Temptation of Jesus - Matthew 4:1-11

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 4:1-22

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Temptation of Jesus - Matthew 4:1-11

Paralleling Israel's forty years of testing in the wilderness (Num. 14:34), Jesus experienced forty days and nights of temptation. The difference is that for Jesus this was not because of his disobedience (like Israel) and unlike Israel, Jesus did not test God, but completely trusted him. In each temptation Jesus quoted Scripture, revealing his trust in God. See WLC 48.

The Spirit - Matthew 4:1

The Spirit. The Spirit of God sent by the Father who descended on Jesus the Son at his baptism (Matt. 3:16) now lead Jesus from the waters of baptism into the dry wilderness as the final stage of preparation for Jesus' public ministry (Matt. 4:17).

To be tempted by the devil – Matthew 4:1

To be tempted by the devil. The word "tempted" (Grk. peirazō) can be translated as either "test, try" or "tempt." God tests people. The devil tempts people. The difference is in motive and goal. God tests people to refine and train them for their good (Deut. 8:2; Ps. 66:10; Heb. 12:5-11; Jam. 1:3, 13-17). The devil seeks to bring destruction and chaos into God's world (Gen. 3:1; John 13:2; 1 Cor. 7:5; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).

If you are the Son of God - Matthew 4:3

If you are the Son of God. The devil was not questioning or wondering whether Jesus is truly the Son of God (Mark 1:24). This has just been declared in Matt. 3:17. The devil was using that truth to tempt Jesus to use his divine rights as the Son outside of God's will and to take matters into his own hands rather than trust God fully as an obedient son.

Showed him all the kingdoms of the world - Matthew 4:8

Showed him all the kingdoms of the world. The devil tempted Jesus with glory and sovereignty over all the world without having to first go through suffering and death for the sins of God's people (Matt. 16:21). After Jesus successfully resisted this temptation he began offering to the world the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 4:17) and finally was given all glory and authority (Matt. 28:18-20; Phil. 2:5-11).

The devil left him - Matthew 4:11

The devil left him. Throughout this story Jesus' adversary is called by several names: the devil (Matt. 4:1,5,8,11), the tempter (Matt. 4:3), and Satan (Matt. 4:10). Matthew does not tell us anything more specific, but the devil is traditionally associated with the one who tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7), was always God's enemy (Job 1:6-12), and who continues to oppose God's people in the world (1 Pet. 5:8-9). He is a created being, not equal to God, on the same level as angels, as the contrast between the devil and the angels shows in Matthew 4:11.

Jesus' ministry begins - Matthew 4:12-22

After submitting to John's baptism (3:13-17) and the Spirit leading him into the devil's temptations (Matt. 4:1-11) Jesus then began the ministry that God the Father sent him to do. This ministry can be generally described as the call to repentance because God's kingdom is near (Matt. 4:17). When God's kingdom comes he will honor and welcome those who are aligned with him, therefore people are invited now to repent and reorient their lives toward Jesus. Jesus changed locations from Nazareth to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee as the home base of his ministry (Matt. 4:12-13). There he called fishermen as his first disciples to join in his ministry (Matt. 4:18-22). These verses serve as a bridge between the introduction and preparation of Jesus (Matt. 1:1–4:11) to his kingdom ministry of teaching and healing (Matt. 4:23–25:46).

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