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The Second Temptation

Now to the Temptation: wherein we are to consider three things. First, the ground the Devil chose for the working of this temptation. Secondly temptation itself; to wit, the Devil’s speech. Thirdly, Christ’s answer to it.

In the place, three things are to be noted: first, the place itself: secondly, the Devil chose it: thirdly, that our Savior followed him thither.

For a new temptation, he [the Devil] makes choice of a new place. Indeed, for a temptation to presumption, the wilderness was not a fit place: first it was not high enough, and then it was not populous enough. It was a melancholy place: when a man is under the cross in affliction, or in some anguish and sorrow for want, death of friends, or otherwise; and generally, for all solitary men: the hungry temptation is fitter, than this of presumption[1].

Proof of the Point

As long as Noah was in the ark in the midst of the waters, he had in him no presumptuous thought: but sitting under the vine in his vineyard, he was overcome therewith.[2] And just Lot (2. Pet. 2. 8.) in Sodom, had no fit time or place to be presumptuous; but when he dwelt in the mountain in security, then he committed incest with his daughters, being made drunk by them.[3]

David, so long as he was persecuted by Saul, and tossed up & down from post to pillar, had no leisure to be presumptuous: but in the top of his turret, when he was at rest in his palace, 2. Sam. 11. 2. presumption gave him a blow.[4]

So here the wilderness was no fit place, but the pinnacle is a very fit place for one to be presumptuous on. It is as good as a stage to shew himself upon, to see and to be seen.[5]

In the wilderness there was small warrant for one that would be presumptuous: but from the pinnacle he might discern far and near, both the inner court and outward court[6], and see a whole cloud of witnesses[7], and have some warrant of example of all estates, high or low, wise or noble.

For what abuse soever be in him, be he never so presumptuous, he shall see some as provide, stout, and high minded as himself: be his hair never so long, or his ruffs never so great, he shall find some as far gone therein as himself.

If we mark the four gradations that it hath, we shall find it to be a very fit place. As first, before he could come to the pinnacle, he must go out of the wilderness into the city: secondly, not any city, but the Holy City [i.e., Jerusalem]: thirdly, into the temple of the city: and fourthly, out of the temple up to the pinnacle.

First, (having got him to leave the wilderness) he brought him into the city, that there he might say unto him: you see such & such grave [well-behaved, dignified] men, how they behave themselves: why should you seek to bee holier than they? This was a good civil temptation: he brought him not to Caesarea or Samaria, but even to Jerusalem, the Holy City: for that addition is given it, Luke 4.9[8] and Dan. 9. 24[9]. Thirdly, he brought him into the Temple, where even the very ground was holy. Fourthly, not to any other place of it, but to the very top and pinnacle which was over the Sanctum Sanctorum[10].

Who would not tread hard there? and take upon him being in such a place, where if a man will be carried away with example; he may see Ananias the high Priest, renting his clothes, at the hearing of things that sounded like blasphemy, Mark 14. 63[11] and yet buying his bishopric for money;[12] who will not then be bold to do the like?

And Herod a Prince, such a one as heard John Baptist preach; yea, and with much delight, to commit adultery, Mark6. 20 who would fear to doo the like? There he may see the Pharisee, under show of great holiness, tithing mint and cumin, and under color of long prayers, devour widow’s houses, bringing in by extortion, and sending out by excess, Matt. 23. 14[13], 21[14].

And so in this city [i.e., Jerusalem], one may see some men, both great frequenters of sermons, and yet great usurers; gentlewomen misshapen in their attire. Seeing this, who will not be as bold as they, the place being so holy? And being thus warranted by example, surely, we must needs commend the Devil’s wit [intelligence] for his choice.

Out of this arise two notes[15].

First against some fantastical spirits [lying/slanderous people], who say, “Can that be a Holy City, where there be dumb dogs?”[16] There were so in Jerusalem, Is56. 10, where the leaders be blind Matt. 15. 14. They were so where Judas ministered the sacrament[17], where there is division and debate amongst themselves, Phil. 4. 2. Can this (say they) be the Holy City? And thereupon they forsake the fellowship, Heb. 10. 25[18] whereas they (notwithstanding the former abuses, and notwithstanding the eleven tribes were apostates) did yet name it the Holy City.

Secondly, on the other side we are to be instructed, that though a man be on the battlements of the Church, yet hath he no sure footing, or cause to be secure; but rather to fear the more: for even there does the Devil stand at his elbow, watching his overthrow. There is no place (we see) privileged from temptations, no desert so solitary, but the Devil will seek it out: no pinnacle so high, but the Devil is a Bishop over it, to visit and overlook it[19].

To conclude, though in Jerusalem sit the abomination of desolation (whereof Daniel spoke) yet it is the Holy City stils. And though the place be never so holy, yet is that no cause of privilege; but even there may sit the abomination of desolation Both are proved out of Matt. 24. 15[20].

The second thing that we observed in the circumstance of place, is, that the Devil assumpted[21] Christ: which, to those that are weak (as Gregory also collects) may be offensive, in giving them to think, that the Devil had such power over Christ as to carry him whether he listed[22]. But when they shall consider, that even the limbs of the Devil haled and harrowed him to-and-fro, from Annas to Caiphas, from Caiphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from him back again to Pilate: and how spitefully and contemptuously he was used in all these places, and at last carried to execution: what miracle will it be to see him (as Augustin speaks) In monte duci a capite, qui a membris traditur[23], &c.

These things do indeed (as all other his sufferings) set forth the greatness of the love of GOD towards us.[24] Of God the Father, that would give his only Son; yea, appoint him this work of our salvation, and give the Devil such a power over him, Luke 20. 53[25]. Of God the Son, that he would be content to suffer such indignity, Phil. 2. 7 as to be obedient to the death of the Cross[26].

The reason of all these his sufferings, as also that he would be baptized of John, a weak and sinful man; was (as himself declares it) to fulfil all righteousness, Matt. 3. 15[27]. So here he was to suffer it, else God’s righteousness would not have been fulfilled, nor the work of our salvation. And as he suffered this Assumption, so afterwards, Luke 9. 51. his second Assumption, was to go to Jerusalem to suffer; and so at the last he came to his third and last Assumption, to be received up into glory, 1. Tim. 3. 16. And by the very same steps and degrees, must we be assumpted. And this is his assumption of suffering, which brought him to glorifying[28].

The third thing is, that our Savior our followed; whereby we are to mark, not so much his courage, that durst encounter with the Devil in any place wheresoever he list to carry him: and that he was not only the God of the valleys, but a God of the mountains also, contrary to their surmise, 1. King. 20. 23[29]. That (I say) is not so much to be marked, as that our Savior would at all stand upon a pinnacle.

There be some that would make us believe, it is a sin to stand upon a pinnacle: but then if that had been so, Christ would never have stood there. And since Christ stood there, it is no more sin for any man else to stand there, than it is to stand in the wilderness: for it is lawful for us to follow his foot-steps, & to tread wheresoever he hath trod before us; yet such places be not privileged. For as it is true, that many men’s table & wealth is their snare, Psalm. 69. 22. so even the good gifts and graces of God, bee turned to a man’s hurt, as knowledge may serve for a quill to puff him up, and make him swell, 1. Cor. 8. 1. Nay, even that godly sorrow, which is so much to be wished for, has in it matter of temptation, least men be swallowed up with too much heaviness, 2 Cor. 2.7.[30]

The Scriptures themselves (we see) are subject to the abuse of the Devil whereby it should follow, that they are to be refused, if everything be to be refused which brings matter of temptation[31]. But as Augustin saith, Non est laus stetisse in pinaculo, sed stetisse & non cecidisse.[32] In every place to answer the Devil is praise-worthy. Indeed, it is dangerous for one that hath a light and guide brain, for such as are drunk Is. 51.22[33] (though not with wine) to stand so high.

Job could stand there without falling, for he had a more settled brain, Job 31:27. Such places are for the wisest and sagest men. Saint Paul stood not there, but yet he could haue stood there, for he had the trick or skill of it, as himself confesses, Phil. 4. 12. “I can be abased, and I can abound, &c”


There are two sorts of temptation.

First, Christ was tempted to believe that God would not protect him. This is a temptation of despair: God has left me.  These are temptations of the wilderness.

But there is another type of temptation. This second sort of temptation is a temptation to presumption: it is not fit for a solitary place, but for the most public place of all. It is a change to presume upon the grace of God and show oneself to others in this way.

This is a useful taxonomy of temptation: Some temptations work upon need. We need money. We need food. We are lonely. We suffer some privation. We believe God will not rescue us, and so we seek to solve the problem by means of sin. This temptation works upon our fear and insecurity.

But temptation can work in the opposite direction: We are full and are feeling prideful. We wish to extend that pride and receive praise. The Devil has temptations fitted to our pride which cause us to presume upon the grace and goodness of God.  We fail to see our dependence upon him, and our need to submit to this will here, also.

The Devil having failed at privation temptations with presumption.  For this temptation, the Devil took Jesus to the Holy City and brought him to the highest point.

This then raises a question: How is the Devil taking Jesus anywhere? Andrews makes the question even more pointed: It was not just the Devil, but even the Devil’s “members”, his henchmen who were dragging Jesus around. What then should we think of this? We should conclude that the Son underwent such abuse and humiliation because the Father loves us.

Jesus is brought up (assumpted) first to this pinnacle for temptation. Second, Jesus is assumpted up to Jerusalem to be crucified. Third, Jesus is assumpted up into heaven. He is twice brought up in temptation and trial; then he is brought up in glory.

Another thing to realize here is Jesus is proclaiming the sovereignty of God in all places by going to all places.

He finally deals with the question of avoiding temptation. On one hand, anything can be used to be bring about temptation. We cannot avoid everything. The Devil even uses Scripture as a basis for temptation.

What is the answer? We cannot avoid all temptation. And there is nothing praiseworthy about being tempted. What does not matter is not falling from the pinnacle )where you are being tempted) into sin. As Augustine says, It is not praiseworthy to have stood on a pinnacle. But, [it is praiseworthy] to stand and not fall.

[1] Andrews here makes an observation concerning the subjective power of a temptation. When we are isolated and our circumstance is precarious, we are less likely to presume upon the grace of God. We feel fearful and are more likely to distrust God in such a circumstance. But when we are in a public place and our “faith” will be lauded, we are more likely to presume upon God’s grace. It is interesting that the degree to which we are willing to trust God is dependent upon our circumstance irrespective of God. Why we would think God would vary in his faithfulness depending upon whether some human being is looking is quite strange.

[2] Gen. 9:20-21 recounts that after Noah had survived the Flood, he planted a vineyard. Noah made wine and got drunk, which resulted in an unexplained instance of shame.

[3] In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter refers to Lot as “just” while he lived in Sodom. At the warning of God, Lot and his daughters fled into the mountains when the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God. Seeing the destruction, Lot’s daughter concluded all life had been destroyed. Falsely believing themselves to be the two last women on earth, they got their father drunk and then had relations which resulted in pregnancy. Gen. ____

[4] After David had secured the throne he was found in Jerusalem, alone on his rooftop [a common place to rest in the evening] at “the time of year when kings go out to war.” 2 Sam. 12___. From the roof, David spied a beautiful, married woman bathing. His ensuing adulterous relationship led to great sorrow for himself, his family, the woman’s family, and the kingdom. Rather than being careful, David has become careless of his sanctification.

[5] The Devil has taken Jesus to a turret of the Temple in Jerusalem: as public a place as could be imagined.

[6] Two courtyards of the temple.

[7] An ironic use of the phrase “cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 11__. In Hebrews, the phrase is used as a basis for exhortation to live a life of true faith. Andrews appropriates the phrase for the Devil’s attempt to lead to presumption in Jesus: false faith.

[8] Luke 4:9 (ESV)  “And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.”

[9] Daniel 9:24 (ESV) “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”

[10] Latin, Holy of Holiess.

[11] Mark 14:61–63 (ESV)  “But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ 62 And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need?’”

[12] “Ananias, the son of Nebedæus, successor or Joseph the son of Camei, or Camydus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ xx. i. 3; v. 2), appears to have been actually high priest at this time. He was a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man, and yet looked up to by the Jews (“très considéré,” Renan). He had probably lately returned from Rome, having been confirmed, as it seems, in his office by Claudius, to whom Quadratus, the predecessor of Felix, had sent him as a prisoner, to answer certain charges of sedition against him. He seems to have been high priest for the unusually long period of over ten years—from A.D. 48 to A.D. 59 (see Josephus, ‘Ant. Jud.,’ xx. v. 2; vi. 2, 3; viii. 8). But, on the other hand, Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ xx. viii. 5) speaks of a certain Jonathan being high priest during the government of Felix, and being murdered by the Sicarii at his instigation; which looks as if Ananias’s high priesthood had been interrupted. It would appear, too, from xx. viii, 8, that Ismael the son of Fabi succeeded to Jonathan, not to Ananias, as is usually supposed. But the question is involved in great obscurity.” H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Acts of the Apostles, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 211.

[13] “That ver. 14 is an interpolation derived from the parallel in Mk 12:40 or Lk 20:47 is clear (a) from its absence in the earliest and best authorities of the Alexandrian and the Western types of text, and (b) from the fact that the witnesses that include the passage have it in different places, either after ver. 13 (so the Textus Receptus) or before ver. 13.” Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 50. Matthew 23:14 (AV) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

[14] Matthew 23:21 (ESV) “And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it.”

[15] He answers the objection, “How can this be the Holy City? It is filled with hypocrites. And, the Devil feels comfortable being there.”

[16] Here, “dumb dog” is a just derisive name-calling. The phrase comes from Isaiah 56:10: those who had a duty to protect the city were useless:

Isaiah 56:10 (ESV)

                  10               His watchmen are blind;

they are all without knowledge;

                                    they are all silent dogs;

they cannot bark,

                                    dreaming, lying down,

loving to slumber.

In place of “silent dogs”, the AV has “dumb dogs.”

[17] Rather Judas being the one ministered to others, this appears to be a reference to the supper in John 13, where Jesus gave the bread to Judas: John 13:26 (ESV)  “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’ So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

[18] Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV)  “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

[19] There is no place so remote nor organization so privileged that the Devil will not come there.

[20] Matthew 24:15 (ESV)  “‘So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand).’”

[21] The Devil took Jesus to a high place; he raised him up physically.

[22] Some people, the “weak” may misunderstand this passage and conclude that the Devil has power over Christ to force him to go places where Christ did not wish to go. The verb “to list” means to desire or incline.

[23] On the analogy of the Church being the “body” of Christ and Christ being the “head”, he speaks of the Devil. The quotation from Augustine means that Jesus was led up the mountain by the “head” (that is, the Devil); and Jesus was delivered/moved/betrayed by the members (Pilate, Herod, et cetera).

[24] What should we conclude from the fact that the Devil and his minions were permitted to exercise power of Christ? That Jesus Christ lacked strength? No. Andrews says we should look at this willingness to suffer as evidence of the Father’s love toward us. When we look upon the humiliation of Christ, we should see the Father’s love toward us:

1. 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” That the name of God is here taken personally,1 and for the person of the Father, not essentially, is evident from verse 9, where he is distinguished from his only begotten Son whom he sends into the world. Now, saith he, “The Father is love.” that is, not only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and loving nature, according as he hath proclaimed himself, Exod. 34:6, 7, but also one that eminently and peculiarly dispenseth himself unto us in free love.” So the apostle sets it forth in the following verses: “This is love.” verse 9;—“This is that which I would have you take notice of in him, that he makes out love unto you, in ‘sending his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him’ ” So also, verse 10, “He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And that this is peculiarly to be eyed in him, the Holy Ghost plainly declares, in making it antecedent to the sending of Christ, and all mercies and benefits whatever by him received. This love, I say, in itself, is antecedent to the purchase of Christ, although the whole fruit thereof be made out alone thereby, Eph. 1:4–6

John Owen, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, n.d.), 19–20.

[25] This appears to be a misprint for Luke 22:53. Luke 22:52–53 (ESV)  “52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, ‘Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.’”

[26] Philippians 2:5–8 (ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

[27] One of the perplexing points in Christology concerns why Jesus submits to baptism of repentance, seeing that he had no need to repent:

Jesus comes from Galilee, from relative safety, to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. The one who is free of sin, the one for whom it is John’s whole mission to announce, comes to be baptized by John. We should not be surprised then that John recognizes it is he who should be baptized by Jesus. Yet Jesus, speaking for the first time in Matthew’s gospel, tells John that he must undergo his baptism in order “to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus, who is the very embodiment of justice, of the law, submits to the law so that we might see justice done. This gives us a foretaste of Jesus, who is life itself, submitting to death so that death may be conquered once and for all.

Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 48.

[28] Jesus is brought up on the pinnacle (assumpted) to be tempted. He then “goes up” to Jerusalem to suffer. Finally have been tempted and having suffered, he “goes up” to heaven in glory.

[29] For the pagan, a god had control of some element or locale. The Syrians thought Israel’s God was likewise so limited: 1 Kings 20:23 (ESV)  And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, ;Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.’” But Jesus shows God is God of the wilderness (a valley) and the God of pinnacle (a mountain). He is God everywhere.

[30] This argument is a bit obscure: it seems to mean that by standing on a pinnacle, Christ was enacting a sinful pride. And that if he put himself in such an obvious and prideful place, and I can go wherever he went, then it is okay for me to do the same. Well, even good things can become a trap for the ungodly. Psalm 69:22 is a prayer of judgment upon those seeking to kill David, “Let their own table before them become a snare.” Good things such as knowledge can lead to pride. 1 Cor. 8:1. And even something as important as sorrow for sin can destroy one in grief. 2 Cor. 2:7.

[31] The Devil can even use the Bible to bring about temptation. So if we are to avoid everything which could conceivably be used as a basis for temptation, we would have nothing left.

[32] There is nothing praiseworthy about standing on a pinnacle, but to stand on the pinnacle not fall [is praiseworthy]. It is not praiseworthy that you were someplace where you could be tempted. What is praiseworthy is to be tempted and no succumb to temptation.

[33] Isaiah 51:22 (ESV)

22      Thus says your Lord, the Lord,

your God who pleads the cause of his people:

          “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering;

          the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more;