Matthew 4:2
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
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(2) Forty days and forty nights.—Here we have an obvious parallelism with the fasts of Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1Kings 19:8), and we may well think of it as deliberately planned. Prolonged fasts of nearly the same extent have been recorded in later times. The effect of such a fast on any human organism, and therefore on our Lord’s real humanity, would be to interrupt the ordinary continuity of life, and quicken all perceptions of the spiritual world into a new intensity. It may be noted that St. Luke describes the Temptation as continuing through the whole period, so that what is recorded was but the crowning conflict, gathering into one the struggles by which it had been preluded. The one feature peculiar to St. Mark (who omits the specific history of the temptations), that our Lord “was with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). suggests that their presence, their yells of hunger, their ravening fierceness, their wild glaring eyes, had left, as it were, an ineffable and ineffaceable impression of horror, in addition to the terrors and loneliness of the wilderness as such.

He was afterward an hungred.—The words imply a partial return to the common life of sensation. The cravings of the body at last made themselves felt, and in them, together with the memory of the divine witness that had been borne forty days before, the Tempter found the starting-point of his first attack. Of that attack there may well have been preludes during the previous time of trial. Now it came more distinctly.

Matthew 4:2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights — As Moses, the giver, and Elias, the restorer of the law, had done before: he was afterward a hungered — That is, he was as sharply assaulted with hunger, as any man is at any time for want of food. Thus he was fitted for the ensuing trial of his trust in God. And, as an ancient writer observes, We are then especially to expect temptations, when we are alone, and when we are in straits and exigencies, from which we see no ordinary way of deliverance, which was the case with Christ. For he was hungry, and in a wild wilderness, where was no food, and was at last fed miraculously by angels ministering unto him.

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.Had fasted - Abstained from food.

Forty days and forty nights - It has been questioned by some whether Christ abstained wholly from food, or only from the food to which he was accustomed. Luke says Luke 4:2 that he ate nothing. This settles the question. Mark says Mark 1:13 that angels came and ministered unto him. At first view this would seem to imply that he did eat during that time. But Mark does not mention the time when the angels performed this office of kindness, and we are at liberty to suppose that he means to say that it was done at the close of the 40 days; and the rather as Matthew, after giving an account of the temptation, says the same thing Matthew 4:2. There are other instances of persons fasting 40 days recorded in the Scriptures. Thus, Moses fasted 40 days, Exodus 34:28. Elijah also fasted the same length of time, 1 Kings 19:8. In these cases they were no doubt miraculously supported.

2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights—Luke says "When they were quite ended" (Lu 4:2).

he was afterward an hungered—evidently implying that the sensation of hunger was unfelt during all the forty days; coming on only at their close. So it was apparently with Moses (Ex 34:28) and Elijah (1Ki 19:8) for the same period. A supernatural power of endurance was of course imparted to the body, but this probably operated through a natural law—the absorption of the Redeemer's Spirit in the dread conflict with the tempter. (See on [1219]Ac 9:9). Had we only this Gospel, we should suppose the temptation did not begin till after this. But it is clear, from Mark's statement, that "He was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan" (Mr 1:13), and Luke's, "being forty days tempted of the devil" (Lu 4:2), that there was a forty days' temptation before the three specific temptations afterwards recorded. And this is what we have called the First Stage. What the precise nature and object of the forty days' temptation were is not recorded. But two things seem plain enough. First, the tempter had utterly failed of his object, else it had not been renewed; and the terms in which he opens his second attack imply as much. But further, the tempter's whole object during the forty days evidently was to get Him to distrust the heavenly testimony borne to Him at His baptism as THE Son of God—to persuade Him to regard it as but a splendid illusion—and, generally, to dislodge from His breast the consciousness of His Sonship. With what plausibility the events of His previous history from the beginning would be urged upon Him in support of this temptation it is easy to imagine. And it makes much in support of this view of the forty days' temptation that the particulars of it are not recorded; for how the details of such a purely internal struggle could be recorded it is hard to see. If this be correct, how naturally does the Second Stage of the temptation open! In Mark's brief notice of the temptation there is one expressive particular not given either by Matthew or by Luke—that "He was with the wild beasts" (Mr 1:12), no doubt to add terror to solitude, and aggravate the horrors of the whole scene.

He was in the wilderness, a place of solitude, and so fitter for Satan’s purpose, and he was

an hungred, which was another advantage Satan had. But he was not an hungred till he had fasted forty days and forty nights. Here was the Divine power miraculously seen, in upholding the human nature of Christ without any thing to eat: this was a miracle. The like did Moses before the law, Elijah under the law. Christ doth the same in the beginning of the gospel; nor did he fast as the Jews were wont, of whom we sometimes read that they kept fasts several days; they only fasted in the day time, but ate their food at night; or sometimes only forbare pleasant bread, as Daniel did, Daniel 10:2,3, for three full weeks. But Christ fasted from all food, and that not only forty days, but forty nights also; from whence may easily be gathered, how idly, if not impiously, the papists found their fasting forty days in Lent. Here all Christ’s acts (most certainly his miraculous works) are not recorded for our imitation; some of them are only for our adoration; all his miraculous acts are so. There can be nothing more sottish than for us to think that because Christ (supported by the Divine nature) fasted forty days, therefore we are obliged to do it; and because we cannot fast forty days and forty nights, without eating something, therefore we may eat fish, though no flesh (when all know that to some palates there is no more delicate food than fish); or we are obliged to fast in the day time, though not at night. And because Christ once in his lifetime fasted forty days and forty nights, therefore we must do so every year; or that the church hath any power to enjoin any such thing. If papists think Christ’s fast of forty days and forty nights obliges them to imitation, let them keep them as he did, (with such a fasting I mean), and try whether they be able to do it, or whether four days or nights, instead of forty, will not convince them of their folly. Christ fasted forty days and forty nights, and thereby showed he was God man, the Divine nature supported the human; afterward he was hungry, to show that he was truly man, touched with the feeling of our infirmities, in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin, Hebrews 4:15.

And when he had fasted forty days..... As Moses did, when he was about to deliver the law to the Israelites, Exodus 34:28 and as Elijah did, when he bore his testimony for the Lord of hosts, 1 Kings 19:8 so did Christ, when he was about to publish the Gospel of his grace, and bear witness to the truth. "Forty nights" as well as days, are mentioned; partly to show that these were whole entire days, consisting of twenty four hours; and partly to distinguish this fast of Christ from the common fastings of the Jews, who used to eat in the night, though they fasted in the day: for according to their canons (z), they might eat and drink as soon as it was dark, and that till cock crowing; and others say, till break of day. Maimonides (a) says, they might eat and drink at night, in all fasts, except the ninth of Ab. What is very surprising in this fasting of our Lord, which was made and recorded, not for our imitation, is, that during the whole time he should not be attended with hunger; for it is added,

he was afterwards an hungered; that is, as Luke says, "when" the "forty" days "were ended", Luke 4:2 which seized upon him, and is related, both to express the reality of his human nature, which though miraculously supported for so long a time without food, and insensible of hunger, yet at length had appetite for food; and also that very advantageous opportunity Satan had to attack him in the manner he did, with his first temptation.

(z) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 12. 1, 2. Misn. Taanith, c. 1. sect. 5. (a) Hilch. Taanith, c. 5. sect. 5.

And when he had fasted {a} forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

(a) A full forty days.

Matthew 4:2. Νηστεύσας] to be taken absolutely. Luke 4:2. Comp. Deuteronomy 9:9; Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8. It is explained, without reason, by Kuiuoel, Kuhn, and many others in the sense of deprivation of the usual means of nourishment. This relative meaning, which, if presented by the context, would be admissible (Kuhn, L. J. I. p. 364 ff.), is here, however, where even the nights are mentioned as well as the days, contradicted by the context, the supernatural character of the history, the intentionally definite statement of Luke (Matthew 4:2), and the types of Moses and Elijah. It is just as irrelevant to change the forty days as a sacred number into an indefinite measure of time (Köster); or, as a round number, into several days (Neander, Krabbe). That, moreover, the forty days’ fast became the occasion of the temptation, cannot appear as out of keeping (Strauss, de Wette) with the object, but, according to Matthew 4:1, was contained in the design of the Spirit.

ὕστερον] of itself superfluous, indicates, however, the circumstance that the hunger did not attack Him until He had fasted. Bengel: “Hactenus non tarn fuerat tentatio, quam ad eam praeparatio.” Comp. the similar usage of εἶτα and ἔπειτα after participles by classical writers, Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 70 E.

Matthew 4:2. καὶ νηστεύσας. The fasting was spontaneous, not ascetic, due to mental preoccupation. In such a place there was no food to be had, but Jesus did not desire it. The aorist implies that a period of fasting preceded the sense of hunger. The period of forty days and nights may be a round number.—ἐπείνασεν, He at last felt hunger. This verb like διψάω contracts in α rather than η in later Greek. Both take an accusative in Matthew 5:6.

2. he was afterward a hungred] The words imply that the temptation was not throughout the forty days, but at the end of the forty days.

Matthew 4:2. Νηστεύσας, when He had fasted) no doubt by virtue of His baptism. Fasting implies also abstinence from drink.—ἡμέρας, days) In these days, during this retirement, matters of the greatest importance passed between God and the Mediator.—τεσσαράκοντα, forty) A celebrated measure of time, also, in the lives of Moses and Elijah. But the condition of Moses, when without food, was one of glory; that of Christ (which is more to be wondered at), one of humiliation. An angel brought food to Elijah before his fast commenced; many angels ministered to Christ after His fast ended. Jesus passed forty days before He appeared in public: forty days, as if for the sake of preparation before His ascension.—ὕστερον, afterwards) up to this point it had not been so much a temptation as a preparation for it: cf. the beginning of the following verse.—ἐπείνασε, He hungered) Hunger is a very bitter temptation; thirst He experienced in His passion. This temptation may be compared with that which is described in Genesis 3 : the Tempter employed the same arts; but that cause, which the first-formed pair of the human race had lost, Christ restored.

Verse 2. - And when he had fasted... he was afterwards an hungred. He was so absorbed in prayer that it was only after his six weeks meditation that he felt the need of food. But though his humanity had been elevated and his spiritual sense quickened by this at the time almost unconscious fast, it left him physically prostrate and completely exposed to attack. "In certain morbid conditions, which involve a more or less entire abstinence from food, a period of six weeks generally brings about a crisis, after which the demand for nourishment is renewed with extreme urgency. The exhausted body becomes a prey to a deathly sinking. Such, doubtless, was the condition of Jesus; he felt himself dying. It was the moment the tempter had waited for to make his decisive assault" (Godet). Luke (cf. Mark?) probably (though not in the Revised Version) represents the temptation as continuous during the whole period. Of this Matthew says nothing, but only describes the final scenes, when the might of the tempter was felt to the uttermost, and his defeat was most crucial. Forty. Trench's remark is well worth study: "On a close examination we note it to be everywhere there [i.e. in Holy Scripture] the number or signature of penalty, of affliction, of the confession, or the punishment, of sin (Studies, p. 14). Nights. The mention of nights as well as days brings out more vividly the continuance and the completeness of the abstinence (cf Genesis 7:4, 12 [17, LXX.]; Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9, especially 18; 1 Kings 19:8). Matthew 4:2
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