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For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds Archives

Bible Resource Spotlight: Matthew: A Theological Commentary on the Bible

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Bible teachers Genre: Commentary FBSN Rating: B+   It seems strange that asking a theologian to write a Bible commentary would be considered, well, strange. But in the “academic silo” world we live in, the fact is […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 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 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 […]

Bible Resource Spotlight: Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew

posted by Mike Nappa

Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Small Group Leaders Genre: Bible Commentary FBSN Rating: B Christ-Centered Exposition – Matthew is somewhat unique as a Bible commentary in a few specific ways. First, it’s designed with sermon preparation in mind, working on the […]

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 (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

Bible Resource Spotlight: Matthew: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
Reader Appeal: Pastors, Bible teachers Genre: Commentary FBSN Rating: B+   It seems strange that asking a theologian to write a Bible commentary would be considered, well, strange. But in the “academic silo” world we live ...

posted 12:00:18pm May. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Bible Resource Spotlight: After Acts
Reader Appeal: Bible teachers, students, Bible Study Nerds Genre: Christian History FBSN Rating: B   Dr. Bryan Litfin is a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He also holds a Ph.D. in the field of ...

posted 12:00:16pm Apr. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Bible Resource Spotlight: Reformation Commentary on Scripture, New Testament III: Luke
Reader Appeal: Pastors, Teachers, Seminary Students Genre: Commentary FBSN Rating: A   The risk with Christian history and theology is that voices from our shared past are often drowned out by the voices of today’s popular ...

posted 12:00:14pm Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Inductive Studies)
“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” It’s interesting that John asked an academic question, recorded in Matthew 11:3, and Jesus responded with a legal answer (Matthew 11:4-6). John’s question really ...

posted 12:00:44pm Apr. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Matthew 11:1-19; Jesus and John the Baptist (Bible Difficulties)
When John the Baptist was in prison and heard that Jesus was nearby, he sent his disciples to ask of Christ himself: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Why did he ask this ...

posted 12:00:43pm Apr. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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