Free Study Guide for The Book of Matthew

The Book of Matthew is one of the four Gospels in the New Testament and provides an account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. A study guide for the Book of Matthew can help readers gain a deeper understanding of this important book of the Bible. This article will explore the purpose of the study guide and provide an overview of the Book of Matthew.

Free Study Guide for The Book of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew Part One: The Presentation of the King ( Matt 1:1–4:11)

I. The Advent of the King (Matt 1:1–2:23)

Genealogy of Christ (Matt 1:1–17)

  1. The first verse of Matthew holds significant meaning for a Jew.
    • The opening verse of Matthew’s genealogy declares Jesus as “the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This statement establishes Jesus’ lineage, connecting Him to two prominent figures in Jewish history: King David and Abraham.
    • For a Jew, this declaration would signify Jesus’ rightful place as the long-awaited Messiah and the fulfillment of God’s promises to the nation of Israel.
  2. The inclusion of Rahab in the genealogy carries significance (1:5).
    • Rahab, a Canaanite woman, is listed among the ancestors of Jesus in Matthew’s genealogy.
    • The significance of Rahab’s inclusion lies in her background as a Gentile and a former prostitute.
    • By including Rahab, Matthew highlights God’s inclusive plan of salvation, which extends beyond ethnic boundaries and welcomes all who have faith in Him.
  3. Jeconiah and Shealtiel being listed have their own significance (1:12).
    • Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin) and Shealtiel were two key figures in the genealogy of Jesus.
    • Jeconiah was a king of Judah who faced God’s judgment and was exiled to Babylon along with many of his people.
    • Shealtiel was Jeconiah’s son and an important figure in the post-exilic period.
    • The significance of their inclusion in the genealogy lies in the fact that Jesus’ lineage goes through them, demonstrating God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises despite the nation’s exile and captivity.

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Birth of Christ (1:18–25)

  1. Joseph desired to “put away” Mary secretly because of certain circumstances (1:18).
    • When Joseph discovered that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant, he faced a difficult situation.
    • According to Jewish law, adultery was a serious offense punishable by death, and Joseph initially assumed that Mary had been unfaithful to him.
    • Despite his hurt and confusion, Joseph chose to handle the matter discreetly, intending to divorce Mary privately rather than expose her to public disgrace or legal consequences.
  2. The angel conveyed important information to Joseph about the Child (1:20–21).
    • An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and revealed the true nature of Mary’s pregnancy.
    • The angel assured Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and instructed him to take Mary as his wife.
    • The angel instructed Joseph to name the child Jesus, which means “the Lord saves,” for He would save His people from their sins.
    • This divine revelation provided Joseph with clarity and reassurance, affirming the miraculous nature and purpose of the child’s birth.

Visit of Wise Men (2:1–12)

  1. The wise men from the East came to Jerusalem for a specific reason (2:1–2).
    • Wise men, often referred to as Magi or astrologers, journeyed from the East to Jerusalem seeking the newborn King of the Jews.
    • These individuals were likely scholars and astronomers who studied celestial signs and interpreted them as indicators of significant events.
    • The appearance of a particular star led them to believe that a special ruler, born King of the Jews, had come into the world.
  2. Herod made a request of the wise men, but they did not fulfill it (2:8).
    • Upon learning of the wise men’s quest, King Herod became troubled, as he saw this newborn King as a potential threat to his own power and reign.
    • Herod cunningly summoned the wise men and requested that they inform him of the child’s whereabouts once they found Him, under the pretense of wanting to worship Him as well.
    • However, the wise men, being divinely warned in a dream, chose not to comply with Herod’s request and returned to their own country by another route, avoiding further contact with the deceitful king.

The birth of Christ involved the delicate circumstances of Joseph’s initial confusion and subsequent divine guidance, while the visit of the wise men unveiled the revelation of the newborn King and the deceptive intentions of King Herod.

Flight into Egypt (2:13–15)

  1. Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with the Christ Child due to a specific threat (2:13).
    • After the visit of the wise men, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream again, warning him about Herod’s malicious intentions.
    • Herod, realizing that the wise men did not return to inform him of the child’s whereabouts, became furious and sought to eliminate any potential rival to his throne.
    • To protect Jesus from Herod’s wrath, Joseph and Mary immediately fled to Egypt, seeking refuge in a foreign land.
  2. They stayed in Egypt for a specific duration, fulfilling a prophecy (2:14–15).
    • The time spent in Egypt by Mary, Joseph, and Jesus was not arbitrary but had profound significance.
    • It fulfilled the prophecy found in Hosea 11:1, which stated, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
    • Just as God had delivered the Israelites from Egypt in the Old Testament, Jesus, the Son of God, was also brought out of Egypt, signifying His special role as the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan.
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Herod Kills the Children (2:16–18)

  1. It took a certain amount of time for Herod to realize he had been deceived (2:16).
    • Herod, upon realizing that the wise men had not returned to inform him of the child’s location, became infuriated.
    • To ensure the elimination of any potential threat to his reign, Herod calculated the time when the star had first appeared and ordered the execution of all male children in Bethlehem and its surrounding regions who were two years old or younger.
    • This indicates that some time had passed between the departure of the wise men and Herod’s realization of their failure to comply with his request.
  2. “Rachel weeping for her children” holds a significant meaning (2:17–18; Hos 11:1).
    • Matthew quotes from the prophecy of Jeremiah (31:15) but attributes it to Rachel, the mother of Joseph and Benjamin.
    • The weeping of Rachel symbolizes the grief and anguish of the mothers in Bethlehem who experienced the tragic loss of their young children due to Herod’s ruthless actions.
    • Matthew connects this event with the prophecy from Hosea 11:1, illustrating how Jesus’ experiences mirrored the history of Israel, as God’s Son, like the nation of Israel, was delivered out of Egypt and faced suffering and persecution.

Jesus Returns to Nazareth (2:19–23)

  1. Archelaus and his actions are worth noting (2:22).
    • After Herod’s death, Joseph was warned in a dream to return from Egypt to the land of Israel with Jesus.
    • However, upon learning that Archelaus, Herod’s son, ruled over Judea in place of his father, Joseph was afraid to settle in Bethlehem or any other area under Archelaus’ jurisdiction.
    • The historical context reveals that Archelaus was known for his cruelty and oppressive rule, further emphasizing Joseph’s decision to avoid his territory.
  2. Joseph took his family to Nazareth for a specific reason (2:23).
    • Joseph, guided by another divine message in a dream, settled his family in the town of Nazareth, located in the region of Galilee.
    • This relocation to Nazareth fulfilled yet another prophecy, as it was spoken by the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
    • Although the specific prophecy is not found in the Old Testament, it signifies that Jesus, the Messiah, would be associated with the town of Nazareth, shaping His identity

II. The Announcer of the King (3:1–12)

The Person of John the Baptist (3:1–6)

  1. John the Baptist had a purpose and message that are worth understanding (3:2).
    • John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, preaching a powerful message of repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
    • His purpose was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, to call people to turn away from their sins, and prepare their hearts for the arrival of the King.
  2. Those who came to John confessed certain things (3:6).
    • People from various regions, including Jerusalem and all Judea, came to John to confess their sins and be baptized by him in the Jordan River.
    • Their confession and baptism symbolized their repentance and their desire to start afresh, preparing themselves for the coming kingdom and the arrival of the King.

The Preaching of John the Baptist (3:7–12)

  1. John had a message specifically directed toward the Pharisees and Sadducees (3:7–8).
    • When the religious leaders, Pharisees, and Sadducees came to be baptized by John, he confronted them, calling them a “brood of vipers” and challenging them to bear fruits worthy of repentance.
    • He warned them not to rely on their lineage as children of Abraham but to genuinely repent and produce the evidence of a transformed life.
  2. John spoke about the ministry of Jesus (3:11).
    • John acknowledged that his baptism with water was a symbolic act of repentance, but he pointed out that there was someone greater coming after him.
    • He stated that he baptized with water for repentance, but the one who was coming, Jesus, would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
    • John emphasized the superior nature of Jesus’ ministry, as Jesus would bring about a profound spiritual transformation in people’s lives through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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III. The Approval of the King (3:13–4:11)

Baptism of Jesus (3:13–17)

  1. John initially tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized (3:14).
    • John recognized the superiority and holiness of Jesus and felt unworthy to baptize Him.
    • He acknowledged that he needed to be baptized by Jesus instead of the other way around.
    • However, Jesus insisted on being baptized to fulfill all righteousness, demonstrating His identification with humanity and His submission to God’s plan.
  2. The reasons behind Jesus’ baptism are significant (3:15).
    • Jesus’ baptism served as an inauguration of His public ministry and marked the beginning of His earthly mission.
    • It symbolized His willingness to take on the role of the suffering servant and the Lamb of God who would bear the sins of the world.
    • Through baptism, Jesus identified Himself with sinners, foreshadowing His redemptive work on the cross.
  3. Certain events occurred after Jesus’ baptism (3:16–17).
    • As Jesus came up from the water, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove.
    • A voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    • These manifestations affirmed Jesus’ divine identity and demonstrated God’s pleasure and approval of His Son’s mission.

Temptation of Jesus (4:1–11)

  1. The nature of Christ’s temptation and His ability to sin are subjects of contemplation (cf. Heb 2:14–18).
    • Jesus, being fully human, experienced genuine temptations during His earthly life.
    • However, unlike humanity, He remained sinless, demonstrating His divine nature and perfect obedience to God.
  2. Satan tempted Jesus in three specific ways (4:3–10).
    • First, Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, appealing to His physical hunger and testing His dependence on God’s provision.
    • Second, Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, challenging Him to test God’s protection and manipulate divine promises.
    • Third, Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him, enticing Him with power and authority apart from the Father’s plan.
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Exploring the Book of Matthew

The Book of Matthew holds a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom and guidance. It was penned by the apostle Matthew, also known as Levi, who had an extraordinary transformation from being a tax collector to becoming a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Let’s delve into the significance of this Gospel and its key themes.

The Kingdom of Heaven: Discovering its Nature, Principles, and Entry

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus frequently teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven, revealing its profound significance and inviting us to participate in its blessings. But what exactly is the Kingdom of Heaven, and how can we enter it?

  • What is the Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of Heaven refers to the reign of God in the hearts of individuals and the establishment of His divine rule on Earth. It embodies God’s sovereignty, righteousness, peace, and joy, and it offers hope and eternal life.
  • Why is the Kingdom of Heaven important? Understanding the Kingdom of Heaven is crucial because it illuminates God’s plan for humanity and helps us align our lives with His purpose. It provides a framework for living according to God’s values and experiencing His abundant blessings.
  • Where can we find references to the Kingdom of Heaven? Throughout the Book of Matthew, Jesus uses parables, teachings, and miracles to illustrate the nature and principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. One such reference is found in Matthew 4:17, where Jesus proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • When can we experience the Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of Heaven is both a present reality and a future hope. It is available to us now as we surrender our lives to Christ, experience His forgiveness, and embrace His teachings. It will also find its ultimate fulfillment in the future when Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom in its fullness.
  • How can we enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus emphasizes the need for repentance, faith, and wholehearted devotion to God. By acknowledging our need for a Savior, accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection, and following His teachings, we can enter into a personal relationship with Him and become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sermon on the Mount: Discovering Life-Changing Teachings

The Sermon on the Mount is a remarkable discourse delivered by Jesus, encompassing various transformative teachings. Let’s explore why this sermon is so significant and how it can impact our lives today.

  • What is the Sermon on the Mount? The Sermon on the Mount is a compilation of Jesus’ teachings found in Matthew chapters 5 to 7. It covers a wide range of topics, including the Beatitudes, love for enemies, prayer, fasting, and many other practical aspects of Christian living.
  • Why is the Sermon on the Mount important? This sermon encapsulates the essence of Jesus’ teachings and provides a blueprint for righteous living. It challenges conventional wisdom, transforms our attitudes, and offers a radical vision of God’s Kingdom.
  • Where can we find references to the Sermon on the Mount? The entire discourse is recorded in Matthew 5-7, presenting Jesus’ teachings in a cohesive and comprehensive manner. It begins with the Beatitudes, where Jesus describes the characteristics and blessings of those who are citizens of His Kingdom.
  • When can we apply the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount? The teachings from the Sermon on the Mount are relevant to every aspect of our lives. They guide us in our relationships, actions, attitudes, and spiritual growth. They challenge us to be salt and light in the world and to embody the values of God’s Kingdom in our daily lives.
  • How can the Sermon on the Mount transform us? By embracing the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, we can experience personal transformation and become agents of change in the world. It calls us to live with humility, mercy, purity of heart, and a radical love that extends even to our enemies.

Parables: Unveiling Profound Truths Through Stories

Matthew includes several parables, which are captivating stories that convey deep spiritual truths. Let’s explore why Jesus used parables and the significance of some notable examples.

  • What are parables? Parables are fictional stories that use familiar situations and characters to illustrate moral, spiritual, or ethical lessons. They engage the listener’s imagination and invite reflection and self-examination.
  • Why did Jesus use parables? Jesus used parables to make profound truths accessible to a wide audience. By presenting spiritual concepts through relatable narratives, He could convey deeper meaning and engage His listeners’ hearts and minds.
  • Where can we find references to parables in Matthew? Matthew contains various parables shared by Jesus, such as the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Matthew 18:21-35), and the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Each parable has a unique message and provides valuable insights into God’s Kingdom.
  • When can we apply the lessons from parables? The lessons from Jesus’ parables are timeless and applicable to our lives today. They challenge us to examine our hearts, priorities, and responses to God’s truth. By embracing the teachings embedded within the parables, we can grow in our faith and understanding.
  • How do parables impact our spiritual journey? Parables offer a powerful way to connect with God’s truth and apply it to our lives. They reveal the character of God, the nature of His Kingdom, and the transformative power of His grace. By engaging with the parables, we can deepen our relationship with God and gain wisdom for our journey of faith.

Great Commission: Spreading the Gospel and Making Disciples

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus entrusted His disciples with the Great Commission. Let’s explore the significance of this commission and its relevance to believers today.

  • What is the Great Commission? The Great Commission refers to Jesus’ command to His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. It is a call to share the Gospel, baptize believers, and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded.
  • Why is the Great Commission important? The Great Commission is of paramount importance because it empowers believers to participate in God’s redemptive work. It ensures the spread of the Good News, the growth of the Church, and the transformation of lives.
  • Where can we find references to the Great Commission? The Great Commission is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus instructs His disciples, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
  • When can we fulfill the Great Commission? The Great Commission is an ongoing mandate that applies to every generation of believers. It is a call to be intentional in sharing our faith, demonstrating God’s love, and discipling others. It extends to our communities, workplaces, and the ends of the earth.
  • How can we fulfill the Great Commission? We fulfill the Great Commission by actively engaging in evangelism, discipleship, and teaching. By living out our faith authentically, being a witness to Christ’s love, and sharing the Gospel with others, we can play a part in fulfilling this commission.
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Understanding the Context of the Book of Matthew

The historical context of the Book of Matthew is important to understand in order to grasp the significance of its teachings. The book was likely written in the late 1st century AD and was originally intended for a Jewish audience. The literary context of the book includes an emphasis on Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and his role as the Messiah.

The authorship of the Book of Matthew is also a matter of debate among scholars. While traditionally it has been attributed to the Apostle Matthew, many scholars believe that the author was likely a later disciple who wrote under Matthew’s name.

Understanding the Theme of the Book of Matthew

The main theme of the Book of Matthew is the kingdom of heaven and its establishment on earth through Jesus Christ. This theme is central to the teachings of the book and provides a framework for understanding the life and ministry of Jesus.

Identifying the theme in the Book of Matthew can be done by examining the recurring themes and motifs throughout the book. The importance of the theme lies in its emphasis on the transformative power of Christ’s teachings and the ultimate redemption and salvation available to all who believe in him.

Understanding the Structure of the Book of Matthew

The structure of the Book of Matthew is designed to support its central theme. The book is divided into five main sections, each containing narratives and teachings that build upon one another to support the overarching message of the kingdom of heaven.

Navigating the Book of Matthew based on its structure can help readers better understand the progression of the book’s teachings and the significance of individual events and teachings.

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Key Characters in the Book of Matthew

Several key characters play important roles in the Book of Matthew. Jesus Christ is, of course, the central figure and the primary focus of the book. The disciples, including Peter, James, John, and others, are also important figures who play instrumental roles in Jesus’ ministry.

The Pharisees and Sadducees are often depicted as antagonistic figures in the book, challenging Jesus’ teachings and authority. Other key characters include Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist, each of whom contributes to the narrative of the book.

Key Events in the Book of Matthew

The Book of Matthew contains several key events that are central to the teachings of the book. These events include the birth of Jesus Christ, the baptism of Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Understanding the significance of these events and how they contribute to the overall message of the book is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of its teachings.

Key Teachings in the Book of Matthew

Several key teachings are central to the message of the Book of Matthew. These include the Kingdom of Heaven, the Beatitudes, the parables of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a recurring theme throughout the book, emphasizing the transformative power of Christ’s teachings and their ultimate role in establishing the kingdom on earth. The Beatitudes provide a framework for living a life of righteousness and spiritual fulfillment.

Parables of Jesus Christ are used to convey complex spiritual teachings through simple stories, while the Great Commission emphasizes the importance of sharing the gospel message with others.

How to Study the Book of Matthew

There are several different methods for studying the Book of Matthew, including reading and reflection, group study, and scholarly analysis. Recommended resources for studying the book include commentaries, study Bibles, and online resources.

Applying the teachings of the Book of Matthew to daily life involves reflecting on its messages and incorporating them into personal beliefs and practices. This can include prayer, meditation, and regular study of the book’s teachings.


Understanding the context, theme, structure, key characters, events, and teachings of the book is essential to fully grasp its significance.

Through study and reflection, readers can apply the teachings of the Book of Matthew to their daily lives and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ.

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