These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 1 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points
I.The genealogy of Christ (1-17)
II.The announcement of Christ’s birth to Joseph (18-25)
I. The genealogy of Christ (1-17)
Why do you think Matthew thought it was important to list out Jesus’ genealogy?
What observations do you have about His lineage? Is there anything interesting about it?
What women are included in the list?
Why do you think these women and only these women are included?
What can we learn from the fact that these women are Jesus’ ancestors?
Why the importance of the number 14 in this genealogy?
Were there really 42 generations (three groups of fourteen) or only 41 (See: https://answersingenesis.org/bible-timeline/genealogy/problems-with-basic-math/)?
What differences do you see in Luke’s genealogy (77 generations) and Matthew’s (42 including David counted twice)? How can we explain these differences? Where do they diverge and converge? Why are both of these genealogies included?
Background of Matthew:
Matthew was a tax-collector, a person who would be despised by the rest of the Jews (Mark 2:14, Matthew 9:9.) He was one of the 12 disciples (Matthew 10:3).
1.This is the genealogy of Joseph – The legal right to rule was inherited from the father. As Jesus’ adopted father, Joseph’s genealogy shows that Jesus had the right to rule on the throne of David. The genealogy that begins in Luke 3:23 must be Mary’s. It shows that Jesus was descended by blood from David.
2.Four women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy here – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba are mentioned.
3.There are differences between Luke’s and Matthew’s genealogy – Have the group divide into small groups. Ask them to compare the two lists and note down what differences and similarities there are. Matthew lists out Joseph’s genealogy, proving Jesus’ legal right to the throne of David. Luke lists Mary’s genealogy, proving Jesus’ blood line was directly descended from David. These are important since Old Testament prophesies tell us that the Messiah will come from David’s line. Also Matthew’s is an abbreviated genealogy. His is much shorter (41 compared to 77) than Luke’s. Matthew evidently cuts out many generations. It is acceptable since the words for “father” or “son” in Hebrew could mean ancestor or descendant. Note also that the Jews used the the same word “son” to refer to sons-in-law. Therefore it was completely acceptable and understandable in their culture for Luke to refer to Joseph as the son of Eli (Luke 3:23) since this is how they would have referred to a son-in-law. Note also that this word for son could refer to a step-son who took on the legal status of the step-father.
Jeremiah 22:24,28-30, 37:1 – A curse was put on Jeconiah by Jeremiah saying that none of his descendants would sit on the throne. Since Jesus was physically descended through Mary to David and her line did not go through Jeconiah, Jesus could legally sit on the throne without invalidating the curse.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 – The Messiah will be descended from David.
Psalm 110:1-4 – The Messiah will be greater than David.
Genesis 3:15 – He shall bruise you on the head.
Genesis 12:3 – In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Numbers 24:17 – The Messiah will be a star out of Jacob.
Isaiah 7:14 – The Messiah would be born of a virgin.
II. The announcement of Christ’s birth to Joseph (18-25)
What does it mean that Mary was betrothed to Joseph? Does anyone now what Jewish betrothals were like?
How might Joseph have found out she was pregnant?
How might he have felt when he discovered this? How might Mary have felt knowing what Joseph must have been thinking she had done?
What did Joseph plan to to do?
Why does this passage refer to him as her husband when they were only betrothed?
Why does Joseph’s plan in verse 19 show that he is a righteous man? What do you think of his plan?
What does what happens next teach us about God?
Why might Joseph have “been afraid to take Mary as his wife?” What would people then think about him?
Why was it necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin? What does the virgin birth teach us?
What did Joseph do? What does this tell us about his character? What lessons can we learn from this which we can apply to our lives today?
Romans 5:12, Hebrews 7:9-10 – Sin passed to us from Adam.
1. Matthew and Luke give different perspectives – It is beautiful that the Bible complements itself in the way it does. For example in Matthew and Luke we don’t read two identical word for word accounts. Rather we read complementing perspectives with different information. Luke focuses on the angel’s encounter with Mary while Matthew focuses on the angel’s encounter with Luke. We can have some insight into what each were thinking and feeling and in the end we have a much fuller picture.
2. Mary was betrothed to Joseph – It is important for us to understand the Jewish concept of betrothal. In Jewish culture two families would enter into a marriage agreement. When they did so the son and daughter would be considered husband and wife. But they were not permitted to come together physically yet. The man would be expected to build a house and prepare the home for his bride. She in the meantime would wait for him to finish and have all things ready. When the man’s father gave his stamp of approval on the house (since the man might be in a hurry and cut corners) then he would go and get his wife and they would have a big wedding ceremony and then finally consummate the marriage. Thus Mary and Joseph were already betrothed. Thus they would be looked at as husband and wife. But they hadn’t come together physically yet and were not allowed to do so. It was then that Joseph found out Mary was pregnant. The text simply mentions she was “found to be with child.” How did he find out? The movie Nativity Story depicts her returning from her visit to Elizabeth and Joseph shocked to see her large tummy. It is a reasonable guess. But it could have happened many ways. Mary could have pre-emptively told Joseph about her encounter with the angel. Or someone else could have seen Mary and told him. However exactly Joseph found out, he must have been quite surprised and upset.
3. Verse 19 – From this verse we see Joseph’s good character. He was surely disappointed and upset. It seems he didn’t believe Mary’s story. But then who could blame him for not believing it? Would any guy easily believe this? But though he must have been very disappointed, he didn’t seek revenge. He didn’t desire to publicly shame or punish Mary. He didn’t try to take out his hurt feelings on her.
Application: We can learn from Joseph that we should not return evil for evil. We should not seek to hurt people just because they have hurt us (though of course it wasn’t Mary’s fault.) We should not seek payback in any way. Neither did Joseph jump to rash decisions. Verse 20 tells us that “he had considered this.” He didn’t make decisions rashly, but thought them through.
4. Do not be afraid – It would have been natural for Joseph to feel afraid. If he went forward with the wedding, people would have thought he was the father. They would have looked down on him. He would have lost any status or position he had in society. He would have lost his reputation. Beyond that, it would be frightening to move forward with a woman who apparently had such a big secret and who apparently instead of admitting her sin and confessing made up what looked like a wild story. How could he be sure of her future faithfulness? How could he be sure that she whom he thought was so virtuous would be a good wife?
5. God’s character – We see that God was sovereign. He did not allow his son to grow up in a single mother family. He divinely intervened on Mary and Jesus’ behalf.
6. He will name him Jesus – This name is from the Hebrew Yeshua (like Joshua) and means “The Lord saves.”
7. Fulfilled prophesy – Isaiah 7:14.
8. Virgin birth – It teaches us:
- That Jesus is special. The miracle testifies to Jesus’ divine origin.
- That God intervened in the lives of people.
- That God kept His promise of sending a Messiah and fulfilled prophesies.
- Jesus did not inherit original sin from the father.
9. Joseph obeyed immediately – It wasn’t an easy task to obey. It came with lots of potential trials and challenges. Joseph didn’t rationalize away his dreams. He believed in faith. And he acted on it. What lessons do we learn from him?
10. He exercised great self-control by keeping her a virgin until after Jesus was born.
More to come soon