Q&A: Is there a discrepancy in the order of Christ's temptations ?

Is there a discrepancy in the order of Christ's temptations ?

Question

The Bible is inconsistent. Matthew 4 and Luke 4 do not agree on their order of the temptations. How do you answer this?

Answer

Matt. 4:5, 8: Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple… Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

Luke 4:5, 9: And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time… 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…”
Yes, there is a difference in the sequence of events as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13. While both state that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit and was first tempted to turn stones into bread (Matt. 4:3-4), they change the order of the next two temptations (Matt. 4:5-10 vs. Luke 4:5-12). But, nowhere is either writer claiming to place the order of the temptations in a chronological order. However, it is more than likely Mathew's account is chronological and Luke's is topical because Matthew uses the chronological introductory terms "then" and "again" (Matt. 4:5, 8), whereas Luke uses a more topical introductory term "and" (Luke 4:5, 9).

This said, what is clear is that the temptations transpired, Jesus overcame them, and was ministered too and strengthened for ministry.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).