Category: SS Lesson – New Testament

NT Sunday School Lesson 12: John 5-6; Mark 6:30-44; Matthew:14:22-33

Ms

As is almost always the case, there is far more here than we can cover in one lesson. These materials will focus on John 5, but I will also include some  questions on John 6. John 5 Some have suggested that the gospel of John is partially constructed around seven wondrous works or miracles. (I believe I got this from Art Bassett, but I’m not sure.) With each, Jesus gives a sermon that illustrates the significance of what he has done. The seven are: Turning water into wine at the wedding feast and the discourse on being born again (John 2:1-12; 3:1-21) Raising the nobleman’s son to life and a discourse on Jesus as the living water (John 4:43-51; 4:1-42) Healing the man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath and explaining that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (John 5:1-14; 5:19-47) Feeding the five thousand and teaching that Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:1-15; 6:22-66) Walking…

NT Sunday School Lesson 11: Matthew 13

Ms

A reminder that I post regularly for those who are new to these notes: These are study notes for the lesson material, not notes for creating lessons. I assume that a person would use these over several days, perhaps a week, of study. Of course someone studying the lessons will also be able to create a lesson, but the purpose of these notes is primarily for the students in Gospel Doctrine class and only secondarily for teachers of the class. This is a chapter of parables. We get the word parable from a Greek word (parabol?) meaning “to set by the side” or “to compare.” It is a translation of a Hebrew word (mashal) that we usually translate “proverb,” but we might better translate that word as “wise saying.” The Hebrew word covers a wide range of things, from what we call proverbs to what we call parables, to what we might call a sermon. Jesus’ hearers probably wouldn’t have…

NT Sunday School Lesson 10 (JF) : Matthew 11:28-30; 12:1-13; Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17

Ms

Matthew 11 Verse 28: What does it mean to come to Christ? Has he already told us how we can do that in readings from some of the previous lessons? The word translated “labor” means “wearying labor.” The phrase “heavy laden” translates a Greek word that means “weighed down.” What wearying, taxing work does Christ have in mind here? From what does he offer relief? Why is that described as something that wears us out? As something that burdens us? Can we understand sin as a kind of difficult work? The word translated “rest” literally means “cessation.” It is used to mean “refreshment,” “ease,” or “rest.” How does the Savior offer cessation from taxing labor? Verse 29: The word translated “take” means literally “lift up.” The Greek word translated “yoke” could also have been translated “scales” (the kind of scales one sees in statues representing justice). Do you agree with the King James version’s decision to translate the term as…

NT Sunday School Lesson 9: Matthew 6-7

Ms

As is usually the case, there is a lot of material to cover in this lesson, but the material in these chapters is so important that it would be a shame to focus on only part of it. So I will focus on the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), but I will also provide notes for the rest of both chapters. Notice that in 2007 Robert C and Cheryl M provided excellent materials on these chapters, and Karl D will almost certainly provide current notes on the lesson materials. Chapter 6 Jesus continues to teach about true righteousness, a righteousness that goes beyond mere obedience. He first discusses three basic acts of piety in first-century Judaism: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting (verses 1-18). Then he teaches us where we will find our treasure (verses 19-23), and he teaches that we ought to serve God without taking thought for ourselves (verses 24-34). Verses 1-4: In verse 1, the Greek word translated “to be…

NT Sunday School Lesson 8: Matthew 5

Ms

The lesson this week picks out the first part of a longer sermon. Matthew 5-7 give us Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Even if preparing for only the Sunday School lesson, it is probably best to read the entire sermon to see the context of this part. At the time of Jesus there seems to have been considerable controversy over who was “in” and who was “out” when it came to being the children of God. This controversy had been on-going for some time, at least since the time of the return from exile. The Samaritan community was one of the earliest to be excluded, but they were not the only ones. We know of other groups, such as the Essenes who lived in Qumran and who left us the Dead Sea Scrolls. They thought of themselves as “in,” in other words as true to Israel’s covenant, and of everyone else as “out.” The controversy centered on a number of…

NT Sunday School Lesson 7: Mark 1-2; 4:35-41; 5; Luke 7:1-17

Ms

For purposes of this lesson, I take Luke 7:1-17 to be a supplement to the miracle stories we read in the material from Mark. So I will make my notes and questions on Mark, assuming that reading and thinking about Luke will be appropriate to them. As usual, I offer the reminder that these are study notes for the reading, not notes for preparing a lesson. Presumably study notes could help a person prepare a lesson, but these go beyond what one might expect in notes for a lesson. Mark’s Gospel This is the first lesson this year to use the book of Mark, so some review may be in order. Most non-LDS scholars believe that Mark was the gospel written first and that the other two synoptic writers used his gospel as a kind of first draft. In contrast, most LDS scholars believe that Matthew was written first because Matthew’s version of things is what we find in Christ’s…

NT Sunday School Lesson 6: Luke 4:14-32; 5; 6:12-16; Matthew 10

Ms

Before we look at some individual verses from this lesson, consider the overall structure of Luke’s narrative and think about how Luke’s story of the calling of the Twelve compares to Matthew’s. I have put in bold the parts that the lesson focuses on, but I have outlined all four chapters so that you can think about how Luke tells the story as a whole. Because of the length of the materials, I have created study questions only for the first part of the lesson, Luke 4:14-32. Luke’s story: • John’s preaching and message (Luke 3:1-20) • Jesus’s baptism (Luke 3:21-22) • His genealogy (Luke 3:23-38) • The forty-day sojourn in the desert and the temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13) • Jesus’s first recorded sermon, on Isaiah 61:1-2, and its reception in Nazareth (Luke 4:14-32) • Jesus casts a devil out of a man in the synagogue (Luke 4:33-37) • He cures Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Luke 4:38-39) • He…

NT Sunday School Lesson 5: John 3-4

Ms

There is a tremendous amount of material in this lesson, more than I can deal with in a few pages. So I have shortened my study questions by focusing on John 3:1-10. Verse 1: The name “Nicodemus” means “conqueror,” and it was a common name. We know little about Nicodemus. We know that he was a Pharisee because this verse tells that he was. We know that he was some kind of ruler, though we don’t know what kind, because this verse tell us that he was. Many have speculated that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, but we have little evidence for that speculation and we know little about the Sanhedrin. If he was a member of the Sanhedrin, then he was a member of the ruling body of Jerusalem, a Pharisee, and a teacher (scribe). He was the height of what most people would have taken to be a good Jew, and he probably would be one…

NT Sunday School Lesson 4: Matthew 3-4; John 1:35-51

Ms

Matthew 3 Verses 1-2: What function did the herald of a king serve in ancient times? Why did kings need heralds? Is John the herald of a king? Why does this King need a herald? Compare John’s message to Jesus’s message in Matthew 4:17. Why do you think Matthew uses almost exactly the same words in each case? What is he teaching? Given Matthew’s focus on Jesus’ royal birth, how are we to understand “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”? How many ways can you think of understanding that the kingdom of heaven is soon to come or is nearby? Does it help to know that the word “kingdom” might better be translated “reign”? Verse 3: Matthew (like the other three synoptic Gospel writers) quotes from Isaiah 40:3 to describe John’s mission. (Matthew quotes from the Greek version rather than the Hebrew, which explains why there are differences between what he says and our version of Isaiah 40:3.) How…

NT Sunday School Lesson 3: Luke 2; Matthew 2

Ms

Matthew 2 Verse 1: Who were the wise men? The phrase “wise men” is a somewhat odd translation of the Greek word magoi, “astrologers.” It is because of this word that sometimes we refer to the wise men as “magi.” We get the word “magician” from magoi. “The east” may refer to Mesopotamia, the center of astronomical studies at the time. Compare Numbers 24:17, Psalms 72:10-11, and Isaiah 60:1-7. What do such verses suggest to us about the wise men? Why does Matthew tell us about the homage paid to Jesus by the wise men, but Luke tells us about the homage paid to him by shepherds? Why does each story emphasize what it does? For an interesting recent piece on the wise men, see: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705364024/Ancient-manuscript-tells-of-journey-of-the-3-wise-men-text-has-ideas-Mormons-will-relate-to-BYU.html?s_cid=Email-4. Are these visitors Gentiles or might they have been members of the Jewish diaspora? What is the reaction of Herod’s advisors to the news of this birth? What might that foreshadow? Given that foreshadowing,…

NT Sunday School Lesson 1: Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 3:4-11 (Joseph Smith Translation); John 1:1-14; John 20:31

Ms

Before I offer the study questions for this lesson, let me voice my objection to the format of our lesson manuals. They treat the Gospels as if the best way to understand them is to harmonize them, as if they are each histories of the life of Jesus rather than four different testimonies—for different audiences and for different purposes—of who Jesus is, the Messiah. That’s a little bit like taking a particular version of President Monson’s testimony, and one of President Eyring’s, and one of President Uchtdorf’s and pasting them together where they speak of similar things to make one new testimony. The result would be a misrepresentation of what they said. Individually their testimonies are much more likely to get us to the truth of which they speak than they will when shuffled together that way. The same is true of the Gospels. We are interested in the chronological history of Jesus’ life only secondarily. Our primary interest is…