Matthew 4:1-11

(Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)


Points to consider:

  1. The Spirit led Jesus to the encounter with Satan. This may mean that Satan was not necessarily enjoying this confrontation with the Son of God. Think about it -
    • Who instigates this encounter? The Holy Spirit.
    • Who dismisses who when they have decided these activities have run their course? Jesus, the Son of God, dismisses Satan.

2. These temptations and the authority by which they are met are unique with the Son of God. We, in our natural selves, do not have the ability to withstand this kind of temptation. We are not called to fast for 40 days. Instead, these verses are to identify the greatness and the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They are not to serve as a type of motivation for us to do the same, but instead to cry out for Jesus and cling to his person and power.


The Spirit led Jesus to an encounter with Satan. The pressure was on Satan, not Jesus. The Spirit wanted to confront Satan.

1 John 3:8 - "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work."

Acts 10:38, "You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached - how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."


"Tempt" or "Test" comes from "peirasthenai" (root "peiraz")

- Satan "tempts" to cause you to fall and be destroyed

- God "tests" to prove what is in your heart


Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin."


Israel was tested in the wilderness after they came out of the wilderness. So, Jesus is tested when he comes up out of the water.

Wilderness is often used by God to prepare for a new beginning.


Devil is one of three names used in these verses:

  1. Devil - "diabolus" means "slanderer, adversary, accuser"
  2. Satan - means "adversary, opponent, opposer", one who opposes another in purpose or act
  3. Tempter - "peirazo" verse 4:3;

         to make an attempt, to tempt, make proof or trial of

         to try, to put to the test

         to try whether a thing can be done


Jericho is 15 miles from Jerusalem.



"fasting" was a biblical practice for a variety of reasons

- self-deprivation exposes the weakness of your nature

- fasting is a form of humbling yourself before God

- fasting can set you in a place to hear from God and see the divine view


Notice, here again Jesus is following Israel's history. As they spent 40 years in the wilderness, he will spend 40 days. They complained about the bread, Jesus will be tempted to create bread.

The testing/tempting conversation begins after 40 days, although the entire 40 days was part of the test/temptation (Luke 4:1)

Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days with no food (Ex. 24:18; 34:28; Deut. 9:9)

Elijah was in the wilderness with out eating for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8)


Jesus' fasting is not a model for believers. Jesus' experience was unique



The devil is introduced as the "tempter"

"if" is in the first class condition and presents the viewpoint of reality. It means here, "If, and it is assumed to be true, you are the Son of God . . . " or, "If, and it is true, you are the Son of God. . . "

Satan is saying that "sonship" is a privileged position and Jesus should use it to resolve his hunger.

Jesus is being asked to use his power in a self-serving way. This will set a pattern for the rest of his ministry. Is his ministry going to be about serving himself? or, about fulfilling God's plan, which included destroying the devil's work.



Deuteronomy 8:3 and comes from Israel's testing in the wilderness in Deuteronomy 8:2

Israel's experience in the wilderness with hunger was part of the education and testing designed by God for them.

Israel's job was to follow God, but not worry about food.

Israel's purpose for life was to follow God (God's word). There purpose was not to seek after food. Israel's life was to follow God's word, not seek bread.

God would always provide the bread or the means for the bread


"Word" is "rhema" and refers to the word of God that is spoken. It is not the word "Logos" which is also translated "word" and means "the rational expression"


Jesus is not going to use his power to serve himself, but he will allow God's will to provide for him and Jesus will follow God's word or will for his life.

Jesus' test involved these things:

  1. Priorities - Was Jesus going to seek food, or God's will? Was Jesus' number one priority to gratify self or be obedient to God?
  2. Principle - Was Jesus' ministry going to be based on serving God (fulfilling God's will), or was it going to be based on serving himself (fulfilling his own will)?


For Jesus to exalt his needs over God's obvious will would be to put himself at odds (in opposition) with God. The name "Satan" means "adversary, opposition, one who opposes"



Satan "takes" Jesus here and in 4:8 out of the wilderness to other locations.

The word "take" is "parelaben". It is the same word used of Joseph "taking" the infant Jesus to Egypt for protection.

Jesus is now in Jerusalem and at the temple in Jerusalem

Jesus will be "transported" by Satan in both the 2nd and 3rd temptation.


"Pinnacle" or "highest point" is the word "pterugion" and it means "a little wing, used of the feather of an arrow; then it began to mean any thing like a wing running out to a point, a pinnacle." It means the end or the edge This word is used by both Matthew and Luke. This word is not used in other ancient writings to refer to a feature of a building, but it is used to refer to projecting piece of armor or to a rudder.

The "pinnacle" of the temple could be:

  1. The Southeast corner of the temple mound wall which, according to Josephus rose another 30 meters above today's ground level on the temple mound. Josephus wrote concerning the view from the SE corner of the temple mount looking down the wall from on top the portico that stood there and into the Kidron Valley: "The ravine itself was so deep that no one could bear to lean over and look down to the bottom from above; but above it stood also an immensely high portico, so that anyone who looked down from the top of its roof, with the two heights combined, would become dizzy as he looked into the depths, his eyesight being unable to reach the bottom of such an unfathomable drop." (Ant. 15.412)
  2. The Southwest corner of the temple mound wall where Jesus' brother James will be pushed to his death in 63 AD.
  3. Over the gate into the temple from the west side by what is not called Wilson's Gate
  4. The roof of the temple itself



Jesus used scripture and, now, so will the Devil.

Satan even says, "For it is written".

Satan draws Jesus' attention to Psalm 91:11-12. God will meet the needs and provide safety. Satan is asking Jesus to create the need first, thus manipulating God to keep his word.

Psalm 91 is for all people who would choose to put their trust in the Most High. But, it is not an invitation for people to take the initiative to create situations that threaten them.

If men lived presumptuously and created needs for God to meet, they would become the lord over the Lord himself.

We do not "test" God like this.

It may be that Satan was creating a situation for Jesus to demonstrate his sonship to the public since this temptation could have taken place in the wilderness instead of at the temple. This was not a test to prove to Jesus nor to Satan that Jesus was the Son of God. Both Jesus and Satan already knew this.



Notice it is scripture verse scripture, or scripture interpreting scripture. Which is a basic principle of proper hermeneutics.

Jesus is a more faithful interpreter of Scripture than Satan. They both use scripture, but Satan's hermeneutics is flawed.

Jesus uses Deut. 6:16 where God warns Israel not to test/tempt him as they did in Exodus 17:1-7 when they cried out for water at Massah.

Jesus reminds Satan of a similar situation and keeps the context of the verses.

We can not demand God or challenge him to come to our rescue. Instead we trust God



"a very high mountain" in Matthew. In Luke it says "took him up" or "to a high place".

This is another transportation.


Matthew records an event on a mountain top in:

  • 5:1 - sermon
  • 15:29 - feeding 4,000
  • 17:1 - transfiguration
  • 28:16 - great commission


Notice that the elevation has increased at each temptation: wilderness, temple pinnacle, to a very high mountain.



Jesus' Call

A Test of. . .

God's Will

Genesis 3:6

1 John 2:16

#1 - Bread

Pervert calling for self-service


Jesus makes his own will

Saw the fruit of the tree was good for food

Cravings of sinful man

#2 - Jump

Pervert calling to control God


Jesus will destroy himself

. . . and pleasing to the eye. . .

Lust of his eyes

#3 - Bow Down

Abandon calling and take crown


Jesus will skip God's will

. . . and also desirable for gaining wisdom

Boasting of what he has and does


The temptation is to take the crown before the cross.

It could be called Satan worship or simply using the world's ways to achieve a goal. Remember Peter's plan in Matthew 16:23 and Jesus' rebuke of him by calling him "Satan"


Matthew will describe the kingdoms of the world in his book as:

  1. stumbling blocks 18:7
  2. needing light 5:14
  3. needing the gospel 26:13


Jesus may have explained his logic in Matthew 16:26, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his own soul?"


The Messiah had been promised the universal dominion over all people in:

  • Psalm 2:8
  • Psalm 72:8-11
  • Daniel 7:13-14
  • Zechariah 9:10


Indeed, like the other offers, this was also a very real possibility for Jesus. No other man could have been tempted to turn stones to bread. Likewise, no other man has ever been offered all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus was and he knew the offers were real.


In Matthew 28:19 Jesus has been given all authority and sends his disciples to all the kingdoms of the world with the Good News.

Jesus does get all authority, but he does it by destroying Satan, sin and this world system, not by forming an opportunistic alliance with it. Jesus defeats it with his death and resurrection, but not by following Satan's twisted plans and counterfeit agenda.

Satan offers the right goal, but uses the wrong means.

Satan asks for a compromise with evil to establish the correct goal.

Satan is described several places in the NT as having this same authority he was willing to share with Jesus:

  • Matthew 12:26
  • John 12:31
  • John 14:30
  • John 16:11
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • Ephesians 6:11-12
  • 1 John 5:19
  • Revelation12:9-17



The Devil is now called "Satan" or "adversary"


Jesus uses Deuteronomy 6:13 to rebuke Satan. It is also a time of Israel in the wilderness.


The word "worship" is substituted for the LXX word "fear" when Jesus quotes Deut 6:13.


Jesus statement "Away from me, Satan," indicates who was in control.

Satan is dismissed, and probably glad of it.




Satan has to leave, and Jesus stays. Again we see who was really under pressure here. It was Satan who felt the pressure from Jesus. Remember, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to Satan and Satan had to flee.

James says the same thing in James 4:7,8 and Peter is similar in 1 Peter 5:8-10


Satan leaves Jesus for a season but Satan would return when he had an opportune time (Luke 4:13). Some of these times would be:

  • 16:1 - Pharisees and Sadducees ask for a sign
  • 16:23 - Peter rejecting Jesus' death in Jerusalem
  • 26:36-46 - Gethsemane
  • 27:39-44 - on the cross when the crowds shouted "save yourself."


Angels attended Jesus just as angels attended Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-8). The angels provided comfort and strength, and most likely, the food. Elijah received the food before the 40 days. Jesus received it after the 40 days.

Psalm 91 was fulfilled, but in God's timing. Psalm 91:11 says,

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."