Connect Bible Study Notes

Term 2 2017

The shape of God's Future - Mattew 22-26
We continue our in-depth series on the longest biography of Jusus written by Matthew. Jesus is well on His way to Jerusalem and His death which will be the ultimate expression of God's love for us. this game-changing event will determine the future for all people. Jesus takes the opportunity to prepare His disciples - and us - for God's future.

Watchful Matthew 24:36 - 25:13

  1. Why do you think some people find Jesus’ lack of knowledge about his return (Matt 24:36) disturbing?  Can you think of other examples from the Gospels?  What does this tell us about Jesus’ humanity?
  2. What comparison is Jesus drawing between his own return and the judgement that came in Noah’s day?
  3. What are the practical implications of Matthew 24:42-51 for our lives today?  How is the lifestyle of a faithful, watching disciple of Jesus changed by this passage? Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11. How does this passage help us?  What indications are there in it that Paul has a pastoral care agenda in writing it?
  4. Read 2 Peter 3 and list extra practical implications for living from this passage.
  5. The parables in Matthew 24:45-51 and 25:1-13 end with images of judgment.  What does this tell us about the importance of being watchful and faithful? Why do you think Jesus chooses judgment images that are so graphic?

Don't Be Deceived Matthew 24:29-35

  1. Look back at v3 where the disciples were asking Jesus two questions: one about the destruction of the temple (which happened in AD70), and the other about the second coming of Jesus and the end of the age. Why would these two events be so closely related in the minds of the disciples? What, then, do we need to keep in mind when seeking to understand this chapter?
  2. Why would nature be behaving in the strange ways described in v29? Look up the cross references Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 in their contexts.
  3. Why will many people mourn when they see the Son of Man coming (v30)? See Isaiah 13:6.
  4. What is the significance of the clouds and the Son of Man in v30? Look up Daniel 7:13-14. (Note ‘Son of Man’ is Jesus’ favourite way of referring to himself.)
  5. What difficulties does verse 34 present? How should we respond when we come across a verse like this that seems to contradict history, or another that seems to contradict other parts of the Bible? How should we respond to the criticism that the Bible is full of contradictions?
  6. People react in various ways to this unusual kind of literature. Name some of the ways. How do you think God wants you to respond?
  7. What is Jesus claiming about himself in verse 35?

The End of the World Matthew 24:1-28

  1. How do verses 38 and 39 of the previous chapter link to this passage?
  2. How do people today think the world could end (if they think about it at all)?
  3. What “crackpot” (so called biblical) theories have you heard?
  4. Jesus disciples ask him about two events – the destruction of the Temple and the return of Jesus at the end of the age (verse 3). As a group, read through the passage and make a list of the verses you think relate to each of these. Add a third column for verses that could refer to either event.
  5. Now make a list of things from the passage that we can be certain or definite about.  What practical difference should this make to the way we live?

Woe To You - 2 Matthew 23:29-39

  1. What do you think the phrase “Woe is you” means? How do you think people should react when Jesus says this?
  2. How would you define a hypocrite? What behaviour of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law does Jesus condemn as hypocritical?
  3. Can you think of examples of the mistreatment of some Old Testament Prophets?  What about John the Baptist?
  4. What extra dimension to hypocrisy is added when a person claims Christian faith?  Do you ever feel like a hypocrite?  How do you deal with that?
  5. “It would be a bad mistake to read a chapter like this as simply a moral denunciation; it would be still worse to read it as a moral denunciation of somebody else.  That’s halfway to committing the mistake that is being attacked.”  T Wright.  Do you agree with this?  Discuss your reasons.  How can we avoid making this mistake?
  6. How do Jesus’ words in verse 37 and 38 indicate God’s love for his rebellious people and the hopelessness of their position if they reject Jesus? What makes rejection of Jesus even worse than rejection of the prophets?
  7. The Jerusalem crowds have already greeted Jesus with the words he quotes in verse 39 (See Matthew 21:9-11). What will be radically different about the future time Jesus predicts when he will be greeted with these words? 

Woe To You - 1 Matthew 23:13-28
1. Matthew uses the phrase kingdom of heaven, whereas Mark and Luke use kingdom of God.
     A. What is the kingdom of heaven? (v13 – see also 5:3,10, and Mark 1:14-15.
     B. What does ‘entering the kingdom of heaven’ mean? (v13 – see also Mark 1:14-15)
2. In v13, how do the teachers of the law and the Pharisees shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces? Is it possible that we could do the same thing?
3. What is the repeated refrain in this passage (through to v31)? What emotion was in Jesus with these words? What emotion might have been in his hearers (Pharisees/teachers of the law, crowds, disciples)?
4. What were the Pharisees and teachers of the law trying to achieve in their teaching about different grades of oaths? What point does Jesus make about all oaths in v22? What does this tell us about our speech in general?
5. What problem was Jesus addressing in v23-24? Can this be a problem for us? What can we do about it?
6. What is the link between the 5th and 6th woes (v25-26, v27-28)?
7. How can we take all care to do what is right, without becoming like the Pharisees?

Religion On Show Matthew 23:1-12
1. What were the teachers of the law and the Pharisees doing right?
2. What were the teachers of the law and the Pharisees doing wrong?
3. What was their motivation?
4. What motivation does Jesus want us to have? (See also Matthew 6:1-4.) How can we get our motivation right?
5. What is the problem with giving people titles of honour? (v8-10) What is the alternative?
6. Either – put verses 11-12 in your own words, OR give an example to illustrate verses 11-12.

A Question of Paternity Matthew 22:41-46
Note that 'Messiah' is a Hebrew word, which is translated as 'Christ' in Greek. It means ‘anointed one’.
1. Earlier in this chapter, the Pharisees and the Sadducees have been asking questions of Jesus. Now Jesus asks them a question. Why do you think he did this?
2. Read Psalm 110, which Jesus quotes in Matthew 22:44. Who is ‘The LORD’ and who is ‘my Lord’?
3. What is the problem Jesus draws attention to in v45? How can you resolve this problem?
4.Who is seated at the right hand of God? See Luke 22:69.
5.What is Jesus saying about the Messiah?
6.Read Matthew 26:63-64. Is Jesus the Messiah?
7. This conversation marks a turning point: ‘From that day on no-one dared to ask him any questions.’ What makes this conversation so significant?

The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:34-40
1. Read Matthew 22:34-40. How do you feel in response? How do you think God wants you to feel? Why?
2. Contrast this ‘love’ with the ‘love’ of popular songs and movies.
3. What is going on between the Sadducees, the Pharisees and Jesus in Matthew 22? (See below for background information.) How does this help us to understand the passage?
4. Look at the parallel passage in Mark 12:28-34. Note how in this chapter, there are not only Sadducees and Pharisees, but also Herodians and a teacher of the Law.
5. What do you make of the slight differences between Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Mark 12:29-30, and Matthew 22:37? What do you think it means to love God with all of your mind?
6. What is the connection between the two great commandments and God’s grace?
7.How does Luke 10:25-37 help you understand the two great commandments?
8. What happens if you hold to the first commandment and leave out the second? What happens if you hold to the second commandment and leave out the first?
9. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” How might, for example, the Old Testament food laws hang on these commandments? (e.g. not eating pork, seafood or meat with blood in it.)

Background information
The Sadducees and the Pharisees were two conflicting powerful groups amongst the Jews. The Sadducees were upper class and unpopular; usually the chief priests and high priest came from this group. While they upheld the authority of the written Word of God, they denied the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23) and denied the existence of angels and demons (Acts 23:8). The Pharisees were a smaller group, mostly of middle class businessmen, and very popular. They were seeking to reform Judaism by strict adherence to the law, adding ever more regulations and treating traditions as equal to God’s Word.