WHO WERE the MAGI? — Matthew 2:2

“The Magi asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’”

Some believe that the Magi were Gentile wise men and the first Gentiles to worship Jesus. But the Magi could easily have been descendants of the Jews who did not return to Jerusalem after their seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Daniel and his three friends rose to high positions in the Babylonian court, and there is every reason to believe that they and others like them advised King Cyrus of Persia and many other subsequent rulers in the East where their descendants made their homes for the next 500 years. Some Jewish Magi probably knew to look for the Messiah and His star. The Hebrew Scriptures prophesied: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). When some of them saw the special star that announced the Messiah’s birth, they traveled perhaps 800 miles to find and worship Him. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, King Herod, the high priests, the teachers of the law, and the people were disturbed to learn of the Magi’s expectation of finding the newborn Messiah. The chief priests told King Herod and the Magi about the prophecy that predicted the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod wanted to murder the Messiah, and we have no indication from Matthew that anyone other than these Magi sought Him to find Him to honor Him. When the star appeared again, the Magi found the house where Jesus and His family stayed. They were overjoyed, and they worshiped Him.

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lesson
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

GOD WITH US — Matthew 1:18-25

International Bible Lesson Commentary

(Matthew 1:18) Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

Matthew’s gospel includes a short summary of facts about the birth of Jesus that highlighted important truths: the Messiah was to be named “Jesus;” He was born of a virgin named Mary; He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (not Joseph, who was only engaged to her at that time). Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, but Joseph took Mary as his wife and adopted her Son as his own son. Jesus was sent by God to save His people from their sins. Mary must have told Joseph about the angel’s appearance to her; perhaps after she had visited Elizabeth (as recorded by Luke).

(Matthew 1:19) Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

Though Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married and were not living together, the community considered their engagement as binding as a marriage. Perhaps Joseph felt unworthy to become the adopted father of the Messiah and wanted to dismiss her quietly so God could do what was best for Mary and His Son. Perhaps he was afraid (see Matthew 1:20) he would offend God if he went ahead and took Mary as his wife if God had other plans. Perhaps he wanted to open the way for God to care for His Son in the way God wanted without being a hindrance to God.

(Matthew 1:20) But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Joseph had Mary’s testimony to him as one fact to consider with regard to how he should proceed. As a righteous man, Joseph lived by faith, prayer, and true love for God and others; therefore, he probably thought he had made the right decision according to the law of God. In this verse, Matthew reaffirmed through the words of the angel that the adopted father of Jesus was of the line of David. The angel told Joseph that what Mary had told him was accurate and no delusion. Truly, Jesus really had been conceived by the Holy Spirit; and Mary and Jesus were both were also wholly within the will of God. Joseph should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because God the Father wanted him to raise the Son of God as his and Mary’s son. Knowing that Jesus was adopted by Joseph should encourage all who are adopted, and in the Bible all of Jesus’ true followers are called adopted children of God.

(Matthew 1:21) She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The angel said specifically that Mary would give birth to a male child. When Joseph took Him as his son, he was to name him “Jesus,” which means “God is salvation.” When the Messiah came, His primary purpose was to save God’s people from their sins (not overthrow the Roman Empire).  Jesus would save God’s people not only from the eternal consequences of their sins but also free them from slavery to sin and empower them to love and obey God according to the Bible’s teachings.

(Matthew 1:22) All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

 What the angel told Joseph would take place had been planned and prophesied for centuries before God scheduled Jesus to be born. Jesus came and throughout His life He fulfilled various prophecies, and He said that He had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. Jesus did what the Scriptures said the Messiah would do, and more remains for Him to do as priest and king in heaven between now and after He returns.

(Matthew 1:23) “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

Mary was more than just a young woman. In fulfillment of the Bible’s prophecies, she had never done anything toward the physical conception of a child before the Holy Spirit overshadowed her as the angel told her and she conceived Jesus. Her Son would be “Emmanuel.” From what Jesus said about himself and did, He convinced people that He was God with them, the Son of God. When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, God affirmed and endorsed all that Jesus said about himself and did. Jesus, God with us, humbled himself, came to serve us, and saves believers from their sins.

(Matthew 1:24) When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,

Joseph believed what the angel told him. He acted in faith when he did what the angel told him to do. Joseph showed that he was a righteous man when he obeyed God. Joseph did not act only on the basis of what the angel said. The angel referred Joseph to what the Bible said through the prophets and the promises of God. So, Joseph had not only the words of the angel and Mary before he acted in faith; Joseph also had the words of God’s prophets. Joseph believed the Bible, the Word of God written, and the Bible confirmed what the angel told him; then, he acted in faith.

(Matthew 1:25) but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

As a righteous man, Joseph did not do anything that might hurt Mary or compromise the birth of the Son of God. The Bible certainly implies that Joseph and Mary maintained a normal, healthy marriage after Jesus was born, and they raised Jesus as devoted parents. Joseph named their Son “Jesus” as the angel commanded, and they raised Him in a devout home (for example, taking Jesus to the temple when He was 12).

Study the
International Bible Study
Commentary and Lesson
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Consequences for Loving Money — Acts 4:32-5:11

‘Ananias,’ Peter asked, ‘why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land?’” (Acts 5:3).

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. Ananias appeared to be a Christian. He went to church with the Apostle Peter, and he even gave some of the proceeds from a land sale to the church, but he sold the land for more than he said and kept the difference. Peter then explained that personal property and money belong to Christians to save, spend, or share as they choose. No Christian is under compulsion to give any of his money or property to the church. Ananias and Sapphira lied and gave because they wanted people’s praise for their giving, but Jesus taught that the best giving is done secretly (Matthew 6:3-4). Ananias committed a great sin by lying to the Holy Spirit and to the church, but why did Satan fill his heart to lie? Jesus taught, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Ananias loved money; so he came to hate and despise God just as Jesus warned. Therefore, Satan filled his heart and left no room for the love of God. Ananias became similar to Judas. Because Judas loved money he came to hate and despise Jesus; therefore, Satan entered him (John 13:27). Both proved that “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Acts 4:32-5:11 Archive

for November 22, 2020
(Scroll to Acts 4:32-5:11 )

Love Lasts Forever — John 15:4-17 for November 8, 2020

The International Uniform Lesson Series Commentary and Activities
From the International Bible Study Commentary and Lesson Archives
on John 15:1-17
Links to ALL November Lessons are below

King James Version

John 15:1-17 KJV Easy-Print Commentary

John 15:1-17 KJV Easy-Print Large Print Commentary

King James Version Student Study Handout for John 15:1-17

New American Standard Bible

John 15:1-17 NASB Easy-Print Commentary

John 15:1-17 NASB Easy-Print Large Print Commentary

New American Standard Bible Student Study Handout for John 15:1-17

New International Version

John 15:1-17 NIV Easy-Print Commentary

John 15:1-17 NIV Easy-Print Large Print Commentary

New International Version Student Study Handout for John 15:1-17

New Revised Standard Version

John 15:1-17 NRSV Easy-Print Commentary

John 15:1-17 NRSV Easy-Print Large Print Commentary

New Revised Standard Version Student Study Handout for John 15:1-17

Audio Edition John 15:1-17 Commentary and Lesson

Audio Edition John 15:1-17 Commentary and Lesson

Student Handouts for This or Next Week’s Lesson

Verse-by-Verse KJV Handout for John 15:1-17

Verse-by-Verse NASB Handout for John 15:1-17

Verse-by-Verse NIV Handout for John 15:1-17

Verse-by-Verse NRSV Handout for John 15:1-17

Can Be Used At the Beginning of Class or Handed out for Next Week’s Lesson

INTERNATIONAL BIBLE LESSON

You did not choose me,
but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit
—fruit that will last—
and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you

John 15:16).

God’s Many Gifts to His Children

God’s Many Gifts to His Children – Large Print

God’s Many Gifts to His Children – Bulletin Size

Teacher Study Hints for Thinking Further

Study Hints for Thinking Further on John 15:1-17

Study Hints for Thinking Further on John 15:1-17 (Large Print)

Application for John 15:1-17

Application — Five Takeaways for John 15:1-17

Application — Five Takeaways for John 15:1-17 (Large Print)

Easy-Print Bible Activities for Student Lesson Review

Crossword Puzzle for John 15:1-17

True and False Test for John 15:1-17

Word Search Puzzle for John 15:1-17

Praying Through John 15:1-17

Praying Through John 15:1-17

Praying Through John 15:1-17 (Large Print)

International Bible Lesson Commentary
1 John 3:11-24 Archive

for November 15, 2020

International Bible Lesson Commentary
Acts 4:32-5:11 Archive

for November 22, 2020
(Scroll to Acts 4:32-5:11 )

International Bible Lesson Commentary
James 2:1-13 Archive

for November 29, 2020
(Scroll to James 2:1-13)

Love Never Fails — 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 for October 25, 2020

The International Uniform Lesson Series
Commentary and Activities

From the International Bible Study Commentary and Lesson Archives on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 from 2015.

English Standard Version

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV Large Print Commentary

ESV Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

King James Version

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 KJV Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 KJV Large Print Commentary

KJV Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

New American Standard Bible

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NASB Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NASB Large Print Commentary

NASB Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

New International Version

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV Large Print Commentary

NIV Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

New Revised Standard Version

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NRSV Commentary

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NRSV Large Print Commentary

NRSV Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Audio Edition

1 Corinthians 13 Audio Commentary& Bible Lesson

Teacher Study Hints for Thinking Further

Teacher Study Hints for 1 Corinthians 13

Teacher Study Hints for 1 Corinthians 13 Large Print

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

1 Corinthians 13

True and False Review Test with Answer Key

1 Corinthians 13

Crossword Puzzle with Answer Key

1 Corinthians 13

International Bible Lesson

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways”
(1 Corinthians 13:11—NRSV).

The Holy Spirit Brings Spiritual Maturity

The Holy Spirit Brings Spiritual Maturity
(Large Print)

The Holy Spirit Brings Spiritual Maturity
(Bulletin Size or Bible Insert Size )

The next set of Archives that I will have available for you are the Archives for John 15:4-17, for November 8, 2020. My Archives will include John 15:1-17 from 2017. I do not have Archives for November 1, 2020 on John 13:1–15, 34–35.

Love for God and Neighbor — Luke 10:25–37 for October 18, 2020

The International Uniform Lesson Series Commentary and Activities

From the International Bible Study Commentary and Lesson Archives on Luke 10:25–37 from 2015. When archived lessons are available, they will be posted here on the Forum. Some newer lessons are not archived or available.

English Standard Version

Luke 10:25–37 ESV Commentary

Luke 10:25–37 ESV Large Print Commentary

English Standard Version and Study Guide for Luke 10:25–37

King James Version

Luke 10:25–37 KJV Commentary

Luke 10:25–37 KJV Large Print Commentary

King James Version and Study Guide for Luke 10:25–37

New American Standard Bible

Luke 10:25–37 NASB Commentary

Luke 10:25–37 NASB Large Print Commentary

New American Standard Bible and Study Guide for Luke 10:25–37

New Revised Standard Version

Luke 10:25–37 NRSV Commentary

Luke 10:25–37 NRSV Large Print Commentary

New Revised Standard Version and Study Guide for Luke 10:25–37

Audio Edition with New Revised Standard Version

Luke 10:25–37 NRSV Commentary

Teacher Study Hints for Thinking Further

Teacher Study Hints for Luke 10:25–37

Teacher Study Hints for Luke 10:25–37 Large Print

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

Luke 10:25–37.

True and False Review Test with Answer Key

Luke 10:25–37

Crossword Puzzle with Answer Key

Luke 10:25–37

International Bible Lesson

“The lawyer said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise’”

(Luke 10:37—NRSV).

Love Sees Opportunities to Serve

Love Sees Opportunities to Serve (Large Print)

Love Sees Opportunities to Serve (Bulletin Size)

Love Never Fails — 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
for October 25, 2020  will be available here on the Forum on October 18, 2020
— available from the Archives.

Begin a Mid-Week or Personal Bible Study
on the Gospel of John

God’s Many Gifts to His Children — John 12:1-11

There they gave a dinner for Jesus. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him (John 12:2—NRSV).

God gives many different gifts to His children. God gave Martha a gift of hospitality. Martha served dinners for Jesus, His disciples, and all who came to hear Jesus teach. She helped people concentrate on Jesus’ teaching and made it possible for Jesus to teach the truths that His Father sent Him to proclaim. God gave Mary a gift of teaching. Mary sat and listened when Jesus taught. She absorbed as much truth as she could whenever given the opportunity. Before and after Lazarus died, she must have shared with her family and those who came to grieve with her the faith she had in Jesus based on the truths He taught and the love He showed. We can believe this when we consider how everyone who came to grieve with Mary said that if Jesus had been there, He could have healed Lazarus. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Mary’s previous teaching made it easier for people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. God gave Lazarus a gift of witnessing. We do not have any recorded words of Lazarus, but after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he used his gift to prove that Jesus has the power to give eternal life. Lazarus’ testimony about Jesus was so effective that the chief priests planned to kill both Lazarus and Jesus, since on account of Lazarus many were believing in Jesus. No wonder Jesus loved this faithful family! God’s children do not need to compare or complain about God’s gifts to them and others; rather, they need to seek God’s help to use His gifts as He intends.

Make Your Comments Here on the Forum
on Any of The Questions Below

1. Why do you think Mary felt motivated to anoint Jesus’ feet?

2. What reason did Jesus give to explain why Mary anointed His feet?

3. Who complained about Mary’s actions? What reason did he give for complaining about her good deed?

4. What did John say about the one who complained?

5. Why did the chief priests plan to put Lazarus to death?

Read the International Bible Study Commentary
and Lesson on John 12:1-11

Courageous and Sacrificial Friendship

In August 2019, the Uniform Lesson and the International Bible Lesson was based on 1 Samuel 19:1-7 and included 1 Samuel 18:1-5. The Uniform Lesson for October 4, 2020 is based on 1 Samuel 19:1-7. The International Bible Lesson Archives on 1 & 2 Samuel are available for your use.

You can go directly to:

 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7 Easy-Print Commentary

1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7 Easy-Print Large Print Commentary

Study Hints for Thinking Further for 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7

Study Hints for Thinking Further for 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7 (Large Print)

Praying Through 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7

Praying Through 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7 (Large Print)

Application — Five Takeaways for 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7

Application — Five Takeaways for 1 Samuel 18:1-5 & 19:1-7 (Large Print)

Crossword Puzzle with Answer Key

True and False Review Test with Answer Key

Word Search International Bible Lesson Puzzle

The International Bible Lesson is

Courageous and Sacrificial Friendship

Courageous and Sacrificial Friendship (Large Print)

Courageous and Sacrificial Friendship (Bulletin Size)

“Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:4).

Under Israel’s first king, only King Saul and his son Jonathan had armor and swords. King Saul reigned in fear, because he had rebelled against the LORD and the LORD had departed from him. Through Samuel, the LORD told Saul his dynasty would end. Then, Samuel anointed David as the future king. When the Philistines oppressed the Israelites, Jonathan rallied the army to defeat them. Jonathan led the way because he acted with faith in the LORD.

Before the battle, Jonathan stood with only his armor bearer and said, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will act for us; for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). The LORD was with Jonathan, and the garrison fell. Jonathan’s success gave his father the courage to fight the Philistines, and Israel won a great victory. Before David became king he fought the giant Goliath, telling him, “This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand….that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:46-47). After David killed Goliath, the Philistines fled in fear. Both Jonathan and David were men after God’s own heart. As kindred spirits, their faithfulness to and love for the LORD drew them into a courageous and sacrificial friendship; therefore, Jonathan gave David what he would need to lead all Israel and someday reign as king.

See The Road to Spiritual Maturity — Genesis 45:5 for September 27, 2020 below

Begin a Mid-Week or Personal Bible Study
on the Gospel of John

The Road to Spiritual Maturity — Genesis 45:5

“[Joseph told his brothers], ‘And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life’” (Genesis 45:5).

Many believers aspire to the spiritual maturity of Joseph, who treated his brothers with extraordinary goodness despite their sins against him. Deeply wronged by them when they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery, he expressed no desire to punish them, but forgave them and comforted their guilty conscience. He held no resentment against them, and he did not want them to feel angry with themselves for the great injustice they had inflicted on him. Joseph chose to disregard the wrongs of others, because he wanted everyone to be at peace with God, others, and within themselves.

Joseph chose to emphasize and explain some of the ways that God uses to help people. To preserve life, God had sent Joseph to Egypt through the slave trade. God prepared him through imprisonment to ascend to the second highest place of authority in Egypt. Joseph understood that God had blessed him, not so he could selfishly enjoy the riches of Egypt, but so he could save the lives of many during seven years of famine. God used the evil deeds of Joseph’s brothers to get Joseph to Egypt before them so God could save from starvation the Egyptians and all who would go to Egypt; therefore, Joseph chose to focus on the good intentions and purposes of God, and let God deal with the intentions and actions of others. Similarly, the evil deeds of some religious leaders led to the crucifixion and death of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, but God planned and used Jesus’ sacrificial death to save those who believe in Him, to forgive all the sins of many believers, and to give all believers in Jesus the gift of eternal life. Only the most spiritually mature can forgive those who have wronged them and look instead for the good that God has brought into every situation so He could meet the needs of many.

The International Bible Commentary and International Bible Lesson
Uniform Lesson Series Archives

2010-Present

International Bible Commentary
Genesis 45:3-15 Commentary
Genesis 45:3-15 Large Print Commentary

Study Hints for Discussion Study Questions
Teacher Study Hints for Genesis 45:3-15
Teacher Study Hints for Genesis 45:3-15 Large Print

International Bible Lesson Archives
2010 to Present

How To Serve While Suffering — Genesis 41:51

“Joseph named the firstborn son Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house’” (Genesis 41:51).

Throughout the Bible, many parents gave their children names with special meanings, sometimes because God commanded them and sometimes not. Joseph himself named his sons with thanksgiving to God. He named his second son Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes” (Genesis 41:52). God chose the name for Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In the providence of God, when Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons, he gave the special blessing for a firstborn son to the second born son; perhaps he did not want to bless the firstborn son with the name “Manasseh” that emphasized forgetting “all my father’s house” (see Genesis 48:13-20).

The Bible records some of the ways Joseph suffered; but rather than blame God, Joseph thanked God for saving him through them all. Perhaps Joseph’s faith was similar to the faith of Job, who declared, “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (Job 2:10). After Jacob died, Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

If we strive to serve God with faith as Joseph did, we will see all of our misfortunes as opportunities to serve God in ways that we had not thought of before. When we make every effort to serve God in the midst of hardships, we will be able to look back as Joseph did and see h0w God worked for good and made us fruitful in what appeared to be less than ideal circumstances.

For Commentary on the Book of Genesis
go to the
The International Bible Lesson Commentary Archives