The mission of the Messiah, 1:5-9:50

2. Testimonies to the Messiah, 2:41-4:30

v] Witness of the temptation.


Following his encounter with John the Baptist, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness and there, for forty days and forty nights, he is tested by Satan.


Jesus had come to be the savior of the world and this meant he had to do battle with God's enemy, "the ruler of this world", "the god of this world", "the prince of the power of the air." There could only be one victor; either Jesus is Lord, or Satan is Lord. The temptation of Jesus is the first engagement in a battle that will reach its climax on Calvary when Satan will seemingly defeat God's messiah on the cross. In this battle no quarter is given for it is a battle for the Lordship of the whole of God's creation. So, it is that Jesus is "led by the Spirit" into the wilderness to face Satan's test, but unlike Israel of old, he stands the test.


i] Context: See 2:41-53. The second section of Luke's gospel, Testimonies to the Messiah, 2:41-4:30, consists of a group of episodes which give witness to the coming messiah. Each of the six episodes serve to inaugurate Jesus' mission and tell us something of his messianic character. In the passage before us, the fifth testimony to Jesus, Luke records Jesus' temptation. The temptation story consists of three tests. Their purpose and nature is by no means clear, prompting numerous interpretations.


ii] Structure: This narrative, The witness of the temptation, presents as follows:

Setting, v1-2;

1st. test, v3-4:

"man shall not live by bread alone."

2nd. test, v5-8:

"worship the Lord your God and serve only him."

3rd. test, v9-12:

"do not put the Lord your God to the test."

The devil departs, v13.


ii] Interpretation:

Marshall argues that the temptation account has a far broader intent; "it demonstrates how the Spirit, who had come upon Jesus, guided and empowered him in his new task, [and] on the other hand, it shows how Jesus, as the Son of God, was obedient to God." Bultmann thinks the account serves to denounce the selfish use of miracles, while Fitzmyer argues that it serves to establish the reason behind Jesus' intent not to do signs. Bock says "the account should be read as an example of how faithfulness overcomes the temptation to sin and avoids becoming allied with Satan." To this end the reader is encouraged to rely on scripture, "in the power of the Spirit", to stand against the wiles of the Devil, cf. Stein. Johnson sees in the temptation a clear revelation of Jesus' person; he is the "true minister of God's kingdom, obedient to the one who commissioned him so that in all he does God is with him."

In the temptation, the messianic vocation of Christ, as corporate Israel, is tested by questioning the validity of messiah's promised provision, authentication and success. The temptations are therefore best viewed as a test of messiah's faith. See Nolland, who focuses on wilderness typology in the temptations, but in particular notes that each exposes the need to rely (have faith) in the divine pledge (covenant promise) to "do well by his son." There is a sense where the temptations are "designed to make Jesus prove his messiahship and thereby pervert it", Ellis, So, the temptations seek to undermine Jesus' commitment to the realization of the kingdom in line with the revealed will of God:

• When it comes to the realization of the kingdom, will God supply messiah's needs?

• Is not the power and glory of the secular city / Babel better able to realize the kingdom than divine fidelity?

• Is it not possible that self-glory would achieve a better response and so hasten the coming kingdom?

By defeating these temptations Jesus' "fidelity to God was proven in the midst of testing", Green, thus cementing his "willingness to do what he already knew God wanted him to do", Stein.


The temptation and its insight into Satan: This passage gives some very interesting insights into Satan: i] He recognizes that Jesus is the messiah, the anointed one who is to lead his people out of the slavery of sin and gather them together in the promised kingdom; ii] He accepts the authority of scripture; iii] He is described as lord over the present age, with the power and glory of this age in his hands; iv] He is a deceiver and so sets out to compromise Jesus' messiahship.


Interpretative methodologies: The story of the temptation of Jesus is very useful for the purpose of testing methods of Biblical interpretation. This site leans toward a literary criticism approach with the Bible treated as the Word of God when rightly interpreted. God's Word to us, in the final analysis, is the message of the writer, ie. the writers' message is God's message (irrespective of the myriad human elements evident in the writer's words). Literary criticism can range from a conservative treatment where weight is given to the historicity of Biblical events (Jesus was actually temped) to a more liberal approach where theology subsumes historicity. Redaction criticism has its part to play, as does source criticism, although less so. The return of interpreters to literary criticism is to be applauded, although we could do without today's reader response approach - truth is whatever-it means-to-you!!!


Form: The temptation of Jesus evidences an oral tradition utilized in a homiletic setting. Without diminishing the historicity of the temptation of Jesus, the tradition has taken on the shape of a three-point sermon, even somewhat "folkloric [under] the threefold [Hellenistic] catagories of vice; love of pleasure, love of possessions; love of glory", Johnson. This is then framed in a kingdom of God Biblical theology, a theology grounded in the Old Testament. The gospel writers have taken this oral tradition, dropped the local application, and then shaped it to achieve their own didactic purpose.

We could attempt to draw out the historical substance of the temptation, but in the end, the inspired Word for us is the message of the writer, namely, a three point sermon on the business of resting temptation, set within the frame of the Biblical theology of the kingdom of God. In Israel's time of testing in the wilderness she doubted God's provision, she failed to preserve her special relationship with God, and she doubted God's power and so put him to the test, cf. Deut.6:10-16, 8:1-9:22. The new Israel of God, similarly tested in the wilderness, does not doubt God's provision, preserves his special relationship with the Father, and does not doubt the Father's power and so put him to the test, cf. Evans, p256. When we face Satan's arrows, let us follow in the footsteps of the Master.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 4:1

The temptation of Jesus, v1-14: i] Introductory summary, v1-2. Luke carefully sets the scene. Jesus is corporate Israel undertaking a new Exodus. Will he fail the test as Israel did all those years before?

de "-" - but, and. Here transitional, introducing a new literary unit.

plhrhV adj. "full" - The NIV has treated this adjective as a substantive limited by the adjectival genitives "of the Holy Spirit" and standing in apposition to "Jesus". The word "full" is often used by Luke in the sense of equipped to speak powerfully and truthfully for God, Acts, 6:5, 8; 7:55, 11:24. "When Jesus returned from the river Jordan, the power of the Spirit was with him", CEV.

pneumatoV aJgiou gen. "of the Holy Spirit" - The genitives are adjectival, of content.

apo + gen. "left [the Jordan]" - Expressing separation; "away from."

hgeto (agw) imperf. pas. "was led" - was being led about. A divine passive. Note that Luke does not further the anomaly found in Matthew where Jesus is led out into the wilderness after having been with the Baptist in the wilderness.

en + dat. "by [the Spirit]" - in [the Spirit]. Possibly local, expressing space/sphere, "in", or instrumental, expressing means / agency, "by means of." This preposition is sometimes equivalent to uJpo followed by the accusative = "by", but not when following a possessive verb as here. Jesus is not under the Spirit's control, but is rather guided by the Spirit; he is walking in the Spirit.

en + dat. "in [the desert]" - Local, expressing space/sphere. LXX Deut.8:2. Jesus is led about in (not "to") the wilderness by the Spirit as Israel was led about all those years before.


peirazomenoV (peirazw) pres. pass. part. "was tempted" - being tempted/tested. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "was led"; "he was led by the Spirit ..... and tempted ...." Possibly adverbial, temporal; "while the devil tempted him", Moffatt. The present tense indicates that the testing is during the 40 days, as was Israel's testing during the 40 years.

uJpo + gen. "by [the devil]" - Here expressing agency, as NIV.

ouk efagen ouden "he ate nothing" - he didn't eat nothing. In this double negative, the first negates the clause and the second the object. Luke could have used words appropriate for fasting here, but has chosen not to. So, Jesus is not fasting? For Luke, Jesus comes eating and drinking.

en + dat. "during [those days]" - in[ those days]. Temporal use of the preposition. Luke uses this Old Testament phrase as a cue to the fulfilment of scripture, cf. Act.2:18. Yet, how does Jesus' not eating fulfill scripture? It is likely that the whole 40 days experience is what fulfills scripture, although God's gift of manna is an act of grace to a grumbling people who have little faith. They ate, Jesus did not.

suntelesqeiswn (suntelew) gen. pas. part. "at the end of [them]" - having been completed. The genitive absolute participle is adverbial, temporal; "when they were over he felt hungry", Moffatt.

epeinasen (peinaw) "he was hungry" - The temptation reaches a crescendo when Jesus is affected by hunger pains.


ii] The first temptation - stone into bread, v3-4. In the first test, the devil addresses Jesus as "Son of God". This is a messianic title, although the devil would fully understands Jesus' relationship with the Father. The "if" is not expressing doubt as to Jesus' messiahship, but is rather a goad for him to use his own powers to establish the kingdom, rather than trusting God to supply the wherewithal for the kingdom's realization. Israel doubted that God would supply food for the journey through the wilderness. Jesus has no such doubts.

de "-" - Transitional, introducing a new literary unit and therefore untranslated.

oJ diaboloV "the devil" - Equivalent to the Old Testament satan meaning "adversary", "slanderer". Matthew uses either "satan" or "the tempter."

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a hypothetical conditional clause, 1st class, expressing a supposition which implies nothing as to the fulfilment or otherwise of the condition; "if, as is the case for the sake of argument, .... then ....." Of course, Satan knows full well that Jesus is the Son of God.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the Son] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, relational. Many commentators argue that Satan is using this title as a descriptive of Jesus' filial relationship with the Father, but the term is also used as a messianic title for the Israel of God. It is surely more appropriate for Satan to cast doubts upon God's willing provision for Jesus' journey as the new Israel, in much the same way as he tested the faith of Israel of old as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land.

tw/ liqw/ (oV) dat. "[tell this] stone" - [say] to [this] stone. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "to [become]" - that [it may become]. Here introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech, entreating/commanding, expressing what Jesus should tell the stone, namely "become bread".

artoV (oV) sing. "bread" - loaf. Turn this stone into a loaf of bread. The singular is more appropriate than Matthew's "loaves".


The quotation comes from 8:36. For the messiah "there is no need to leave off attending to God to seek for oneself", Nolland. Israel's yearning for the bread of Egypt displayed their little faith, but the new Israel will not go the same way.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing a direct quote from scripture.

ep (epi) + dat. "on [bread alone]" - Base / ground; "on the basis of bread alone."


iii] The second temptation - authority over the world, v5-8. In the second test, Satan offers Jesus an easy way to establish the kingdom - the power and glory of this age instead of humility, suffering and death. Satan is even willing to give up his authority over the inhabited world, but Jesus must acknowledge Satan's lordship and that would inevitably mean bondage. Jesus chooses to resist Satan and travel God's way to victory.

anagagwn (anagw) aor. part. "led [him] up to a high place" - having led up, taken up. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he showed"; "took him up and showed him." Possibly adverbial, temporal; "then he lifted Jesus up", Moffatt. No mention of a mountain as in Matthew, just the going up. Also, note that Matthew has this as the last test.

autw/ dat. pro. "[showed] him" - Dative of indirect object; "showed ..... to him."

en + dat. "in [an instant]" - in [a moment of time]. Temporal use of the preposition. The phrase probably carries the idea of Jesus receiving an instantaneous vision supplied by Satan. Another indication of Satan's power.

cronou (oV) gen. "-" - [a moment] of time. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

thV oikoumenhV (h) gen. "of the world" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive. The inhabited world, but certainly not just the Roman Empire.


soi dat. pro. "[I will give] you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

thn exousian (a) "[all their] authority" - [all this] authority/power. Such power, in Satan's hand, is horrific. We have all witnessed it in war and famine.

thn doxan (a) "splendor" - the glory [of them]. The possessive genitive autwn, "of them", does not have a natural antecedent here, but of course refers to "the kingdoms of the world", v5.

oJti "for" - that. Here expressing cause/reason; "because".

paradedotai (paradidwmi) perf. pas. "it has been given" - it has been given. What has been given to Satan: the inhabited world, the power and/or the glory of the inhabited world, or all three? Probably both power and the glory, but possibly just the glory (is it all just mirrors with Satan?). In any case, Satan has been given "it" and has the right to give "it" to whomsoever he wills. The kingdom is easily established through an application of the power and glory of this age, and so Jesus is tempted to take the easy path of compromise. Mind you, Satan may be lying!!!!!

emoi "to me" - Dative of indirect object.

w|/ ean + subj. "to anyone [I want to]" - to whomever [I will]. Introducing a relative conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whomever, as the case may be, [I will, desire], then [I will give them]."


oun "so / -" - therefore. Drawing a logical conclusion.

ean + subj. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd. class, a future supposition, where the condition expresses a posibility, "if, as may be the case", ..... then ...." If you do this, these consequences will result, namely, authority over the world and the gift of all its splendor.

enwpion + gen. "-" - [you bow down] before [me]. Spacial.

pasa "all" - everything. "Everything" over which Satan has authority within the creation. Of course, being a liar, Satan would not necessary follow through on the agreement.

sou gen. pro. "yours" - [will be] of you. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.


autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and Jesus answered and said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

proskunhseiV (proskunew) fut. "worship / serve" - you shall worship. Deut.6:13. Note the TNIV follows the modern tendency to translate this word as "serve", yet it is not a service word, but rather expresses the doing of obeisance, of falling down before the divine, and so is properly translated by the English word "worship". Words such as "venerate", or "revere", could also be used, particularly in those circles where the word "worship" has been devalued by defining it as giving God his worth, ie. a service sense.

autw/ dat. pro. "him [only]" - him [alone]. Dative of direct object.


iv] The third temptation - signs and wonders, v9-12. In the third test, Jesus is tempted to gain messianic recognition through the application of miraculous powers, rather than by way of the cross. Israel once doubted God's gracious provision for their journey when they argued with Moses at Massa. Jesus does not make the same error. Jesus understands and accepts that the messiah will be saved through death, not from death.

hgagen (agw) aor. "led" - brought.

to pterugion (ov) "the highest point" - a little wing. A high part of the temple jutting out from the wall.

tou iJerou (on) gen. "of the temple" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

ei + ind. "if" - As above, introducing a hypothetical conditional clause, 1st. class.

enteuqen adv. "[down] from here" - From where they were standing and therefore not at Satan's feet. Satan and the Father are the onlookers. The test seems designed to force a divine response for the protection of the messiah and thus, the inauguration of the kingdom outside the divine plan to establish the kingdom through the suffering of the cross.


gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus is able to throw himself off the temple parapet, "because ....".

gegraptai (grafw) perf. pas. "it is written" - it has been written. A standard introduction to a quote from scripture.

oJti "-" - Here serving to introduce a direct quotation from scripture.

toiV aggeloiV (oV) dat. "[he will command his] angels" - [he will give orders to] the angels [of him]. Dative of direct object.

peri + gen. "concerning [you]" - about, concerning. Reference.

tou diafulaxai (diafulassw) aor. inf. "to guard [you] carefully" - This construction, the genitive articular infinitive, usually forms a purpose clause, although this seems somewhat forced here. Zerwick suggests that the article is pleonastic, having no particular use / redundant. Luke is fond of the construction and interestingly tou diafulaxai se is not found in Matthew's gospel account. An infinitive by itself can form an object clause after a verb of saying or thinking, so here, taking tou as redundant, it may form a dependent statement of indirect speech, entreating/commanding, expressing what God will command his angels to do, namely "guard you carefully." "He will give his angels this commission concerning you, that they are to keep you in safety", Cassirer.


kai oJti "-" - and that. Again introducing a quote from scripture, serving to identify that verses 10 and 11 of Psalm 90 are being quoted separately to support the case that God protects a godly person. Yet, Jesus knows that the messiah is to be saved through death, not from death.

mhpote + subj. "so that [you will] not [strike]" - lest, that not. This indefinite negation with a subjective verb is used to form a negated purpose clause, "in order that not ....", as NIV. "Lest you strike your foot against a stone", Bock.


apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] answered" - [Jesus] having answered [said to him]. Attendant circumstance participle, Semitic construction.

eipen (eipon, legw) "it says / it is said" - say. An interesting use, given that "it is written" is the usual form of words for a quote.

oJti "-" - Again serving to introduce a direct quote from scripture.

ouk ekpeiraseiV (ekpeirazw) fut. "do not put ..... to the test" - to test, to try, to put to the test: to try to learn the nature or character of someone or something by submitting such to thorough and extensive testing*. The future probably functions as an imperative, so NIV. Test God, his capacity/power to act or his willingness to act, Deut.6:16? The people of Israel put God to the test at Massah when they doubted his provision for them, they doubted that he would keep his promise to them, Ex.17:3.

sou gen. pro. "[the Lord] your [God]" - [Lord the God] of you. The genitive is adjectival, of subordination.


v] Conclusion, v13. "All this tempting", means "every kind of temptation." Temptations will continue, but on this occasion Jesus faced the full range of temptations. So, for the moment the testing ends "until an opportune time."

suntelesaV (suntelew) aor. part. "when [the devil] had finished" - having finished, completed. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

panta peirasmon (oV) "all this tempting" - every temptation. Every kind of temptation, all kinds of temptations.

ap (apo) + gen. "[he left him]" - [he withdrew] from [him]. Expressing separation; "away from."

acri kairou "an opportune time" - until a time. Temporal. A general sense "until a suitable time / for a while" is best. Conzelmann argues for a specific sense, namely that the Devil is removed from the scene until he is allowed back at the appointed time of the passion. This seems unlikely.


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