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

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 is nearby? Does it help to know that the word “kingdom” might better be translated “reign”?

Verse 3: Matthew (like the other three synoptic Gospel writers) quotes from Isaiah 40:3 to describe John’s mission. (Matthew quotes from the Greek version rather than the Hebrew, which explains why there are differences between what he says and our version of Isaiah 40:3.) How does that verse from Isaiah explain John’s mission? Does it shed any light on what John means when he warns that the kingdom of heaven is at hand?

Verse 4: This verse reminds us of Elijah. (See 2 Kings 1:8; see also Matthew 11:14 and 17:10-12.) Why is that parallel important? Does Zechariah 13:4 teach us anything about John the Baptist?

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