And yet consider still more closely. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.“‘Weak from the hunger following upon forty days of fasting, the devil suggested that He should strengthen Himself with bread. His reply, “It is written,” is a revelation of the true sources of strength. The strength of manhood does not lie in the assertion of rights, but in submission to the will of God. Mark well how that answer of the perfect One drags into light the false philosophy of evil, which the fallen race has universally accepted. The most applauded position that man takes is that in which he declares, I drove my manhood by the assertion of my rights; but this perfect Man declares that the strength of manhood lies in the absolute abandonment of His will to the will of God, that being the only right He possesses.
In the last analysis the argument of the devil had been a presupposition that all man needed for his sustenance was food for his physical life. That unwarrantable assumption Christ answered by declaring that no man’s whole life can be fed by bread that perishes. He needs more, that his spirit shall be fed, and its strength sustained by feeding upon the word proceeding from the mouth of God, and its safety ensured by abiding within the will of God.
G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of Christ (170-171). The applauded philosophy was set forth well by Milton in Satan’s speech found in Book I of Paradise Lost:
Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: [ 260 ]
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.
4. Man shall not live by bread alone. He quotes the statement, that men do not live by bread alone, but by the secret blessing of God. Hence we conclude, that Satan made a direct attack on the faith of Christ, in the hope that, after destroying his faith, he would drive Christ to unlawful and wicked methods of procuring food. And certainly he presses us very hard, when he attempts to make us distrust God, and consult our own advantage in a way not authorized by his word. The meaning of the words, therefore, is: “When you see that you are forsaken by God, you are driven by necessity to attend to yourself. Provide then for yourself the food, with which God does not supply you.” Now, though3 he holds out the divine power of Christ to turn the stones into loaves, yet the single object which he has in view, is to persuade Christ to depart from the word of God, and to follow the dictates of infidelity.
Christ’s reply, therefore, is appropriate: “Man shall not live by bread alone. You advise me to contrive some remedy, for obtaining relief in a different manner from what God permits. This would be to distrust God; and I have no reason to expect that he will support me in a different manner from what he has promised in his word. You, Satan, represent his favour as confined to bread: but Himself declares, that, though every kind of food were wanting, his blessing alone is sufficient for our nourishment.” Such was the kind of temptation which Satan employed, the same kind with which he assails us daily. The Son of God did not choose to undertake any contest of an unusual description, but to sustain assaults in common with us, that we might be furnished with the same armour, and might entertain no doubt as to achieving the victory.
John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), Mt 4:4.
Man does not live on bread alone. This, as well as the other two temptations, was messianic in nature in that Jesus understood the messianic role as requiring that he too must humble himself and trust himself to God (cf. Phil 2:7–8). Israel in the wilderness needed to trust God for their sustenance; so must God’s Son (Deut 8:1–3).
Robert H. Stein, vol. 24, Luke, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 146.
Ver. 3.—The tempter (1 Thess. 3:5 only; cf. 2 Cor. 11:3). Came; came up to him (προσελθών). The word expresses local nearness, and suggests, though we cannot affirm it as certain, that he appeared visibly. The thought of physical nearness is continued in “taketh him” (vers. 5, 8), and “the devil leaveth him” and “angels came near” (ver. 11; cf. ver. 5, note). On the other hand, such expressions may be parabolic, and intended to express the closeness of the spiritual combat. To him; not after “came,” but after “said” (Revised Version, with manuscripts). If thou be; art (Revised Version) (εἰ … εἰ)—the “if” of assumption (cf. Col. 3:1). The devil does not attempt to throw doubt on the truth of the utterance in ch. 3:17. His words rather mean, “Thou knowest what was said, thou hast been gradually realizing that assurance of Sonship; use, then, that privilege which thou undoubtedly hast” (comp. ch. 27:40, where, in mockery, the same truth is assumed). Wetstein, following Origen and pseudo-Ignatius, ‘Philipp.,’ § 9, says that the tempter did not know, or at least doubted, whether Jesus was really God, for otherwise he would never have tempted him. This is, surely, to miss the meaning of the temptation for our Lord himself; for he was tempted as Man. Satan might well have known that he was God incarnate, and yet not have known whether as Man he might not yield. Weiss (‘Life,’ i. 343) mistakenly thinks that the object of this first temptation was to insinuate doubt in the mind of Jesus as to his Messiahship. “Command that these stones become bread, and if thou canst not do so, then thou art not the Son of God.” Command that; εἰπὸν (cf. Westcott and Hort, ii. App., p. 164) ἵνα (cf. ch. 20:21, and Winer, § 44:8). These stones, i.e. lying about. Farrar (on Luke 4:3; and especially in ‘Life of Christ,’ illustrated edit., pp. 99, 100) suggests that there is a special reference to the “loaf-shaped fossils,” septaria, which are found in Palestine—as, indeed, in most other countries. But though these “flattened nodules of calcareous clay, ironstone, or other matter” (Page, ‘Handbook of Geolog. Terms,’ etc., 1859, p. 327) often assume fantastic shapes, perhaps even distantly resembling either an English loaf or a flat Jewish cake (vide infra), it seems quite unnecessary to see any allusion to them here. (For the comparison of bread and a stone, cf. ch. 7:9.) Be made; Revised Version, become; rightly, because there is no thought of the process of manufacture in γένωνται. Bread; Revised Version margin, “Greek, loaves” (ἄρτοι). “The Israelites made bread in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one’s thumb, and as large as a plate or platter: hence it was not cut, but [e.g. ch. 14:19] broken” (Thayer). In Luke the devil points to one stone only, and tempts him to bid it become a loaf.
Ver. 4.—It is written. Our Lord’s three quotations are from Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13. Some portion of Deuteronomy (ch. 6:4–9; 11:13–21, because included in the Sh’ma) was the first part of Scripture taught a Jewish child. Possibly, though there is no evidence upon the subject, the neighbouring portions were often added. If they had been in our Lord’s case, such a recurrence of them to his mind in his present state of exhaustion is in complete accord with psychological probability. Man … God (Deut. 8:3, LXX). As we could not accept Weiss’s interpretation of the object of the devil’s temptation, so neither can we accept his interpretation of our Lord’s reply, that it is equivalent to “Not by means either natural or supernatural, is man’s life really sustained, but by exact obedience to God’s command.” Our Lord quotes the passage in its primary meaning, which was fully applicable to the present occasion. It is equivalent to “Man lives, not necessarily by natural means, but by even supernatural means, if God so wishes.” “The creative word, the ῤῆμα Θεοῦ, which alone imparts to the bread its sustaining power, can sustain, even as he is confident that in the present need it will sustain, apart from the bread” (Trench, ‘Studies,’ p. 35). The words of Deuteronomy are paraphrased in Wisd. 16:26, where the author, in a thoroughly Jewish exposition, enumerates the lessons taught by the giving of the manna. “It was altered … that thy children, O Lord, whom thou lovest, might know that it is not the growing of fruits that nourisheth man; but that it is thy Word, which preserveth them that put their trust in thee.” By every word. Ἐπί (Textus Receptus; Westcott and Hort) is doubtless right. The alteration to ἐν (Lachmann, Tregelles) is probably due to a tendency towards the simple expression of means, but perhaps to the feeling that life, especially spiritual life, is maintained rather in a sphere than on a basis (cf. Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12).
St. Matthew Vol. I, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 104.
… attention should not be on bread alone. When the Israelites were hungry in the wilderness and pined for the bread of Egypt (Exod 16:3), God provided manna to nourish them (Deut 8:3). There is no need to leave off attending to God to seek for oneself. Rather, one should seek God’s kingdom (Luke 12:31 [Mt. 12:31; 6:33]). The desire for bread should not determine the Son’s use of the possibilities and privileges that are his.37
While the possibility of having stones become bread suggests for Jesus a distinctive class of sonship, the answer operates in more general terms of human life before God. The temptation has a particular accentuation based on the distinctive identity of Jesus, but its fundamental shape is not different from temptation which faces other ‘sons of God’.38 Though, following the Hebrew dbr, ῥῆμα can have a more general sense (‘thing/matter’), elsewhere in Matthew it means ‘word’. So it is likely that Matthew thinks here of listening to God as that which is life-sustaining.
John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005).
Tell this stone to become bread. Was this temptation a challenge to provide a sign (such as when God gave manna in the wilderness) in order for Jesus to gain a following? This is unlikely since no audience was present and the miracle was not to provide manna (loaves of bread, plural) for the people but a single loaf for Jesus’ own hunger. Or was this a temptation to cause Jesus to doubt that he really is the Son of God? This also is unlikely since Jesus’ answer did not deal with such a thought. More likely Jesus was tempted to use his power as God’s Son for his own ends. Jesus clearly rejected such a view of his messianic role since it would indicate a lack of trust on his part in the provision and care of his Heavenly Father. He also had to trust and pray, “Give us each day our daily bread” (11:3) and seek first the kingdom of God (12:31), just as he would soon teach his disciples. Later Luke recorded a miracle of Jesus’ multiplying bread (9:10–17), but that was to satisfy the needs of others. Jesus would not, however, use his messianic anointing to satisfy his own needs but rather would submit himself to his Father.
4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written.” Throughout his temptations Jesus found his answers in the Scriptures. He was armed with the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17) for his battle with the devil. See comments on 2:23.
1. The saying has been interpreted as a temptation to perform one of the signs expected in the messianic age in order to win the people over to his side: let Jesus repeat the miracle of the manna in the wilderness (Ex. 16; Manson, Sayings, 43f.). It can then be argued that this temptation is to be connected with the feeding of the five thousand (Jn. 6:31f.) and reflects the temptation to become king experienced by Jesus on that occasion (R. E. Brown, ‘Incidents that are units in the Synoptic Gospels but dispersed in St. John’, CBQ 23, 1961, 143–160, especially 152–155). But this view is certainly wrong. There are no onlookers (B. Gerhardsson*, 32), and the suggestion of producing one loaf is linked to Jesus’ own hunger. Nothing suggests an allusion to the manna. Only in Ps.-Clem. Hom. 2:32 is the miracle turned into a messianic wonder performed by Simon Magus (Schürmann, I, 209; Schulz, 185 n. 84). 2. A second possibility is that the devil is attempting to cast doubt on Jesus’ possession of the miraculous powers which would confirm for him the reality of his divine sonship (Ellis, 94). Jesus’ answer, however, is not concerned with this point. 3. The third view remains the most likely, namely that Jesus is being tempted to use his power as Son of God for his own ends instead of being obedient to the Father (Creed, 62; Schürmann, I, 209). It is suggested that Sonship can be expressed in independent authority rather than in filial obedience. Behind the temptation lies the desire to turn Jesus aside from the fulfilment of his messianic task by striking at his relationship to the Father. That this is the correct view of the temptation is confirmed by Jesus’ reply.
I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 170-71.
Ver. 3.—And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. It has been quaintly said of the tempter “that he had sped so successfully to his own mind by a temptation about a matter of eating with the first Adam, that he practised the old manner of his trading with the second.” These diabolical promptings have been spoken of already in this Commentary as “typical.” They represent, indeed, some of the principal temptations to which different classes of men and women in all ages are subject; the hard task of bread-winning, after all, suggests very many of the evil thoughts and imaginings to which men are subject, though, perhaps, they suspect it not. Weakened and exbausted by long abstinence from food, the temptation to supply his wants by this easy means at once was great. Still, had he consented to the tempter’s suggestion, Jesus was aware that he would have broken the conditions of that human existence to which, in his deep love for us fallen beings, he had voluntarily consented and submitted himself. Should he, then, use his miraculous power for his own advantage? Then, remembering his own late experience, the long fast from all human food, and yet life enduring through it all; calling to mind the miraculous supply of manna in the old desert days, the preservation of Elijah’s life through a similar fast,—Jesus, all faint and weary, exclaims in reply, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”
…The Devil suggests that Sonship is a privilege to be exploited. Jesus is tempted to order his own affairs and provide for his own needs, rather than being nourished in filial dependence on God. The single “loaf” and “stone” of Luke’s account is a more appropriate response to hunger than Matthew’s “loaves” and “stones.”
4 Jesus’ reply is from the LXX text of Deut 8:3b (which follows the MT closely). Matthew has a longer quotation. The Lukan focus is on the negative: attention should not be on bread alone. When the Israelites were hungry in the wilderness and pined for the bread of Egypt (Exod 16:3), God provided manna to nourish them (Deut 8:3). There is no need to leave off attending to God to seek for oneself. Rather, one should seek God’s kingdom (Luke 12:31). The desire for bread should not determine the Son’s use of the possibilities and privileges that are his.
John Nolland, vol. 35A, Luke 1:1–9:20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 179.
 St. Luke Vol. I, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 86.
In addition to the matter of types, there is the question of the purpose of the temptation – what is the real point? In each instance, Jesus was being asked to obtain something in a manner for which God had not provided direction or provision. What exactly the bread and the falling from the temple correspond to in terms of temptation (why did Jesus want them) is of very little moment when compared to the structure of the temptation: You could get something good outside of the will of God. There are many subsidiary debates such as Was the temptation to bread for Jesus to perform the miracle, or for Jesus to ask to perform the miracle? Where exactly did Satan take Jesus on the temple? How did he show him the kingdoms in a moment? Did the kingdoms include Judea?
Those matters aside, the common thread is whether Jesus will remain faithful to will of God at all times? To see this clearly, consider the matter of Israel in the wilderness. Without question, Jesus succeeds where Israel failed. In their complaint against God, they had reduced God to the servant of their cravings. When God did not provide as they demanded, they grumbled. They thought of YHWH as an idol – a god to do their beckoning, and when he “failed” they turned to some other idol – because their real god was the self.
Look at how Paul addresses the issue in 1 Corinthians 10:6-14 (ESV):
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
When you consider it that light, it changes somewhat the often quoted verse of 10:13: The escape is to not commit idolatry, which would entail submitting to the will of God as supreme.
When trace the temptation back to Eden and use the typology of Jesus as the Last Adam who defeats Satan in weakness in the wilderness as opposed to in strength in the Garden, the understanding becomes stronger. Satan specifically tempts Eve to sin against God on the ground that humanity should not be bound to the limitations imposed by God:
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 (ESV)
This, then, was the order of the temptation: first, the goodness of God must be disbelieved; secondly, his justice; and lastly, his holiness. It begins with a rebellion of the will, or the heart, against the moral attributes of God, as the Governor of his creatures. It ends in blindness of the understanding, or the mind, as to his essential perfections as the infinite and eternal Creator. God ceases to be recognised as good, and just, and holy. Man, at the suggestion of Satan, would himself be as good, as just, as holy as God.
1. He sets up his own goodness against that of God. Instead, of feeling, as the psalmist did, when he said, “Thou art my Lord, my goodness extendeth not to thee” (Ps. 16:2), or as the Lord Jesus intimates that a creature should feel even if he had fulfilled all righteousness,—accounting himself “an unprofitable servant, who had done only that which was his duty to do” (Luke 17:10); instead of this,—instead of thus magnifying the goodness of the Lord,—man begins to presume upon his own. He suspects the Divine love; and so far from being willing to receive his Maker’s bounty as a free and unmerited gift,—he claims it as a right, questions its liberality, and resents any restriction upon it as a wrong.
2. In justice, also, he would cope with the Almighty; he would be more righteous than God. He presumes to sit in judgment on the sentence which the Judge of all the earth denounces against transgression,—to arraign its equity, and dispute its truth; and, instead of standing in awe at the remembrance of what the Lord actually has said, in which case he would not have sinned, he reckons on what, as he thinks, ought to be the Lord’s rule in dealing with him, and so practically condemns him that is most just (Job 34:17).
3. Finally, he will not see why God should be more perfect, more pure, and more holy than himself; why it should be more dangerous for him than for his Maker to touch what is unholy, to know what is evil; why he should not be as God; or, at all events, why God should not be as himself. For if he cannot rise to the holiness of God, he will bring down that holiness to his own level; confident that amid all his acquaintance with the mystery of iniquity, he may contrive to retain at least as much holiness as the Creator, knowing it himself, can fairly require or expect in his frail and imperfect creature.
What infatuation is here! What guilt triple-dyed! What ungrateful pride! What presumption and profanity!—pride, in man’s overweening estimate of his own worth, presumption in his daring defiance of God’s righteous judgments, profanity in measuring himself by Jehovah, or Jehovah by himself, as if the high and holy God were such an one as he!
Such is the art of the first temptation. Such also is the art of Satan’s temptation still.
Robert S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1868), 65-67.
What then is the defeat of Satan? He is defeated by obedience to God – irrespective of the circumstance. For to set up one’s own will as supreme is to make oneself god in place of God. How much of professing Christianity has been such an idolatry. Two quotations from Eugene Peterson will help here:
Repentance, dying to self, submission—these are not very attractive hooks to draw people into the faith.
I think the minute you put the issue that way you’re in trouble. Because then we join the consumer world, and everything then becomes product designed to give you something. We don’t need something more. We don’t need something better. We’re after life. We’re learning how to live.
I think people are fed up with consumer approaches, even though they’re addicted to them. But if we cast the evangel in terms of benefits, we’re setting people up for disappointment. We’re telling them lies.
This is not the way our Scriptures are written. This is not the way Jesus came among us. It’s not the way Paul preached. Where do we get all this stuff? We have a textbook. We have these Scriptures and most of the time they’re saying, “You’re going the wrong way. Turn around. The culture is poisoning.”
Do we realize how almost exactly the Baal culture of Canaan is reproduced in American church culture? Baal religion is about what makes you feel good. Baal worship is a total immersion in what I can get out of it. And of course, it was incredibly successful. The Baal priests could gather crowds that outnumbered followers of Yahweh 20 to 1. There was sex, there was excitement, there was music, there was ecstasy, there was dance. “We got girls over here, friends. We got statues, girls, and festivals.” This was great stuff. And what did the Hebrews have to offer in response? The Word. What’s the Word? Well, Hebrews had festivals, at least!
Still, the one big hook or benefit to Christian faith is salvation, no? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Is this not something we can use to legitimately attract listeners?
It’s the biggest word we have—salvation, being saved. We are saved from a way of life in which there was no resurrection. And we’re being saved from ourselves. One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus.
But the minute we start advertising the faith in terms of benefits, we’re just exacerbating the self problem. “With Christ, you’re better, stronger, more likeable, you enjoy some ecstasy.” But it’s just more self. Instead, we want to get people bored with themselves so they can start looking at Jesus.
We’ve all met a certain type of spiritual person. She’s a wonderful person. She loves the Lord. She prays and reads the Bible all the time. But all she thinks about is herself. She’s not a selfish person. But she’s always at the center of everything she’s doing. “How can I witness better? How can I do this better? How can I take care of this person’s problem better?” It’s me, me, me disguised in a way that is difficult to see because her spiritual talk disarms us.
Eugene Peterson interview, Christianity Today, March 2005, “Spirituality for all the Wrong Reasons”.
What was the point of the temptations?
It has proved difficult to reach any kind of scholarly consensus about the main thrust of the temptation narrative. Is Jesus tempted to prove himself by signs (Dupont, NTS 3  303)? Does the narrative defend Jesus against accusations of black magic and collusion with the Devil (S. Eitrem, “Die Versuchung Christi,” Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift 24 [1923–24])? Is Jesus presented as the true Israel (Robinson, “Temptations,” 54–60), faithful to God in the wilderness where Israel of old had failed? Or should we go back to the garden of Eden and see in Jesus a new Adam meeting the tempter at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Feuillet, Bib 40  627–28)? Do we have an inner-church dispute in which Christians preoccupied with miracles are shown to have been seduced by the Devil (Fridrichsen, Problem of Miracle, 121–28)?
The individual temptations have also been subject to widely divergent interpretations.
John Nolland, vol. 35A, Luke 1:1–9:20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 178. That is interesting. The entire narrative remains in good account, but the true nature of the temptation and the purpose of the account being in the Bible are disputed.
Looking over Nolland’s list we can see there are two categories of explanation: typology and extra-biblical. One category of interpretation has to do with which Old Testament type does Jesus fulfill? Is Jesus the last Adam? Is Jesus obedient Israel? Is Jesus the prophesized Messiah? The second category of argument sees the stories as made-up or included to deal with some historical problem in the First Century for which Christians made up a story to satisfy one part of the argument or the other.
I will limit myself to first category arguments: biblical typologies. Arguments concerning unknown church disputes in which Christians made upon stories about Jesus to win their side of the argument are both speculative and silly. They are speculative, because we really cannot precisely what was going on polemically within the first century. While we might be able to find some a text in which Jesus is accused of being a magician (he was), we cannot now that Matthew knew about the text, cared about it or even wanted to respond to it. This brings us to the silly argument: Why would he make up a story about Jesus? He would know he was making up a story. Sure people can be deceived by a story, but the first person to make up the story would have known. And how did three versions of the story with sufficient similarity to all be the same thing and with sufficient differences not be copies get into existence – and how did everyone who was a Christian in the first century come to believe the stories which were there ten years before? When you begin to consider the practical mechanics of making up and spreading multiple versions of the same story among a group of often persecuted people, those arguments lose credibility (even if they get academic degrees).
As for topological explanations, there is little reason to choose one in place of the other. There is no contradiction between Jesus fulfilling the type of Adam (Rom. 5) and the type of Israel (Matt. 2:15) The OT provides a wealth of types which Jesus can fulfill at one time.
Here, Blomberg attaches Jesus to Israel in the wilderness:
Jesus, however, replies by quoting Deut 8:3. In fact, for each of the three temptations he will refute the devil with Scripture, always from Deuteronomy, continuing the link with the Israelites’ desert experience. In this instance the text he cites originally underscored God’s provision of manna as an alternative to the Israelites’ reliance on their own abilities to feed themselves. The principle applies equally well to Jesus’ situation and to any other context in which people are tempted to give physical needs priority over spiritual needs.
Craig Blomberg, vol. 22, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 84; see, also, John Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005), 163-65. The argument makes perfect sense. It accords with the text, the quotation and the context. The location, the plead for discontentment and the quotation from Deuteronomy all make the argument that Jesus does what Israel does not very strong.
Weber finds both types:
In this first temptation Satan was tempting Jesus to rely on his own self-provision, rather than on the provision of God. Jesus often insisted he would do nothing of his own will. He came to do the Father’s will only. This would have been a departure from the mission on which the Father had sent him. Jesus would have been exercising improper independence.
Satan’s temptations follow the familiar pattern he used in Eden and which he has used ever since—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:6). “Try this good food (flesh).” “It looks good (lust of the eyes).” “It will make you wise and in charge like God (pride of life).”
In a similar manner, Israel was tempted by their hunger in the desert to seek ways to provide for themselves. When they found they had no resources, they grumbled. God demonstrated their need to depend on him by providing manna. Even then they were tempted to take care of themselves by hoarding the food. But the extra manna was always spoiled the next day, so they were once again dependent on God’s provision for that day. Through this concrete demonstration, God taught Israel to be dependent on him, in hopes that they would apply the same lesson concerning their dependence on God for truth, wisdom, and instruction.
Because of this parallel between Jesus and Israel, it is appropriate that Jesus quoted Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 8:3. In the larger context of Deuteronomy 8, Moses was reminding Israel of their need to depend on God’s provision. Jesus brought this truth to bear in his personal battle. Rather than launch out in independent self-provision, he entrusted his well-being to his Father. He refused to be improperly independent.
Stuart K. Weber, vol. 1, Matthew, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 41.
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.
Matthew 4:1 (ESV): Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Mark 1:12 (ESV): The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
Luke 4:1 (ESV): And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness
First point of comparison: the temporal connection between the baptism and Jesus going to the wilderness.
Matthew marks the connection with word “then”, Greek, tote:
Implying a close connection with the events recorded in the last chapter, especially the descent of the Spirit.
Alexander Balmain Bruce D.D., The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans), 1:88. This will become important with the transition between the temptations, because Luke will later use the ambiguous kai (and) which does not mark order while Matthew will again use “tote” to mark a temporal ordering (“tote has the force of ‘next,’ and implies a closer order of sequence than Luke’s kai” (Bruce, 89)).
Mark uses an even more direct and emphatic expression, “and immediately” (ESV, “The Spirit immediately …), kai euthus. Mark is quite fond of this word. Swanson does not even give specific uses, merely stating, “Mk 1:10–15:1 passim” (James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). The intensity of the word must be abated when found in Mark. For example, in Mark 1:29, we read that when they left the synagogue they “immediately”, euthus, entered the house of Simon: an action which must have taken some time longer than “immediate”. Therefore, we need to the understand the word in the manner in which it was used by Mark (lexicons merely descriptive).
Luke marks the temporal ordering with the particle de which means little more in most instances that a shift in the story (whether that shift should be translated “and”, “but”, “yet” or otherwise depends upon context). Luke notes the connection between the baptism and the temptation with his emphasis on the Holy Spirit: The Greek woodenly translated reads, “Jesus, then, of the Holy Spirit full”. Plummer explains, “These words connect the Temptaiton closely with the Baptism. It was under the influence of the Spirit, which had just descended upon Him, that He went, in obedience to God’s will, into the wilderness” (Alfred Plummer D.D., The International Critical Commentary: The Gospel of Luke, 7th Impression. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1960), 107).
In short, Matthew and Mark place a tight temporal connection with the preceding passage. Luke, too, draws a close connection, although his connection is based upon logical and theological relationship rather than the use of a temporal marker.