Lesson Aids

NT Sunday School Lesson 20: Matthew 21-23; John 12:1-8

May 15, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 20: Matthew 21-23; John 12:1-8

Matthew 21 Verses 1-7: The end of verse 3 could also be translated “and straightway he will return them.” Verse 5 puts two scriptures together, Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9 (as they appear in the Greek rather than the Hebrew version of the Old Testament). What does “daughter of Sion” mean? Why is it important that the Lord enter Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (rather than a horse, for example)? Verses 8-11: Why did the people put their cloaks and branches from the trees on the road in front of Jesus? “Hosanna” means “save, we pray.” Do... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 19 (JF): Luke 18:1-8, 35-43; 19:1-10; John 11

May 10, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 19 (JF): Luke 18:1-8, 35-43; 19:1-10; John 11

Luke 18 Verses 1-8: The chapter division here (an artificial division not in the original text) makes us not see the connection between the end of Luke 17 and the beginning of 18. Might Luke have any particular prayers in mind in verse 1? How about the desire mentioned in Luke 17:22? In verse 1, Luke tells us the teaching of the parable before he gives the parable. Why? After reading the parable ask yourself whether there are other ways to read it, perhaps ways that Luke wants to forestall. We will later see that Paul particularly likes the... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 16: John 9-10

April 12, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 16: John 9-10

Chapter 9 Verse 1: Chapter 8 ends with the phrase “passed by” and chapter 9 begins with those words. Did the events of chapters 9-10 happen as Jesus was leaving the temple precincts, or did they occur later? (See verse 14 for a clue.) Why is it important that the man has been blind since birth? As you read the story, ask yourself, How we are like the blind man: in what ways are we or have we been blind from birth? How do we come to see? What do we see when we have been healed? Verses 2-5:... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 14: Matthew 18; Luke 10

March 20, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 14: Matthew 18; Luke 10

Matthew 18 Verses 1-4: Why do the disciples ask the question that they pose in verse 1? What does it suggest about their understanding of Jesus’ message? What do you make of the fact that they are arguing about who shall be first so shortly after Jesus has talked about his coming death (Matthew 17:22)? In verse 3, the verb “be converted” translates a Greek verb that means “turn.” To be converted, to repent, is to turn back, to return. In what sense is repentance a return? Christ says that no one can even enter the kingdom (or reign)... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 13: Matthew 15:21-17:13

March 13, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 13: Matthew 15:21-17:13

There are a number of stories in this reading, and they appear not to be given to us in a haphazard way. There is a natural progression from one to the other: (1) Jesus heals the Canaanite woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). (2) He heals many and multitudes come to him (Matthew 15: 29-31). (3) He not only heals them, he feeds 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39). (4) Having just given a miraculous sign, he warns the Pharisees and Saducees against sign seeking (Matthew 16:1-4); (5) He tells the disciples to beware the leaven, the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew... Read more »

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

March 6, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 12: John 5-6; Mark 6:30-44; Matthew:14:22-33

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 11: Matthew 13

February 27, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 11: Matthew 13

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... Read more »

Peace

February 20, 2011 | 20 comments
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Peace

Sometimes unintentional mistakes lead to interesting lines of thought. A few weeks ago I misheard a speaker in an LDS meeting. The speaker was quoting John 14:27, and either because of the speaker’s mispronunciation or my imperfect hearing, I heard the word “live” instead of the word “leave.” This lead me to think about what it means to live in peace. Read more »

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

February 20, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 10 (JF) : Matthew 11:28-30; 12:1-13; Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 9: Matthew 6-7

February 14, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 9: Matthew 6-7

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 8: Matthew 5

February 7, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 8: Matthew 5

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... Read more »

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

February 6, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 7: Mark 1-2; 4:35-41; 5; Luke 7:1-17

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... Read more »

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

January 30, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 6: Luke 4:14-32; 5; 6:12-16; Matthew 10

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 5: John 3-4

January 30, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 5: John 3-4

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... Read more »

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

January 18, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 4: Matthew 3-4; John 1:35-51

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lesson 3: Luke 2; Matthew 2

January 9, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 3: Luke 2; Matthew 2

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... Read more »

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

December 27, 2010 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 1: Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 3:4-11 (Joseph Smith Translation); John 1:1-14; John 20:31

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... Read more »

NT Sunday School Lessons: Between the Testaments

December 19, 2010 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lessons: Between the Testaments

This is a sketch of the history between the fall of Israel and the New Testament. It may be helpful for understanding what is going on in the New Testament confrontations between Jesus and others and in understanding the tensions in Israelite society in Jesus’ day. Jewish history between the Old and New Testaments 606 The fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Babylon becomes the major power. Daniel and others are taken to Babylon from Israel. 604 Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon. 598 Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, and the prophet Ezekiel (with thousands of others) are carried captive into Babylon.... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

December 5, 2010 | no comments
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Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

Zechariah 1:7-6:8: We may be able to read the first six chapters of Zechariah as having a roughly chiastic structure. As with many chiasmi, however, deciding whether this is a chiasmus is a matter of judgment rather than fact. A 1:7-17: The Lord’s omniscience B 1:18-21: Judah and the empires C 2:1-5: Jerusalem’s territory D 3:1-10: Joshua the high priest D’ 4:1-14: The temple itself C’ 5:1-4: Jerusalem’s self-rule (the scroll of the law?) C’ 5:5-11: Judah and Persia (? perhaps a “counter-temple”?) A’ 6:1-8: The Lord’s omnipotence If this analysis is correct,... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 47: Ezra 1-8; Nehemiah 1-2, 4, 6, 8

December 5, 2010 | no comments
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Sunday School Lesson 47: Ezra 1-8; Nehemiah 1-2, 4, 6, 8

Note that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were considered one book until well after the time of Christ. The rough chronology below will help place this week’s material in its historical context. 606 The fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Babylon becomes the major power. Daniel and others are taken to Babylon from Israel 604 Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon 598 Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, and the prophet Ezekiel (with thousands of others) are carried captive into Babylon. Lehi leaves Jerusalem. Habakkuk and Ezekiel prophesy 587 The fall of Jerusalem; much of the population of Judah is taken captive... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 46: Daniel 2

December 5, 2010 | no comments
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Sunday School Lesson 46: Daniel 2

Verses 4-5: Why does the king make this demand on his wise men? Verses 10-12: What did it mean to be a wise man in Babylon? Why was the king angry? Why do you think that the gods of Babylon are never mentioned in this story, not even negatively? Verse 24: Why does Daniel save the other wise men of Babylon?  Verse 28: Why would a king living hundreds of years before Christ’s birth be interested in what would happen at the age when the end of the world would come? (“Latter days” is probably better translated “at the... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 45: Daniel 1, 3, and 6; Esther 3-5, 7-8

November 23, 2010 | no comments
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Sunday School Lesson 45: Daniel 1, 3, and 6; Esther 3-5, 7-8

Let me begin, once again, with a reminder that these are not intended for notes to help teachers, though they may also serve that purpose. I write them for people who want to study the lesson materials more thoroughly. So you’ll find explanatory notes and study questions (fewer for this lesson than for most), but few answers. There is considerable material in the readings for this lesson, so I am going to focus the study questions on the book of Esther (the entire book rather than only the parts assigned for Sunday School). I want to focus on Esther... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47

November 17, 2010 | no comments
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Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47

Ezekiel’s book goes back and forth between telling of the literal return from Babylon to Jerusalem in ways that we can also read to refer to the last days to speaking directly of the last days. (But when he thinks of the last days, is he thinking of the same event or events that we are thinking of?) Beginning in chapter 40, he has a vision of the temple in Jerusalem and of the order of temple worship there. What kind of vision do you think this is? In Ezekiel 37:26-28, the Lord promised the temple as part of... Read more »

Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, and 37

November 15, 2010 | no comments
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Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, and 37

Chronologically we turn backwards at this point. Jeremiah was the prophet in 597 B.C. when Jerusalem was finally captured and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and its people were carried into Babylon. Like Lehi, Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but Ezekiel did not prophesy with them. Instead, like Daniel, Ezekiel was with the large group from Judah taken captive into Babylon earlier. He began to prophesy only after arriving in Babylon, so prophets in Jerualem, like Lehi and Jeremiah, may not even have known about Ezekiel. Tradition has it that he died and was buried in Babylon. With that in... Read more »