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D. A. Carson: We must conclude that Satan’s aim was to entice Jesus to use powers that were rightly his but which he had voluntarily abandoned to carry out the Father’s mission. Reclaiming them for himself would deny the self-abasement implicit in his mission and in the Father’s will.

Charles Swindoll: Think about what hung in the balance. Were Christ to yield to the temptations, not only would He disqualify Himself from being the perfect, innocent sacrifice for the sins of the world, but He would also allow the devil to declare himself victor, thereby claiming once and for all total dominion over humanity and the world. However, by withstanding the tests, Jesus would retain His rightful position as the victorious Ruler of all creation . . . and also leave us an example to follow when we, too, are tempted.

Craig Blomberg: One might expect the main, central period of Jesus’ public ministry to unfold at once, but one more crucial preparatory event must occur. Jesus could well have perverted the nature of his messianic sonship and bypassed the way of the cross in favor of some more glamorous political or military role as liberator of Israel. But refusing to die for the sins of the world would have given the devil rather than God the victory. So Jesus’ resolve to fulfill God’s plans for him must be tested and proved right at the outset of his ministry.

Grant Osborne: The final event that launches Jesus’ messianic ministry is the testing of Jesus. In the ancient world all sons of the king had to be tested and prove their right to the throne, and the heroes of the OT were put to the test before their ministries as well (e.g., Abraham with Isaac). Jesus passes the test and proves himself to be truly Son of God, thus entering his ministry on a note of triumph. He is announced in 3:1–12, anointed and empowered in 3:13–17, and proven by combat here. There is wilderness typology and a deliberate contrast with Israel here: they failed the test in the wilderness, but Jesus is victorious.  In fact, the order of the temptations and Jesus’ responses reverse the order of Israel’s failures in Deut 6–8, as we will see. . .

Satan tests his “commitment to the will of his Father (the real criterion of true sonship)” and the reality of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus triumphs and shows himself to be “the true Israel, the ‘Son of God’ through whom God’s redemptive purpose for his people is now at last to reach its fulfillment.” . . .

In effect the three tests concern the Shema (Deut 6:5), which calls on Israel to “love the Lord your God with all your heart … soul … and strength.”  The first temptation concerns the heart and how Israel’s hunger was intended to test their heart for God (Deut 8:2). The second temptation tests Jesus’ safety and his desire to save his soul/life and whether he will follow God even if it means his soul/life. The third tests his resolve to draw his strength from God alone rather than seek to rule the world by himself.

Warren Wiersbe: Just as the first Adam met Satan, so the Last Adam met the enemy (1 Cor. 15:45). Adam met Satan in a beautiful garden, but Jesus met him in a terrible wilderness. Adam had everything he needed, but Jesus was hungry after forty days of fasting. Adam lost the battle and plunged humanity into sin and death. But Jesus won the battle and went on to defeat Satan in more battles, culminating in His final victory on the cross (John 12:31; Col. 2:15).

E. Michael Green: But what did the temptation mean to Jesus? It would be a great mistake to suppose that the story of the temptations is included in the Gospel primarily to provide an example to Christian disciples, though they do provide that example. These temptations were messianic. They were uniquely appropriate to God’s Son, who had just received a clear vision of his mission. How was he to carry it out? How was he to lead people back to God? Was he to adopt the path of the conquering king or of the suffering Servant?


A.  Connection to His Baptism

  1. Sequential Connection


  1. Spirit Connection

Jesus was led up by the Spirit

D. A. Carson: Jesus’ three temptations tie into his baptism, not only by the references to sonship and the Spirit, but by the opening “Then” (tote). Jesus’ attestation as the Son (3:17) furnishes “the natural occasion for such special temptations as are here depicted” (Broadus). The same Spirit who engendered Jesus (1:20) and attested the Father’s acknowledgment of his sonship (3:16–17) now leads him into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

B.  Consigned to a Realm of Barrenness and Isolation

into the wilderness

D. A. Carson: The “desert” is not only the place associated with demonic activity (Isa 13:21; 34:14; Mt 12:43; Rev 18:2; cf. Trench, Studies in the Gospels, 7–8) but, in a context abounding with references to Deuteronomy 6–8, the place where Israel experienced her greatest early testings.

C.  Conflict with the Devil

to be tempted by the devil.

Craig Blomberg: Matthew warns against two common errors—blaming God for temptation and crediting the devil with power to act independently of God. In the New Testament, God is always so dissociated from evil that he is never directly responsible for tempting humans (Jas 1:13). Yet the devil is never portrayed as an enemy equal with but opposite to God; he always remains bound by what God permits.

Leon Morris: Matthew is telling us that immediately after the experience in which Jesus, so to speak, was commissioned for his work as Messiah Satan tried to deflect him from doing the will of God.  On this occasion the evil one is called the devil, the one who opposes God and tries to lead the people of God, and here the Son of God, away from the right path. Jesus has been called into the service of God. The devil will then try to seduce him into the service of evil.


Can God care for me? Goodness and Love of God attacked

SUFFICIENCY — Lust of the FleshSelf-gratification

A.  (:2) Seductive Approach of Offering Something Attractive

And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

D. A. Carson: The parallels with historic Israel continue. Jesus’ fast (doubtless total abstention from food but not from drink; cf. Lk 4:2) of forty days and nights reflected Israel’s forty-year wandering (Dt 8:2). Both Israel’s and Jesus’ hunger taught a lesson (Dt 8:3); both spent time in the desert preparatory to their respective tasks. The main point is that both “sons” were tested by God’s design (Dt 8:3, 5; cf. Ex 4:22; Gerhardsson, Testing of God’s Son, 19–35), the one after being redeemed from Egypt and the other after his baptism, to prove their obedience and loyalty in preparation for their appointed work. The one “son” failed but pointed to the “Son” who would never fail. In this sense, the temptations legitimized Jesus as God’s true Son (see Berger, “Die königlichen Messiastraditionen,” 15–18).

Charles Swindoll: Though wicked to the core, the devil’s no dummy. He knows that the best chance he has at successfully hooking victims with temptation and dragging them into sin is when they are weakened in mind, emotion, and will. When Satan catches us alone in a weakened state, he can more easily get us to justify our evil desires. And he can craft his temptations in such a way that the path toward destruction appears like the road to glory. His temptations can seem not only reasonable but even downright good and right.

B.  (:3) Specific Area of Temptation

And the tempter came and said to Him,

‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’

Charles Swindoll: Satan’s subtle suggestion was designed to make the Son doubt the Father’s love for Him and concern for His physical welfare. Didn’t the Son have every right to use His divine power and authority to meet the basic needs of His life?

Michael Wilkins: Satan does not doubt Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, nor is he trying to get Jesus to doubt it; rather, he is trying to get Jesus to misuse his prerogatives as the Son of God.

C.  (:4) Scripture Quotation of Rebuttal

But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone,

but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’

Craig Blomberg: In this instance the text he cites originally underscored God’s provision of manna as an alternative to the Israelites’ reliance on their own abilities to feed themselves. The principle applies equally well to Jesus’ situation and to any other context in which people are tempted to give physical needs priority over spiritual needs.


How does God want to deliver and exalt me? Sovereignty of God attacked

SUSTAINABILITY — Lust of the EyesSelf-protection

A.  (:5) Seductive Approach of Offering Something Attractive

Then the devil took Him into the holy city;

and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

Charles Swindoll: Here Satan used a completely different strategy. This time it wasn’t about satisfying Jesus’ physical needs; instead, it was about attracting a crowd, instantly promoting His fame, and gaining the attention and adoration He rightly deserved as the Son of God.

B.  (:6) Specific Area of Temptation

and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and

‘On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’

Charles Swindoll: The devil conveniently left out an important part in the middle: “to guard you in all your ways.” The text thus indicates that the promise of protection was related to accidents that would occur in the course of a person’s normal comings and goings —not to intentional, attention-grabbing stunts that put oneself in danger.

David Platt: We are tempted to question God’s presence and manipulate God’s promises.

Leon Morris: What Satan is suggesting is that Jesus should needlessly thrust himself into danger; he would be creating a hazard where none previously existed. And for what? To compel God to save him miraculously. It is a temptation to manipulate God, to create a situation not of God’s choosing in which God would be required to act as Jesus dictated. Jesus rejects the suggestion with decision. He prefers the way of quiet trust in the heavenly Father, a trust that needs no test, and a ready acceptance of his will. He refuses to demand a miracle even if from the perspective of someone on earth that might seem desirable, even compelling.

C.  (:7) Scripture Quotation of Rebuttal

Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written,

‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’

D. A. Carson: For both Israel and Jesus, demanding miraculous protection as proof of God’s care was wrong; the appropriate attitude is trust and obedience (Dt 6:17). We see, then, something of Jesus’ handling of Scripture. His “also” shows he would not allow any interpretation that generates what he knew would contradict another passage.

Craig Blomberg: This time the devil asks Jesus to demonstrate miraculously God’s ability to preserve his life. The devil again knows that Jesus has the power to do this, and he cites Ps 91:11-12 to justify it. There God promises all who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High” (Ps 91:1) safeguarding and protection. The devil’s mistake is to confuse the psalmist’s stumbling so as to fall with Jesus’ deliberately jumping off.  We must not test God’s faithfulness to his word by manufacturing situations in which we try to force him to act in certain ways. We dare not deliberately put our lives in danger as some kind of fleece. Jesus thus replies by quoting Deut 6:16 on not testing God. The original context alluded to Israel’s rebellion against the Lord at Massah (again harking back to Exod 17:1-7).


How does God want to accomplish His agenda? Wisdom of God attacked

SUPREMACY – Pride of Life  — Self-exaltation

A.  (:8) Seductive Approach of Offering Something Attractive

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain,

and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory;

Bob Deffinbaugh: Consider the appeal of the offer from the devil’s viewpoint.

Jesus’ Condition The Devil’s Offer
Deprived – tired, hungry Splendor, not suffering
Alone with the wild animals116 Significance, not obscurity
Waiting indefinitely Instant results, not delayed
Nothing accomplished Power to do what He wanted

To each condition of Jesus the devil offered a solution. The last one is the key to this temptation. In answering the first two temptations, Jesus had already resisted the first three aspects of the devil’s third temptation. He would not turn stones into bread to stop His suffering from hunger. He would not jump off the highest point of the temple to get instant notoriety. In neither temptation would He succumb to the lure of a shortcut to get instant results. The devil then added another element to make up a new and enticing package: “You can have splendor, significance and instant results, AND you can serve God while you do it. That’s what you want to do, isn’t it? Serve God? What have you done with your life so far, Jesus? Been a carpenter’s son, huh? Look, I’ll give you the kingdoms, and you may do with them as you wish. You’re a king, aren’t you? Inaugurate the kingdom of God on earth, if that’s what you want to do. Free Israel from Roman rule. Establish justice in the world. Take care of the poor. Bring about world peace. Wouldn’t that please God? Do it without suffering! Do it successfully! Do it now! YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL!”

B.  (:9) Specific Area of Temptation

and he said to Him,

‘All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.’

Craig Blomberg: After having tempted Jesus to satisfy a legitimate bodily appetite in an illegitimate way and then to use his supernatural power to rebel against God even while seeming to demonstrate great faith, Satan now makes the most brazen offer of all. He will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in return for worship.  Ironically, Jesus would receive this glory anyway after his death and resurrection; but here the devil tries to seduce him with instant power, authority, and wealth apart from the way of the cross. Satan regularly tempts Christians in the same way— with the success syndrome, empire building, or alleged guarantees of health and wealth. But the devil’s price is damning. He requires nothing short of selling one’s soul in worshiping him, which leads inexorably to eternal judgment. Whatever joy and power he can offer vanishes with death. Jesus rightly rejects the devil’s offer and quotes Deuteronomy for a third time (Deut 6:13). Only one is worthy of worship, the One who redeemed Israel from Egypt, the Lord God Yahweh himself. Jesus’ insistence on worshiping God alone makes the characteristic Matthean theme of worshiping Jesus (e.g., 2:2; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:17) all the more significant as evidence for his divinity.

Bob Deffinbaugh: The devil would have liked for Jesus to believe that after bowing down before him, He would be finished with him. Worship signifies several things, however:

  • allegiance to the one who is worshiped (there is a duty of loyalty);
  • the superiority of the one who is worshiped (worship flows from inferior to superior);
  • dependence of the worshiper on the one who is worshiped (the worshiper acknowledges that he is not sufficient without the one who is worshiped).

Jesus realized that the symbolic act of bowing down and worshiping the devil would also carry with it a continuing obligation.

C.  (:10) Scripture Quotation of Rebuttal

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Begone, Satan!

For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’

Warren Wiersbe: Notice that Luke’s account reverses the order of the second and third temptations as recorded in Matthew. The word then in Matthew 4:5 seems to indicate sequence. Luke only uses the simple conjunction “and” and does not say he is following a sequence. Our Lord’s command at the end of the third temptation (“Get thee hence, Satan”) is proof that Matthew followed the historical order. There is no contradiction since Luke did not claim to follow the actual sequence.

Grant Osborne: Now the impetus shifts to Jesus, for Satan has to obey his command to leave (4:11). The use of the imperative and the brevity of the command are frequent in exorcisms (8:32; cf. Mark 1:25); Jesus takes charge, and the battle is over. The victory belongs to Jesus, and Satan can only skulk away.


A.  Departure of the Devious Devil

Then the devil left Him;

B.  Arrival of Ministering Angels

and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

D. A. Carson: Though the conflict has barely begun, the pattern of obedience and trust has been established. He has learned to resist the devil (cf. Jas 4:7). The angelic help is not some passing blessing but a sustained one (the imperfect tense is probably significant). Jesus had refused to relieve his hunger by miraculously turning stones to bread; now he is fed supernaturally (diēkonoun, “attended,” GK 1354, is often used in connection with food; e.g., Mt 8:15; 25:44; 27:55; Ac 6:2; cf. Elijah in 1Ki 19:6–7). He had refused to throw himself off the temple heights in the hope of angelic help; now angels feed him. He had refused to take a shortcut to inherit the kingdom of the world; now he fulfills Scripture by beginning his ministry and announcing the kingdom in Galilee of the Gentiles (vv.12–17).