Matthew 3–4

“Matthew 3–4,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 23–25


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 3–4recounts the preparations Jesus made prior to His formal ministry. His example of preparation reminds us that if we “are prepared [we] shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). During this period Jesus also experienced temptations similar to ours (see Matthew 4:3–11).

Prayerfully study Matthew 3–4and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Matthew 3–4.

video iconNew Testament Video presentation 4, “New Testament Customs” (14:32), can be used to explain the culture and customs of New Testament times. You could use it during a single class period or show each of its sixteen brief segments as the scriptures they treat come up in the curriculum. (See New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions.)

Matthew 3:13–17 (see also Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22; John 1:32–34). We must be baptized in order to receive celestial glory.

(15–20 minutes)

Invite the class to imagine that you are an investigator with sincere questions about the need for baptism. Have two students come forward to play the role of missionaries. Ask them:

  • I was baptized as an infant. Why do I need to be baptized again?

  • Why do I have to be baptized by immersion?

  • Why is this ordinance essential to my salvation?

  • What does the ordinance of baptism signify?

Write the following references on the board: Matthew 3:13–17; John 3:3–5; Romans 6:3–5; Mosiah 5:5–12; Alma 5:14; 3 Nephi 11:26; Moroni 8:25; Doctrine and Covenants 13:1; 20:73–74; 128:12. Invite the class to use the references to help the “missionaries” answer the questions.

Invite a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood to read Doctrine and Covenants 20:46. Ask him what authority he holds. Ask if he or any other priest in the class has had the opportunity to baptize someone. If so, invite that student to briefly share his experience with the class. Ask the priest how he would feel if he were asked to baptize the Savior. Have the class read Matthew 3:14–15, and discuss the following questions:

  • What did John the Baptist say when Jesus came to him to be baptized?

  • What was Jesus’ response?

  • What does it mean “to fulfill all righteousness”? (see 2 Nephi 31:4–11).

  • What do you remember most about your own baptism?

Have students read Mosiah 18:8–10, and discuss how their baptism continues to apply today.

calendar iconMatthew 3:16–17 (see also Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:21–23; John 1:32–34). The Godhead is made up of three separate individuals: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

(5–10 minutes)

Show the class a triple combination (a Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price all in one book). Ask students:

  • In what ways are the three books one?

  • How are they different?

  • How is the triple combination like the Godhead?

Invite students to read Matthew 3:16–17 and list the evidence this passage gives that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three different individuals. Invite students to look in their Topical Guides under “Godhead” (p. 183) to find other scriptures that support the idea that the Godhead is made up of three different individuals (see especially Acts 7:55–56; D&C 130:22–23; Joseph Smith—History 1:17). Have the students share what they find with the class. Read the following statement from the Lectures on Faith, compiled under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

“First, the idea that he actually exists.

“Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.

“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 38).

After sharing this statement, ask students:

  • Why must we understand the true nature of God before we can have faith in Him “to life and salvation”?

  • How can we grow in our understanding of the true nature of God?

Have students read John 17:3, and ask:

  • How does this verse apply to the statement in Lectures on Faith?

  • What does it mean to you?

Read Alma 34:38and ask:

  • What relationship should we have with the members of the Godhead?

  • What can we do now to cultivate this relationship?

Matthew 4:1–2 (see also Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–2). Fasting helps us draw closer to our Heavenly Father, gain spiritual strength, and obtain blessings.

(5–10 minutes)

Ask the class to raise their hands if they look forward to fast Sundays. Why or why not? Read Matthew 4:1–2and look for what the Savior did as preparation for His ministry.

Divide the class into four groups. Have each group read one of the following scripture references and report on what they learned about fasting: Matthew 17:14–21; Alma 5:46; Alma 17:2–3; Doctrine and Covenants 59:13–14.

Have students read the following passages and answer the questions:

  • What does Matthew 6:16–18say we should avoid when we fast?

  • According to Isaiah 58:3–5, how much good does fasting do us if we fast without the proper spiritual motivation? (see footnote 4b).

  • What do verses 6–7 say we must also do when we fast?

  • What provision has the Lord made for His Church and people to help the poor?

calendar iconMatthew 4:1–11 (see also Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13). By being obedient we gain power to resist the temptations of Satan.

(20–25 minutes)

Put an orange into a large transparent container of water (it should float). Ask the students to guess what makes it float. Peel the orange and remove the pithy center, and then put the orange back in the water (it should sink). Ask:

  • What do you think helped keep the orange afloat?

  • How could the orange peel be likened to our ability to resist temptation today?

Have students read Matthew 4:1–11 (note the Joseph Smith Translation changes).

  • What did the Savior do to overcome temptation? (He fasted, He sought to be with God, He quoted truths from the scriptures, and He left the tempter and the place of temptation; see also D&C 20:22).

  • How can we apply these helps in overcoming temptation in our own lives? (Note: Spend some time with real-life situations that affect your students today. For example, discuss getting out of the place of temptation by changing the television channel, walking out of an inappropriate movie, or leaving a party.)

  • What temptations does Satan use today to “peel away” the protection of the righteous?

Read Matthew 4:1–11again, this time looking for the different kinds of temptations that Satan presented to the Savior. Read the following statement by Elder David O. McKay, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Now, nearly every temptation that comes to you and me comes in one of those forms. Classify them, and you will find that under one of those three nearly every given temptation that makes you and me spotted, ever so little maybe, comes to us as (1) a temptation of the appetite; (2) a yielding to the pride and fashion and vanity of those alienated from the things of God; or (3) a gratifying of the passion, or a desire for the riches of the world, or power among men” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1911, 59).

Write three headings on the board: (1) Physical Appetites; (2) Pride, Fashion, and Vanity; and (3) Riches or Power. Invite students to name some temptations common to youth today. As each temptation is mentioned, ask students which category it should be listed under, and then write it under the appropriate heading on the board.

Remind students of the orange analogy and ask:

  • In what condition is the fruit of the orange after it has lost its outer peel?

  • How long will the fruit remain good and sweet without the peel as compared to fruit that keeps its peel?

  • If we succumb to temptation, is there any way to regain divine protection? How?

Read Mosiah 26:29–32and ask: What can we do if Satan has penetrated some of our protection and we have succumbed to temptation? Read Alma 34:32–34and ask:

  • What is the danger of putting off repenting?

  • Which is the better way, to resist temptation or to give in to temptation and repent later?

Point out to the students that the Savior’s example in Matthew 4teaches us that it is better to resist temptation than to give in and repent later. (For additional help with this concept, see Spencer W. Kimball, “God Will Forgive,” Ensign, March 1982, p. 7.) Assure them, however, that through the Savior’s Atonement, forgiveness is available to all those who sincerely repent of their sins.