The wise men followed a star in the sky that led them to the Christ child. Herod the Great wanted to kill Him.
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1. Bethlehem is “a small village on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. Hebrew scholars in Jesus’ day clearly expected Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the Messiah (Micah 5:2; John 7:42).” (MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. [Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005], 1121)
Herod the king “This king is Herod the Great, the first of several important rulers from the Herodian dynasty who are named in Scripture. This Herod, founder of the famous line, ruled from 37-4 B. C.” (MacArthur, 1121)
“You will notice the record doesn’t tell us there were three wise men. I don’t know how many there were, but I doubt whether three wise men would have disturbed Herod or have excited Jerusalem.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 14)
“The word translated ‘wise men’ (magi) refers to a group of scholars who studied the stars.” (Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. [Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004], 14)
“The Magi were not kings but a combination of wise men and priests probably from Persia. They combined astronomical observation with astrological speculation.” (Blomberg, Craig L., The New American Commentary, Volume 22, Matthew [Nashville: Broadman Press], 62)
2. “The Magi’s question to Herod emphasizes the word ‘born.’ The grammatical construction makes it clear that they ask about who the child is who has legitimate claim to Israel’s throne by virtue of his birth.” (Blomberg, 62)
Star [KJV] “This could not have been a supernova or a conjunction of planets, as some modern theories suggest, because of the way the star moved and settled over one place (v. 9). It is more likely a supernatural reality similar to the Shekinah that guided the Israelites in the days of Moses (Exodus 13:21).” (MacArthur, 1121)
“Keep in mind that the men were Gentiles. From the very beginning. Jesus came to be ‘the Savior of the World’ (John 4:42).” (Wiersbe, 14)
3. “The Maji were seeking the King, but Herod was afraid of the King and wanted to destroy Him. Herod was a cruel and crafty man who permitted no one, not even his own family, to interfere with his rule or prevent the satisfying of his evil desires.” (Wiersbe, 14)
4. This “refers to the two key groups of religious leaders in Jerusalem.” (Blomberg, 63)
Chief Priests [KJV] “These were the temple hierarchy. They were mostly Sadducees.” (MacArthur, 1121)
Scribes [KJV] “Primarily Pharisees (i.e., authorities on the Jewish law).” (MacArthur, 1121)
5. “They knew exactly where the Messiah was to be born (v. 5), but lacked the faith to accompany the Magi to the place where he was.” (MacArthur, 1121)
6. “They supply the answer from Micah 5:2.” (Blomberg, 63)
7. McGee says “I am of the opinion that they didn’t arrive in Jerusalem until at least a year after the appearance of the star. Notice that Herod ‘inquired diligently’ the time of the star’s appearance in the sky.” (15)
8. “Herod actually wanted to kill the child (vv. 13-18), whom he saw as a potential threat to his throne.” (MacArthur, 1122)
9. “The star guides them to Bethlehem. This is the first time the star is actually said to move.” (Blomberg, 65)
The star guided them and stood over where the young child was. [KJV]
10. “What the Magi recognize as divine guidance fills them, literally, with exceedingly great joy. [KJV].” (Blomberg, 65)
11. I think we all believe that the wise men came to a stable. This verse tells us they were in a house! [KJV]
“They find the mother and child and prostrate themselves before him in worship. The gifts used to honor the new king was typically associated with royalty.” (Blomberg, 65)
12. The Magi appear as Balaam’s successors to witness the fulfillment of Numbers 24:17.” (Blomberg, 66)
“The wise men had assumed that Herod was sincere and wanted to come down and worship Him. However, he would have killed the Child had not an angel of the Lord warned the wise men to go back to their own country by a different route.” (McGee, 16)
Amplified Bible (AMP)
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Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.
Blomberg, Craig L., The New American Commentary, Volume 22, Matthew Nashville: Broadman Press
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983
MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005
Robertson, A. T., A Harmony of the Gospels. New York, HarperCollins Publishers
Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004