|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-11 Concerning Christ's temptation, observe, that directly after he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, he was tempted; great privileges, and special tokens of Divine favour, will not secure any from being tempted. But if the Holy Spirit witness to our being adopted as children of God, that will answer all the suggestions of the evil spirit. Christ was directed to the combat. If we presume upon our own strength, and tempt the devil to tempt us, we provoke God to leave us to ourselves. Others are tempted, when drawn aside of their own lust, and enticed, Jas 1:14; but our Lord Jesus had no corrupt nature, therefore he was tempted only by the devil. In the temptation of Christ it appears that our enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring; but he can be resisted. It is a comfort to us that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that our temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only. Satan aimed in all his temptations, to bring Christ to sin against God. 1. He tempted him to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care concerning him. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition; and those who are brought into straits have need to double their guard. Christ answered all the temptations of Satan with It is written; to set us an example, he appealed to what was written in the Scriptures. This method we must take, when at any time we are tempted to sin. Let us learn not to take any wrong courses for our supply, when our wants are ever so pressing: in some way or other the Lord will provide. 2. Satan tempted Christ to presume upon his Father's power and protection, in a point of safety. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Satan has no objection to holy places as the scene of his assaults. Let us not, in any place, be off our watch. The holy city is the place, where he does, with the greatest advantage, tempt men to pride and presumption. All high places are slippery places; advancements in the world makes a man a mark for Satan to shoot his fiery darts at. Is Satan so well versed in Scripture as to be able to quote it readily? He is so. It is possible for a man to have his head full of Scripture notions, and his mouth full of Scripture expressions, while his heart is full of bitter enmity to God and to all goodness. Satan misquoted the words. If we go out of our way, out of the way of our duty, we forfeit the promise, and put ourselves out of God's protection. This passage, De 8:3, made against the tempter, therefore he left out part. This promise is firm and stands good. But shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? No. 3. Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon. Christ was tempted to worship Satan. He rejected the proposal with abhorrence. Get thee hence, Satan! Some temptations are openly wicked; and they are not merely to be opposed, but rejected at once. It is good to be quick and firm in resisting temptation. If we resist the devil he will flee from us. But the soul that deliberates is almost overcome. We find but few who can decidedly reject such baits as Satan offers; yet what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Christ was succoured after the temptation, for his encouragement to go on in his undertaking, and for our encouragement to trust in him; for as he knew, by experience, what it was to suffer, being tempted, so he knew what it was to be succoured, being tempted; therefore we may expect, not only that he will feel for his tempted people, but that he will come to them with seasonable relief.
Verses 1-11. - THE TEMPTATION. (Parallel passages: Luke 4:1-13; a summary in Mark 1:12, 13.) The Father's acceptance of the Lord's consecration of himself for the work of the kingdom does not exclude temptation, but rather necessitates it. Psychologically, the reaction from the ecstasy of joy in hearing the announcement of Matthew 3:17 was certain; ethically, such testing as would accompany the reaction was desirable. Even the Baptist was, as it seems, not without a special temptation during this period (cf. John 1:19; and Bishop Westcott's note). At the very commencement of his official life the Lord is led consciously to realize that he has entered on a path of complete trust (even as his brethren in the flesh, Hebrews 2:13) for all personal needs, a path which required great calmness and common sense, and along which he must take his orders for final victory, not from worldly principles, but direct from God. In Luke the order of the second and third temptations is reversed. Against the supposition of Godet and Ellicott, that St. Luke is historically correct, the "Get thee hence Satan!" (ver. 10) seems conclusive. At any rate, for St. Matthew's aim in this Gospel the temptation that he places third is the crucial one; the true King will not take an irregular method of acquiring sovereignty. Verse 1. - Then; temporal. Mark, "and straightway." Immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him. Was led up ... into the wilderness. Up (Matthew only); from the Jordan valley into the higher country round (cf. Joshua 16:1), in this case into the desert (Matthew 3:1). There is nothing told us by which we may identify the place, but as the scene of the temptation must have been near the scene of the baptism, namely, on the west side of Jordan (Matthew 3:1, note), it may be presumed that the temptation was on the west side also. The sharp limestone peak (Godet) known since the Crusades as Quarantana, "from the quarantain, or forty days of fasting" (Trench, Studies,' p. 6), may, perhaps, have been the actual spot. The only important objection to this is that directly after the temptation (as seems most probable) he comes to John in "Bethany beyond Jordan," John 1:28 (not necessarily to be identified with "Bethabara" of the Received Text; its locality is quite unknown). If he went east of Jordan after the temptation, he would still be on one of the great roads to Galilee (Luke 9:52, etc.). The conjecture that the fasting and temptation took place on Sinai is suggested by the analogy of Moses and Elijah, but by absolutely nothing in the Gospels. Led up of the Spirit into the wilderness; Mark, "the Spirit driveth him forth;" Luke, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness" (with a leading that lasted throughout the temptation, ἤετο... ἐν... ἐν...πειραζόμενος). He was no doubt himself inclined to go apart into the desert that he might meditate uninterruptedly upon the assurance just given, and the momentous issues involved in his baptism; but the Holy Spirit had also his own purposes with him. The Holy Spirit cannot, indeed, tempt, but he can and does lead us into circumstances where temptation is permitted, that we may thereby be proved and disciplined for future work. In Christ's case the temptation was an important part of that moral suffering by which he learned full obedience (Hebrews 5:8). Notice that even if the expression in Matthew 3:16, "the Spirit of God descending," does not in itself go beyond the expressions of Jewish teachers who deny his Personality, it would be hard to find so personal an action as is implied by the words, "Jesus was led up of the Spirit," attributed to the Spirit in non-Christian writings. For Isaiah 63:10, 11, 14 is much less definite, and passages, e.g. in Ezekiel 3:12-14, interpret themselves by Ezekiel 1:21. To St. Matthew himself the Personality of the Holy Ghost must, in the light of Matthew 28:19, have been an assured fact. To be tempted of the devil. So Luke; i.e. the great calumniator, him whose characteristic is false accusation; e.g. against men (Revelation 12:10-12); against God (Genesis 3:1-5). Here chiefly in the latter aspect. Each of the three temptations, and they are typical of all temptations; is primarily a calumniation of God and his methods. Mark has "of Satan," a Hebrew word equivalent to "adversary," which the LXX. nearly always renders by διαβάλλω, (compare also Numbers 22:22, 32). Probably by the time of the LXX. the idea of the evil spirit accusing as in a law-court, was more prominent than the earlier thought of him as an adversary. Spiritual resistance by the evil spirit to all good is a less-developed thought than his traducing God to man, and, after some success obtained, traducing man to God. Evil may resist good; it may also accuse both God and those made after the likeness of God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit,.... The Evangelist having finished his account of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ; of his ministry and baptism; and particularly of the baptism of Christ; when the Holy Ghost came down upon him in a visible and eminent manner; whereby he was anointed for his public work, according to Isaiah 61:1 proceeds to give a narration of his temptations by Satan, which immediately followed his baptism; and of those conflicts he had with the enemy of mankind before he entered on his public ministry. The occasion, nature, and success of these temptations are here related. The occasion of them, or the opportunity given to the tempter, is spoken of in this and the following verse. In this may be observed the action of the Spirit in and upon Christ; he
was led of the Spirit: by "the Spirit" is meant the same spirit of God, which had descended and lighted on him in a bodily shape, with the gifts and graces of which he was anointed, in an extraordinary manner, for public service; of which he was "full", Luke 4:1 not but that he was endowed with the Holy Ghost before which he received without measure from his Father; but now this more eminently and manifestly appeared and by this Spirit was he led; both the Syriac and the Persic versions read, "by the holy Spirit". Being "led" by him, denotes an internal impulse of the Spirit in him, stirring him up, and putting him upon going into the wilderness: and this impulse being very strong and vehement, another Evangelist thus expresses it; "the Spirit driveth him, thrusts him forth into the wilderness", Mark 1:12 though not against his will; to which was added an external impulse, or outward rapture, somewhat like that action of the Spirit on Philip. Acts 8:39. When he is said to be led up, the meaning is, that he was led up from the low parts of the wilderness, where he was, to the higher and mountainous parts thereof, which were desolate and uninhabited. The place where he was led was "into the wilderness", i.e. of Judea, into the more remote parts of it; for he was before in this wilderness, where John was preaching and baptizing; but in that part of it which was inhabited. There was another part which was uninhabited, but by "wild beasts" and here Christ was led, and with these he was, Mark 1:13 all alone, retired from the company of men; could have no assistance from any, and wholly destitute of any supply: so that Satan had a fair opportunity of trying his whole strength upon him; having all advantages on his side he could wish for. The end of his being led there, was
to be tempted of the devil: by "the devil" is meant "Satan" the prince of devils, the enemy of mankind, the old serpent, who has his name here from accusing and calumniating; so the Syriac calls him the accuser, or publisher of accusations. He was the accuser of God to men, and is the accuser of men to God; his principal business is to tempt, and Christ was brought here to be tempted by him, that he might be tried before he entered on his public work; that he might be in all things like unto his brethren; that he might have a heart as man, as well as power, as God, to succour them that are tempted; and that Satan, whose works he came to destroy, might have a specimen of his power, and expect, in a short time, the ruin of his kingdom by him. The time when this was done was "then"; when Jesus had been baptized by John; when the Holy Ghost descended on him, and he was full of it; when he had such a testimony from his Father of his relation to him, affection for him, and delight in him; "then" was he led, "immediately", as Mark says, Mark 1:12. As soon as all this was done, directly upon this, he was had into the wilderness to be tempted by and to combat with Satan; and so it often is, that after sweet communion with God in his ordinances, after large discoveries of his love and interest in him follow sore temptations, trials, and exercises. There is a very great resemblance and conformity between Christ and his people in these things.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mt 4:1-11. Temptation of Christ. ( = Mr 1:12, 13; Lu 4:1-13).
1. Then—an indefinite note of sequence. But Mark's word (Mr 1:12) fixes what we should have presumed was meant, that it was "immediately" after His baptism; and with this agrees the statement of Luke (Lu 4:1).
was Jesus led up—that is, from the low Jordan valley to some more elevated spot.
of the Spirit—that blessed Spirit immediately before spoken of as descending upon Him at His baptism, and abiding upon Him. Luke, connecting these two scenes, as if the one were but the sequel of the other, says, "Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led," &c. Mark's expression has a startling sharpness about it—"Immediately the Spirit driveth Him" (Mr 1:12), "putteth," or "hurrieth Him forth," or "impelleth Him." (See the same word in Mr 1:43; 5:40; Mt 9:25; 13:52; Joh 10:4). The thought thus strongly expressed is the mighty constraining impulse of the Spirit under which He went; while Matthew's more gentle expression, "was led up," intimates how purely voluntary on His own part this action was.
into the wilderness—probably the wild Judean desert. The particular spot which tradition has fixed upon has hence got the name of Quarantana or Quarantaria, from the forty days—"an almost perpendicular wall of rock twelve or fifteen hundred feet above the plain" [Robinson, Palestine]. The supposition of those who incline to place the temptation amongst the mountains of Moab is, we think, very improbable.
to be tempted—The Greek word (peirazein) means simply to try or make proof of; and when ascribed to God in His dealings with men, it means, and can mean no more than this. Thus, Ge 22:1, "It came to pass that God did tempt Abraham," or put his faith to a severe proof. (See De 8:2). But for the most part in Scripture the word is used in a bad sense, and means to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin. Hence the name here given to the wicked one—"the tempter" (Mt 4:3). Accordingly "to be tempted" here is to be understood both ways. The Spirit conducted Him into the wilderness simply to have His faith tried; but as the agent in this trial was to be the wicked one, whose whole object would be to seduce Him from His allegiance to God, it was a temptation in the bad sense of the term. The unworthy inference which some would draw from this is energetically repelled by an apostle (Jas 1:13-17).
of the devil—The word signifies a slanderer—one who casts imputations upon another. Hence that other name given him (Re 12:10), "The accuser of the brethren, who accuseth them before our God day and night." Mark (Mr 1:13) says, "He was forty days tempted of Satan," a word signifying an adversary, one who lies in wait for, or sets himself in opposition to another. These and other names of the same fallen spirit point to different features in his character or operations. What was the high design of this? First, as we judge, to give our Lord a taste of what lay before Him in the work He had undertaken; next, to make trial of the glorious equipment for it which He had just received; further, to give Him encouragement, by the victory now to be won, to go forward spoiling principalities and powers, until at length He should make a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His cross: that the tempter, too, might get a taste, at the very outset, of the new kind of material in man which he would find he had here to deal with; finally, that He might acquire experimental ability "to succor them that are tempted" (Heb 2:18). The temptation evidently embraced two stages: the one continuing throughout the forty days' fast; the other, at the conclusion of that period.
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