Matthew 4

The Devil Tests/Tempts Jesus

MATT 4:1-11       MARK 1:12-13    LUKE 4:1-13


MATT 4:1 – Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  {Similar to Mark 1:12 & Luke 4:1}

[led up of the Spirit] – G0321 = lead up, bring out, loose; of navigators it means to launch out, or set sail.  The Sprit LED Jesus, but Satan TOOK Jesus (Matt 4:5).  There is a contrast in Satan and the Spirit in that the Spirit leads gently as a dove (Matt 3:16 & Matt 10:16).  I personally imagine the Holy Spirit as a dove on Jesus shoulder flying off in front of Him to the wilderness where He was supposed to go.  Like Jesus, we all have a choice to follow the Holy Spirit or not, but if we don’t, then we’re following a lie.

[into the wilderness]Why was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness? – To cut distraction for fasting and prayer.  Satan took Jesus to the people; the temple.  Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years (Deut 8:2).  Jesus was already in the wilderness with John (Matt 3:1), so it means that He went DEEPER in the wilderness.  Mark 1:12 says, “immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness”, showing haste, implying that Jesus was baptized and went straight into the wilderness from there.

[to be tempted of the devil]Why did Jesus have to be tempted by Satan? – It was possible for Jesus to be tempted because He desired certain things (James 1:14).  That is why He was able to be tempted at all.  Even God can be tempted (Matt 4:7) because He has desires.  Satan is the god of this world (2Cor 4:4, John 12:31, Eph 2:2).  He knew that Jesus came to destroy him (1Jn 3:8).  Since he’s the god of this world, it’s within the devil’s power to test anyone, like Job for example (Job 1:12).  What a person must do is resist the devil so he will flee (James 4:7).  Had Job resisted the devil by drawing close to God as in James 4:8 instead of blaming Him as in Job 6:4, Job 16:11-14, Job 27:2, etc, then the story would have been different.  Satan wanted to destroy Jesus immediately before Jesus could start His ‘devil destroying ministry’ (1Pet 5:8).



MATT 4:2 – And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.  {Similar to Mark 1:13 & Luke 4:2}

[fasted] – G3522 = To abstain from food; to abstain as a religious exercise from food and drink.  Did Jesus drink water, or just abstain from food?  I suppose if Jesus didn’t drink water that it would say here, “he didn’t eat bread or drink water” like Moses recorded of himself TWICE (Deut 9:9 & Deut 9:18).

Why did Jesus fast for 40 days?  – For spiritual strength to resist the devil (James 4:7).  Once, there was a demon that could not be overpowered by anything but prayer and fasting (Matt 17:21).  Only Jesus was spiritually strong enough to cast it out (Matt 17:18).  Jesus compared demons to strong men who He had to overpower in their own house (Matt 12:29).  Imagine how much more prayer and fasting it would take to overpower the king of demons (Matt 12:24)!  Jesus continued fasting and praying from time to time after this test.

[fourty days and fourty nights] – symbolizing the 40 years the Jews were in the wilderness.  Notice that every time Jesus answered the devil, it was from Deuteronomy, written by Moses in the last days of the 40 years that Israel spent in the wilderness.

[he was afterward an hungered] – Through personal experience, at the time of writing this, I’ve fasted a few times, but my longest fast was 5 days, only drinking water.  After day 3, I was weak and slow and dreaming about food at night, usually with hunger pain passing while I slept.  By the last day, the pain didn’t leave when I slept; my heart was beating fast and my body was hot, even though it was winter.  I thought, “uh oh, this isn’t good”, so I broke the fast.  The reason I say this is because I’ve heard that hunger passes after 1 or 2 weeks of fasting, and then returns after 5 or 6 weeks, which pretty much means that person is dying at that point.  I READ THAT, but I don’t think the person who wrote that had personal experience in that area, and urge you not to trust anyone who comments on what fasting does to the body after 40 days who has never even fasted ¼ that time.



MATT 4:3 – And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.  {Similar to Mark 1:13 & Luke 4:3}

[the tempter] – The devil (Matt 4:1), Satan (Matt 4:10).

[If thou be the Son of God] – Satan immediately tested what God last declared “This is my beloved Son” (Matt 3:17).  Remember, Satan tests the truth to convince us of a lie.  It’s similar to how God said, “Don’t eat the fruit” (Gen 2:17) and soon after, the snake challenged what God said, “Did God say..?  … He was wrong.” (Gen 3:1-5).

[command that these stones be made bread] – Jesus had power to do this by the Holy Spirit.  Why would it be wrong?  Breaking His fast wouldn’t have been wrong.  Obviously, doing anything Satan says is wrong.  The answer here, and in all 3 temptations, is that Jesus could only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19).  He didn’t see the Father changing a rock into bread at that moment, and it would be wrong to do what He didn’t see the Father do.

Jesus never did a miracle before He was baptized – Jesus only worked miracles through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit wasn’t on Him until baptism. NO MIRICALE that Jesus did was from His own godly power, but from the Kingdom of God or “the finger of God” (Luke 11:18), which is the Holy Ghost, who is the key to the power of Jesus and His followers (Acts 1:8 & Matt 9:8).  By being born as a man, Jesus had given up His power by becoming lower than the angels (Heb 2:7).  Jesus got his power back after His resurrection (Matt 28:18).



MATT 4:4 – But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.  {Luke 4:4 & Deut 8:3}

[Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God] – Quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3.  Jesus was saying, “I have not heard a command out of the mouth of God telling me to turn these stones to bread, and it is God’s word that I live off of.  Even though I can turn these stones to bread, I choose not to because I laid my power down.  I rely on God, not on myself.”



MATT 4:5 – Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, {Similar to Luke 4:9}

[the devil taketh him] – G3880 to take, receive, take unto, take up to, take away.  Luke 4:9 says, “brought” G0071.  The Holy Ghost “led” Jesus, but the devil “took & set” him.  G3880 isn’t always forceful, but doesn’t usually imply much choice.  Matt 27:27 – Soldiers TOOK G3880 Jesus.

[the holy city] – Jerusalem (Luke 4:9).

[setteth him] – G2476 = stand, set, established.  In most verses it’s used of people standing around, but in John 8:3, the Pharisees brought G0071 the adultress and SET G2476 her in the midst (same as here).

[a pinnacle of the temple] – G4419 = the top of the temple at Jerusalem.



MATT 4:6 – 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.  {Similar to Luke 4:9-11 & Psalms 91:11-12}

[cast thyself down] – What would this accomplish? There were many people in Jerusalem, and the most important part of Jerusalem was the temple.  The point of Jesus jumping off the top of the temple was so that all the people would see a miraculous event where angels catch him.  This would have been “a miracle from the sky” that the Pharisees wanted to see (Matt 16:1).  What would the result be?  The verse that says ‘the angels will bear Him up’ was associated with the messiah.  The result would be that all the Jews would declare Him as the messiah, and then His own people would not give Him over to be crucified.  But crucifixion would redeem mankind (Titus 2:14 & Gal 3:13).

[In their hands they shall bear thee up] – Quoted from Psalms 91:11-12, except Satan did not quote the end of verse 11, “To keep thee in all thy ways”.



MATT 4:7 – Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  {Similar to Luke 4:12 & Deut 6:16}

[Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God] – Quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16.  Taking this path that God had not designed for Jesus was testing that God’s path of death and resurrection.  In His baptism, Jesus was saying, “God, I will die so that I can be raised from the dead to redeem mankind”.  Taking this path would have made Him a king, but also a liar.  Satan would have succeeded.



MATT 4:8 – Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; {Similar to Luke 4:5}

[taketh him up] – G3880 = same as Matt 4:5, but does it mean that Satan miraculously transported Jesus to the top of the mountain, or that he made Him walk?  I cannot imagine Jesus walking at all after fasting for 40 days, much less climbing an “exceeding high mountain”!  Neither can I imagine Satan making Jesus walk from the wilderness to Jerusalem and climb to the top of the temple after being so physically spent on day 41 of a fast.

[all the kingdoms of the world] – All of the kingdoms that could be seen from that mountain (not every single kingdom on planet earth).  It’s impossible to see all kingdoms from one mountain.  Ask yourself, if Satan was miraculously giving Jesus a vision of all the kingdoms on earth, why would he take Him to a mountain to do that?  If Satan wanted to give Jesus a vision, there’s no need to take Him up a mountain.

[the glory of them] – How big the buildings are, the size of the cities, etc.  It emphasizes the amount of people inside, which was the reason Jesus came; to buy humanity back through the cross.



MATT 4:9 – And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.  {Similar to Luke 4:6-7}

[All these things will I give thee] – This was a lie; there is no truth in the devil (John 8:44).  This is the only temptation where Satan did not say, “If you are the Son of God”, because in doing this, Jesus would have become “the Son of Satan”, obeying Satan rather than God.  Were “all these things” his to give?  Yes, because Satan is the God of this world (Eph 2:2).

How did Satan become the god of this world?  – The earth is God’s because He created it (Psalms 24:1) but God is not the god of this world, therefore there is a conflict of interest between the two.  How did that happen?  God created the world and gave dominion to Man (Gen 1:26).  Man sinned and became a slave to sin (John 8:34).  Satan is the father of lusts, murder, lying (John 8:44) and sin.  He is the father of disobedience (Eph 2:2) which is lawlessness, and all lawlessness is sin (1Jn 3:4).  Since Satan is the father of sin, and since whoever sins is a slave to sin, it’s also accurate to say that whoever sins is a slave of Satan.  Hence, Man became a slave and debtor to Satan, and the very dominion that man had was transferred to Satan, because whatever a slave owns is given to his master, which in this case is dominion over the earth.  God sent His Son to buy us back from iniquity and purify us (Titus 2:14).  Who was Jesus buying people back from?  Their owner, Satan.  Satan can do whatever he wants to his own property and to his own children.

[if thou wilt fall down and worship me] – What would it accomplish for Satan if Jesus fell down and worshiped him?  For Satan, it would mean that he had finally succeeded in exalting his throne above God & His angels (Isa 14:12-13).  The result is that all of the prophesies about the messiah would have become a lie, and since those prophesies came from God, God would have become a liar and would have been in sin, putting Him under Satan, making Satan able to overpower God’s word.

Here, Satan offered a shortcut to Jesus, “You don’t need to go to the cross and die a horrible death like you showed that you would at baptism, and the result will be that you will own these people.”  Therefore, for Jesus it would mean “redeeming” the people without crucifixion, though they wouldn’t have been truly redeemed.  Even if Jesus did accept this and Satan honored his word, people would still be sick, dying, and demon possessed; probably more like Hell on earth.

Why was Jesus tempted 3 times? – Why didn’t Satan tempt Jesus more?  Why not less?  It’s because “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matt 18:16 & Deut 19:15).  If Jesus agreed with Satan 3 times, it would have established His complete agreement with Satan.  Peter denied that he knew Jesus 3 times (Matt 26:75), establishing his denial of Jesus.  Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him 3 times (John 21:17), reestablishing that Peter loved Him.  The 4 beasts in Revelation say holy three times, “holy, holy, holy” (Rev 4:8) establishing that fact.  Since Jesus refused Satan 3 times, His refusal was established.  Satan would have tempted Jesus over and over without stopping if possible.



MATT 4:10 – Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.  {Similar to Luke 4:8 & Deut 6:13-14}

[Get thee hence] – Go away!  If Jesus hadn’t made Satan leave, the temptations would have continued.  No temptation was as directly against God as this.

[Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve] – Paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:13-14.  You can only fall down and worship/serve God.



MATT 4:11 – Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  {Similar to Luke 4:13}

[the devil leaveth him] – But only “for a season” (Luke 4:13).  He left Jesus on the exceedingly high mountain to climb down alone.

[angels came and ministered unto him] – They brought Him food, which was Jesus #1 need at that moment.  Perhaps they also helped Him down the mountain.

Kent Owen

Author: Kent Owen

After college I lived in China for 5 years, working as an English teacher and foreign marketing manager. Now i'm an insurance salesman, but my real passion is Christ and learning the bible.

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