Lesson 2: Matthew 1–4

New Testament Teacher Manual, 2014

Introduction and Timeline

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

lesson 2 timeline

Chapter Overviews

Matthew 1

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

Matthew 2

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

Matthew 3

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

Matthew 4

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

Suggestions for Teaching

note iconNote to teacher: Since you will be teaching Luke 1–2 later, it will be important to stay in Matthew for this lesson. Keep in mind that as the teacher of this course, you have the freedom to adapt the teaching ideas found in this manual to best meet the needs of your students. You also have the freedom to use ideas of your own to meet student needs.

Matthew 1–2

Genealogy and Birth of Jesus Christ

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

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

The Birth of Jesus

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

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

Ancient Prophecy

New Testament Fulfillment

Event That Fulfilled Prophecy

Isaiah 7:14

Matthew 1:18–25


Micah 5:2

Matthew 2:1, 5


Hosea 11:1

Matthew 2:13–15


Jeremiah 31:15

Matthew 2:16–18


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

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

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

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

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

note iconNote to teacher: If you decide to teach about the visit of the Wise Men, the student manual commentary for Matthew 2:1–12 has helpful insights for your discussion of these verses.

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

Matthew 3:1–12

John the Baptist Preached in Judea

note iconNote to teacher: Details about John the Baptist’s life and ministry will be taught in lessons from the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John. The focus here will be on how John the Baptist fulfilled prophecy by preparing the way for Jesus Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 3:13–17

The Baptism of Jesus Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 4:1–11

The Savior Was Tempted in the Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

    Then ask the following questions:
  • How can we benefit from scriptural knowledge during a time of temptation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

note iconNote to teacher: Time constraints will probably not permit you to teach everything found in Matthew 1–4. Based upon the promptings of the Spirit and the needs of your students, you may choose to use the supplemental teaching idea for Matthew 4:17–25 instead of one of the main teaching ideas found in this lesson. Or, you might choose to begin lesson 4, which covers Matthew 8–12, by noting that in Matthew 4, the Savior began to teach, preach, and heal throughout Galilee. Matthew 8–9 provides greater detail for this aspect of the Savior’s ministry.

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Matthew 1:1–17. Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus Christ

As you study Matthew 1:1–17 in class, encourage your students to consider this idea: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ reveals the Savior’s prophetic and divine right to reign on earth.

To teach this truth, help students understand what it means for Jesus Christ to be a descendant of Abraham, David, and Judah. The following information may help in your discussion of these terms:

  • Abraham: See Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16. As Church members we are all the seed (descendants) of Abraham and have a responsibility to bless the people of the earth. However, Jesus Christ is the only descendant of Abraham who can bless “all the nations of the earth.” How is Jesus Christ uniquely able to do this?

  • David: See 2 Samuel 7:8, 12–13; Isaiah 9:6–7; 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5–6; Luke 1:32. What prophecies were made concerning the seed of David? As recorded in Matthew 12:22–23, after the people saw Jesus cast out a devil, they asked if Jesus was the “son of David,” showing that they were aware of the ancient prophecies.

  • Judah: See Genesis 49:10. The Lord promised that the tribe of Judah would reign in Israel “until Shiloh come.” The Hebrew word Shiloh may be a short form of asher-lo, which can be translated “whose right it is.” Jesus Christ came through the lineage of Judah, fulfilling the prophecy that it would be His right to reign in Israel.

Note also that Matthew refers to Jesus as “Christ” (Matthew 1:16). The Greek title Christ and the Hebrew title Messiah are synonymous, meaning “Anointed One.” In Old Testament times, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed to fulfill their roles and responsibilities (see Exodus 40:13; 1 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 19:16). Therefore, the term Christ helped Matthew’s readers to understand the Savior’s divine role. The anointing of prophets, priests, and kings foreshadowed the coming of Jesus Christ—the great Prophet, Priest, and King (see “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136, verse 3).

Matthew 1:19–24; 2:13–15, 19–23. Joseph Was an Example of a Righteous Husband and Father

Share with your students the following portions of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. … By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Consider dividing your class into small groups. Assign each group to study Matthew 1:19–24; 2:13–15, 19–23 and look for examples from Joseph’s life that illustrate the following ideas:

  • Joseph was a righteous husband and father.

  • Joseph showed love and care for Mary.

  • Joseph presided over his family in love and righteousness.

  • Joseph provided protection for his family.

You may find the student manual commentary for Matthew 1:18–25 helpful in your discussion with students. For application of these principles, consider asking students when they have observed Joseph’s traits in a righteous husband or father they know, or how they plan to be like Joseph when they are married.

Matthew 1:20–24; 2:12–14, 19–22. Revelation through Dreams

Ask students to name various ways in which the Lord gives us revelation. Then ask:

Point out this truth: The scriptures contain examples of inspired dreams or visions as one form of revelation from the Lord.

Ask students to briefly review Matthew 1–2 and identify who received inspired dreams or visions and what message was given in each inspired dream or vision. (In Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 1:20, 24; 2:13, 19, the words “dream” and “sleep” are changed to “vision”; see Matthew 2:19, footnote a.) Then, consider putting the following references on the board and having students discover other instances of inspired dreams or visions in the scriptures: Genesis 28:10–15; Genesis 37:5–7, 9; Genesis 41:1–8; Daniel 2:1, 19, 36–45; and 1 Nephi 3:2. Discuss how the Lord used dreams or visions in these instances as a form of revelation.

Matthew 4:17–25. Jesus Christ Began His Mortal Ministry

Point out to students that one of Matthew’s major themes is: Jesus Christ came to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Matthew used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” 33 times in his Gospel. Explain to students that at a time when Israel was being ruled by yet another powerful earthly kingdom (Rome), Jesus Christ came preaching a message about the kingdom of heaven.

In the kingdom of heaven established on earth, Jesus (like His Father) was King. He called leaders to serve in His kingdom, and He taught laws of righteousness to govern His kingdom. He began to establish the kingdom during His mortal ministry, but He taught that its fulness would come at a future time when He would return in glory. He showed by His teachings and miracles that when the kingdom did come in its fulness, it would mean a dramatic reversal in the order of things—heavenly ways rather than earthly ways would prevail, and death, disease, suffering, hunger, and thirst would be done away.

Ask students to look in Matthew 4:17–25 to learn how Jesus Christ began to establish His kingdom. Some of the following questions may be helpful:

  • Matthew 4:17. According to this verse, why did Jesus want people to repent? (The kingdom of heaven, meaning the Lord’s true Church, was at hand. Individuals must repent in order to become part of the kingdom.)

  • Matthew 4:18–22. Whom did Jesus call to follow Him? What was to be their role in His kingdom?

  • Matthew 4:23. In even the best kingdoms on earth, there is death, disease, and suffering. What do the Savior’s actions in this verse suggest about the kingdom of heaven?

  • Matthew 4:24–25. How did people react when they learned about the Lord’s kingdom on earth?

This may be an appropriate time to teach more about the kingdom of heaven by providing an overview of the five major sermons in Matthew, each of which has relevance to “the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5–7: The laws of righteousness that govern the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 10: The authorized leaders in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 13: Parables of the kingdom of heaven that begin with “the kingdom of heaven is like unto.” Matthew 18: Instructions on directing and regulating the Church, which is the kingdom of heaven on earth. Matthew 24–25: Being prepared for the future coming of the kingdom of heaven in its fulness.