Matthew 4:1
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
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(1) The narrative of the Temptation is confessedly one of the most mysterious in the Gospel records. In one respect it stands almost, if not altogether, alone. It could not have come, directly or indirectly, from an eye-witness. We are compelled to look on it either as a mythical after-growth; as a supernatural revelation of facts that could not otherwise be known; or, lastly, as having had its source in our Lord’s own report of what He had passed through. The first of these views is natural enough with those who apply the same theory to all that is marvellous and supernatural in our Lord’s life. As a theory generally applicable, however, to the interpretation of the Gospels, that view has not been adopted in this Commentary, and there are certainly no reasons why, rejecting it elsewhere, we should accept it here. Had it been based upon the narrative of the temptation of the first Adam, in Genesis 3, we should have expected the recurrence of the same symbolism, of the serpent and the trees. Nothing else in the Old Testament, nothing in the popular expectations of the Christ, could have suggested anything of the kind. The ideal Christ of those expectations would have been a great and mighty king, showing forth his wisdom and glory, as did the historical son of David; not a sufferer tried and tempted. The forms of the Temptation, still more the answers to them, have, it will be seen, a distinct individuality about them, just conceivable in the work of some consummate artist, but utterly unlike the imagery, beautiful or grand, which enters into most myths. Here, therefore, the narrative will be dealt with as the record of an actual experience. To assume that this record was miraculously revealed to St. Matthew and St. Luke is, however, to introduce an hypothesis which cannot be proved, and which is, at least, not in harmony with their general character as writers. They are, one by his own statement, the other by inference from the structure and contents of his Gospel, distinctly compilers from many different sources, with all the incidental variations to which such a process is liable. There is no reason to look on this narrative as an exception to the general rule. The very difference in the order of the temptations is, as far as it goes, against the idea of a supernatural revelation. There remains, then, the conclusion that we have here that which originated in some communication from our Lord’s own lips to one of His disciples, His own record of the experience of those forty days. So taken, it will be seen that all is coherent, and in some sense (marvellous as the whole is), natural, throwing light on our Lord’s past life, explaining much that followed in His teaching.

Led up of the spirit.—Each narrator expresses the same fact in slightly different language. St. Luke (Luke 4:1) “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, was led in the wilderness.” St. Mark (Mark 1:12), more vividly, “Immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.” What is meant by such language? The answer is found in the analogous instances of seers and prophets. St. John was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10). The Spirit “lifted up” Ezekiel that from his exile by the banks of Chebar he might see the secret sins of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8:3). The “Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip” (Acts 8:39). Those who spake with tongues spake “by the Spirit” (1Corinthians 14:2). The result of this induction leads us to think of the state so described as one more or less of the nature of ecstasy, in which the ordinary phenomena of consciousness and animal life were in great measure suspended. That gift of the Spirit had on the human nature of the Son of Man something of the same overpowering mastery that it has had over others of the sons of men. A power mightier than His own human will was urging Him on, it might almost be said He knew not whither, bringing Him into conflict “not with flesh and blood,” but with “principalities and powers in heavenly places.”

To be tempted of the devil.—We are brought, at the outset of the narrative, face to face with the problem of the existence and personality of the power of evil. Here that existence and personality are placed before us in the most distinct language. Whatever difficulties such a view may be thought to present, whatever objections may be brought against it, are altogether outside the range of the interpreter of Scripture. It may be urged that the writers of what we call the Scriptures have inherited a mistaken creed on this point (though to this all deeper experience is opposed), or that they have accommodated themselves to the thoughts of a creed which they did not hold (though of such an hypothesis there is not a particle of evidence), but it would be the boldest of all paradoxes to assert that they do not teach the existence of an evil power whom they call the Enemy, the Accuser, the Devil. Whence the name came, and how the belief sprang up, are, on the other hand, questions which the interpreter is bound to answer. The name, then, of devil (diabolos, accuser or slanderer) appears in the LXX. version of 1Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6; Job 2:1, as the equivalent for the Hebrew, Satan (the adversary). He appears there as a spiritual being of superhuman but limited power, tempting men to evil, and accusing them before the Throne of God when they have yielded to the temptation. In Zechariah 3:1-2, the same name appears in the Hebrew and the LXX. connected with a like character, as the accuser of Joshua the son of Jozedek. In Wisdom Of Solomon 2:24, the name is identified with the Tempter of Genesis 3, and as that book belongs to the half-century before, or, more probably, the half-century after, our Lord’s birth, it may fairly be taken as representing the received belief of the Jews in His time.

Into conflict with such a Being our Lord was now brought. The temptations which come to other men from their bodily desires, or from the evils of the world around them, had had no power over Him, had not brought even the sense of effort or pain in overcoming them. But if life had passed on thus to the end, the holiness which was inseparable from it would have been imperfect at least in one respect: it would not have earned the power to understand and sympathise with sinners. There was, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches, a divine fitness that He too should suffer and be tempted even as we are, that so He might “be able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).

The scene of the Temptation was probably not far from that of the Baptism, probably, too, as it implies solitude, on the eastern rather than the western side of the Jordan. The traditional Desert of Quarantania (the name referring to the forty days’ fast) is in the neighbourhood of Jericho. The histories of Moses and Elijah might suggest the Wilderness of Sinai, but in that case it would have probably been mentioned by the Evangelists.

Matthew 4:1. Then — After the afore-mentioned glorious manifestation of his Father’s love, by which he was armed for the combat. Was Jesus led by the Spirit — By a strong impulse of the Spirit of God, of which he was full; into the wilderness — Probably, the wilderness near Jordan, which, as Mr. Maundrell, who travelled through it, assures us, is a miserable and horrid place, consisting of high, barren mountains, so that it looks as if nature had suffered some violent convulsions there. Our Lord, probably, was assaulted in the northern part of it, near the sea of Galilee, because he is said by Luke to be returning to Nazareth, from whence he came to be baptized. To be tempted of the devil — That is, the chief of the devils, Satan, the everlasting enemy of God and man. The proper meaning of the original word here, and in other places of the Old and New Testaments, translated to tempt, is to try. Hence we sometimes, as Genesis 22:1, read of God’s tempting men, as well as of the devil’s tempting them. But there is this difference between the temptations, or trials, that are immediately from God, and those that are from Satan, by God’s permission. We are tempted, or tried, by God, that our righteousness, our faith, love, patience, and every grace and virtue, may be manifested, approved, and further increased: and therefore, as James says, Blessed is the man who, in this sense, endureth temptation. But the devil tempts, or tries us, in expectation of finding us insincere, or unstable, and with a view to lead us into sin by his subtlety and power; in which sense God, who cannot be tempted with evil, or see any thing desirable in it, tempteth no man. Doubtless, it must have been for some very great and good ends that the Holy Spirit thus moved our Lord to repair into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil. For though, by his repairing thither, he might partly intend to enjoy a devout retirement, that as man he might give vent to those sacred passions which the late grand occurrences of the descent of the Spirit upon him, and the miraculous attestation of a voice from heaven, had such a tendency to inspire; yet no doubt he foresaw that this season of intercourse with heaven would be followed by a violent assault from hell, and he went into the wilderness with a view also to meet and combat with the grand adversary of mankind. Probably, as Theophylact observes, one grand end might be to teach us that when we have consecrated ourselves to God’s service, and have been favoured with peculiar marks of divine acceptance, and the consolations of his Spirit, we must expect temptations; and to teach us, by our Lord’s example, how we may best and most effectually resist them, even by an unshaken faith, 1 Peter 5:9; and by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17. 2d, Our Lord was tempted thus, that his perfect holiness might be tried and approved. 3d, That Satan might be conquered, which he never had perfectly been by any man before. 4th, That Christ might become a merciful and faithful high priest, one who can succour his people in time of need, and pity them when they happen to fall by temptation. The apostle assigns this reason expressly, Hebrews 2:17-18. And, 5th, That assurance might be given to his people of an everlasting victory over, and deliverance from, the power of Satan.

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.Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit - Led up by the Spirit. Luke says Luke 4:1 that Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit;" and it was by his influence, therefore, that he went into the desert to be tempted. It was not done by presumption on the part of Jesus, nor was it for a mere display of his power in resisting temptation; but it was evidently that it might be seen that his holiness was such that he could not be seduced from allegiance to God. When the first Adam was created he was subjected to the temptation of the devil, and he fell and involved the race in ruin: it was not improper that the second Adam - the Redeemer of the race - should be subjected to temptation, in order that it might be seen that there was no power that could alienate him from God; that there was a kind and a degree of holiness which no art or power could estrange from allegiance. Mark Mar 1:12 says that this occurred "immediately" after his baptism; that is, in his case, as not unfrequently happens, the great temptation followed immediately the remarkable manifestation of the divine approbation and favor. In the clearest manifestations of the divine favor to us we may not be far from most powerful temptations, and then may be the time when it is necessary to be most carefully on our guard.

Into the wilderness - See the notes at Matthew 3:1.

To be tempted - The word "tempt," in the original, means to try, to endeavor, to attempt to do a thing; then, to try the nature of a thing, as metals by fire; then, to test moral qualities by trying them, to see how they will endure; then, to endeavor to draw people away from virtue by suggesting motives to evil. This is the meaning here, and this is now the established sense of the word in the English language.

The devil - This word originally means an adversary, or an accuser; then, any one opposed to us; then, an enemy of any kind. It is given in the Scriptures, by way of eminence, to the leader of evil angels - a being characterized as full of subtlety, envy, art, and hatred of mankind. He is known, also, by the name Satan, Job 1:6-12; Matthew 12:26; Beelzebub, Matthew 12:24; the old Serpent, Revelation 12:9; and the Prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2. The name is once given to women 1 Timothy 3:11; "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers;" in the original, devils.


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.

First Stage:Matthew 4:1-11 Christ fasts forty days, is tempted of the devil, and

ministered unto by angels.

Matthew 4:12-16 He dwelleth in Capernaum,

Matthew 4:17 begins to preach,

Matthew 4:18-20 calleth Peter and Andrew,

Matthew 4:21,22 James and John,

Matthew 4:23-25 teacheth in the synagogues, and healeth the diseased.

This is mentioned by two of the other evangelists, . Mark 1:12 Luke 4:1 Luke saith that, being full of the Holy Ghost, he returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit, & c. Mark saith, immediately the Spirit drove him. Great manifestations of Divine love are commonly followed with great temptations. Others observe, that temptations usually follow baptism, the beginnings of spiritual life, and covenants made with God. He

was led up: some think he was taken up; Mark useth the word ekballei, the Spirit thrust him out: we must not understand an act of compulsion, doubtless he went voluntarily.

Of the Spirit; the Holy Spirit, that lighted upon him as a dove.

Into the wilderness. Mark’s saying, Mark 1:13, that he was there with wild beasts, lets us know that it was not such a wilderness as John began to preach in, Matthew 3:1; but a howling wilderness full of wild beasts. The end is expressed in the last words,

to be tempted of the devil: thus his temptations are distinguished from Divine temptations, such as Abraham had, Genesis 22:1; and by tempted here is meant solicited, or moved to sin, in which sense God tempteth no man, Jam 1:13. The general notion of tempting is, making a trial; God makes a trial of his people for the proof and manifestation of their gracious habit. Satan, by moving to sin, makes a trial of corruption, which was the reason that, although Christ was tempted, that he might be able to succour those that are tempted, Hebrews 2:18, and that he might taste all those evils to which we are exposed, and might overcome the devil; yet when the Prince of this world came, he could effect nothing against him, because he found nothing in him to comply with his motions.

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.

Then was {1} Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

(1) Christ is tempted in all manner of ways, and still overcomes, that we also through his virtue may overcome.

Matthew 4:1-11. Temptation of Jesus. Mark 1:12 f.; Luke 4:1 ff.; Alex. Schweizer, exeg. hist. Darstellung d. Versuchsgesch. in s. Kritik d. Gegensätze zw. Rationalism, u. Supernat. 1833; P. Ewald, d. Versuch. Christi mit Bezugnahme auf d. Versuch. d. Protoplasten. 1838; Kohlschütter in the Sächs. Stud. 1843; Ullmann, Sündlosigk. Jesu, ed. 7, 1863; Graul in Guericke’s Zeitschr. 1844, 3; Pfeiffer in the Deutsch. Zeitschr. 1851, No. 36; Koenemann (purely dogmatic) in Guericke’s Zeitschr. 1850, p. 586 ff.; Laufs in the Stud. u. Krit. 1853, p. 355 ff.; Nebe, d. Versuch. d. Hernn e. äussere Thatsache, 1857; v. Engelhardt, de Jesu Chr. tentatione, 1858; Held in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1866, p. 384 ff.; Haupt in the Stud. u. Krit. 1871, p. 209 ff.; Pfleiderer in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1870, p. 188 ff.

The narrative in Matthew (and Luke) is a later development of the tradition, the older and still undeveloped form of which is to be found in Mark.

τότε] when the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him.

ἀνήχθη] He was led upwards, i.e. from the lower ground of the river bank to the higher lying wilderness. Luke 2:22; Luke 22:66.

τὴν ἔρημον] the same wilderness of Judea spoken of in ch. 3. According to the tradition, we are to think of the very rugged wilderness of Quarantania (wilderness of Jericho, Joshua 16:1), Robinson, Pal. II. p. 552; Schubert, Reise, III. p. 73; Raumer, p. 47. But in that case a more precise, distinctive designation must have been given; and Mark 1:13, ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, is a point which has a sufficient basis in the idea of the wilderness in general. Nothing in the text points to the wilderness of Sinai (Chemnitz, Clericus, Michaelis, Nebe).

ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος] by the Holy Spirit, which He had received at His baptism. ἀνήχθη) does not indicate (Acts 8:39; 2 Kings 2:16) that He was transported in a miraculous, involuntary manner, but by the power of the Spirit, which is expressed still more strongly in Mark 1:12. Others (Bertholdt, Paulus, Glöckler) understand Jesus’ own spirit, Paulus regarding it as an ecstatic condition. This would be opposed to the context (Matthew 3:16), and to the view of the matter taken by the Synoptics, which, in Luke 4:1, is expressed without any doubt whatever by the words πνεύματος ἁγίου πλήρης. Euth. Zigabenus well remarks: ἐκδίδωσιν ἑαυτὸν μετά τὸ βάπτισμα τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι καὶ ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ ἄγεται πρὸς ὃ ἂν ἐκεῖνο κελεύῃ, καὶ ἀνάγεται εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ἐπὶ τῷ πολεμηθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου.

πειρας θῆναι] designates the purpose for which the Spirit impelled Jesus to go into the wilderness: πειράζειν, to put to the proof, receives its more precise definition in each case from the connection. Here: whether the Messiah is to be brought to take an unrighteous step which conflicts with His calling and the will of God.

ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου] In what shape the devil appeared to Him, the text does not say; and the view of the evangelist as to that is left undetermined. Yet the appearance must be conceived of as being directly devilish, not at all as taking place in the form of an angel of light (Ambrose, Menken), or even of a man.


The two opposed principles, ὑπὸ τοῦ πν. and ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβ., are essentially related to one another; and the whole position of the history, moreover, immediately after the descent of the Spirit on Jesus, proves that it is the victory of Jesus, filled with the Spirit (Luke 4:1-2), over the devil, which is to be set forth. It appears from this how erroneous is the invention of Olshausen, that the condition of Jesus in the wilderness was that of one who had been abandoned by the fulness of the Spirit. The opinion of Calvin is similar, although more cautiously expressed, Matthew 4:11 : “Interdum Dei gratia, quamvis praesens esset, eum secundum carnis sensum latuit.”

Matthew 4:1-11. The Temptation (Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13).

1. led up of the Spirit] The agency of the Spirit of God is named in each of the Synoptists. St Mark uses the strong expression “the Spirit driveth him forth.” St Luke uses the preposition ἐν (in) denoting the influence in which Jesus passed into the wilderness.

the wilderness] See note on ch. Matthew 3:1, but the locality of the temptation is not known.

The desert unpeopled by men was thought to be the abode of demons. So Jesus meets the evil spirit in his own domains, the Stronger One coming upon the strong man who keepeth his palace (Luke 11:21-22). The retirement preparatory to the great work may be compared with that of Elijah and of Paul. It is perhaps an invariable experience in deeply religious lives to be taken into the desert of their own hearts and there to meet and resist the temptations that assailed Christ.

of the devil] Gk. διάβολος. Hebr. Satan = one who opposes, an adversary. The Greek word conveys the additional ideas of (1) deceiving, (2) calumniating, (3) accusing.

Ch. Matthew 4:1-11. The Temptation of Jesus. Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13St Mark’s account is short; the various temptations are not specified; he adds the striking expression “he was with the wild beasts.” St Luke places the temptation of the Kingdoms of the World before that of the Pinnacle of the Temple.

Generally it may be remarked the account can have come from no other than Jesus Himself. The words of the Evangelist describe an actual scene—not a dream. The devil really came to Jesus, but in what form he came is not stated. These were not isolated temptations in the life of Jesus. Cp. Luke 22:28, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” But they are typical temptations, comprehending all the forms of temptation by which human nature can be assailed. For, as it has often been said, the three temptations cover the same ground as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) in which St John sums up the evil of the world.

Viewing the temptation in a personal reference to Jesus Christ we discern Him tempted (1) As the Son of Man—the representative of humanity—in whom human nature in its perfection triumphs over sin. An important element in the Atonement. (2) As the second Adam regaining for man what the first Adam lost for man. (3) As the Son of Abraham following the fortunes of his race, tempted in the wilderness as the Hebrews were tempted. A thought present implicitly in our Lord’s answers. (4) As the true Messiah or Christos rejecting the unreal greatness which was the aim of false Messiahs.

The lesson of each and all of the temptations is trust in God and submission to God’s will—the result of Metanoia (repentance).

Matthew 4:1. Τότε, then) sc. on His baptism.—ἀνήκθη, He was led up) sc. towards Jerusalem, by an inward impulse.—εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, into the wilderness) a wilder part than that mentioned in ch. Matthew 3:1.—ὑπὸ Τοῦ Πνεύματος, by the Spirit) sc. the Holy Spirit; see ch. Matthew 3:16.—πειρασθῆναι, to be tempted) This temptation is a sample of our Lord’s whole state of humiliation (exinanitionis), and an epitome of all the temptations (not only moral, but still more especially spiritual), which the devil has contrived from the beginning.—ὑπὸ τοῦ Διαβόλου, by the Devil) The LXX. generally render the Hebrew שטן, Satan or Adversary, by Διάβολος, Devil or Accuser; only in 1 Kings 11, and there twice or thrice, they translate it Σατάν, Satan.

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. Matthew 4:1The Devil (τοῦ διαβόλου)

The word means calumniator, slanderer. It is sometimes applied to men, as to Judas (John 6:70); in 1 Timothy 3:11 (slanderers); and in 2 Timothy 3:3, and Titus 2:3 (false accusers). In such cases never with the article. The Devil, Satan, the god of this world (ὁ διάβολος), is always with the article and never plural. This should be distinguished from another word, also wrongly rendered devil in the A. V. - δαίμων, and its more common neuter form δαιμόνιον, both of which should be translated demon, meaning the unclean spirits which possessed men, and were cast out by Christ and his apostles. The Rev., unfortunately, and against the protest of the American revisers, retains devil for both words, except in Acts 17:18, where it renders as A. V. gods.

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