Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a study about Christmas.
[These notes are from a study taught more than 30 years ago. The notes are in outline form.]
What is Christmas?
The word “Christmas” comes from the Old English word “Christesmaesse.” The Middle English word is “Christemasse.” It literally means “Mass of Christ.” It has a strong Roman influence.
The first mention of the celebration of Christmas occurred in A.D. 336 in an early Roman calendar. By 1100, Christmas was the most important holiday and religious festival in Europe.
Christmas is celebrated as the date of Christ’s birth even though it is more probable He was born in the Spring.
The only Biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus Christ are found in Matthew’s Gospel and Luke’s Gospel.
Matthew 1:1 & 17
Matthew was a Jewish tax collector who became a disciple of Christ. He wrote one document to Jewish believers to present Jesus as the promised Messiah who came in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Matthew chapters 1 & 2 tell the story of the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-6
- Mary was the mother of Jesus
- Mary was a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph
- Mary became pregnant through the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit
- Mary would give birth to a Son
- His name would be Jesus
- He would save His people from their sins
- All this would happen in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (7:14)
- Jesus was born in Bethlehem
- Wise men (magos – astrologers & magicians) traveled to Jerusalem looking for the person born “King of the Jews.” They wanted to worship Him
- The Old Testament scholars (e.g. priests, scribes) knew that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem
- They knew He would rule Israel
Matthew’s Gospel is the presentation of Christ as the prophesied King of Israel.
The second account of the birth of Christ is found in Luke’s Gospel.
The word “declaration” should be translated “narrative.”
Other people had written accounts of the things that Jesus did.
“perfect understanding” should be translated “having investigated from their source all things accurately.”
Luke was a physician and historian. He went to “the source” to verify the truth of the things believed by Gentiles about Christ.
Luke wrote to a Greek named Theophilus. Luke also wrote the Book of Acts to Theophilus (believed to be a nobleman).
Luke’s Gospel presents Christ as the Perfect Man sent by God to be Savior. It presented Jesus in His “divine humanity.”
Luke helped the non-Jew understand how the Jewish Messiah was also a tender, perfect God-Man who loved and died for Gentiles as well as Jews.
The language of Luke shows he wrote for the non-Jew. He used Greek titles and quoted from the Greek version of the Old Testament.
Luke often referred to events in terms that only the Apostle Paul used. The Lord’s Supper is one example.
Luke 1:30-33; 2:6-7
Matthew tells us nothing of the humble birth of Jesus. Matthew only says Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that wise men came looking for the “King of the Jews.”
Luke tells of the humanity of Christ — born to a poor family, born in humility.
Christ is presented as a Savior.
Again, we see the humble, human beginnings of Christ’s life on earth. He is visited by shepherds. There is no mention of gifts.
Matthew tells us only of the visit of the Wise Men bearing expensive gifts.
A Jew did not need any explanation about “purification” or “sacrifice,” but a Greek would need the background of it being part of Mosaic Law.
Luke is the only one to mention Christ’s relationship to Gentiles.
Matthew says nothing about Christ and Gentiles in the beginning of His life (other than the Wise Men who visited). However, Matthew does quote Jesus 10:5-6 –
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The birth and childhood of Jesus Christ is only the beginning of Christmas. It continues through the earthly ministry of Christ including His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven.
Paul sums it up well in 1 Timothy 3:16 –
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
“without controversy” (homologoumenōs) means “as agreed, by common consent”
The word translated “God” in the KJV is hos, not theos. hos translates as “who” and refers to Christ as its antecedent.
“who” was “manifest in the flesh”
“manifest” (ephanerōthē) means “revealed, made visible, made known”
The Eternal, Almighty God revealed Himself to the human race “in the flesh.”
John 1:14 reads –
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Only verses earlier John wrote –
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2
God became human through the miracle and majesty of the Virgin Birth! The Son of God became a human Baby, grew into Manhood, and was –
“justified in the Spirit”
“justified” (edikaiōthē) means “declared as righteous, proven to be right”
As Jesus ministered to the masses and the few, God declared His Son to be right!
Jesus was “seen of angels”
The entire angelic host saw every event of Christ’s life. The tense and voice of the verses mean the angels viewed His human life in a past time.
Paul was not speaking of how the angels see Jesus now, but how they saw Him during His time on earth in the flesh.
“preached unto the Gentiles”
“preached” (ekērychthē) means “proclaimed
The tense and voice indicate that others proclaimed Christ at a past time.
“Gentiles” (ethnesin) translates as “nations” (ethnos)
Paul proclaimed His Gospel to Gentiles and Jews of all national backgrounds.
“believed on in the world”
Tense and voice indicate others placing their faith and trust at a point of time in the past.
“received up into glory”
Tense and voice indicate Jesus “was taken up” (anelēmphthē) by another.
“into glory” should be “in praise, honor, splendor” (doxē)
“glory” is not a place in this usage — it is the opinion and estimate that God had of His son when He “took” Jesus up from earth back to Heaven.
That’s Christmas — the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ –God’s generous gift to each of us if we will receive it.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 30 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your ministry.]