Satan Tempts Christ

Satan tempts Christ first (3)

4) Matt 4:1–4: Immediately after his baptism confirmed his status as God’s Son (Matt 3:16–17; Mark 1:12), Jesus prepared himself for public ministry with an extensive time of communion with his Father.[1]

He ventured into the Judean wilderness close to where John baptized him.[2]

People in the Ancient Near East considered the desert haunted by evil spirits, as it lay beyond the bounds of civilized society.[3]

Since the Spirit led Christ into the wilderness, ultimately God initiated this confrontation.[4]

This trial tested Jesus’s ability to obey Deut 6:4–5,[5] a passage repeated by devout Jewish people twice daily even today.[6]

Jesus did not engage in spiritual arm-wrestling by pitting the power of the Holy Spirit within him against Satan. Since temptation involves twisting reality, the best defense comes from Scriptural truth.[7]

Many Jewish rabbis of that era employed the format of this debate.[8] Indeed, reciting bible verses provides a helpful pattern for us to follow when dealing with sinful enticement.[9]

All three texts Christ quoted in Matt 4:1–10 are commands the Lord gave to Israel in the wilderness.[10] By undergoing these temptations, Jesus replicated the experiences of both Adam and Israel yet did not succumb to desire (Deut 8:1–10).[11]

Satan chose to attack after Jesus fasted for forty days, when he was physically weakest.[12]

He aimed to disqualify Christ as a sinless savior and obedient son in order to disrupt God’s plan to redeem humanity (Eph 1:3–11; Phil 2:5–11).[13]

While some Bible versions use the word “if” in verse 3, a better translation is, “Since the son of God you are….”[14]

Just like the demon in Mark 1:23–24, the devil certainly knew Jesus’s true identity.[15]

In essence, he was saying, “We both know you’re the Son of God, now prove it by helping yourself.”[16]

Would Christ exercise his messianic power to avoid the pain of a normal human life?[17] Or would he accept the path before him of suffering and eventual death?[18]

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a) Read Matt 4:1–4. How is this temptation similar to what Adam and Israel experienced? Do you think that the Lord used Satan to fulfill his own purposes? Why or why not? How can we use Jesus’s method of defense when we undergo temptation?




Go to A Second Temptation


[Related posts include  A Second Temptation (Matt 4:5–7); The Third Temptation (Matt 4:8–11); Serpents in the Ancient Near East (Gen 3:1); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); God Curses the Serpent (Gen 3:14); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); The Accuser (Job 1:6–11 and Job 2:1–7); Satan Addresses the Heavenly Council (Zech 3:1–5); God’s Servant, the Branch (Zech 3:6–10); A Murderer from the Beginning (John 8:42–44); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Falling for Deception (2 Cor 11:3–4); and An Angel of Light (2 Cor 11:13–15); Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); and The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11)]


[Click here to go to Chapter 7: The Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman (Genesis 3:14–15)]


[1] Wilkins, Matthew, 154.

[2]Hagner, Matthew 1–13, 63.

[3] Davies and Allison, Matthew 1–7, 354.

[4] Davies and Allison, Matthew 1–7, 360.

[5] Osborne, Matthew, 131.

[6]Daniel I. Block, Deuteronomy (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 181.

[7] Wilkins, Matthew, 161.

[8] Davies and Allison, Matthew 1–7, 352.

[9] Wilkins, Matthew,  157.

[10] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Matt 4:1–11.

[11] Wilkins, Matthew, 156–7.

[12] Hagner, Matthew 1–13, 64.

[13] Wilkins, Matthew, 157.

[14]Danker, et al.,“εἰ” (ei), BDAG, 277.

[15] Hagner, Matthew 1–13, 65.

[16] Osborne, Matthew, 132.

[17] Wilkins, Matthew, 158.

[18] Hagner, Matthew 1–13, 65.