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The Temptation of Jesus.5

The first temptation:

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3 (ESV)

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3 (ESV)

First, there is the difference in the identity of the bad guy. Matthew has switched from “devil” to “tempter” while Luke has stuck with “devil”.   Does that mean that Matthew now switched from his Q source to some other source and Luke has switched from Mark for verse 2 and now has gone to Q for verse 3 – or perhaps another source for this word – or maybe it was Matthew. Then, to really mess with the scholars, Jesus uses the word Satan in 4:10!

The most likely explanation is that they are both recounting the same story. The similarity both in content and in connection to the baptism is because the story was known before either Matthew or Luke wrote the words; and the temptation was connected to the baptism in the original oral form.

In the various temptation accounts, the content of the quotations is nearly identical. The variation exists primarily in the context language.

The primary difference in the quotations:

Loaves of bread/bread: Matthew does not use the word “loaves”; rather he uses the plural “to these stones” to become “breads”. Luke uses a singular say to “this stone” become “bread”.

In short, we have minor variation in phrasing which suggests a different translation of the same account. The differences do not change the meaning in any significant manner.