Matthew: Jesus is *Christ the King

The Birth of Jesus and the Beginning of his Work

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Matthew 1:1 to 4:21

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About the *Gospel of Matthew

The author of this book was Matthew. He was one of the 12 *disciples whom Jesus chose to be with him. Matthew collected taxes on behalf of the *Roman government. While he was doing his job, Jesus called him. Immediately Matthew left his job to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9). Another name for Matthew in the *Gospels of Mark and Luke was Levi (Mark 2:14-15, Luke 5:27-29).

We do not know when or where Matthew wrote this *Gospel. There seem to be good reasons for a date after *AD 70. But there seem to be equally good reasons for a date before *AD 70. *AD 70 was when the *Romans destroyed Jerusalem city.

There is much common information in Matthew and Mark. If Mark wrote his *Gospel first, then Matthew seems to have used information from it. Also, Matthew may have written in the *Hebrew language (or the *Aramaic language) a book about what Jesus taught. If so, Matthew probably wrote that book before he and Mark wrote their *Gospels. It is possible that they both got some of their information from that book. Matthew and Mark wrote their *Gospels in the *Greek language.

Matthew wrote especially for the *Jews. The *Jews expected a special person to come. They called this person ‘the *Christ’. Matthew showed that Jesus was the *Christ. Also, he wrote much about the *kingdom and that Jesus was the king. The *Old Testament contains many *prophecies about the *Christ. Matthew records some of these *prophecies. Jesus came to do what these *prophesied. Therefore, Jesus was the *Christ and the king that the *Jews expected.


Part 1

The birth of Jesus and the beginning of his work

Matthew 1:1 to 4:22


The family history of Jesus



The birth of Jesus Christ



Wise men come to visit Jesus



Jesus' parents take Jesus to Egypt



Herod kills the baby boys in Bethlehem



Joseph and Mary return from Egypt



The work of John the *Baptist



John *baptises Jesus



*Satan tests Jesus in the desert



Jesus begins his work in Galilee



Jesus chooses some *disciples


Part 2

Jesus teaches in Galilee

Matthew 4:23 to 13:58


Jesus teaches and he cures sick people



Jesus teaches the people



Salt and light



The importance of the law



Jesus teaches about anger



Jesus teaches about wrong sex



Jesus teaches about divorce



Be careful when you make promises



Love your enemies



Jesus teaches about gifts



Jesus teaches about prayer



Jesus teaches about *fasting



Life is more important than money



Do not worry



Do not act as the judge of other people



Ask God for what you need



The most important rule



The way to heaven is hard



People know you by your actions



Two kinds of people



Jesus cures three people, and more people



People want to follow Jesus



Jesus stops a storm



Jesus frees two men from *demons



Jesus cures a man who could not move



Jesus chooses Matthew



Jesus’ *disciples do not *fast



Jesus cures a sick woman and he gives life to a dead girl



Jesus cures more people



Jesus sends out his *apostles



Jesus warns his *apostles



Fear God, not people



Tell people about your *faith



Jesus and John the *Baptist



Jesus warns those people who did not believe



Jesus offers rest to people



Jesus is *Lord of the *Sabbath



Jesus cures a man's hand



Jesus is God's servant



Jesus' power is from God



People know you by your words



Some *Pharisees and teachers ask for a *miracle



Jesus' real family



A story about seed



Why Jesus used stories to teach



Jesus explains the story about the seeds



A story about wheat and weeds



Stories about *mustard seed and *yeast



Jesus explains the story about the weeds



Three stories about the *kingdom of heaven



Old and new possessions



Jesus goes to his own town


Part 3

From Galilee to Jerusalem

Matthew 14:1 to 20:34


How John the *Baptist died



Food for more than 5000 people



Jesus walks on the water



Jesus describes some *Pharisees as ‘blind’ leaders of ‘blind’ people



Jesus helps a foreign woman



Jesus cures many people



Food for more than 4000 people



Jesus warns his *disciples to be cautious about what the *Pharisees and *Sadducees taught



Peter declares that Jesus is the *Christ



The *glory of Jesus as he talks with Moses and Elijah



Jesus cures a sick boy



Jesus speaks about his death



Jesus talks about taxes



To be great is to be humble



The *shepherd finds his sheep



When a person *sins against you



A servant who did not forgive



Jesus teaches about divorce



Jesus accepts the children



A rich young man's question



A story about workers



Jesus talks about his own death



The request of a mother



Jesus cures two blind men


Part 4

Jesus dies and he lives again

Matthew 21:1 to 28:20


Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king



Jesus goes to the *temple



The *fig tree



The leaders doubt Jesus' authority



A story about two sons



A story about God's Son



A story about a wedding *feast



A question about taxes



A question about life after death



The most important of God’s commands



Jesus asks the *Pharisees a question



Jesus accuses some of the leaders



Jesus feels sorry for Jerusalem



The enemy will destroy the *temple



When will Jesus come again?



A story about 10 girls



A story about three servants



The sheep and the goats



The plan to kill Jesus



A woman *anoints Jesus



Judas becomes an enemy of Jesus



Jesus eats the *Passover meal



In the garden called Gethsemane



The *Jewish leaders arrest Jesus



Jesus in front of the leaders



Peter says that he does not know Jesus



The *Jewish leaders take Jesus to Pilate



Judas kills himself



Jesus in front of Pilate



The soldiers laugh at Jesus



At Golgotha, the soldiers *crucify Jesus



Joseph from Arimathea places Jesus’ body in the grave



Jesus rises from death and he becomes alive again



The soldiers give a report to the leaders



Jesus’ last words to his *disciples


The birth of Jesus and the beginning of his work – Matthew 1:1-4:21

The family history of Jesus – Matthew 1:1-17

v1 This is a record of the history of Jesus the *Christ. He was the son of David and the son of Abraham.

v2 Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. And Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. v3 Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah. Their mother was Tamar. Perez was the father of Hezron. And Hezron was the father of Aram. v4 Aram was the father of Aminadab. Aminadab was the father of Nahshon. And Nahshon was the father of Salmon. v5 Salmon was the father of Boaz. Boaz's mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. Obed's mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. v6 Jesse was the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon. Solomon's mother had been Uriah's wife. v7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Rehoboam was the father of Abijah. And Abijah was the father of Asaph. v8 Asaph was the father of Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was the father of Joram. And Joram was the father of Uzziah. v9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham. Jotham was the father of Ahaz. And Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. v10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh. Manasseh was the father of Amos. And Amos was the father of Josiah. v11 Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers. This was at the time of the *exile to Babylon.

v12 After the start of the *exile to Babylon, Jechoniah became the father of Salathiel. Salathiel was the father of Zerubbabel. v13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud. Abiud was the father of Eliakim. And Eliakim was the father of Azor. v14 Azor was the father of Zadok. Zadok was the father of Achim. And Achim was the father of Eliud. v15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar. Eleazar was the father of Matthan. And Matthan was the father of Jacob. v16 Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. And Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the *Christ.

v17 So there were 14 *ancestors from Abraham to David. There were 14 *ancestors from David until the *exile to Babylon. And there were 14 *ancestors from the *exile to Babylon until the *Christ.

Verse 1 The *Gospel of Matthew is an account of Jesus’ life. It records what Jesus taught. And it records what Jesus did.

Matthew began his *Gospel with a list of the *ancestors of Jesus. The record is from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary. Joseph was not the father of Jesus. But in *Jewish law, Jesus belonged to Joseph’s family. Luke records the history from Jesus back to Adam. It might be that Luke recorded the *ancestors of Mary’s family. But we are not sure about this. Both Joseph and Mary were *descendants of King David and of Abraham.

Jesus was called ‘the son of David’. This meant that he was a direct male *descendant of King David. The *Jews understood that ‘the son of David’ referred to the *Christ (Matthew 22:41-46). In Jesus’ day, many *Jews expected the *Christ to come. And several times Jesus was called ‘son of David’ (Matthew 9:27, 12:23, 15:22, 20:30, 21:9, 21:15). We sometimes refer to the *Christ as ‘King David’s greater son’. In other words, Jesus is a *descendant of David, but he is more important than David. Jesus is both the *Christ and the king. He is the king of the *Jews.

Jesus was also called ‘the son of Abraham’. This meant that he was a direct male *descendant of Abraham. Abraham was the *ancestor of the *Jews. To them he was their ‘father’. And they were proud to be his *descendants. The word ‘father’ did not always mean the immediate parent. It often meant an earlier *ancestor. It would be by a *descendant of Abraham that God would *bless all nations (Genesis 22:18). God did this by means of what Jesus achieved by his death. The death of Jesus was for all people. He told his *disciples to *preach the good news about him to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). So by means of Jesus, the *Christ, God *blesses people from every nation.

The *Jews considered their family history to be very important. From early times, there were public records. Matthew arranges the history in three groups. The first group is from Abraham to David (Matthew 1:2-6). The second group is from Solomon to the *exile in Babylon (Matthew 1:7-11). Then the final group is from Jechoniah to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:12-16). Matthew makes this to be three sets of 14 names in each (Matthew 1:17). It is not clear why Matthew did this. But in order to achieve it, Matthew has left out some names. In the second group after Jotham, Matthew has left out Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah (1 Chronicles 3:11-12). The third group is for a period of about 500 years. Matthew records only 13 names for this period.

Verses 2-6a (Verse 6a means the first part of verse 6.) Tamar is the first of 5 women that Matthew includes in the list. It was not usual to include women in the family lists. Also, she was not married to Judah when they had Perez and Zerah. She had been the wife of Judah’s son Er, but he died. The law at that time was that the next son should marry the widow. Onan would not have children for his brother Er, and Onan died. Judah would not allow Tamar to marry his other sons. The story of how she had sons by Judah is in Genesis chapter 38. Matthew mentions both Perez and Zerah. This may be because they were born at the same time.

The second woman in the list is Rahab. She was a foreigner. But she had helped the *Israelite men who had come to Jericho. So, the *Israelites saved her when they destroyed Jericho (Joshua chapter 6). Later she became the mother of Boaz.

The next woman in the list is Ruth. She was a foreigner from the country called Moab. Ruth married Boaz (Ruth 4:10-12).

When Matthew came to David, he called him King David. Matthew made it clear that Jesus was from the royal family. It was right that Jesus was called the king of the *Jews.

Aminadab was in the desert with Moses (Numbers 1:7). That was about 400 years after the *Israelites went to Egypt. In this list, there are just 4 names for that period. They are Perez, Hezron, Aram and Aminadab. So, Matthew must have left out several names here. In the same way, he may have left out some names between Aminadab and David.

Verses 6b-11 (Verse 6b means the last part of verse 6.) David became the father of Solomon. Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, had been Uriah’s wife. David had arranged the death of Uriah because of his affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:14-26). So, Bathsheba is the 4th woman in the list but Matthew does not record her name.

From the family of King David, his *descendants ruled as kings until the *exile in Babylon. From then on, *Israel had no kings.

Verses 12-16 In this last section, there are 13 men’s names instead of 14. Had Matthew included Jehoiakim there would have been 14. Jehoiakim was the father of Jeconiah (1 Chronicles 3:16). But perhaps Matthew counted Jesus as the 14th name.

We have no other record of the 9 names from Abiud to Jacob. Probably they were in public or family records that Matthew copied.

The list ends with Joseph. He was Mary’s husband. She is the 5th woman in this list. Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus but he was the legal father. All the other men in the list had natural fathers. But Jesus had no human father. Jesus was the Son of God.

Verse 17 The number 14 was important to Matthew and perhaps to his first readers. But we do not know why it was important. However, 14 is of course double the number 7. The Bible sometimes seems to use the number 7 to express the idea that something was complete or perfect (for example, Genesis 2:2-3; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:20).

The birth of Jesus Christ – Matthew 1:18-25

v18 The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph. But before they married, Mary was expecting a baby by the *Holy Spirit. v19 Her husband, Joseph, was a good man. He did not want to bring shame on her in public. So, he decided to divorce her secretly.

v20 While Joseph thought about these things, an *angel of the *Lord came to him in a dream. The *angel said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. The baby in her is from the *Holy Spirit. v21 She will have a son. And you shall give to him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their *sins.’

v22 All this happened to bring about what the *Lord had said by the *prophet. v23 He had said, ‘Without sex, the young woman will have a baby. She will have a son. They will call his name Emmanuel.’ Emmanuel means ‘God is with us.’

v24 Then Joseph woke up from sleep. And he did what the *Lord's *angel had told him to do. He took Mary as his wife. v25 But he did not have sex with her until she had given birth to a son. And Joseph gave to the son the name Jesus.

Verses 18-19 To be engaged to marry was a more serious state than it is in many societies today. It was a legal contract by the couple about a year before the marriage. Then, even before the marriage, people called the couple husband and wife. The girl would remain in her parent’s house until the marriage. And the couple would not have sex until the marriage. To break off the agreement to marry would be a legal divorce.

Joseph’s first thought was that Mary had not been loyal to him. That was until the *angel told him otherwise. Joseph found that Mary was expecting a baby. She had not had sex with a man. The baby was by the *Holy Spirit. We are sure that Mary would have told Joseph the truth. But he could not believe it then. He thought that it was impossible to have a baby without sex.

Joseph was a good man. In the circumstances, he thought that the marriage could not happen. However, he would not make the matter public. He decided to have a private divorce. This would be the kindest thing to do for Mary. In this way, he could avoid open shame. A secret divorce was not difficult for a man. He must give to Mary a letter of divorce. There had to be two witnesses to the divorce. Then he could send her away from him.

Verses 20-21 Joseph did not act in a hurry. He thought about the situation. He had decided what to do. Then he had a dream. God sent an *angel to Joseph in that dream. The *angel called Joseph 'son of David'. This may have been to emphasise that Jesus would be a king from the family of David. The *angel then told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. This does not mean that Joseph was afraid. Rather it means that he should not hesitate to take Mary as his wife. To take her meant to complete the marriage. The man would go to the bride’s house. And he would take her from there to his own house. Then they would have the wedding meal to complete the marriage.

The *angel explained to Joseph the truth about this situation. The child inside Mary was not because of sex with a man. The power of the *Holy Spirit had done this. Joseph was not the father of the child. But by his marriage to Mary, he would make Jesus legally his child.

Mary’s child would be a son. It was normal for the father to choose the child’s name. But God told Joseph to give to the child the name Jesus. To give the name to the child would be to accept the child as if it was his own. So, by Joseph, Jesus was a *descendant of David. Also, Jesus was a *descendant of David by Mary. But it was important to the *Jews that Jesus was a *descendant by the father of the family.

The name Jesus was the same as the *Old Testament name Joshua. The name means ‘the *Lord saves.’ The *angel told Joseph that Jesus would save his people from their *sins. Jesus came to deal with *sins. He did this by his life and death. He took the punishment for the *sins of the world. So, he is able to save people from their *sins.

Verses 22-25 God had spoken by the *prophets about future events. Much of what the *prophets said happened in Jesus. Jesus was the *Christ that God promised to send. In this *Gospel, Matthew shows how the *prophecies actually happened (Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17, 13:35, 21:4, 26:56, 27:9).

The *prophecy here is what God spoke by the *prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). As Matthew often does, here he follows the *Old Testament in the *Greek language. The *Old Testament that we use is a translation from the *Hebrew language. That explains why some of the words are different from our *Old Testament. Isaiah had written about how a young woman would give birth. That birth was evidence that God would save his people from their enemies. His word for a young woman could mean a woman who had never had sex. That is how Matthew understood Isaiah’s *prophecy. Mary had not had sex. And her son, Jesus, is the *Christ who saves his people from their *sins.

We do not read that anyone called Jesus by the name Emmanuel. But we know Jesus by that name. In his birth, Jesus was human. His birth was not his beginning. Before he came to earth, he was God. And when he came to earth, he was still God. He was Emmanuel. Emmanuel means ‘God is with us.’

Joseph woke up from his sleep. He did what the *angel had said to him. Joseph publicly accepted Mary as his wife. He took her to his home. But Joseph and Mary did not have sex until after the birth of her first son. Later they had other children. Among them were James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55).

Joseph gave to Jesus the name Jesus. By this act, he legally adopted Jesus as his son.

Wise men come to visit Jesus – Matthew 2:1-12

v1 In the time of King Herod, Jesus was born in the town called Bethlehem. Bethlehem was in Judea. Then, some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem city. v2 They asked, ‘Where is the child who is born king of the *Jews? We saw his star in the east and we have come to *worship him.’

v3 When King Herod heard this, it worried him. And it also worried all the people in Jerusalem. v4 Herod called together all the chief priests and the men who taught the law to the people. He asked them where the *Christ would be born.

v5 And they told him, ‘In the town called Bethlehem in Judea. That is what the *prophet has written. v6 “But you, Bethlehem in the country called Judah, are certainly not the least among the rulers of Judah. That is because a ruler will come from you. And he will be like a *shepherd for my people *Israel.” ’

v7 Then Herod met in secret with the wise men. He learned from them the time when the star had appeared. v8 Then Herod sent them to Bethlehem. He said to them, ‘Go. Search carefully for the child. When you have found him, come back to me. Then I can go to *worship him too.’

v9 After they had heard the king, the wise men set out. The star that they had seen in the east went in front of them. Then it stopped over the place where the child was. v10 When the wise men saw the star, their joy was very great. v11 They came into the house and they saw the child with his mother Mary. They fell down and they *worshipped him. They took out their precious things, and they offered to him gifts of gold, *frankincense, and *myrrh. v12 But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod. So, they returned by a different way to their own country.

Verses 1-6 Jesus was born while Herod the Great was king. Herod was not a *Jew but the *Romans made him king over Judea in 40 *BC. Herod was born in 73 *BC. And the most probable date of his death was in 4 *BC. He was a strong and cruel ruler. However, he did some great things so they called him ‘the Great’. He was a great builder. Among his works, he built again Samaria city, which he called Sebaste. He is probably most famous for the *temple that he built in Jerusalem city.

Therefore, Jesus was born in or before 4 *BC. Probably, the birth of Jesus was a year or two earlier than 4 *BC. A man called Dionysius Exiguus in 6th century *AD formed our calendar with the years *BC (before Christ) and *AD. He seems to have made a mistake of between 4 and 6 years.

Jesus was born in the town called Bethlehem. The name ‘Bethlehem’ means ‘house of bread.’ Bethlehem was about 5 miles (8 kilometres) south of Jerusalem city. Bethlehem was the royal town where King David had been born. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary had to go there (Luke 2:1-7). Their home was in Nazareth town.

Some wise men came from the east to Jerusalem city. God had guided them to Judea. It seems that he did this by means of a star. In the Bible, people often saw God’s *glory as a bright light (Exodus 13:21). In Numbers 24:17, the ‘star’ is a word-picture for a king.

There is a traditional idea that the wise men were using the stars to tell the future. However, Deuteronomy 18:9-13 says that such practices are wicked. God’s law does not allow people to do such things. The first Christians believed that such behaviour was very wrong (Acts 19:18-19).

Matthew does not tell us how many wise men came. By tradition, there were three of them but that is not a fact. In some traditions, there were 12 wise men. By the end of the 6th century *AD, someone had given names to the three wise men. These names were Melkon (later Melchior), Balthasar, and Gasper. Sometimes people call them kings but this is unlikely. We do not know where they came from. While they were still in the east, they saw a new star. They understood what this new star meant. To them it meant that a king would be born in Judea. So, they travelled to Jerusalem, Judea’s capital city.

The wise men asked about the child who was born to be the king of the *Jews. They knew that the birth of Jesus had happened by then. They had seen the star up to about 2 years before. They must have heard that the *Jews expected the Christ to come. And to the wise men, the star meant that the king of the *Jews had been born. Therefore, they had come to *worship him. This means that, at that time, Jesus was up to 2 years old. However, probably Jesus was about a year old. Herod killed those boys under 2 years old to make sure that he did not miss Jesus.

We have no idea what this star was. Many people have suggested possible natural answers. None of these explanations seems to be good enough. Other people believe in a special star for which there cannot be a normal explanation.

King Herod heard that the wise men had come. The news of the birth of a new king worried him. Also, it worried the people in Jerusalem. Herod was afraid that he would lose his royal power as king.

Somehow, he knew that this new king would be the *Christ. And he wanted to kill the child as soon as possible. He needed to know where the *Christ would be born. So, he called together the experts who could tell him. The chief priests and the teachers of the law knew that the *Christ would come from Bethlehem. So, they told Herod what the Bible said.

God had shown to Micah the *prophet that the ruler would come from Bethlehem. There was another Bethlehem town but this Bethlehem was the one in Judah (Micah 5:2). By the time of Jesus, Judah had become Judea. This ruler would be like a *shepherd for *Israel (Micah 5:4). The Bible and the *Jews often referred to the kings of *Israel as *shepherds. In this, the *Christ would be like King David. David was a *shepherd before he became king. God said about David that he would be the *shepherd of God’s people *Israel (2 Samuel 5:2).

Verses 7-12 Now Herod knew where the *Christ had been born. Herod did not want the public to know of his interest. He was already making plans to kill the baby Jesus. So, he asked the wise men to come to see him secretly. He asked them the exact date when they first saw the star. He did not tell them why he wanted to know this. But it gave to him the maximum age of the child. The birth of the child could have been up to two years before this time (Matthew 2:16).

Herod told the wise men that the new king had been born in Bethlehem town. Then he sent them there to find the little child. He asked them to come back to him. He wanted them to tell him where the child was. He said that he wanted to *worship the child. The wise men believed Herod. Herod seemed to be as eager as they were to find the new baby king. It is strange that Herod did not send anyone else with the wise men. Maybe he did not send anyone else to show that he trusted the wise men. And he did expect them to come back to him.

The wise men set out to go to Bethlehem town. They travelled by night. And when they went, they saw the star again. They first saw the star in the east. The star seemed to be moving ahead of them. Then it stopped over the place where Jesus was. We do not know how the star could show to them the exact place. Probably it seemed to stop over Bethlehem town. Bethlehem was a very small town. And the wise men could have asked the local people where the child was. By this time, Joseph and Mary had moved into a house. The wise men found the house, and they were very glad.

The wise men went into the house. They saw the child and his mother Mary. Matthew does not mention Joseph. We do not know whether he was at home. The wise men fell down and they *worshipped Jesus. Then they opened their luggage and they took out gold, *frankincense and *myrrh. Then they gave these valuable gifts to Jesus. These gifts may have helped Joseph and Mary to afford the journey to Egypt (Matthew 2:13).

*Frankincense is a white sticky substance that comes from certain trees. It has a sweet smell. People used *frankincense as a medicine. Also they used it to carry out certain ceremonies in their religion. And *myrrh was a substance from a certain bush. *Myrrh was a precious *spice with a sweet smell. People used *myrrh on the bodies of people that had died. It helped to preserve the bodies.

Christians often see meanings in these gifts. In their opinion, gold means that Jesus was a king. *Frankincense means that Jesus was God. And *myrrh was because Jesus would suffer. *Myrrh was to show the death of Jesus.

Then God spoke to the wise men in a dream. He told them not to go back to Herod. Matthew records no reason for this. But God warned them. Perhaps God told them something of Herod’s intentions. However, the wise men obeyed God. They went home by a different route.

Jesus' parents take Jesus to Egypt – Matthew 2:13-15

v13 After they had left, an *angel of the *Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The *angel said to him, ‘Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to the country called Egypt. Stay there until I tell you to return. This is because Herod will search for the child in order to kill him.’

v14 So, Joseph got up. And he took the child and the child’s mother by night and they went to Egypt. v15 They remained there until Herod’s death. This happened to bring about what the *Lord had said by the *prophet. The *Lord had said, ‘I called my son out of Egypt.’

Verses 13-15 The wise men had left in order to return to their own country. Then God spoke to Joseph by means of a dream. In the dream, an *angel from the *Lord told Joseph to go to Egypt. Joseph must take Jesus and Mary away from Bethlehem. This was because Herod would search for Jesus. Herod knew that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. If he found Jesus, Herod would kill him. Joseph and his family would be safe in Egypt. And they must stay there until Herod had died. The *Lord would tell Joseph when it was safe to return home.

Joseph did what the *angel had told him. They started their journey by night. It was a long journey. It would have been more than 200 miles (320 kilometres). It would have taken them many days to get to Egypt. Egypt was a safe place for them to live. Herod could have no authority there. And about a million *Jews lived there. Many of these *Jews had come to Egypt to be safe from the rulers in *Israel.

The family stayed in Egypt until Herod died. Herod died from a terrible disease in about 4 *BC. He had ruled in Judea for almost 37 years. After that, the *Lord told Joseph to return. Matthew shows that Hosea the *prophet had said this about 800 years before (Hosea 11:1). When Hosea wrote these words, he was probably writing about the nation called *Israel. He wrote as if the nation was God’s son. Jesus was God’s Son. And God had said that he would call his son out of Egypt.

Herod kills the baby boys in Bethlehem – Matthew 2:16-18

v16 Herod realised that the wise men had not returned to him. He considered that an insult, and he was extremely angry. He gave orders to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem and in all the places near there. He killed all those boys who were two years old or younger. The two years was the time that he had learned from the wise men. v17 Then what God had said by the *prophet Jeremiah happened. v18 He said, ‘In Ramah they heard the voice of someone very sad, who wept aloud. Rachel was weeping because of her children. Nobody could comfort her because her children were dead.’

Verse 16 Bethlehem was only about 5 miles (8 kilometres) from Jerusalem. Herod expected the wise men to come back, perhaps in a couple of days. However, they did not come. He was very angry that they had not obeyed him. To him, Jesus was an enemy. So Herod decided to kill the child. He knew that Jesus had been born in the last two years. So, he sent men to kill all the boys under two years old that were in or near Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a small town. We would guess that there may have been no more than 20 boys under two years old.

However, Herod failed to kill Jesus. Jesus had already gone with his mother and Joseph to Egypt.

Everyone knew that Herod was a very cruel king. In his later years, he killed many people. He had killed three of his own sons. So, the murder of a few innocent children meant nothing to him.

Verses 17-18 Ramah was a place about 5 miles (8 kilometres) north of Jerusalem. It was in the territory that belonged to the *tribe called Benjamin. Rachel was the favourite wife of Jacob (Genesis 29:30). Rachel had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. The people from Jerusalem, her *descendants, passed through this place when they went into *exile (Jeremiah 40:1). Jeremiah refers to Rachel as their mother and as if she saw them. Rachel was crying because of her children as they went into *exile.

Matthew used what God had said to mean this murder in Bethlehem (Jeremiah 31:15). Bethlehem was about the same distance to the south of Jerusalem. Rachel died when Benjamin was born. Her grave was near Bethlehem (Genesis 35:16-19). It was as if these children in Bethlehem were her *descendants. Now they were dead and nobody could comfort their mothers.

Joseph and Mary return from Egypt – Matthew 2:19-23

v19 After Herod died, an *angel of the *Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. This was while Joseph was in Egypt. v20 The *angel said, ‘Get up. Take the child and his mother and go to the country called *Israel. Those people who were trying to kill the child are now dead.’

v21 So Joseph took the child and the child’s mother and they went to *Israel. v22 But Joseph heard that Archelaus was now king in Judea. Archelaus became king after his father Herod died. Therefore, Joseph was afraid to go there. In a dream, the *Lord warned him about it. So, he went to the area called Galilee. v23 Joseph went to a town called Nazareth. And he lived there. So, what God had said by the *prophets happened. He had said that people would call Jesus a *Nazarene.

Verses 19-21 Herod would not have known whether he had killed Jesus. Even so, while Herod was alive it was not safe for Jesus in the Judea region. But when Herod died, it removed that danger. Then Joseph had another dream. In that dream, an *angel appeared to him. The *angel told Joseph to go back from Egypt to the country called *Israel. Joseph must return with the child Jesus and with Mary his mother. It was safe for them to return because Herod was dead.

Joseph obeyed the *angel. He set out with Jesus and Mary to go to *Israel.

Verses 22-23 Herod the Great was dead but Joseph was still afraid to live in the Judea region. Also, he had another dream. In that dream, the *Lord warned him about Archelaus. So, Joseph went to the Galilee region. The family made its home in the small town called Nazareth. Joseph and Mary had lived there before the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:4).

Archelaus was a son of Herod the Great. On the death of his father, he became the ruler over three regions. These regions were Judea, Idumea and Samaria. He did not rule in Galilee region. Archelaus was a cruel man like his father. But he was much less capable. So, the *Romans removed him as ruler in 6 *AD. From then on, *Roman officials ruled these regions.

After Herod the Great, the country called *Israel did not have a single ruler. There were four of them. Archelaus ruled the regions called Judea, Idumea and Samaria. Herod Antipas ruled the regions called Galilee and Perea. Herod Philip ruled the regions called Iturea and Trachonitis. And Lysanias ruled in the region called Abilene.

Matthew tells us that the *prophets spoke about the *Christ as a *Nazarene. That word does not appear in the *Old Testament. Maybe the meaning is that *Christ would be a citizen in a minor town. Or, it may mean that people would not respect Jesus. As John 1:46 shows, people considered Nazareth a very poor place to come from. The *prophets did say that people would not respect the *Christ (for example, Isaiah 53:1-2). In the *Hebrew language, Isaiah used a similar word to *Nazarene when he described *Christ as a ‘branch’ in Isaiah 11:1.

The work of John the *Baptist – Matthew 3:1-12

v1 In those days John the *Baptist came. He *preached in the desert area of Judea. v2 He said, ‘*Repent. The *kingdom of heaven is near.’ v3 The *prophet Isaiah spoke about John. He said, ‘A voice cries out in the desert. “Prepare the way of the *Lord. Make his paths straight.” ’ v4 John wore clothes that he had made from camel’s hair. And he had a leather belt round him. For food, he ate *locusts and wild honey. v5 People from Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him. And people came from the entire region along the river Jordan. v6 They confessed their *sins and John *baptised them in the river Jordan.

v7 John saw many *Pharisees and *Sadducees who came to the place for *baptism. He said to them, ‘You are like a family of poisonous snakes. I do not know who warned you to run away from God’s anger. That anger will come. v8 So, do the things that please God. Show that you have really *repented. v9 Do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” I tell you that God is able to make children for Abraham from these stones. v10 Already the axe is at the root of the trees. The *Lord will cut down every tree that does not produce good fruit. And he will throw those trees into the fire.

v11 I *baptise you with water because you have *repented. But someone greater than me is coming after me. I am not good enough even to carry his *sandals. He will *baptise you with the *Holy Spirit and fire. v12 He will be like a farmer. With his fork in his hand, he will separate the good grain from the waste material. He will clear it all from his yard. He will put the good grain in his store. But he will burn the waste material in a fire that nobody can put out.’

Verse 1 Matthew does not give to us a definite period when John the *Baptist came. Luke tells when it was. ‘It was the 15th year of the rule of the *emperor Tiberius. Pontius Pilate was ruler of Judea. Herod ruled Galilee, and his brother Philip ruled Iturea and Trachonitis. Lysanias was the ruler of Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the *Jewish chief priests. At that time, God spoke to Zechariah's son John, who lived in the desert’ (Luke 3:1-2). Tiberius became *emperor in 14 *AD but he ruled with Augustus for two years before that. Pilate ruled in Judea from 26 *AD. Therefore, John began to *preach in 28 *AD or it could have been as early as 26 *AD.

John *preached in the desert area of Judea. The desert of Judea included the lower Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea. Also, it included an area to the west of the Dead Sea.

Verses 2-3 John *preached that people should *repent because of their *sins. He said that the *kingdom of heaven was near. The *kingdom of heaven is the same as the *kingdom of God in the other *Gospels. The *kingdom was not a physical territory. It was rather where God ruled in the lives of people. The king of that *kingdom was coming. John was preparing the people on behalf of the *Christ, in other words, the king to come.

John was the voice that cried in the desert. Isaiah wrote about the voice that cried in the desert. The voice said, ‘Make straight in the desert a road for our God’ (Isaiah 40:3). John the *Baptist used this passage to explain his own work. ‘I am the voice that cries in the desert. Make straight the way of the *Lord. This is what the *prophet Isaiah said’ (John 1:23).

In ancient times, when a king came, the people prepared the way on his behalf. They made sure that the road to their town was as smooth as possible. The king must be able to travel easily and quickly. In the same manner, John told the people that they must prepare themselves by means of *repentance for the *Christ’s arrival. Then they would be ready to listen to Jesus.

In the Book of Isaiah, the king was God. In Matthew, John the *Baptist used this passage with reference to Jesus. It was common in the *New Testament to identify Jesus with God. Jesus has always been God; he became a man.

Verses 4-6 John was the son of a priest called Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth. He was born about 6 months before Jesus. The account of his birth is in the first chapter of Luke’s *Gospel.

John’s clothes were rough. He made them of camel’s hair and he had a leather belt. His clothes were like those of the *prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). And he came with the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). He ate food that he could find in the desert. *Locusts are large insects that people can eat. The *prophet Malachi said that a second Elijah would come before the Christ (Malachi 4:5). John the *Baptist was that second Elijah.

As he *preached in the desert, many people heard about him. They came to hear him from Jerusalem and the region called Judea. The crowds that came included many people from the area along the Jordan valley. People wanted to see and to hear this strange man.

John *baptised those people who *repented in the Jordan river. In the *Old Testament, people sometimes washed in water to show that God had removed (washed away) their *sins.

Verse 7 Among the crowd that came to John, there were many *Pharisees and *Sadducees. These were two parties in the *Jewish religion.

The *Pharisees were a group who tried to obey all the *Jewish laws. They also followed the traditions about God’s law, which previous teachers in their religion had taught them. They tried to teach these laws and traditions to the people because they wanted all the *Jews to please God. However, God wants people to love him sincerely and not merely to follow rules.

The *Sadducees were members of the chief priest’s party. The name probably came from the name of Zadok. They considered themselves the true *descendants of Zadok the priest (1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 2:35). Another possibility is that the name came from Sadok. Sadok was a *disciple of a teacher called Antigonus. Sadok lived about 300 *BC.

We do not know much about the *Sadducees. They did not believe in life after death or several other things that the Bible teaches (Acts 23:8). The *Sadducees did not accept the traditions of the *Pharisees.

It surprised John that *Pharisees and *Sadducees came to him. They thought that they were such good people. They would not think that they needed to *repent. John did not believe that many of them were sincere. But some of them could have been sincere. They may have come to find out about John. And they wanted to see what John did (see John 1:19-24).

John calls them poisonous snakes. Poisonous snakes are dangerous and you cannot trust them. John was strict with these men and he accused them. It was not good enough for them to try to escape the punishment that they deserved. God opposes all that is evil. He hates *sin. He is angry against *sin and everything that is evil. The time will come when God’s anger will punish evil and *sinful people. But God will save those people who really *repent because of their *sins.

Verses 8-9 Words are not enough. *Repentance must be genuine. People may say that they have *repented. But real *repentance brings a change in behaviour. John told the *Pharisees and *Sadducees to prove that they had *repented. They must do the good deeds that should follow *repentance.

The *Jews thought that they had a special relationship with God. They were *descendants of Abraham, the friend of God. Because they were *descendants of Abraham, many *Jews considered themselves safe from judgement. John told them not to think like that. They could not depend on Abraham’s *faith for themselves. They were responsible because of their own *sins. They must *repent and they must come to God in *faith.

There were many stones in that place by the Jordan river. Perhaps John pointed to the stones. God can make children for Abraham from these stones. People do not have a right relationship with God merely because of their physical relationship to Abraham. But Abraham believed God and God accepted him. Those people who believe become God’s people, Abraham’s real *descendants (Galatians 3:6-7).

Verse 10 People who will not *repent are like trees with bad fruit. Judgement will come against them. That judgement is like an axe. It is already at the root of those trees.

Usually the worker would cut the tree higher than the root. He would leave the root and a bit of the tree in the ground. In this case, nothing will remain of the tree and the fire will burn it all.

People who really *repent are like trees with good fruit. The judgement will not come to them.

God will be the judge of every person. He will not punish those people who have *repented. But he will punish those people who will not *repent.

Verses 11-12 Then John spoke to the people. He told them why he *baptised them. He *baptised them in water as evidence that they had *repented. But John spoke about the more important person who would soon appear. This man would be stronger and more powerful than John. John was not good enough to carry his *sandals. A slave would do this simple task on behalf of his master. John was not good enough even to be this man’s slave. John was a great man but he was also a humble man.

John was speaking about the *Christ, who would come after him. John was about 6 months older than Jesus. And he started his work earlier than Jesus. However, at this time John did not know that Jesus was the *Christ (John 1:31).

Soon, the *Christ would come. When he came, he would *baptise people. John *baptised them in water. The *Christ would *baptise them in the *Holy Spirit and fire. At *Pentecost, the *Holy Spirit came on the *disciples. And they saw flames of fire, which rested upon their heads (Acts 2:3). The *Holy Spirit is God, even as Jesus is God. The *Holy Spirit comes into those people who believe in Jesus (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

There will be a future judgement. Jesus will be the judge of all people. John the *Baptist described it as like a farmer. The farmer separates the good grain from the waste material. The farmer throws the grain with the waste material in the air. The grain is heavier than the waste material. So, the wind blows the waste material from the grain. The grain falls to the ground in a separate heap. Then the farmer puts the good grain in his store. But he gathers up waste material and he burns it in the fire. Jesus will separate his *disciples from those people who do not believe in him. He will take his *disciples to be with him in heaven. But the other people will suffer punishment. That punishment is like a fire that nobody can ever put out.

John *baptises Jesus – Matthew 3:13-17

v13 Then Jesus came from the region called Galilee. He came to John at the river Jordan. Jesus came for John to *baptise him. v14 But John tried to refuse Jesus. John said, ‘I need you to *baptise me. You should not come to me to *baptise you.’

v15 But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be this way for now. It is proper for us to do all that is right.’ Therefore, John agreed to *baptise Jesus.

v16 After John had *baptised Jesus, immediately Jesus came up from the water. Then the heavens opened. And John saw God’s Spirit come down like a *dove on Jesus. v17 A voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is my Son. I love him and he pleases me very much.’

Verses 13-17 Jesus came to the Jordan river. His purpose was to ask John to *baptise him. At first, John would not *baptise Jesus. John felt that Jesus was his superior. John’s work was to *baptise people who needed to *repent. Here was a man who needed no *repentance. Therefore, the *baptism should be the other way. Jesus should *baptise John. John was a humble man. He recognised that he was a *sinner. He needed God to forgive him as much as other people needed it. Jesus did not say that John was wrong. But Jesus said that it must be this way for now.

Then Jesus said that it was proper to do this. It would complete what was right. It is difficult for us to understand what Jesus meant. He had no need for *baptism. He had no *sin so he had no need to *repent. The *Old Testament does not say anything about the *baptism of the *Christ. But Jesus chose to live a life like ours. All of us need to *repent and Jesus entered into our world. He came to take our *sins on himself. And he died to take the punishment that should be ours.

John understood what Jesus said. Therefore, he agreed to *baptise Jesus. Jesus came up out of the water. Then there was a strange effect in the sky. Matthew said that the heavens opened. What that means we do not know. But the *Holy Spirit came down like a *dove and he (the *Holy Spirit) came on Jesus. John knew that it was God’s Spirit. We do not know if other people could see it. A *dove is a bird.

Then, out of the open heavens, God spoke. Jesus and John heard God’s voice. Probably other people heard it also. God told them that Jesus was his Son. Jesus had a relationship with God the Father that nobody else can have. Jesus was the one that God loved in a special way. And God had pleasure in his only Son.

This event shows what we mean by the *Trinity. The people saw Jesus. He is the Son of God. The *Holy Spirit, who is God, came down on Jesus. Then God the Father spoke about his Son. All three of them, the Father, the Son and the *Holy Spirit are God. We believe in one God.

*Satan tests Jesus in the desert – Matthew 4:1-11

v1 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the desert where the devil tested him. v2 Jesus did not eat for 40 days and 40 nights. After this, he was very hungry. v3 The devil came and he spoke to Jesus to test him. ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.’ v4 Jesus gave to him this answer. ‘The *Scriptures say, “A person cannot live on bread only. But he lives by every word that God speaks.” ’

v5 Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city. He made Jesus to stand on the highest point of the *temple. v6 The devil said to Jesus, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. The *Scriptures say, “The *Lord will order his *angels to look after you. And on their hands, they will hold you up. They will not let your foot hit a stone.” ’ v7 Jesus said to him, ‘Again it says in the *Scriptures, “Do not test the *Lord your God.” ’

v8 Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain. He showed to Jesus all the *kingdoms of the world and their *glory. v9 Then the devil said to Jesus, ‘I will give to you all these things if you will fall down in front of me to *worship me.’ v10 Then Jesus said to the devil, ‘Go away from me, *Satan. The *Scriptures say, “You must *worship the *Lord your God. You must serve only him.” ’ v11 Then the devil left Jesus. And *angels came and they took care of Jesus.

Verse 1 Immediately after his *baptism, the *Holy Spirit led Jesus up into the desert. John *baptised people in the Jordan river. The Spirit led Jesus up to the high country beyond the river. This was all in the purposes of God. God the *Holy Spirit led God the Son into the desert to overcome the devil. And in this desert place, the devil met with Jesus.

Verses 2-4 Matthew does not say why Jesus did not eat for these 40 days and nights. People sometimes choose not to eat for the purposes of thought and prayer. Perhaps Jesus needed to concentrate in prayer at the start of his public life. However, at the end of this time, he was very hungry.

Jesus was in a desert place and there was nowhere to obtain food. During those 40 days, the devil had tested Jesus but now he had three more tests (Mark 1:13). The devil approached the hungry Jesus. He suggested that, as the Son of God, Jesus could make bread from the stones by a *miracle. Jesus needed food and he could easily have made food for himself. He could have satisfied his own hunger. But Jesus would not do it. He would not use his power for selfish purposes.

Jesus answered the devil from the *Old Testament (part of Deuteronomy 8:3). Bread was an important food in that culture. But life is more than physical food. Real life depends on what God says. God’s word is essential for life. To hear and to obey God’s word is most important. It is more necessary for life than bread or any other food. Usually God speaks to us by the Bible. The Bible is the word of God.

Verses 5-7 The devil took Jesus to the *temple in Jerusalem. He took Jesus high up to the top of the *temple. We do not know whether the devil actually took Jesus from the desert to Jerusalem. Perhaps he placed the idea into Jesus’ mind.

During the first of the three tests, Jesus had refused the devil because Jesus trusted in God. Now the devil would test that trust. He suggested that Jesus could throw himself down from the *temple. As he was the Son of God, he would not hurt himself. To prove his argument, the devil used words from the *Old Testament. He said that the *Lord would send *angels. They would protect Jesus. They would not let his foot hit a stone (Psalm 91:11-12). The devil urged Jesus to prove that he trusted God. The devil argued that the best way to do that was for Jesus to throw himself down.

Again, Jesus used words from the *Old Testament to answer the devil. He did not say that the devil was wrong. However, the Bible also says that you must not test the *Lord God (Deuteronomy 6:16). What the devil was proposing was a wrong action, and for the wrong reason. We cannot do foolish things on purpose and then expect God to protect us (1 Corinthians 10:9).

Verses 8-11 The devil took Jesus to the top of a very high mountain. This may not have been a real mountain. It was probably in Jesus’ mind. You could not see all the *kingdoms on the earth from any mountain. There the devil showed to Jesus the *glory of those *kingdoms. He did not show Jesus all the evil things in the world. The devil gave to Jesus the idea of a *kingdom that included the whole world. As the ruler of the world, Jesus could make it so much better. He could achieve so much and he would not suffer to achieve it.

The devil promised to give all this to Jesus at a price. To get the *kingdoms of the world, Jesus must fall down in front of the devil. He must *worship the devil. Jesus could rule the world if he served the devil. To serve the devil would mean that Jesus must obey the devil. Jesus could not then do what God the Father wanted.

Jesus did not ask about the devil’s power to give to him the world’s *kingdoms. The devil is now the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). But he can only act as God allows him to act. And the *kingdoms of the world will become God’s *kingdom (Revelation 11:15).

Jesus refused to accept the devil’s proposal. He ordered the devil, that is, *Satan, to go away. Then Jesus replied to him with words from the Bible. ‘You must *worship the *Lord your God. You must serve only him’ (Deuteronomy 6:13).

Jesus had defeated *Satan. *Satan left Jesus and he went away for a time. Then *angels came to Jesus to help him. The devil tested Jesus again on several occasions.

Jesus begins his work in Galilee – Matthew 4:12-17

v12 Jesus heard about the arrest of John. Then Jesus returned to the area called Galilee. v13 Jesus left Nazareth town and he went to live in the town called Capernaum. Capernaum was by the sea in the districts that had belonged to Zebulun and Naphtali. v14 Jesus did this to bring about what the *prophet Isaiah had said. v15 ‘The region called Zebulun and the region called Naphtali are near the sea. They are beyond the Jordan river. Galilee is where people who are not *Jews live. v16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And to people in a country beneath the shadow of death, a light has risen up.’

v17 From that time, Jesus began to *preach. He said, ‘*Repent because the *kingdom of heaven is near.’

Verses 12-17 Herod had arrested John and he had put John in prison. John had told Herod that he should not have married his brother’s wife. That was why Herod had arrested him (Matthew 14:3-4). Jesus was probably in the area near the Jordan river when he heard the news about John. Then Jesus left that area and he went to the region called Galilee.

We do not know why Jesus went to Galilee at that time. Probably Jesus saw that John had completed his work. And now, it was time for Jesus to begin his principal work in Galilee. John’s *Gospel shows that Jesus had already been working in Galilee (John 1:19 to 2:12). Also, John records that Jesus had worked in Judea (John 2:13 to 3:21).

Most of John the *Baptist’s work was in the desert. Much of Jesus’ work would be in Galilee. Galilee was the region west of the Jordan river, to the north and west of Lake Galilee.

Jesus left his home in Nazareth and he made his home in Capernaum. Capernaum was a town on the north west side of Lake Galilee. It was in the general area of Zebulun and Naphtali. Zebulun and Naphtali were the names of two of *Israel’s 12 *tribes. These two *tribes had lived in this area.

Several centuries before Jesus’ birth, soldiers from the country called Assyria attacked Zebulun and Naphtali. The *prophet Isaiah told of a better future for this region (Isaiah 9:1-2). The people there were like people who walked in darkness. But they would see a great light. Matthew says that this had happened. The great light that shone in the darkness meant Jesus. Jesus was like a light because he showed people the truth about God. Many people who were not *Jews lived there with the *Jews.

The *Assyrian soldiers came from across the Jordan river from the east. Isaiah says that the region was beyond the Jordan river. Here that means to the west of the Jordan river.

When the *New Testament refers to the *Old Testament, the words are often different from our *Old Testament. There are several reasons for this. Our *Old Testament comes from the *Hebrew language. Our *New Testament comes form the *Greek language. Also, the writers of the *New Testament often used a *Greek language translation of the *Old Testament. And sometimes these writers gave what the passage meant rather than an accurate translation. Therefore, this passage is not exactly the same as in Isaiah.

Jesus began to *preach. He *preached the necessity of *repentance. People needed to *repent because the *kingdom of heaven was near. John had *preached the same things. Now Jesus began to explain further the need to *repent and about the *kingdom.

Jesus chooses some *disciples – Matthew 4:18-22

v18 As Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee, he saw two brothers. They were Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake because they were *fishermen. v19 Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me. And I will make you *fishermen who catch people instead of fish.’ v20 Immediately they left their nets and they followed Jesus.

v21 Jesus went on from there and he saw another two brothers. These were James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee. And they were mending their nets. Jesus called the brothers to follow him. v22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and they followed Jesus.

Verses 18-22 Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee when he saw the brothers Peter and Andrew. He had met them before. John the *Baptist had often explained that he expected the *Christ to come soon. Then John saw Jesus and he pointed Jesus out to two of his (John’s) *disciples. They followed Jesus and they spent some time with him. One of those two *disciples was Andrew. He found his brother Simon. He said to Simon, ‘We have found the *Christ.’ And Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. When they met, Jesus gave to Simon the name Peter. Peter means stone or rock (John 1:35-42). We do not know whether they met again before the incident in Matthew 4:18-19.

Peter and Andrew came from the town called Bethsaida (John 1:44). But they now lived in Capernaum. They were *fishermen. They were throwing their nets into the water of the lake. Jesus called them both to follow him. He said that he would make them to catch people instead of fish. It is possible that they expected Jesus to call them. They knew that Jesus was not just asking them to walk with him. They realised that they were agreeing to a complete change in their lives. And they were ready for it. Immediately they left their nets and they went with Jesus.

In the future, they would ‘catch’ people in a good way. Jesus meant that God would use them to bring people to himself. The *disciples would *preach the good news about Jesus. They would make other *disciples and they would teach them.

As Jesus walked on from there he saw two more brothers. Like Andrew and Peter, it seems that these two had probably met Jesus on a previous occasion. James and John were *fishermen too. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee. They were mending their nets. Jesus called James and John to follow him. Immediately they left their father in the boat and they followed Jesus.

Word List

AD ~ years after Christ.

ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.

angel ~ a servant of God from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages. So, angels are God’s servants from heaven. But there are evil angels who opposed God. These evil angels now serve the devil.

anoint ~ to put oil or *spices on a person.

apostle ~ someone whom God sends; especially one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose to be his helpers.

Aramaic ~ an important ancient language in the region near Israel.

Assyrian ~ a description of people from the country called Assyria.

baptise ~ to use water in a special ceremony to show that God has forgiven (washed away) a person’s *sin.

baptism ~ the act when a person *baptises someone.

Baptist ~ the title that we use for John, whom God sent to prepare people for the *Christ’s arrival.

BC ~ years before Christ.

bless ~ to show special kindness to someone; to speak words that show kindness.

Christ ~ The Christ is the name for the person whom God would send to save his people. The word ‘Christ’ means that the person has received an anointing. The anointing was a special ceremony that appointed someone to carry out a special work for God. Jesus is the Christ and he was called Christ. God sent Jesus to save his people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21).

crucify ~ a *Roman method to kill as a punishment. The *Roman soldiers would nail the person to a cross of wood.

demons ~ evil *angels that serve the devil.

descendant ~ a future member of a family or nation.

disciple ~ a person who follows a leader, especially the 12 men that Jesus chose to be with him.

dove ~ a kind of bird.

emperor ~ an important ruler, like a king. The *Romans called their ruler an emperor.

exile ~ People who have to live in a foreign country are in exile. Such a person is called an exile. The exile means the time when the *Jews were in exile.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.

fast ~ to choose not to eat for a time.

fasting ~ a period of time when a person chooses not to eat.

feast ~ a time to eat and drink. The special times of *Jewish ceremonies are feasts.

figs ~ a kind of sweet fruit.

fishermen ~ men whose job it is to catch fish.

frankincense ~ a white sticky substance with a sweet smell.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

Gospel ~ one of the first 4 books in the New Testament. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Greek ~ the language of Greece, which became an important international language at the time of Christ.

Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit whom Jesus sent to help his people. The Holy Spirit is another name for God, also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a person but not human. He carries out God’s work on earth. He is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son.

idol ~ the image of a false god.

Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.

Israelites ~ *Jewish people.

Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their *descendants.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. In the *New Testament, we often read about God’s kingdom. This nearly always means the people over whom God rules, and not a territory on earth.

locust ~ a large insect that people can eat.

Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. In the *Old Testament, LORD was a special name for God. The word ‘lord’ can also mean a master or a ruler.

miracle ~ a powerful deed that does not happen by natural means. Often, miracles seem impossible to explain. Miracles show God’s power.

mustard ~ a type of *spice that people grew in their gardens.

myrrh ~ a type of *spice. It was a precious substance. People used it on the bodies of dead people.

Nazarene ~ the word for a citizen of Nazareth.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

Passover ~ annual ceremony (*feast) to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt.

Pentecost ~ annual ceremony (*feast) when the *Jews thank God for the harvest.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who tried to keep all God’s rules. They thought that by this they could please God.

preach ~ to speak God’s message in public, and to teach his word.

prophecy ~ a message from God that a person speaks by the power of the *Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. A prophet can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart. People who repent must turn their minds and hearts away from *sin. They ask God to help them so that they can now serve him.

repentance ~ When a person *repents, that is repentance.

resurrection ~ life after death.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the most important rulers at the time of the *New Testament. Anything that belonged to Rome was called Roman. The people from Rome were called the Romans.

Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week (Saturday) which is special to the *Jews as a holy day.

Sadducee ~ one of a group of *Jews who did not believe in heaven or in *resurrection. They were an important group of *Jews at the time of Jesus, and they included the most important priests. They only used the five books at the beginning of the *Old Testament. They believed that people would not live again after death.

sandal ~ a shoe with a piece of leather underneath and leather pieces to fit to the foot.

Satan ~ the name of the devil.

Scriptures ~ the books of the Bible. Where Jesus talks about the Scriptures, he means the books of the *Old Testament.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

sin ~ Sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God.

sinful ~ a person who *sins is sinful.

sinners ~ people who *sin.

spice ~ a sweet substance or a substance with a strong smell.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had a temple in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God. But at other temples, people *worshipped false gods.

throne ~ the special chair for the king or for an important person.

tribe ~ a large family of people who have a common *ancestor. The nation called *Israel grew from the 12 sons of Jacob. Their 12 families became the 12 tribes of *Israel.

Trinity ~ God, who is Father, Son and *Holy Spirit.

worship ~ the act when someone shows honour to God (or to an *idol). When a person worships, that person praises God. That person thanks God. And that person respects God.

yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise before someone bakes it.

Book List

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Leon Morris ~ The Gospel according to Matthew ~ The Pillar New Testament Commentary

D.A.Carson ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

R.V.G Tasker ~ St Matthew ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries


A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament


© 2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

December 2014

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