Matthew 4:6
And said to him, If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) If thou be the Son of God.—In this case, as before, the temptation starts from the attestation of the character of Jesus as the Son of God. With this there is now joined an appeal to familiar and sacred words, and the subtlety of the Tempter lay in his perversion of their true meaning. Here, too, the words throw light on the previous spiritual life of the Son of Man. As in all analogous temptations (and the history would have but little significance or interest for us if it were not analogous to many human experiences) the words which were presented to the soul, with their true meaning obscured and perverted, must have been precisely those that had before been most precious. We can think of Him as having fed on those words, found in them the stay and comfort of His life, without ever dreaming (if one may venture so to speak) of putting them to the test by devices of His own imagining.

In their hands.—Better, on. The angelic hands are thought of as sustaining and up-bearing.

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.And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down - The temptation here was, that he should at once avail himself of the protection of a promise of safety made to him, and thus demonstrate that he was the Messiah. If he was the true Messiah he had a certain assurance of protection, a promise that no harm could befall him; and thus, by so surprising a miracle, and such a clear proof of the divine interposition, he could at once establish his claim to the Messiahship. How much more easy would this be than to engage in a slow work of years to establish that claim; to encounter fatigue, and want, and poverty, and persecution, before that claim would be admitted! And where could be a more suitable place for thus at once demonstrating that he was the Son of God, than on this pinnacle of the temple, in the very midst of Jerusalem, and perhaps in the presence of thousands who would see the wonderful performance? The temptation, therefore, in this case was, that by thus establishing his claim he would avoid all the obloquy, persecution, and suffering which he must otherwise endure if he attempted to prove that he was the Son of God by a life of toil and privation.

It is written - That is, there is a passage of Scripture which promises special protection in such a case, and on which you may rely. The argument was not, perhaps, that this applied exclusively to the Messiah, but that, if applicable in any case, it would be in this; if any one could plead this promise, assuredly he could who claimed to be the Son of God.

He shall give his angels charge concerning thee ... - That is, they shall protect thee.

And in their hands they shall bear thee up - They shall sustain thee, or hold thee up, so that thou shalt not be endangered by the fall.

Lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone - This would be especially appropriate in such a case. The promise, as Satan applied it, was that he should not be injured by the stones lying at the bottom of the wall or in the valley below. The case, therefore, seemed to be one that was especially contemplated by the promise.

6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God—As this temptation starts with the same point as the first—our Lord's determination not to be disputed out of His Sonship—it seems to us clear that the one came directly after the other; and as the remaining temptation shows that the hope of carrying that point was abandoned, and all was staked upon a desperate venture, we think that remaining temptation is thus shown to be the last; as will appear still more when we come to it.

cast thyself down—"from hence" (Lu 4:9).

for it is written—(Ps 91:11, 12). "But what is this I see?" exclaims stately Bishop Hall. "Satan himself with a Bible under his arm and a text in his mouth!" Doubtless the tempter, having felt the power of God's Word in the former temptation, was eager to try the effect of it from his own mouth (2Co 11:14).

He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands—rather, "on their hands."

they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone—The quotation is, precisely as it stands in the Hebrew and the Septuagint, save that after the first clause the words, "to keep thee in all thy ways," are here omitted. Not a few good expositors have thought that this omission was intentional, to conceal the fact that this would not have been one of "His ways," that is, of duty. But as our Lord's reply makes no allusion to this, but seizes on the great principle involved in the promise quoted, so when we look at the promise itself, it is plain that the sense of it is precisely the same whether the clause in question be inserted or not.

Before the devil had tempted our Lord to diffidence or distrust in God’s providence, and the use of means not allowed by God to supply himself; here he tempts him to an unwarrantable presumption, and confidence of and concerning the Divine protection. In the former temptation the devil used no Scripture, but having been repelled in that assault by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17, he here takes up the same weapon. The thing to which the tempter solicits our Saviour, was the throwing himself down from a precipice, a temptation, in effect, to destroy himself; which is one of those fiery darts which he commonly throws at the people of God in their hours of melancholy, or under great pressures of affliction; but the usual argument which he useth to them, is deliverance from their terrors, the preventing of want, or avoiding shame. The argument he useth to our Lord is quite of another nature, the special protection of God promised to God’s people, Psalm 91:11,12. Herein he transforms himself into an angel of light, according to 2 Corinthians 11:14, and lets us know that truth may be abused to the patronage of lies; and that there is no hook more dangerous to the members of Christ, than that which is baited with Scripture misinterpreted and misapplied, which holy writ always is when it is so interpreted or so applied as to be made an argument to sin. This portion of holy writ is both:

1. Falsely cited; and,

2. As ill applied.

a) In the quotation the tempter leaves out those words, in all thy ways. This was none of our Savour’s ways, he had no call, no warrant from God to decline the stairs by which he might have gone down, and to throw himself down. God had never promised, nor ever given, any the protection of angels in sinful and forbidden ways.

b) He misapplies this text, using it not to instruct, but to deceive; dividing between man’s duty and God’s providence; making this word a promise to be fulfilled upon Christ’s neglect of his duty; extending the promise of special providence as to dangers into which men voluntarily throw themselves; putting God upon working miracles to declare Christ to be his Son, where there was no need, and of which there was no use, mocking our Saviour’s true use of Scripture, with Scripture abused, and many other ways: but he had to do with one not ignorant of his devices. And saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God,.... He addresses him after the same manner as before; if, or seeing,

thou art the Son of God, show thyself to be so; give proof of thy sonship before all the priests which are in and about the temple, and before all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

cast thyself down that is, from the pinnacle of the temple: for since thou art the Son of God, no hurt will come to thee; thou wilt be in the utmost safety; and this will at once be a full demonstration to all the people, that thou art the Son of God: for hither Satan brought him, hoping to have got an advantage of him publicly; otherwise, had his view only been to have got him to cast himself down from any place of eminence, and so to have destroyed himself, he might have set him upon any other precipice; but he chose to have it done in the sight of the people, and in the holy city, and holy place. Let it be observed, that Satan did not offer to cast him down himself; for this was not in his power, nor within his permission, which reached only to tempt; and besides, would not have answered his end; for that would have been his own sin, and not Christ's: accordingly, we may observe, that when he seeks the lives of men, he does not attempt to destroy them himself, but always puts them upon doing it. To proceed, Satan not only argues from his divine power, as the Son of God, that he would be safe in casting himself down; but observing the advantageous use Christ made of the scriptures, transforms himself into an angel of light, and cites scripture too, to encourage him to this action; assuring him of the protection of angels. The passage cited is Psalm 91:11 which expresses God's tender care and concern for his people, in charging the angels with the guardianship and preservation of them, in all their ways, that they might be secured from sin and danger. It does not appear that Satan was wrong in the application of this passage to Christ; for since it respects all the righteous in general, why not Christ as man? the head, as well as the members? And certain it is, that angels had the charge of him, did watch over him, and were a guard about him; the angels of God ascended, and descended on him; they were employed in preserving him from Herod's malice in his infancy; they ministered to him here in the wilderness, and attended him in his agony in the garden: but what Satan failed in, and that wilfully, and wickedly, was, in omitting that part of it,

to keep thee in all thy ways; which he saw was contrary to his purpose, and would have spoiled his design at once; and also in urging this passage, which only regards godly persons, in the way of their duty, to countenance actions which are out of the way of a man's calling, or which he is not called unto; and which are contrary to religion, and a tempting God. Satan before tempted Christ to distrust the providence of God, and now he tempts him to presume upon it: in like manner he deals with men, when he argues from the doctrines of predestination and providence to the disuse of means, for their good, either for this life, or that which is to come; and if he tempted the Son of God to destroy himself, it is no wonder that the saints should be sometimes harassed with this temptation.

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 4:6. In Psalm 91:11-12, according to the LXX., it is God’s providential care for the pious in general that is spoken of. Here the tempter, who now himself grasps the weapon of Scripture, which had just been used against him, cunningly applies the typical expressions in the Psalms (the figure is borrowed from maternal anxiety) strictly to the Messiah.

ὅτι], not the recitative, but a part of the passage.

The Son of God, in reliance on the divine protection, must undertake a daring miracle of display in order to win over the masses for Himself. For the multitudes, with a view to influencing whom this miracle is proposed, are understood to be, as a matter of course, on the temple area; and therefore we are not to assume, with Kohlschütter, Ullmann, Engelhardt, that it was only an exhibition of divine favour and protection, and no public spectacle, which was aimed at. On that view no sufficient reason is shown why Jesus is brought from the wilderness to the most populous centre of the metropolis. Euth. Zigabenus strikingly remarks: διὰ κενοδοξίας ἑλεῖν αὐτὸν ἐπιχειρεῖ.Matthew 4:6. βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω: This suggestion strongly makes for the symbolic or parabolic nature of the whole representation. The mad proposal could hardly be a temptation to such an one as Jesus, or indeed to any man in his senses. The transit through the air from the desert to the winglet, like that of Ezekiel, carried by a lock of his hair from Babylon to Jerusalem, must have been “in the visions of God” (Ezekiel 8:3), and the suggestion to cast Himself down a parabolic hint at a class of temptations, as the excuses in the parable of the Supper (Luke 14:16) simply represent the category of preoccupation. What is the class represented? Not temptations through vanity or presumption, but rather to reckless escape from desperate situations. The second temptation, like the first, belongs to the category of need. The Satanic suggestion is that there can be no sonship where there are such inextricable situations, in proof of which the Psalter is quoted (Psalm 91:11-12).—γέγραπται, it stands written, not precisely as Satan quotes it, the clause τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου being omitted. On this account many commentators charge Satan with mutilating and falsifying Scripture.

Matthew 4:7. Jesus replies by another quotation from Deut. (Matthew 6:16).—πάλιν, on the other hand, not contradicting but qualifying: “Scriptura per scripturam interpretanda et concilianda,” Bengel. The reference is to the incident at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7), where the people virtually charged God with bringing them out of Egypt to perish with thirst, the scene of this petulant outburst receiving the commemorative name of Massah and Meribah because they tempted Jehovah, saying: “Is Jehovah among us or not?” An analogous situation in the life of Jesus may be found in Gethsemane, where He did not complain or tempt, but uttered the submissive, “If it be possible”. The leap down at that crisis would have consisted in seeking escape from the cross at the cost of duty. The physical fall from the pinnacle is an emblem of a moral fall. Before passing from this temptation I note that the hypothesis that it was an appeal, to vanity presupposes a crowd at the foot to witness the performance, of Which there is no mention.6. it is written] Psalm 91:11-12. The words “to keep thee in all thy ways” are omitted in the text. The omission distorts the meaning of the original, which is that God will keep the righteous on their journeys, and is no inducement to tempt God by rash venture or needless risk. The Psalmist himself probably quotes Proverbs 3:23. “Thus [i. e. by obedience: see preceding verses] shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.”Matthew 4:6. Γέγραπται, it is written) A most specious temptation, which appears to quote Scripture appositely. There is no doubt but that Satan must have often felt the force of this saying, from the protection which the angels extended to the godly against him.—ὅτιπερὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ, κ.τ.λ.) He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. The LXX. render Psalms 91(90):11, 12,—ὅτιπερὶ σοῦ, τοῦ διαφυλάξαί σε ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου ἐπὶ, κ.τ.λ., He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy way: they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. The fraud of Satan consists rather in false application, than in omission.—ἐπὶ χειρῶν, in their hands) That is, they shall guard Thee with great circumspection.—λίθον, a stone) i.e., one of those of which the Temple was built. The tempter applies the psalm speciously.Verse 6. - If thou be the Son of God (ver. 3, note). For it is written. Psalm 91:11, 12, verbally from the LXX., but omitting the clause, "to keep thee in all thy ways." Luke omits only "in all thy ways." The clause, according to either record, was omitted possibly because the devil shrank from reminding Jesus of "ways" which he need not take; more probably because . ' ways" hardly fitted this case (cf. Weiss). Trench ('Studies,' p. 40), following St. Bernard, says that the omission of the clause alters the whole character of the quotation, considering that "ways" implies ways appointed by God. But this appears to be strained. The devil, appealing to Jesus' consciousness of abiding communion with God (Psalm 91:1), bids him enjoy to the full the promise of God's protection. There is no thought here of a "miracle of display" to the multitudes who were assembled, "as a matter of course," on the temple area (Meyer; cf. even Trench). Neither the devil's solicitation nor our Lord's reply hint at anything else than Divine protection. If it be urged that for this any one of the many precipices by the Dead Sea, e.g. those of the Quamntana (ver. 1, note) itself, would have been sufficient, the answer may be found in the fact that at the temple, the seat of God's special manifestation, God's special protection might be looked for. There is a slight doubt whether the ὅτι after γέγραπται is recitative (Westcott and Hort, and most) or part of the quotation (Rheims, Meyer, Weiss). In favour of the latter view is the fact that the recitative ὅτι is not used elsewhere in this section (vers. 4, 7, 10), but as in Luke 4:10 it can hardly be other than recitative (for another ὅτι is inserted before "on their hands"), the probability is that it was recitative in the oral source, and therefore recitative here. In their hands; Revised Version, on; ἐπὶ χειρῶν. The thought is not so much of surrounding care as of physical support through space. Lest at any time; Revised Version, lest haply; and so always, for "in the New Testament use of rids particle (μή ποτέ) the notion of time usual to ποτέ seems to recede before that of contingency" (Thayer). In their hands (ἐπὶ)

On their hands (so Rev.) is more correct, and gives a different picture from the A. V. in: lifted on their hands, as on a litter or platform.

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