SS Lesson – New Testament

NT Sunday School Lesson 21: Matthew 24 (JST)

June 4, 2011 | no comments
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NT Sunday School Lesson 21: Matthew 24 (JST)

It is sometimes helpful to have the Joseph Smith revision (JST) and the King James translation side-by-side, so I have put both versions of chapter 24 together in a PDF file for those who would like to use it. Traditional Christianity finds this chapter ambiguous: in some ways it seems to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 70 A.D.; in some ways it seems to refer to the Second Coming. It seems to me that Joseph Smith makes it more clear which passages refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and which refer to the Second Coming.... Read more »

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 »

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 »