act on any promptings you receive.
While very little is recorded about Jesus’s childhood and youth, the Joseph Smith Translation adds three verses that would follow Matthew 2:23 in the King James Version of the Bible. These verses provide some details to this time of the Savior’s life. As you read the following addition from the Joseph Smith Translation, consider how humble Jesus was as a young man:
“And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.
“And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.
“And after many years, the hour of his ministry drew nigh” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 3:24–26 [in the Bible appendix]).
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Matthew 1–2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: