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Matthew 2 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-8 - Jesus' birth ushered in peace on earth, right? Well, not right away.

    • Magi show up wanting to see the King, and they don't mean Herod. This put the neurotic King Herod on defense, and Herod was dangerous when he was defensive.

      • Matthew writes, "Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem along with him."

        • Jerusalem wasn't disturbed because they felt sorry for Herod,

        • rather it was because they knew blood would be shed until Herod no longer felt defensive.

      • So Herod gathered up the religious elite to inquire about where the Messiah (Christ) would be born (Messiah/Christ means 'anointed,' which is how one became a king like Herod).

    • Herod moves to stage two of his plot and manipulates the Magi into giving him a time frame to work with and asks them to kindly return and let Herod know where to find this new King, so that Herod could 'worship' him.

  • v9-12 - Chapter two opens with the temporal clause "After Jesus was born."

    • While it's possible that this can mean 'a few hours' or 'a couple of days' after Jesus was born, it's much more likely that months or even years have elapsed since Jesus was born. In any event, it's highly unlikely that these magi (it says nothing about there being three 'wise men') crowded around a manger along with the shepherds and gently lowing oxen as most nativity scenes portray it.

    • After giving the young King their gifts, the Magi are warned in a dream not to return to Herod and went straight home.

  • v13-18 - An angel once again visits Joseph in a dream and sends him fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod's killing spree.

    • Joseph immediately obeys and takes his young family to Egypt.

    • There is anything but peace on earth in Bethlehem as Herod's henchmen descend, killing all baby boys born in the time frame given by the Magi.

      • Matthew quotes Jeremiah, who had prophesied about the weeping and mourning that would come to this area.

      • Just as we've been seeing in Revelation, things are not as they seem in this world. We know that this awful experience was just one of many failed attempts by the Enemy to thwart the peace that God has provided through Jesus Christ.

  • v19-23 - Once again, Matthew uses the word 'after' to describe an unknown length of time between when Jesus was brought to Egypt and when Herod dies.

    • Joseph again immediately complies with the instructions he was given in a dream to return to Israel.

    • In yet another dream, Joseph is steered away from Bethlehem to an out of the way village called Nazareth, which is exactly what the prophets had predicted.


Micah 5:2–3 (NIV)

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me

one who will be ruler over Israel,

whose origins are from of old,

from ancient times.”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned

until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,

and the rest of his brothers return

to join the Israelites.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: How many dreams are mentioned in this chapter? (See verses 12, 13, 19, and 22.)

  2. What patterns do you see in the way Joseph responds to the different situations he faces in life?

  3. Contrast Herod's and Joseph’s basic mindset or attitude in life?

Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Thank God for His sovereign care by which He works out all things, even when it seems like things are out of control

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that for the grace to be like Joseph, who humbly and immediately aligned his life with God's will, no matter what the circumstances.



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