Introduction to the Class

First Day
April 21, 2024

Welcome! Thank you all for coming. It means a lot to me that you are here.
I hope and pray and believe that this class, by God’s grace, will draw all of us here today closer to Him. 

Let’s Open in prayer: Phil 1:9-11
I am going to pray Paul’s prayer for the Philippians as his prayer to them perfectly echo’s my prayer for us here today. In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul prays this:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” (NIV84)

  1. First – A bit about me…
    1. I am an average Joe (in many ways, below average), but, by God’s grace, and His grace alone, I persevere.
    2. I graduated in the Bottom third of my high school
    3. It took me 25 years to get my bachelor’s degree, but by God’s grace, I got it. 
    4. Worked in restaurant business for 25 years.
    5. Then worked as a webmaster for 20+ years.
    6. Got saved in 1987
    7. Married to my dream girl in 1991.
    8. Led small groups for 37 years
    9. Now I am literally living my dream as a Sunday School teacher. Now, enough about me. Let’s talk about … you

Would you like to briefly introduce yourselves?
Why are you here? 
Have you ever read Matthew cover to cover before?
What do you like about the Bible? – Anything you dislike?
What kind of “learner” do you think you are?

Thank you. Now for today, I would like to start out by asking you a question, and there will be a lot of questions in this class!
So, Question #1: What is a priority?     Anybody?
Do you have one? Do you have some? 
If you have many, have you prioritized them?
What is an example of a priority?

Well, Matthew had priorities when writing his Gospel. 
Anyone have a thought as to what Matthew’s priorities may have been?

Just briefly, two of his priorities were:

  1. To prove that Jesus was the Messiah, the King that the Jews had long waited for.
  2. Another priority of Matthew’s was to teach about the Kingdom of Heaven. The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used over thirty times in the a gospel of Matthew.

There are more priorities that we will talk about as we move thru this incredible book, but this is a good start: Being a Jew, and considering his original audience-mostly Jews and Jewish Christians, Matthew was very concerned with people having a correct knowledge, or understanding, of the True King and His Kingdom. 

Does anyone have a thought about how to briefly define the “Kingdom of Heaven?”
(That place where God rules.)

While Matthew had very clear priorities for his Gospel, I, too, have priorities for this class. My single most important priority for this class, for you all, and for me, is to hopefully and prayerfully, get to know Christ better, by getting to know the Word better. For all of us to grow closer to Christ; 

  • Closer in our understanding of the “Word’”
  • closer in our love,
  • Closer in our devotion and our obedience. 
  • And closer in our daily walk.

 It is my prayer that, whether directly or indirectly, this class points all of us to Jesus in such a way that it impacts our lives.

At the bottom of page one of the introduction of our book, there is a quote of Napoleon Bonaparte.  It says:

“Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overwhelms me, and his will confounds me. Between him and. . . whoever else in the world. . . there is no possible comparison. He is truly a being by himself… I search in vain in history to find (anyone) similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the Gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything with which I am able to compare (him) or explain (him). Here (in Christ) is everything extraordinary.”

Now I don’t know if Bonaparte was saved or not, but that is quite a quote. 

In this class, we want to not only learn and know “Who Jesus is” better, but subsequently, to know the Father better as well. That is my hope.

Steven Lawson, in his book called “Show Me Your Glory,” says, “The greatest need of every individual is to know who God is. No matter who a person is—whether he is inside the church or outside of it, whether he is a true believer or a militant atheist—his most basic need is to know God. He must know God if he is to know himself and understand the world around him. He must know who God is and what He is like. Every other knowledge that someone may acquire is a far distant second in importance. Everything in an individual’s life is affected by his knowledge of God.
(Sounds almost like he just described priorities!)

Similarly, A. W. Towzer said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (Knowledge of the Holy)

So, having said that, I would like to welcome you to this class on Matthew.

Ok, now for some EXPECTATIONS:

  1. Class Expectations: What to expect of this class
    1. We will hopefully all learn what the “Good News” really is. 
    2. We will be going thru Matthew roughly verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph, key point by key point.
      1. We will have points of practical application along the way, as well devotional thoughts
      2. Jesus Christ, the Savoir, Redeemer, Teacher and King, will be the main focus. 
    3. We will study the Gospel of Matthew the first 3 or 4 weeks per month (depending on how many Sundays there are in any given month.)
    4. The last Sunday of each month – except this month – we will do something different. Starting in May, on the last Sunday of each month, we will be doing something a bit different, just to break things up, and hopefully, to make things a bit interesting, we might…
      1. Do a word study or a topical study
      2. Do a devotional
      3. Read and dissect a proverb or psalm
      4. Have a question and answer time
      5. Have a prayer time or play a praise video
    5. This class will, in some ways, be driven by you, your questions and what you want to learn. 
    6. We won’t go deep into everything, but in some things we will; the things that are central to the Gospel, central to our Christian faith, and especially, I hope, the things that directly impact our relationship and walk with Jesus. 
    7. This is an open class, meaning that anyone can come send go as they please
    8. No book or workbook required, but we will be using, as a base, the Holman New Testament Commentary on Matthew. Getting a hardcover or, better yet, a digital copy from the Olivetree Bible App (or Logos)  is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
      1. You don’t need the Olivetree Bible App for this class, ( but I will be using it in class a lot, so you will inadvertently be learning how to use the app as well, just by watching me. It is very easy to learn and use. But it is NOT in any way required. 
      2. I will also be using and making many other resource recommendations throughout out time together, which I will, from time to time, link to on our class website at
      3. You may want to bring a new notebook.
    9. Matthew is deep and rich and beautifully written. It is well worthy of a lifetime of study. 
    10. After Matthew, I hope and pray and intend, and God willing, to go on to Mark, and thru the whole New Testament. This will be quite a ride, but I also pray that the Lord comes before we ever get to Revelation 22.
  2. Ok now on to – Student Expectations: How to get the best out of our time together
    1. Genuine desire to learn AND grow in Christ 
    2. Pray, pray, pray
    3. Read, read, read. Prayerfully, and in a spirit of humble obedience, read the Bible every day. Loving God and your neighbor is the most important thing you do in this life, BY FAR. And the only real way you can do that is by prayerfully, and in a spirit of humble obedience, diligently read your bibles every single day. 
    4. Participate in class discussions
    5. Respect fellow classmates
    6. Commit to the class AND your fellow classmates
    7. Regular attendance if and when possible
    8. Fellowship starts at 8:45; class starts at 9:00 sharp. If you late, and the door is closed, please come in anyway!!
  3. Teacher Expectations: What to expect from me
    1. You have a right to expect my best, and I will do my best to deliver.
      1. You can expect me to be Fully committed to you, the class.
      2. I Will pray for you
      3. I will give Honest opinions, and try to be clear about what is opinion, what is fact and what is speculation. All three are good and valid, but I think it is really important to make a distinction between them. 
      4. I will try to be as vulnerable, transparent and authentic as I can.
    2. You can expect challenges and encouragements to growth in Christ
    3. You can expect lots of questions 
    4. I will try to stay on point, but you can expect some rabbit trails and/or “side-bars.” Sometimes they can be very fruitful.
  4. Introduce the website at
    1. About me
    2. About extra-biblical resources
    3. About the Bible Project video
      1. Atonement issues


Something to think about for next week: 
Question 1: What are your priorities in life?

Close in prayer. 

Bible Project Gospel of Matthew, Summary part 1

Bible Project Disclaimer: While the Bible Project Animation Videos are generally very good, we at the Orchard Church do not necessarily agree with every single point of every single video. Particularly, for example, we do not agree with everything they teach regarding the Atonement (which is NOT referenced here in the Matthew summaries.)
All authors, teachers, preachers and churches have points upon which we disagree, are flawed or mistaken in some way or another. Only the Bible is perfect in all it says and teaches. Grace abounds, even while holding tight to sound doctrine. Know your Bible well! For more disclaimer info, go to our Links page.

The Olive Tree Bible App is free and comes with several free books. You can buy additional books if you like.
Olivetree Bible App website – home page

Holman Commentary of Matthew in Olive Tree r

Olive Tree Support page “HOW TO” videos