Matthew 16–18

“Matthew 16–18,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 41–46


Events in these chapters likely occurred within this period

First year of the Lord’s ministry

Second year

Third year

The Life of Jesus Christ

Christ’s birth

First Passover

Second Passover

Third Passover

Final Passover and last week


Matthew 16:15–19records a powerful testimony Peter gave that Jesus is the Christ, as well as Jesus’ promise to give him the “keys of the kingdom.” Less than a week later, the Lord took Peter, James, and John into seclusion to give them these keys. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that the four of them “spent a sacred night enwrapped in the visions of eternity. This blessed night was one of those seeric periods when the mysteries of the kingdom, ‘which surpass all understanding,’ are shown forth to souls who are in tune with the Infinite. So marvelous are such revealed truths that it is ‘not lawful for man to utter’ them, ‘Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ They are reserved by the Lord for those prophets and seers who, ‘while in the flesh,’ are yet able ‘to bear his presence in the world of glory.’ (D&C 76:114–118.)” (Mortal Messiah, 3:54).

Prayerfully study Matthew 16–18and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 101–5.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Matthew 16–18.

Matthew 16:1–4(see also Mark 8:11–12). Faith does not come from signs and miracles, but signs follow those who believe.

(15–20 minutes)

Put a piece of fruit in a paper bag. Without showing the fruit to the class, hold up the bag and explain to the students that you have something in the bag that has never been seen by the human eye. Ask how many believe you. Invite one of the students who believes to come up and look in the bag. When the student looks in the bag and sees the fruit, whisper that no one has seen the seeds inside the fruit. Ask the student to report to the class whether you were telling the truth or not. Ask the class:

  • How many believe me now that there is something in the bag that cannot be seen by the eye?

  • How many need proof before you believe?

Show the fruit to the class and explain about the seeds. Ask: Why is it so hard to believe in things we do not see or understand? Invite students to read Matthew 16:1–4 and ask:

  • How do these verses relate to the object lesson? (Sign-seeking to gain knowledge is not the same as exercising faith to gain knowledge.)

  • What basic principle of the gospel were the Pharisees and Sadducees lacking when they asked for a sign? (see Articles of Faith 1:4).

Read Ether 12:6 and Mormon 9:20and ask:

  • Why do you think I chose the student I did to look in the bag? (Because the student believed.)

  • What purpose do signs and miracles serve?

  • Can signs be interpreted by two people differently?

  • What kind of people will the Lord show signs and miracles to?

  • Why do signs not permanently persuade or convert?

  • What is the difference between seeking a sign and being worthy to witness miracles in our lives?

  • What difference do our motives make?

Testify to students that faith precedes miracles in the Lord’s Church.

Matthew 16:1–12(see also Mark 8:14–21). False doctrine will corrupt those who are not on their guard against it.

(20–25 minutes)

Bring some bread to class and show it to the students. Write the following references on the board: Matthew 14:16–21; 15:34–38. Ask students to find what these verses have to do with bread.

Tell students that a lack of bread provided Jesus with a teaching opportunity in Matthew 16. Have students search Matthew 16:1–4and find answers to the following questions:

  • What did the Pharisees and Sadducees want Jesus to do?

  • Had Jesus ever given them any evidence of who He was? (Remind students of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand they just read about in Matthew 14–15.)

  • What difference do you think Jesus’ performing another miracle would make to them?

  • How does that help explain why Jesus called them hypocrites?

The “sign of the prophet Jonas” refers to Jesus being resurrected in three days, just like Jonah came out of the belly of the great fish after three days. Ask: How would that be a sign of Christ’s divinity?

Read Matthew 16:5–12with your students, discussing the following questions as you read:

  • What did the disciples forget to take with them?

  • What did Jesus say that they misunderstood?

  • Considering the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand, why is it strange for them to think that Jesus was worried about bread?

  • How was the false doctrine and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees like leaven (yeast)? (It takes just a little to affect the whole lump of dough.)

Have students list some of the false doctrines taught in the world today. Share with them the following counsel from Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it. I like this simple little poem:

“All the water in the world

No matter how it tried

Could never sink the smallest ship

Unless it got inside.

All the evil of the world

And every kind of sin

Could never damn a human soul

Unless we let it in”

(in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80).

scripture iconMatthew 16:15–19(Scripture Mastery; see also Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). Testimonies come by revelation through the Holy Ghost.

(20–25 minutes)

Note: This teaching suggestion follows naturally from the one for Matthew 16:1–4.

Invite the students to think of Nephi and his brothers in the Book of Mormon. Ask:

  • What did Nephi’s older brothers do to him after they failed the second time to retrieve the brass plates? (They beat him; see 1 Nephi 3:28.)

  • What happened next? (An angel appeared; see v. 29.)

  • Which of the brothers saw the angel?

  • Read 1 Nephi 3:31. Do you think seeing an angel gave Laman and Lemuel a testimony? Why or why not?

Compare Matthew 16:1–4with Matthew 16:15–17and answer the following questions:

  • Why do you think the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to see a sign?

  • Would seeing a sign have given them faith? Why or why not?

  • How did Peter show his faith that Jesus was the Christ?

  • What did Jesus say was the source of Peter’s knowledge?

Invite students to read 1 Kings 19:9–12, and ask them to apply what they learn in these verses to the Pharisees and to Peter. President Joseph Fielding Smith said that knowing that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of men “comes only through the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Men may believe Jesus to be the Christ, but to know it requires revelation from the Holy Ghost” (The Way to Perfection [1978], 158).

According to President Smith, what is the only way we can gain a testimony? Read Doctrine and Covenants 8:2; 9:8and ask: How will we feel the Holy Ghost witness to us of the truthfulness of the gospel?

Ask students to read Matthew 16:18–19and look for what blessings Peter received after sharing his testimony. Read the following verses to identify some additional blessings we receive from having faith and a testimony:

Invite students to write on a piece of paper a list of changes they could make in their lives that would help them gain or strengthen their testimonies.

Matthew 16:19; 17:1–13(see also Mark 9:2–13; Luke 9:28–36). The Lord has given the keys of the kingdom to His prophets and apostles.

(20–25 minutes)

Hold up a driver’s license, or if you have a student with a driver’s license, have her or him show it to the class. Ask:

  • What can we assume about a person who has a driver’s license? (That person has the “authority” to drive.)

  • Does that mean if you have a license and your parents or your boss have a car, you can drive it whenever you want?

Now hold up a set of keys. Ask: If you have a license and your parents or boss give you the keys to their car and ask you to run an errand, can you now drive their car?

Invite students to read Matthew 16:19and look for what Jesus promised to give Peter. Have them read Matthew 17:1–3. Share the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys [of the kingdom] to Peter, James and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 158).

Ask: According to Joseph Smith, what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration regarding the priesthood? Share the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith:

“The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood, has this authority delegated to him.

“But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor. Thus, the president of a temple, the president of a stake, the bishop of a ward, the president of a mission, the president of a quorum, each holds the keys of the labors performed in that particular body or locality” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 136).


  • What is the difference between priesthood authority and priesthood keys?

  • Who holds all the keys of the priesthood today? (see D&C 81:2).

  • Who are some other men who hold priesthood keys?

Share the following account related by Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“At the Copenhagen Denmark Area Conference held August 3–5, 1976, President [Spencer W.] Kimball went to see Thorvaldsen’s beautiful sculpture[s]. … After a few spiritual moments admiring The Christus, President Kimball bore his testimony to the caretaker who stood nearby. As he turned to the statue of Peter and pointed to the large set of keys in Peter’s right hand, he proclaimed: ‘The keys of priesthood authority which Peter held as President of the Church I now hold as President of the Church in this dispensation.’ Then he stated to the caretaker, ‘You work every day with Apostles in stone, but today you are in the presence of living Apostles.’ He then introduced President N. Eldon Tanner, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Elder Boyd K. Packer. He presented the caretaker with a Book of Mormon in Danish, and bore his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The caretaker was moved to tears in acknowledgment of the Spirit he felt in the presence of a prophet and Apostles. He acknowledged to me as we left the church, ‘Today I have been in the presence of servants of God.’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 27; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 20).

  • On what condition may individual priesthood holders perform sacred ordinances and other special priesthood functions?

  • How do we honor and support those who hold the “keys of the kingdom”?

calendar iconMatthew 17:1–13(see also Mark 9:2–13; Luke 9:28–36). Other significant events happened on the Mount of Transfiguration.

(40–45 minutes)

Hold up a book with an introduction or endorsement written by someone more well-known than the book’s author.

  • Why do authors frequently ask a well-known person to write their book’s introduction? (To give the book more credibility and to promote sales.)

  • If you wrote a book, who is the most famous person you know whom you could ask to write an introduction?

  • Who would you ask if you could ask anyone?

Ask students to read Matthew 3:17and answer the following questions:

  • Who introduced (or testified of) Jesus to the people?

  • What was the occasion of this introduction? (Christ’s baptism.)

  • Why was this event so significant?

  • On what other occasions has the Father testified of His Son? (see Joseph Smith—History 1:17; 3 Nephi 11:7).

Read Matthew 17:5and explain to the students that today you will be studying another event so important that Heavenly Father again testified of His Son.

Ask students to carefully read Matthew 17:1–13and answer the following questions:

  • What happened to Jesus on the mountain? (see v. 2).

  • According to Moses 1:11, why are mortals transfigured?

  • What three Apostles were frequently with Jesus on important occasions? (see Mark 5:22–23, 37; 14:32–34; see also the commentary for Matthew 17:1–9in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, p. 102).

  • Which Apostles were with Jesus at the time of His Transfiguration?

  • Who else appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration? (Note that “Elias” is the Greek form of “Elijah”; see footnote 3b; see also Bible Dictionary, “Elias,” p. 663.)

  • What kind of bodies did Moses and Elijah have when they appeared?

Ask students to read Alma 45:19; 2 Kings 2:11; and Doctrine and Covenants 110:13to find out how Moses and Elijah left mortality. (They were translated.)

Have students read the scriptures from the accompanying chart and list characteristics of translated beings.

Characteristics of Translated Beings

3 Nephi 28:7

Translated beings “never taste of death.”

3 Nephi 28:8, 39–40

At the Second Coming translated beings will be immediately changed to a resurrected condition.

3 Nephi 28:30

They can appear and disappear like angels.

3 Nephi 28:38

They suffer neither “pain nor sorrow” except for the sins of the world.

3 Nephi 28:39

Satan cannot tempt them.

Invite students to list on a piece of paper everything they can that happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. Share the following from Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Leave enough time after each point for students to add to their lists anything they missed.

  1. Jesus singled out Peter, James, and John from the rest of the Twelve; took them upon an unnamed mountain; there he was transfigured before them, and they beheld his glory. …

  2. Peter, James, and John, were themselves ‘transfigured before him’ (Teachings [of the Prophet Joseph Smith], p. 158). …

  3. Moses and Elijah … appeared on the mountain; and they and Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter, James, and John. (Teachings, p. 158.)

  4. John the Baptist, previously beheaded by Herod, apparently was also present. …

  5. Peter, James, and John saw in vision the transfiguration of the earth … that is to take place at the Second Coming when the millennial era is ushered in. [D&C 63:20–21.] …

  6. It appears that Peter, James, and John received their own endowments while on the mountain. ([Joseph Fielding Smith,] Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p. 165.) …

  7. Apparently Jesus himself was strengthened and encouraged by Moses and Elijah so as to be prepared for the infinite sufferings and agony [of the] atonement. ([James E. Talmage,] Jesus the Christ, p. 373.) …

  8. Certainly the three chosen apostles were taught in plainness ‘of his death and also his resurrection’ [JST, Luke 9:31]. …

  9. It should also have been apparent to them that the old dispensations of the past [symbolized by Moses and Elijah] had faded away. …

  10. Apparently God the Father, overshadowed and hidden by a cloud, was present on the mountain, although [Peter, James, and John apparently] heard only his voice and did not see his form” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:399–401).

Ask students:

  • Which of the events of Matthew 17:1–13are most likely to happen to you any time soon?

  • How many of you have a goal to go to the temple? Why?

  • What ordinances are performed in the temple? (see D&C 124:33).

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–16. What preparations are necessary for going to the temple?

Invite students to make a list on their paper of things that would help prepare them for the blessings and covenants of the temple.

Matthew 17:9(see also Mark 9:9; Luke 9:36). Sacred personal experiences should be shared only when the Spirit prompts us.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students:

  • Why could it be a problem to give a baby the only existing photograph of your great-grandfather?

  • What would most babies do to a photograph?

  • Why would it be better to wait until the baby is older? (An older child can appreciate a photograph more and take better care of it.)

Ask students to read Matthew 17:9and look for what Jesus commanded the three disciples who were with Him at His Transfiguration. Have students read Alma 12:9and Doctrine and Covenants 63:64, and ask:

  • Why would Jesus command His disciples not to speak of His Transfiguration?

  • How would telling about the experience of the Transfiguration be like giving a baby a valuable photograph?

Share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction. Unless we are called by proper authority to do so, they do not position us to counsel or to correct others.

“I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Tell students that the Transfiguration is recorded in every Gospel except John (see Mark 9:2–13; Luke 9:28–36). Read Matthew 17:1with students and ask:

  • Which of the four Gospel writers was actually present at the Transfiguration?

  • Why might John have not recorded this event in his Gospel? (see Matthew 17:9).

  • What kinds of experiences do people have today that they should probably share only when prompted by the Spirit? (Patriarchal blessings, father’s blessings, personal or family spiritual experiences, bishop’s interviews.)

  • According to Alma 12:9and Doctrine and Covenants 63:64, when is it appropriate to share sacred personal experiences?

Matthew 17:24–27. Living the law of the land is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

(10–15 minutes)

Ask students if they know where to find the Articles of Faith (in the back of the Pearl of Great Price). Invite a student to read or repeat the twelfth article of faith. Invite another student to explain its meaning. Read Doctrine and Covenants 134:1, 5and ask:

  • For what purpose should governments be organized?

  • For what reasons should governments make laws?

  • What responsibilities do we have regarding our government?

Invite students to read Matthew 17:24–27and look for what Jesus did that shows He kept the law of the land. Share the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Our Savior’s work on earth was marked throughout by His acknowledgment of the existing powers of the land, both Jewish and Roman. … When the tax-collector called for the tribute money demanded by the hierarchy, Christ … directed that the tax be paid, and even invoked a miraculous circumstance whereby the money could be provided” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. [1924], 416).

Ask students if people who do the following are living in harmony with the commandments:

  • Exceed the speed limit.

  • Cheat on their taxes.

  • Take items from work.

  • Give less than a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.

  • Illegally copy computer software.


  • What are some other common ways people break the law of the land?

  • Read Alma 39:3, 11. According to these verses, what is one reason that we should keep the law of the land? (Our actions, whether good or bad, affect others around us.)

Matthew 18:1–10(see also Mark 9:33–37, 42–48; Luke 9:46–48). The Savior taught that to enter His kingdom we must become as a little child.

(15–20 minutes)

Little children can say and do strange things. Ask students to name some of the funny things they have seen children say or do. Read Matthew 18:1–4and ask:

  • Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

  • Why would the Savior ask us to become like a child?

  • What do you think it means to become as a little child? (see Mosiah 3:19).

  • What is the difference between becoming “childish” and “childlike”?

Place the picture Christ and the Children (item no. 80243) or a large picture of a little child in front of the class. Make three columns on the board and label them Trait, What Little Children Do, and What I Can Do. Ask the students to name childlike qualities, and list their responses in the first column. Ask students to describe how little children manifest each of these qualities, and write their responses in the second column. (See the accompanying chart for examples.) Finally ask what we can do to develop these same qualities, and write those responses in the third column.


What Little Children Do

What I Can Do


Children are born innocent and free from sin.



Children are not proud or arrogant.



Children do not have to see to believe.


Love and forgiveness

Children forget anger and are soon friends again.


Dependence on parents

Children trust their parents and their Heavenly Father.


Lack of prejudice

Children more easily accept differences such as race and physical disabilities.


Have your students read Matthew 18:6, and ask: How serious is it to offend or harm the children of our Father in Heaven? You may want to show students a picture of a millstone or draw one on the board. Tell students that to physically or verbally abuse a child is one of the most serious of spiritual offenses. Another way to harm children is to teach them false principles or to fail to teach them correct ones.

  • Who might the term “little ones” apply to other than children? (see Mosiah 3:18–19).

  • Who else should we not offend or harm?

Help your students understand how these principles apply to them. If we physically or verbally abuse our younger brothers or sisters or any of God’s children, we are guilty of an offense that the Savior severely condemned.