January 31, 2021 – Genesis 39

Lesson Date: January 31, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 39:1-23

AIM: To lead students to learn lessons from Joseph’s experience about resisting sexual temptation, and to encourage them to apply those lessons to their own lives.


Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 39 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write “Resisting Temptation” on the marker board or chalkboard.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the class that in the middle part of the last century America experienced what was called a “sexual revolution.” Prior to that time, premarital and extra-marital sex was viewed as wrong, demeaning, and degrading. Illicit sexual behavior was not discussed in public or in mixed company. Homosexuality was not ever mentioned. Sex was never the main subject of news broadcasts. Marital infidelity, if it became public knowledge, would ruin a politician’s career. Movies and TV shows were generally wholesome and could be enjoyed by the entire family.

Now, after the so-called “sexual revolution” has taken place, we live in the most sexually charged society in history. Most TV shows and movies either depict or at least talk about illicit sexual behavior. As sex talk and explicit portrayals have flooded the entertainment industry and the Internet, the moral climate of America has taken a nosedive. Immodest dress, inappropriate behavior, and suggestive language have become commonplace. Rape, teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and marital breakups are at record levels.

Ask the following rhetorical questions:

“How can God’s people remain pure in such a sex-crazed and suggestive world?”

“Are there guidelines we should follow to resist temptation?”

“If so, where can they be found?”

Tell the students in today’s lesson we will learn how Joseph, now a slave in Egypt, resisted temptation. We’ll also learn some lessons to help us resist temptation.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Genesis.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the amazing transformation that took place in Joseph’s life).
    • Ask: “How did Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, become a slave in Egypt?” (his envious brothers, who initially planned to kill him, sold him to slave traders traveling to Egypt).
  2. Joseph Was Promoted in Potiphar’s House.
    • Read Genesis 39:1.
    • Tell the class Joseph was a frightened 17-year-old boy, hundreds of miles away from his home and family. He was in a strange land where they spoke a strange language and practiced strange religions.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 39:2-6.
    • Ask: “According to verse 2, who was with Joseph in Egypt?” (the Lord).
    • Ask: “What does verse 3 say Potiphar recognized about young Joseph?” (the Lord was with him and caused everything he did to prosper).
    • Ask: “According to verses 4-6, what did Potiphar entrust to Joseph?” (everything he possessed).
    • Ask: “What does verse 5 say God did for Potiphar’s house because Joseph was in charge?” (He blessed everything about it for Joseph’s sake).
    • Ask: “What does the last sentence of verse 6 reveal about Joseph?” (he was a very handsome young man).
    • Summarize: Even though Joseph had been sold into slavery in Egypt, the Lord was still with him. Potiphar recognized this and promoted Joseph to overseer of all he had.
  3. Potiphar’s Wife Tried to Seduce Joseph.
    • Read Genesis 39:7-9.
    • Tell the class that Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph and made bold sexual advances toward him, but Joseph resisted those advances.
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, who did Joseph not want to sin against?” (God).
    • Explain that Joseph understood that sexual immorality is terribly wicked. He knew it would not only be a sin against Potiphar and Potiphar’s wife, it would also be a sin against God.
    • There is a lesson here for us: Sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin against God!
    • Ask: “Do you think there would be any less immorality in our society if people considered it to be a sin against Almighty God?”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 39:10-12.
    • Tell the students that Joseph made the mistake of being alone in the house with Potiphar’s wife, putting himself in a position where he could be accused of wrongdoing.
    • Here’s another lesson for us: We should be careful to guard our testimony.
    • Ask: “What did Potiphar’s wife do?” (grabbed Joseph by his garment and asked him to have sex with her).
    • Ask: “What did Joseph do?” (left his garment and fled the house as quickly as he could).
    • Tell the class Joseph had the opportunity to sin without being caught.
    • Ask: “If you had an opportunity to sin without being caught, would you give in to temptation?”
    • Here’s another lesson: Sometimes the only way to escape sin is to run (1 Cor. 6:18).
    • Summarize: Joseph carelessly put himself in the position of being alone in the house with Potiphar’s wife. She seized the opportunity to try to seduce him, but he ran away.
  4. Joseph Was Falsely Accused and Sent to Prison.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 39:13-16.
    • Ask: “What did Potiphar’s wife do when she realized she had been spurned by a Hebrew slave?” (she called the men of the house and told them Joseph had tried to rape her).
    • Ask: “What did she use to prove her charge?” (Joseph’s garment that he left in her hand).
    • Tell the class that she kept Joseph’s garment until her husband came home.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 39:17-19.
    • Explain that when Potiphar came home, his wife made her false accusation against Joseph. Note that she placed some of the blame on Potiphar, saying the Hebrew servant, whom he had brought to them, did this deed. Potiphar was understandably very angry.
    • Read Genesis 37:20.
    • Ask: “What did Potiphar do with Joseph?” (put him in prison).
    • Here’s another lesson for us in this: Resisting temptation may cost you something!
    • Summarize: Rejected by Joseph, Potiphar’s wife accused him of sexual misconduct. Potiphar was very angry and sent Joseph to prison.
  5. Joseph Was Promoted in Prison.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 39:21-23.
    • Ask: “Who does verse 21 say was with Joseph in prison?” (the Lord).
    • Ask: “According to verse 22, what did the keeper of the prison do?” (entrusted the care of all the prisoners into Joseph’s hand).
    • Ask: According to verse 23, how much trust did he place in Joseph? (complete).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord do?” (made everything Joseph did to prosper – even though he was in prison).
    • Tell the class that wherever Joseph landed, the Lord was with him and blessed him. This is a good reminder for us: if we belong to the Lord He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
    • Summarize: The Lord was with Joseph in prison. The keeper of the prison promoted Joseph because the Lord caused everything he did to prosper.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “What can we learn from Joseph’s story of resisting temptation?” After students have suggested some things they have learned, summarize the lesson by reading the following.

  • First, we should avoid situations that might lead to temptation. If you are tempted to sin when you go to certain places or hang around certain people, then avoid them like the plague.
  • Secondly, you must be careful to protect your testimony. Joseph got into trouble when he was in the house alone with Potiphar’s wife. Don’t allow yourself to be in situations where you can be falsely accused.
  • Third, when temptation comes along, run! It is better to lose your cloak and be falsely accused than to do something you will regret for the rest of your life.
  • Fourth, remember that you may still suffer, even when you do the right thing.
  • Finally, if you belong to Jesus Christ remember that God will never leave you, no matter what men might do to you.

Encourage the students to apply these principles to their lives. Tell them that sexual temptation is very common in our society. Yielding to such temptation is very costly. We must resist sexual temptation. Encourage everyone to make a private commitment to God to resist all forms of sexual temptation.

Lead a closing prayer of commitment to resist temptation.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Genesis 39:9. Encourage them to resist temptation every day.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *