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The Kingdom of God Is Among You: The Gospel of Matthew Review by Jennifer HarrisonBy Sean Holland
Bible Classes for Students
Finding a Bible study that is engaging for a kindergarten student and yet still challenging for an 8th grader is not an easy task. However, many families desire to have Bible study times together and Bible Classes for Students has taken this into account. They have created an excellent study on the Gospel of Matthew that all ages can appreciate. Granted, there is much that will go over the heads of younger students, but there is plenty to be grasped as well.
Each day's lesson begins with a reading of a chapter (or portion of a chapter) of the book of Matthew. The study provides questions and guidance through the chapter that correspond directly to God's Word. The study does not delve into opinions or feelings about Scripture; it explores Scripture, pure and simple. There are fill-in-the-blank sections taken directly from verses read as well as open-ended questions that, again, refer directly to Scripture.
Students are encouraged to take note of keywords in the chapters and even to compare Bible verses with other Bible verses. Occasionally, students are asked to use some conjecture on a verse in order to explore the meaning behind it, such as in chapter 8 when students are asked, "Why does Matthew tell us that Peter's mother began to serve Jesus right after he healed her? Can someone normally do this after being sick?" No, the verses don't tell us the why , but answering the question doesn't require opinionated speculation, just logical thought.
At the very beginning of the study, before the chapters begin, there are a few pages that help students get a bigger picture of the book of Matthew. These include a listing of all of the books of the Bible with labels describing how they fit together, samples of verses in original Greek for students to try to decode, and a chart comparing Matthew to the other gospels.
Each lesson is made up almost entirely of questions. These help foster a deeper understanding of the Scriptures as well as family discussions. The study also includes photographs and maps throughout the text, with occasional map work to help students better understand the setting. Annotated study boxes in the margins offer explanations and definitions. For example, one box explains the difference between the Sadducees and Pharisees. Another offers definitions for "leper," while another explains where Canaanites came from.
There are 28 chapters in the book of Matthew, and the lessons generally correspond to these. Chapter 4 has a natural breaking point at verse 12. Many chapters provide a comfortable one-day lesson that can easily be completed within a half an hour or less. Some could be combined if families wanted to do more than one chapter per day. Some Bible chapters are longer and might be easier to spread over several days rather than one. In this way, the study will take roughly 28 to 40 days to complete, making it a great addition to Lent or Advent studies.
The kingdom of God is a major theme in the book of Matthew, which is broken into two parts: Announcement of the Kingdom and Delaying of the Kingdom. In Part 1, students study themes of expecting the kingdom, proclaiming the kingdom, living the kingdom life, and proof of the kingdom. In Part 2 (beginning in Matthew 11), students study hostility to the kingdom, rejection of the kingdom, and accomplishment of the kingdom.
I found this to be an excellent study. I especially appreciate that it doesn't focus on what students think about God's Word but rather on what God actually says in His Word. It is a study geared to thinking and learning for all ages. A rare find!
The study is available on CD and as a digital download.