Matthew 4:9
And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
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(9) All these things will I give thee.—St. Luke’s addition, “For that is (has been) delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it,” is full of significance. The offer made by the Tempter rested on the apparent evidence of the world’s history. The rulers of the world, its Herods and its Cæsars, seemed to have attained their eminence by trampling the laws of God under foot, and accepting Evil as the Lord and Master of the world. In part, the claim is allowed by our Lord’s language and that of his Apostles. Satan is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; John 14:30). His hosts are “the world-rulers (κοσμοκράτορας) of darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). In this case the temptation is no longer addressed to the sense of Sonship, but to the love of power. To be a King like other kings, mighty to deliver His people from their oppressors, and achieve the glory which the prophets had predicted for the Christ;—this was possible for Him if only He would go beyond the self-imposed limits of accepting whatsoever His Father ordered for Him.

Wilt fall down and worship me.—The latter word properly expresses, as apparently throughout the New Testament, the homage offered to a king rather than the adoration due to God.

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.All these things ... - All these kingdoms. All these dominions Satan claimed a right to bestow on whom he pleased, and with considerable justice. They were excessively wicked; and with no small degree of propriety, therefore, he asserted his claim to give them away. This temptation had much plausibility. Satan regarded Jesus as the king of the Jews. As the Messiah he supposed he had come to take possession of all that country. He was poor, and unarmed, and without followers or armies. Satan proposed to put him in possession of it at once, without any difficulty, if he would acknowledge him as the proper lord and disposer of that country; if he would trust to him rather than to God.

Worship me - See the notes at Matthew 2:2. The word here seems to mean, to acknowledge Satan as having a right to give these kingdoms to him; to acknowledge his dependence on him rather than God; that is, really to render religious homage. We may be surprised at his boldness. But he had been twice foiled. He supposed it was an object dear to the heart of the Messiah to obtain these kingdoms. He claimed a right over them; and he seemed not to be asking too much, if he gave them to Jesus, that Jesus should be willing to acknowledge the gift and express gratitude for it. So plausible are Satan's temptations, even when they are blasphemous; and so artfully does he present his allurements to the mind.

9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee—"and the glory of them," adds Luke (Lu 4:6). But Matthew having already said that this was "showed Him," did not need to repeat it here. Luke (Lu 4:6) adds these other very important clauses, here omitted—"for that is," or "has been," "delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it." Was this wholly false? That were not like Satan's unusual policy, which is to insinuate his lies under cover of some truth. What truth, then, is there here? We answer, Is not Satan thrice called by our Lord Himself, "the prince of this world" (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)? Does not the apostle call him "the god of this world" (2Co 4:4)? And still further, is it not said that Christ came to destroy by His death "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14)? No doubt these passages only express men's voluntary subjection to the rule of the wicked one while they live, and his power to surround death to them, when it comes, with all the terrors of the wages of sin. But as this is a real and terrible sway, so all Scripture represents men as righteously sold under it. In this sense he speaks what is not devoid of truth, when he says, "All this is delivered unto me." But how does he deliver this "to whomsoever he will?" As employing whomsoever he pleases of his willing subjects in keeping men under his power. In this case his offer to our Lord was that of a deputed supremacy commensurate with his own, though as his gift and for his ends.

if thou wilt fall down and worship me—This was the sole but monstrous condition. No Scripture, it will be observed, is quoted now, because none could be found to support so blasphemous a claim. In fact, he has ceased now to present his temptations under the mask of piety, and he stands out unblushingly as the rival of God Himself in his claims on the homage of men. Despairing of success as an angel of light, he throws off all disguise, and with a splendid bribe solicits divine honor. This again shows that we are now at the last of the temptations, and that Matthew's order is the true one.

Ver. 8,9. This is the third temptation by which the tempter solicits our Saviour to sin, and of all other the most impudent. For what can be more impudent than for the creature to expect a homage to him from him who was his Creator. What mountain this was, and how our Saviour was taken up into it, are things not revealed, and of very little concern for us to know. The text tells us it was exceeding high, yet not high enough from whence one kingdom could be seen in the extent of it. It is therefore most probable that Dr. Lightfoot judgeth most truly, that

"the devil, being the prince of the power of the air, formed an airy horizon before the eyes of Christ, carrying such pompous and glorious appearance of kingdoms, states, and royalties in the face of it, as if he had seen those very kingdoms and states indeed."

Such things the devil can do, and doth do, by condensing the air first, then shaping and figuring, and lastly so colouring it, that it may represent what he intends. All these things he promised to give our Saviour, if he would fall down and worship him. The same eminent person well observes, that

"what Luke calls worshipping before the devil, Matthew calls worshipping the devil";

and concludes solidly,

"that if to worship before the devil be to worship the devil, worshipping before an image (as the papists do) must be worshipping the image."

The devil here arrogates to himself what was God’s alone to give, and such ordinarily are the devil’s promises of things, as to which he hath no power to fulfil what he promiseth. And saith unto him, all these things will I give thee.... This is more fully and strongly expressed by the Evangelist Luke. Luk 4:6.

And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it--all shall be thine. In which words he sets up himself to be the God of this world, and the sovereign disposer of it: he pretends it was delivered to him by the true God, who had left it to his arbitrary disposal; and that he could invest Christ with the power and government of it, and put him in possession of all its glory, and make good and support his title to it, and interest in it. Never was such monstrous arrogance expressed as this; when this poor, proud, wretched creature, has not the disposal, at his pleasure, of anyone single thing; no not the least in the whole universe. He could not touch, neither Job's person, nor any of his substance, without divine permission; nor enter into an herd of swine without Christ's leave; and yet had the front to make an offer of the whole world, as if he had a despotic power over it; and that upon this horrid and blasphemous condition,

if thou wilt fall down and worship me. This was the highest degree of effrontery and impudence. The devil is not content to be worshipped by men, but seeks for adoration from the Son of God: this opens at once his proud, ambitious, and aspiring views, to be as God himself; for with nothing less can he be satisfied.

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Matthew 4:9. ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι. This is the condition, homage to Satan as the superior. A naïve suggestion, but pointing to a subtle form of temptation, to which all ambitious, self-seeking men succumb, that of gaining power by compromise with evil. The danger is greatest when the end is good. “The end sanctifies the means.” Nowhere is homage to Satan more common than in connection with sacred causes, the interests of truth, righteousness, and God. Nothing tests purity of motive so thoroughly as temptations of this class. Christ was proof against them. The prince of the world found nothing of this sort in Him (John 14:30). In practice this homage, if Jesus had been willing to render it, would have taken the form of conciliating the Pharisees and Sadducees, and pandering to the prejudices of the people. He took His own path, and became a Christ, neither after the type imagined by the Baptist, nor according to the liking of the Jews and their leaders. So He gained universal empire, but at a great cost.9. All these things will I give thee] Satan, the “prince of this world,” (John 7:31) claims the disposal of earthly thrones. This is more clearly brought out by St Luke (ch. Luke 4:6), “All this power will I give thee and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it.” The arrogance, selfishness, and cruelty of contemporary rulers would give force to such an assumption. A Tiberius or a Herod Antipas might indeed be thought to have worshipped Satan.Matthew 4:9. Δώσω, I will give) But the Son is the heir of all things, and whatever authority Satan possessed on account of man’s defection from God, that, Christ, stronger than he,[141] took from him, not by compact, but by conquest. What the devil could not persuade Christ to do in his temptation, that he will effect by his vassal the Beast, see Revelation 13:2. And what he offered to Christ, he will give to that adversary of His, viz., the kingdoms of the world.—ἐὰν, κ.τ.λ., if, etc.) Vast pride, to offer all the kingdoms of the earth as a gift, in return for one act of adoration acknowledging that gift.[142] Without doubt, he appeared in an august form.

[141] Luke 11:21-22.—(I. B.)

[142] “What the angel did not permit John to do, that the tempter demands of Jesus, the Lord of all (Revelation 22:8-9).”—Vers. Germ.Verse 9. - All these things will I give thee (ταῦτά σοι πάντα δώσω). The devil puts "these things" and "thee" in the sharpest contrast. In Luke the devil says, "To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it [i.e. the authority] hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it;" i.e. there the devil speaks of giving, not actual possession of the things themselves (Matthew), but the authority that this implied, "and the glory of them." According to St. Luke, he does not attempt to conceal the fact that he has not absolute possession, but he claims authority as delegated to him, and as capable of being delegated by him to another. His claim was false as absolutely stated, but is true relatively in so far that even his usurpation of power must have been permitted (cf. our Lord's term for him, "The prince of this world"). If thou wilt fall down and worship me; i.e. prostrate thyself in obeisance before me - the Eastern method of acknowledging the superiority of a person (cf. Genesis 23:7; 1 Samuel 20:41; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 9:6). The expression does not mean "worship me as God" (for this surely was far too coarse a temptation to overcome any even ordinarily pious Israelite; cf. Weiss), but "acknowledge my rights as over-lord." It is not a question of apostasy (1 Kings 18:21; cf. Joshua 24:15), but of submission to the methods inculcated by Satan, which placed the immediate and the visible above the future and the unseen (Genesis 3:5; Exodus 32:4).
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