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Matthew Archives

Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

  Matthew 10:23 quotes Jesus as saying to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” This appears to be a reference to the second […]

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Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

“They will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues…” Don’t gloss over Jesus’ promise of flogging that’s recorded in Matthew 10:17—you can be sure his disciples didn’t. Here’s what happened when one of Jesus’ […]

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Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

So…were there really 13 apostles of Jesus? The New Testament gives four separate listings of Jesus’ inner-circle disciples, a group of men known as “the Twelve.” The list in Matthew 10:2-4 claims to be a complete summary of “the names […]

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Matthew 9:35-38; The Workers Are Few (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 9:36 reports this of Jesus, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…” (italics mine). That two-word phrase the NIV translates as “had compassion” is actually just one word in the original Greek: splagchnízomai—and it means more […]

Matthew 9:35-38; The Workers Are Few (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 9:36 records that when Jesus went on a preaching tour through Galilee, he found the people he met to be “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Most commentators agree that Matthew’s phrasing, “like sheep without a shepherd,” […]

Matthew 9:35-38; The Workers Are Few (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

We like to picture Jesus preaching and teaching multitudes on mountainsides—and of course he did that. But the bulk of his speaking ministry happened indoors, in smallish venues, in local synagogues all over Galilee (see Matthew 9:35). So what would […]

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Who is the “prince of demons” referenced in Matthew 9:34? Jesus’ enemies were pretty familiar with that guy—so much so that they felt confident accusing Christ of being his evil pawn. So who were they talking about? The “prince of […]

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Word Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus is recorded asking two blind men in Matthew 9:27-30. When they responded, “Yes Lord,” he said, “According to your faith will it be done for you.” And their sight […]

Matthew 9:27-34; Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Was Jesus Christ really just a shaman, a secretive sorcerer healing people with magic tricks and demonic help? That’s what many of his enemies believed, and continued to believe for hundreds of years. In ancient Jewish society, demons were credited […]

Matthew 9:18-26; A Dead Girl And A Sick Woman (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The story of the “Woman with an Issue of Blood” is told in three of the four gospel accounts: Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-24, and Luke 8:40-53. In addition to Matthew’s details, Luke informs us that “no one could heal her” […]

Matthew 9:18-26; A Dead Girl And A Sick Woman (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

The “Woman with an Issue of Blood” lived 12 years with a chronic uterine illness—but her physical suffering was not the worst part of her daily life. Here are the facts about what this woman most likely endured for more […]

Matthew 9:18-26; A Dead Girl And A Sick Woman (Personality and Character Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 9:18-26 reports how Jesus raised from death the daughter of a “ruler” in Israel. Matthew tells the story in passing, not even bothering to include the ruler’s name. From the corresponding reports in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56, though, […]

Matthew 9:14-17; Jesus Questioned About Fasting (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins…” (Matthew 9:17). When Jesus made this comparison statement, it was more than just an explanatory reference of common daily wisdom. In this little allegory, “new wine” represented Jesus himself, causing a […]

Matthew 9:14-17; Jesus Questioned About Fasting (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Christ’s culturalized references (in Matthew 9:14-17) to a bridegroom, cloth, and new wine all held spiritual significance, but the understanding of those symbols was grounded in the practical, commonsense life of an ancient Israelite. Consider these everyday insights from Bible […]

Matthew 9:14-17; Jesus Questioned About Fasting (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

When examining the moment in Matthew 9:14 where John’s disciples questioned Jesus about fasting, it’s helpful to remember the historical context. At this moment in time Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, languished in prison as punishment for doing pretty much […]

Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

What if Matthew had said no when Jesus came calling (see Matthew 9:9-13)? We know that Matthew (also known as Levi) had mortgaged himself to gain a substantial portion of wealth in his world. We know that when Christ came […]

Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Why all the hatred toward “tax collectors” in Jesus day? Sure, nobody really likes paying taxes, but everybody does it anyway. So why were tax collectors so universally despised? Tax collectors in that time were so reviled that their occupation […]

Matthew 9:9-13; The Calling of Matthew (Personality and Character Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Walking through Capernaum (“his own town”—Matthew 9:1), Jesus came across Mathew sitting at a tax collector’s booth. Christ plucked the man out of obscurity with these two words, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9). Here’s what we know about that man: The […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ healing of the paralytic is a dazzling physical miracle, but even more a stunning revelation and commentary on the spiritual realm. “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven,” Christ said as his precursor to healing. Here’s a little deeper […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” You’d think that the crowd of people hearing Jesus speak those words to a paralyzed man would have rejoiced. In that society and time, illness such as paralysis was directly linked to specific […]

Matthew 9:1-8; Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The mysterious relationship between sin and sickness is a question that’s brewed for hundreds of generations. Is a man sick because he sins, or is physical sickness independent of spiritual and moral cause? Ancient Judaic thought had settled on the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

What was the deal with the drowning pigs? When Jesus healed two demon-possessed men in the region of the Gadarenes, the demons begged to be exorcised into a nearby herd of swine (Matthew 8:29-33). Jesus granted that request, so the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The first thing that Matthew tells about the two demoniacs in 8:28 is that they were “coming from the tombs.” Mark, in his similar account of the event, reveals that at least one of these men actually “lived in the […]

Matthew 8:28-34; The Healing of Two Demon-Possessed Men (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

The exorcism account that Matthew tells in 8:28-34 is generally believed to be the same event also documented in Luke 8:26-39 and Mark 5:1-20. Matthew and Luke abbreviate the details, and thus are sometimes assumed to have drawn from Mark […]

Matthew 8:23-27; Jesus Calms the Storm (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the second century B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Syrian Greek tyrant, ruled over the Jewish nation with an iron fist, claiming god-like power over all of nature. In the end, though, he was stricken ill and weak, prompting this […]

Matthew 8:23-27; Jesus Calms the Storm (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

It’s easy to read about a “furious storm” in Matthew 8:23 and cluck at the disciples’ lack of faith over a little rain. That’s because we often overlook the true danger depicted in those two words, “furious storm.” Our modern […]

Matthew 8:23-27; Jesus Calms the Storm (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Sea of Galilee is an important location in the history of Jesus, particularly because it was there he once demonstrated divine mastery over creation by miraculously calming a deadly storm. (Matthew 8:23-27). Here’s what we know about that body […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Lord, first let me go bury my father,” a disciple said to Jesus, asking to defer his commitment as a follower of Christ. There were three historical circumstances that could have prompted that request: 1) The man’s father had just […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Jesus’ time, it was customary for a would-be disciple to pick the rabbi who would become his mentor/teacher. He would scout a “master” much the same way an aspiring student today picks a college, studying his options and picking […]

Matthew 8:18-22; The Cost of Following Jesus (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ encounter with would-be disciples (Matthew 8:18-22) is the first time that Matthew records Christ calling himself the “Son of Man.” In all, Matthew will document 32 times that Jesus used this culturally-charged title for himself. The phrase “Son of […]

Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 8:16-17, the gospel writer reports that Jesus “healed all the sick” in order to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:4, which Matthew paraphrases as, “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” This is an odd […]

Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In both the Jewish and pagan cultures of Jesus’ time, exorcising demons was a strict ritual, fraught with risks. Magical incantations (preserved for us today in some ancient texts) were used in many attempts at exorcism. Other efforts to expel […]

Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 8:14-15 is testimony (again) to Jesus’ divinity and compassion, but it also reveals important historical background about Christ’s foremost disciple, Simon Peter. It’s because of this Scripture (along with Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41, and 1 Corinthians 9:5) that we […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, he did more than a miracle. He demonstrated for everyone something that the centurion had already recognized: Authority. More specifically, Jesus demonstrated that he possessed the absolute authority of God incarnate, the authority that […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus was in Capernaum when the centurion approached to request a miracle for his ailing servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Here’s what we know about that ancient village: Capernaum was the primary headquarters for Jesus’ ministry in Israel. After his baptism, Jesus […]

Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the days when Jesus walked the earth, the Roman army ruled the land where he walked. Rome’s fighting forces were generally organized into legions, or the equivalent of about 6,000 soldiers. Within each legion, the troops were again organized […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Ever wonder what happened to the former leper after Jesus healed him? It probably went something like this: After healing the man with leprosy, Jesus told him, “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The simple fact is that Jesus broke the law when he healed the man with leprosy identified in Matthew 8:2-4. Jewish law in the time of Jesus regarded leprosy as a grave offense. Upon diagnosis by the priest, the leper’s […]

Matthew 8:1-4; The Man with Leprosy (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

A few awful facts about leprosy in New Testament times: The term used for leprosy in the New Testament was a general reference to seemingly-incurable skin infections. It could have included the formal affliction, which we now call Hansen’s Disease, […]

Matthew 7:24-29; The Wise and Foolish Builders (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

In exposition of Matthew 7:28-29, George Buttrick has commented, “People listened to Jesus, and then said: ‘That is what I have always known deep down, even though I have no words to say it.’” This, Buttrick explains, is something of […]

Matthew 7:24-29; The Wise and Foolish Builders (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Ancient Judaic thought identifies three “departments of knowledge.” First is the Law, which “presents the commandments and claims of Jehovah to man.” Next is the Prophets, which “passes judgment on conduct in the light of God’s revealed will.” Third is […]

Matthew 7:24-29; The Wise and Foolish Builders (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

It’s natural to think that the “house built upon the rock” and the “house built upon the sand” in Jesus’ parable of Matthew 7: 24-27 refer to houses in different locations—but geography of ancient Palestine leads some Bible historians to […]

Matthew 7:15-23; A Tree and Its Fruit (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 7:21 contains probably the most tragic truth revealed in all of Scripture. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Here are a few observations about that moment in Jesus’ Sermon […]

Matthew 7:15-23; A Tree and Its Fruit (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

Speaking against the threat of false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus makes this statement, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” So what kind of “fruit” is supposed to tip us off to the presence of false prophets in our […]

Matthew 7:15-23; A Tree and Its Fruit (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

In warning about false prophets in Matthew 7:15, Jesus compares those people to “wolves” disguised in sheep’s clothing. The meaning here is clear: Christ’s followers are vulnerable sheep, and false prophets are the hungry predators who will harm them. In […]

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

When we read about Jesus contrasting “wide” and “narrow” gates in Matthew 7:13-14, the modern assumption is to picture two separate gates at the end of separate roads. Historically speaking, that image is probably incorrect. In Jesus’ time, city gates […]

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Broad is the road that leads to destruction,” Jesus said near the end of his Sermon on the Mount. As with other references in this sermon, Jesus likely used a literal, visual cue as a symbolic example when he made […]

Matthew 7:13-14; The Narrow and Wide Gates (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Here’s a quick overview of a few keywords from Matthew 7:-13-14, along with their brief meanings in the original Greek text: • Enter (eisérchomai): To go or come into. Also, to go about one’s daily life. • Narrow (stenós): This […]

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Found where it in Matthew 7:12, the “Golden Rule” seems an awkward contextual placement. In modern Bibles, it’s lumped in with Matthew 7:7-11, appearing as the final sentence in this section of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This is particularly […]

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus frequently pointed to God’s place as our Father to emphasize the idea that God cares for us—but that imagery meant something different to his first-century hearers than it does to our so-called “progressive” 21st-century culture. In today’s American culture, […]

Matthew 7:7-12; Ask, Seek, Knock (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ exhortation to “ask, seek, knock” in prayer seems a carte blanche promise that God will give anything you or I ask for in prayer. The normal Christian life, on the other hand, seems to discredit this promise on a […]

Matthew 7:1-6; Judging Others (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

OK, brace yourself Bible Study Nerd, because this commentary section is going to be longer than normal. You’ve been warned. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs…” What the heck does that mean? Jesus’ […]

Matthew 7:1-6; Judging Others (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

It would’ve been hard to be a Pharisee sitting in the audience of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Again and again Christ seemed to deliberately antagonize any religious leaders listening to his teaching—singling them out, calling them unflattering names, and […]

Matthew 7:1-6; Judging Others (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Do not judge…” These words of Jesus that open Matthew 7 have been a source of confusion—and antagonism—for centuries. The problem seems to be that many of us misunderstand the distinctions between similar Greek terms that mean different things. Anakrinō […]

Matthew 6:25-34; Do Not Worry (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” Jesus told his hearers on the mountainside (Matthew 6:33). This command was both a promise of freedom (from worry) and a promise of daily provision. So what does it mean to “seek” God’s […]

Matthew 6:25-34; Do Not Worry (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

A few random thoughts about Matthew 6:25-34… In Jesus’ time, poverty was the norm, not the exception. Add to that vagaries of crops and crime and war and more, and you can see why people would worry about what they […]

Matthew 6:25-34; Do Not Worry (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

How odd it seems that Jesus felt compelled to argue with first-century hearers about God’s faithfulness in caring for them. Yet there he is in Matthew 6:25-34, forcefully presenting debate-style arguments to support this seemingly-obvious message. First, when admonishing hearers […]

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

“The eye is the lamp of the body,” Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). Jesus employs two familiar symbols for his audience in […]

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This proverb from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is nice poetry and is often quoted as though everyone instantly understands it. But do we really get Christ’s meaning […]

Matthew 6:19-24; Treasures in Heaven (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the ancient world, storing treasure typically boiled down to one of these two methods: hide it or guard it (or both). There were no banks or safety deposit boxes in those days, so a man’s wealth was, literally, only […]

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

The act of fasting, biblically speaking, is both a physical and symbolic expression. Physically, it’s simply deprivation of food and/or water for a specified period of time. Symbolically, though, it represents something much more. In the best sense, fasting symbolizes […]

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Generally speaking, fasting was never intended to be used as a badge of honor or as a mark of super-spirituality. It is almost always associated with sorrow for sin and an expression of humility before God alone. In spite of […]

Matthew 6:16-18; Fasting (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ instruction about fasting assumes that it is a normal part of a life devoted to God…but why fast? Why did (and do) people go without food and/or water as a religious observance? Here are a few reasons from Scripture: […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Forgiveness is a crucial element of The Lord’s Prayer, and it always carries both vertical and horizontal applications. “Forgive us our debts” Jesus said in Matthew 6:12—a vertical, us-to-God appeal. Then he said, “…As we have also forgiven our debtors”—a […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 6:9-13 is one of the most famous biblical texts of all time. Known as “The Lord’s Prayer,” it records Jesus’ specific instructions for how to pray. It’s important to notice that, immediately before giving this text, Christ warned his […]

Matthew 6:5-15; Prayer (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

If Jesus’ description of flamboyant, hypocritical praying sounds like grand theatre, that’s because it probably was. “And when you pray,” Jesus said in Matthew 6:5, “do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues […]

Matthew 6:1-4; Giving to the Needy (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Jesus’ comment, recorded in Matthew 6:4, is an affirmation of the related ideas that God is both everywhere and all-knowing. Theologians call these concepts “omnipresence” (or “immanence”) and […]

Matthew 6:1-4; Giving to the Needy (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

“When you give to the needy…” Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. This simple introductory phrase is striking both for its assumption and its audience. The audience first: We must remember that at the time Jesus sat down […]

Matthew 6:1-4; Giving to the Needy (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

In ancient Israeli society, giving to the needy ranked among one of the highest religious duties. As such, it was a regular, ordinary part of the Jewish person’s experience. Historians tell us that, “In every city there were collectors who […]

Matthew 5:43-48; Love for Enemies (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Be perfect,” Jesus said, “as your heavenly Father is perfect.” So what does that mean? In our 21st Century experience, we tend to define “perfect” as meaning “flawless,” or without any kind of shortcoming. “That diamond solitaire is perfect,” we […]

Matthew 5:43-48; Love for Enemies (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,” Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 5:44-55, “and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Theologians point to this statement as evidence of a doctrine called “Common […]

Matthew 5:43-48; Love for Enemies (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy…’” This quote from Matthew 5:43 reveals—again—how religious leaders in Jesus time had unwittingly distorted the Mosaic Law they claimed to hold supreme. The distortion was not […]

Matthew 5:38-42; An Eye for an Eye (Factual Info)

posted by Mike Nappa

“If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic,” Jesus preached in his Sermon on the Mount, “let him have your cloak also.” With all this archaic talk of tunics and cloaks, it’s easy to overlook the devastatingly […]

Matthew 5:38-42; An Eye for an Eye (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Why was Jesus so adamant about mentioning “the right cheek” when he gave his command for followers to “turn the other cheek”? The answer lies in the social norms of that time in ancient Israel. In Western society today, one […]

Matthew 5:38-42; An Eye for an Eye (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The legal for basis for lex talionis (“law of retaliation”) that Jesus referred to in Matthew 5:38 was well established in Jewish history and in the Law of Moses. The “eye for an eye” concept first appeared in Genesis 9:6, […]

Matthew 5:33-37; Oaths (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 5:35 quotes Jesus as reaffirming the declaration of Isaiah 66:1, saying very plainly that the earth is God’s “footstool.” But what does that mean exactly? In Old Testament usage, the concept of “footstool” or “under the feet” carried a […]

Matthew 5:33-37; Oaths (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In ancient Israel, an oath was both a ritual act and a binding promise. Oaths were invoked in court cases to (supposedly) ensure that witnesses would tell the truth. They were also given as proof of an unbreakable pledge of […]

Matthew 5:33-37; Oaths (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made…’” In case you’re wondering, Jesus wasn’t quoting the Old Testament when he said […]

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ literal intolerance for the practice of divorce, as displayed in his Sermon on the Mount, takes on new meaning when viewed through a symbolic lens. Consider: Throughout the New Testament, Christ is presented figuratively as a bridegroom, and all […]

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

It’s hard to overlook the uncomfortable truth that, according to Jesus, a divorced woman is considered an adulterer in God’s eyes—merely by the fact that her husband divorced her. “Whoever divorces his wife,” Christ said, “for any reason except sexual immorality causes […]

Matthew 5:31-32; Divorce (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

You may be surprised to discover that Old Testament Law did not codify the practice of divorce. In fact, biblical history indicates that divorce predated the time of Moses. As such, it was acknowledged by the Law (see Deuteronomy 24:1), […]

Matthew 5:27-30; Adultery (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The accusation of adultery in ancient Israel was no light thing, so it was significant that Jesus emphasized it in this portion of his Sermon on the Mount. In effect, Christ said to his audience, “I accuse you of adultery. […]

Matthew 5:27-30; Adultery (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ New Testament teachings on the topic of adultery could be considered by his hearers as rabbinical commentary on Old Testament law—specifically on the seventh commandment found in Exodus 20:14. As such, at this point in his Sermon on the […]

Matthew 5:27-30; Adultery (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery,” Christ said in his Sermon on the Mount. Some have interpreted this statement to mean that, outside of marriage, any acknowledgment of feminine beauty by a man is adultery— […]

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Geographical backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

With increasingly hyperbolic language, Jesus addressed the issue of unchecked anger and its potentially disastrous results as part of his Sermon on the Mount. He even went so far as to declare that angrily insulting another by calling that person […]

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Cross-reference comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 5:22, Jesus is quoted as saying that anyone who is “angry with his brother” has committed a sin that’s equivalent to murder. Bible scholar and teacher, Warren Wiersbe, offers this insight on that teaching: “There is a holy […]

Matthew 5:21-26; Murder (Theological commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ teaching on murder, referencing the 6th of Moses’ Ten Commandments, was more than just a difficult standard to achieve. It demanded that his hearers view him as either God himself, or at the very least, as equal with God. […]

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the time when Jesus walked the Earth, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were regarded by Jewish society as easily the most righteous of all people. They spent day and night studying and codifying Scripture for themselves and […]

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In the modern practice of the Christian faith, we often live as though the New Testament has abolished the Old Testament, and therefore the Old Testament can be ignored. That was not Jesus’ view. “Not the smallest letter, not the […]

Matthew 5:17-20; The Fulfillment of the Law (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ vehemence about the sacredness of the Law and the Prophets seems to contradict his other teaching and actions, particularly in his flagrant disregard for Sabbath rules and his teachings on ritual purity. Does that mean he was lying, or […]

Matthew 5:13-16; Salt and Light (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

It seems significant that, in Matthew 5:16, Jesus commanded his followers to “let your light shine before men.” Notice that Christ didn’t command people to “make your light shine before men,” or even to “ignite your light before men.” The […]

Matthew 5:13-16; Salt and Light (Geographical backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Hidden within Jesus’ teaching on salt and light is this little statement, recorded in Matthew 5:14: “A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” In the literary and symbolic contexts, Christ is obviously emphasizing the idea of his people living […]

Matthew 5:13-16; Salt and Light (Rhetorical Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Some Bible teachers try to mine deeply the idea that Christians are “salt and light.” For them, every little aspect bears a significant application: Salt preserves, so we should be “preservatives” in our society. Light shines, so we should testify […]

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ final beatitude (Matthew 5:11-12) differs from the earlier ones in its specificity and personal application. Up to this point, Jesus has used general pronouns as the object of blessing. For instance, “blessed are those…blessed are they…” Beginning in verse […]

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 5:3-9, Jesus describes seven characteristics of people who are blessed. According to theologian, Herschel Hobbs, those descriptions symbolized “the nature of the kingdom citizen.” He interpreted them as follows: The Poor in Spirit. “Those who recognize that they […]

Matthew 5:1-12; The Beatitudes (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The longest recorded sermon of Jesus begins with a repetitive theme word: “Blessed.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are they that mourn…Blessed are the meek…” Historically, that word was understood to mean “happy”—or in the literal Hebrew translation, “how […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

If we don’t count resurrections (there were three of those), Scripture records 23 specific, miraculous healings performed by Jesus. Among those healings were supposedly incurable diseases, such as blindness, leprosy, deafness, muteness, crippling lameness, withered or appendages, paralysis and more. […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country. Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used […]

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee by “teaching in their synagogues” and healing people there (Matthew 4:23). According to the tradition at the time, a synagogue could form wherever there were 10 adult men, so chances are good that […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Personality and Character Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know: Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus told Simon Peter and Andrew that he would make them “fishers of men.” The image there was grounded in the fisherman’s trade on the Sea of Galilee. Unlike our modern picture of a single man casting line off a […]

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ choice of his first disciples was surprising, to say the least. For starters, in that time, religious students chose their mentors, not vice versa. As the famous Rabbi Gamaliel instructed, “Find a teacher and lose your ignorance,” and that […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

“People living in darkness have seen a great light…” This prophecy from Isaiah 9:2, which Matthew quotes, is rife with meaning—probably more than we can actually comprehend. In the context of Matthew 4:16, “darkness” (skótos), was a fairly straightforward metaphor […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

The phrase, “kingdom of heaven” appears only in Matthew’s gospel, but it is used synonymously with “kingdom of God” found elsewhere in Matthew and in the other gospels. One theologian defines this term as meaning, “the spiritual rule of God […]

Matthew 4:12-17; Jesus Begins to Preach (Archaeological Insights)

posted by Mike Nappa

Capernaum (pronounced “kuh PUHR nay uhm”) in Galilee was the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry and the home of his disciple, Simon Peter. In that time, it was a bustling city of about 6,000 people (both Jews and Gentiles) and was […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Did you notice that only Satan worked miracles during the temptation of Christ? The devil first appeared out of nowhere (Matthew 4:3). Then he miraculously transported Jesus to the highest point of the Jerusalem temple (4:5). Lastly, he transported Jesus […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Factual info)

posted by Mike Nappa

In relating the events of Jesus’ temptation, Matthew presents Satan (“the devil”) without any introduction or explanation except to say he is a “tempter.” The assumption appears to be that Matthew’s Jewish readers a) already knew who Satan was, and […]

Matthew 4:1-11; The Temptation of Jesus (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

According to Matthew, Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world as his third and final temptation. Luke 4:5-12, however, appears to indicate that the kingdoms were Satan’s second temptation. Which author got it right? Well, most scholars answer that […]

Matthew 3:13-17; The Baptism of Jesus (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

The baptism of Jesus was a revelatory moment in history, and is generally considered the moment that “marks both His inauguration as the servant Messiah and the dawning of a new age of the Spirit.” In that context, it’s significant […]

Matthew 3:13-17; The Baptism of Jesus (Inductive Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus’ request to be baptized by John the Baptist caused unique problems, both for John and for Christians who came later. One Bible historian reports that “There is evidence that some early Christians found Jesus’ baptism somewhat embarrassing, either because […]

Matthew 3:13-17; The Baptism of Jesus (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Jordan River figures prominently in Biblical history, but the river itself isn’t as impressive as the events that surround it. Still, covering about 70 miles in length, it’s the biggest river in Israel and its waters feed a fertile […]

Matthew 3:1-12; John the Baptist Prepares the Way (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

John the Baptist identified three types of baptisms: By water, by the Holy Spirit, and by fire. But what do those mean? In John’s use, water baptism was a symbol of repentance in the heart and mind of the person […]

Matthew 3:1-12; John the Baptist Prepares the Way (Personality and Character Studies)

posted by Mike Nappa

John the Baptist was a notable figure who shows up in both Bible history and Roman historical records from the time of Jesus. Here’s what we know about him: His father Zechariah was a temple priest, and his mother Elizabeth […]

Matthew 3:1-12; John the Baptist Prepares the Way (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

It is significant that John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees a “brood of vipers,” which basically meant he viewed them as poisonous children of snakes. In the ancient world this was an especially contemptuous insult because of a […]

Matthew 2:19-23; The Return to Nazareth (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Greek word for “Nazarene” is Nazōraios. Some theologians believe that word has its root in the Hebrew term, Nezer, which is used in the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11:1 and is typically translated “branch” (as in a tree branch […]

Matthew 2:19-23; The Return to Nazareth (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew reports that Joseph was afraid to live in Judea under the rule of Herod’s son, Archelaus—and apparently with good reason. After Herod the Great died, there was a power struggle among his sons over who would inherent his kingdom. […]

Matthew 2:19-23; The Return to Nazareth (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

During the time of Jesus’ childhood, Nazareth was a tiny, backwater village situated in foothill on the southern edge of what was known as “Lower Galilee.” It was dwarfed by larger towns nearby. With a population estimated by some to […]

Matthew 2:13-18; The Escape to Egypt (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew reports that “Herod” was the bloodthirsty king who ordered the mass murder of all boys aged two and under in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. (2:16). History knows this king as “Herod the Great,” though “great” seems a stretch […]

Matthew 2:13-18; The Escape to Egypt (Geographical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

At the time when the angel instructed Joseph to flee King Herod, Egypt had become a kind of safe haven for Jews forced to leave their home country. Egypt (like Herod’s Judea) was under Roman control—but was outside of King […]

Matthew 2:13-18; The Escape to Egypt (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew references Jeremiah 31:15 as the prophecy fulfilled by Herod’s slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. That Old Testament passage originally prophesied about mourning that would accompany the conquering of the Jewish kingdom of Judah by the ancient Babylonian armies. […]

Matthew 2:1-12; The Visit of the Magi (Symbolism)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Magi gave to baby Jesus gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. Those gifts fulfilled a prophecy found in Isaiah 60:6, and also communicated symbolic meaning. Gold in the ancient Middle East was associated with “noble purposes,” as well as […]

Matthew 2:1-12; The Visit of the Magi (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

No one knows for sure who the Magi were that brought gifts to the baby Jesus, or exactly what their country of origin was. Matthew simply says they came “from the east,” first going to Jerusalem and then on to […]

Matthew 2:1-12; The Visit of the Magi (Bible Difficulties)

posted by Mike Nappa

What was the “star in the east” that the Magi saw? Only God knows for sure, but that hasn’t stopped scholars and devotees from speculating. Here are two theories: It was an angel. Elsewhere in Scripture, angels are described as […]

Matthew 1:18-24; The Birth of Jesus Christ (Word Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she was “betrothed” to Joseph. Betrothal (in Hebrew, kiddushin) at that time was somewhat similar to our modern-day “engagement,” with a few significant exceptions. First, girls as young as twelve and boys as young […]

Matthew 1:18-24; The Birth of Jesus Christ (Personality and Character Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Bible actually says very little about Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph. Here’s what we know: Joseph was a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55), which meant “building and repairing in wood, stone, or metal.” He had a reputation as “a just […]

Matthew 1:18-24; The Birth of Jesus Christ (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew’s historical account emphasizes Jesus as Messiah and King for a primarily Jewish audience. As a result, one scholar notes, “The [Old Testament] casts a long shadow over Matthew’s gospel. No other evangelist or [New Testament] writer, including Paul or […]

Matthew 1:1-17; The Genealogy of Jesus (Cross-Reference Comparison)

posted by Mike Nappa

Read Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 side by side and you’ll probably notice a problem: The two genealogies are not identical. Some have decided that this means the biblical accounts of Jesus are untrustworthy, but most Bible scholars find that […]

Matthew 1:1-17; The Genealogy of Jesus (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

One unexpected aspect of Matthew’s genealogy is the deliberate identification of four women (in addition to Mary) in Jesus’ family tree. In the intensely patriarchal Jewish society of Jesus’ time, it was it unusual for any woman to be heralded […]

Matthew 1:1-17; The Genealogy of Jesus (Literary Influences)

posted by Mike Nappa

Why begin the story of Jesus with a tedious, and incomplete, recitation of family history? Well, Matthew seems to have had one purpose in mind: To show proof that Jesus, as the adopted son of Joseph, could legally be considered […]

Matthew: A Brief Introduction

posted by Mike Nappa

 “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet…”—Matthew 1:22 The gospel of Matthew is an eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, written by one of the 12 disciples in Christ’s inner circle. […]

Previous Posts

Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Bible Difficulties)
  Matthew 10:23 quotes Jesus as saying to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” This appears to be a reference to the second coming of Jesus—and ...

posted 12:00:07pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Historical Backgrounds)
“They will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues…” Don’t gloss over Jesus’ promise of flogging that’s recorded in Matthew 10:17—you can be sure his disciples didn’t. Here’s what happened when ...

posted 12:00:06pm Apr. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 10:1-42; Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Cross-Reference Comparisons)
So…were there really 13 apostles of Jesus? The New Testament gives four separate listings of Jesus’ inner-circle disciples, a group of men known as “the Twelve.” The list in Matthew 10:2-4 claims to be a complete summary of “the ...

posted 12:00:05pm Apr. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 9:35-38; The Workers Are Few (Word Study)
Matthew 9:36 reports this of Jesus, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…” (italics mine). That two-word phrase the NIV translates as “had compassion” is actually just one word in the original Greek: splagchnízomai—and ...

posted 12:00:19pm Apr. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 9:35-38; The Workers Are Few (Cross-Reference Comparisons)
Matthew 9:36 records that when Jesus went on a preaching tour through Galilee, he found the people he met to be “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Most commentators agree that Matthew’s phrasing, “like sheep ...

posted 12:00:18pm Apr. 08, 2015 | read full post »

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