Matthew Chapter 2. Magi; Child; Herod

Method: Read through the chapter and make expository comments in context. After that, summarize these doctrines and principles in an organized form.

Outline of Matthew 2.

  • The record of the birth of the Messiah and Herod’s reaction, Matthew 2.1-8.
  • The magi worship Christ, Matthew 2.10-12.
  • The escape to Egypt, Matthew 2.13-15.
  • Herod’s vicious reaction, Matthew 2-16-18.
  • The trip from Egypt to Nazareth, Matthew 2.19-23.

The political conditions in Judea were dangerous for the people. The Herods ruled the area where Jesus was born and lived. Herod was a family name.

  • Herod the Great was a viscous, cruel, and paranoid king. He was king of Palestine under Rome from 40-4 BC. See the doctrine of Herod. Augustus commented that it was better to be Herod’s sow than his son. A sow had a better chance of surviving in a Jewish community.
  • Archelaus was one of his sons. He was brought up in Rome. When his father died he was given Edom, Judea, and Samaria (4 BC-AD 6).
    • He was a cruel ruler. In his 10th year, Rome finally removed him and banished him to Vienna in Gaul.
    • Joseph and Mary decided not to return to Judea. Instead, they went to Nazareth.
  • Nazareth was a garrison town for Roman soldiers. Jews did not trust people from Nazareth. Nazareth was under Herod Antipas’ rule. He was another son of Herod. He  ruled as Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (AD 6-39). He was sneaky and somewhat weak, yet a more capable ruler. Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded (Matthew 14.1-10).
  • Bethlehem was the place Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. She was buried in Bethlehem (Genesis 35.16-20).
  • God’s protective care was evident in the lives of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus (Matthew 2.12, 13, 19, 20, 22).

This chapter notes four kinds of people.

  • Cruel and self-seeking king, Herod (Matthew 2.3, 7, 12, 16).
  • Religious unbelievers, chief priests, scribes (Matthew 2.4-6).
  • Truth seeking Gentiles, Magi (Matthew 2.1-2, 9-12).
  • Godly parents, Joseph and Mary (Matthew 2.14-15, 21-23).

This chapter notes three dramatic responses to the news of the Messiah.

  • Herod wants to kill him because he views Jesus as a threat to his power. Political authority opposed the Messiah (Matthew 2.16).
  • The chief priests and scribes ignore him. They are self centered and self satisfied in their religious routine, proud of their intellect and their approved religion, and oppose the Messiah (Matthew 2.4-6).
  • The Gentile Magi want to know more about this predicted king. They responded to God’s revelation and wanted to know more about this king who was the Messiah (Matthew 2.10-11).
    • They followed the star.
    • They rejoiced when the star led them to Jesus. They rejoiced because they found God’s king.
    • They worshipped Jesus.
      • Do we as believers follow him, rejoice in the Lord as Paul commanded in Philippians 4.4, and worship as a way of life?
      • Are we glad that we are Christians?

This chapter demonstrates three kinds of authoritative divine guidance.

  • The star from the east was a miraculous sign (Matthew 2.2, 10). This was most likely a miraculous show of God’s glory similar to the cloud and the fire during the exodus (Exodus 13.21-22).
    • The star led the wise men. When the star had identified Bethlehem, it stopped. This was more that an unusual occurrence in astronomy. This was a miracle.
    • שְׁכִינָה , shekhinah. First used in the Targums [Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament]. Not in the Bible. It was used by Jews and Christians to mean God’s visible presence. From the verb שָׁכֵן, shakhen], or [שָׁכַן, shakhan], “to dwell,” “reside”  (Orr, J., M.A., D.D.The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia : 1915 Edition. Ed. J. Orr. Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1999.
    • Now in the post-apostolic age God no longer guides through authoritative miraculous events and signs. The Messiah has come, the church is in progress, and the Bible has been completed.
  •  The Old Testament Revelation or Scripture (Matthew 2.5-6). The approved religious leaders knew the answer, but they were comfortable in their offices and duties and did not want the status quo disturbed.
    • The Bible did have the answer, if they were at all interested.
    • Simeon and Anna wanted the Messiah to come during their lifetime. They knew from the Old Testament to look for the Messiah (Isaiah). The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that he would live long enough to see Him. Both were glad and praised God for allowing them to live to see the Messiah (Luke 2.21-38).
  • Authoritative dreams (Matthew 2.12, 13, 19, 22). God revealed information through dreams to the Magi and to Joseph. The only parallel today is God working through circumstances which he brings about—but this would not be authoritative revelation. God may also send a friend or book or Bible class with a specific note of guidance that you believe is helpful and from the Lord.
    • Magi (Matthew 2.12).
    • Joseph (Matthew 2.13, 19, 22).

This chapter demonstrates God’s protective care, guidance, and man’s volition. Each time that someone made the right decisions based upon God’s revelation we have free will demonstrated. To say that free will has not operated is to ignore the sense of the passage. Each time a wrong decision was made we have free will demonstrated.

  • Magi follow the star (Matthew 2.1-2).
  •  Magi did not return to Herod (Matthew 2.12).
  •  Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt (Matthew 2.13-14).
  •  Herod killed the male children (Matthew 2.16).
  •  Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Nazareth (Matthew 2.20-23).

Matthew quotes the Old Testament for two different purposes.

  • Matthew 2.5-6 quotes Micah 5.2 and means that the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem is a direct fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. It applied to nothing or no one else.
  • Matthew 2.15 quotes Hosea 11.1 which refers to Exodus 4.22; He  quotes Jeremiah 31.15 in Matthew 2.18.
    • Matthew uses both of these quotations to show that what has happened is similar and the same kind of event but not the same as the instances in the Old Testament.
    • This use helps the reader to better understand the present events that Matthew has described.

Summary of topics and applications.

  • Political antagonism to God and what He is doing.
    • Can you see this happening in your time?
  • Four kinds of people.
    • Which kind are you?
  • Three kinds of responses to Jesus.
    •  What is your response?
  • God’s protective care.
    • Do you notice it in your life?
  • Three kinds of divine guidance.
    • Do you look and listen for God’s guidance?
  • Joy from seeing God work.
    • Do you follow and rejoice?
  • Genuine worship.
    •  Is worship your lifestyle?
  • Free will responses to God’s revelation—obedience or disobedience, faith or unbelief.
    • What choices do you make?
  • How Matthew used the Old Testament.
    • Do you value and listen to the Old Testament?