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The Temptation of Jesus

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness[a] to be tempted by the devil. After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished.[b] The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.”[c] But he answered,[d] “It is written, ‘Man[e] does not live[f] by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”[g] Then the devil took him to the holy city,[h] had him stand[i] on the highest point[j] of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you[k] and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”[l] Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’”[m] Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur.[n] And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship[o] me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go away,[p] Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”[q] 11 Then the devil left him, and angels[r] came and began ministering to his needs.

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  1. Matthew 4:1 tn Or “desert.”sn The Judean Wilderness (or Judean Desert) is a geographical feature extending from the mountains of Judea in the west to the Dead Sea in the east. It is a relatively small desert, covering only about 600 square miles (roughly 1,500 square km). The Judean Wilderness is characterized by breathtaking panoramas: mountains, cliffs, chalk hills, and plateaus are interrupted by riverbeds and canyons, some of which are up to 1,500 feet (500 m) deep. Some of the rivers are seasonal streams and some have water all year round. The tall cliffs on the eastern edge of the desert reach a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the shore of the Dead Sea. The Judean Wilderness is close to Jerusalem and sparsely populated with few settlements around its edges. It is known for its rugged and desolate landscape, which has provided a refuge and hiding place for rebels and zealots throughout history, as well as solitude for monks and hermits.
  2. Matthew 4:2 tn Grk “and having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry.”
  3. Matthew 4:3 tn Grk “say that these stones should become bread.”
  4. Matthew 4:4 tn Grk “answering, he said.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokritheis) is redundant, but the syntax of the phrase has been changed for clarity.
  5. Matthew 4:4 tn Or “a person.” Greek ὁ ἄνθρωπος (ho anthrōpos) is used generically for humanity. The translation “man” is used because the emphasis in Jesus’ response seems to be on his dependence on God as a man.
  6. Matthew 4:4 tn Grk “will not live.” The verb in Greek is a future tense, but it is unclear whether it is meant to be taken as a command (also known as an imperatival future) or as a statement of reality (predictive future).
  7. Matthew 4:4 sn A quotation from Deut 8:3.
  8. Matthew 4:5 sn The order of the second and third temptations are reversed in Luke’s account (4:5-12) from the order given in Matthew. Scholars differ on which account represents the original order of the temptations, but it seems likely that whichever is original, the other was changed by the author of that gospel for literary reasons.
  9. Matthew 4:5 tn Grk “and he stood him.”
  10. Matthew 4:5 sn What the highest point of the temple refers to is unclear. Perhaps the most popular suggestion is that the word refers to the point on the temple’s southeast corner where it looms directly over a cliff some 450 ft (135 m) high. Others have suggested the reference could be to the roof of the temple or a projection of the roof; still others see a reference to the lintel of the temple’s high gate, or a tower in the temple courts. The Greek word itself could be literally translated “winglet” (a diminutive of the Greek word for “wing”) which may have been chosen as a wordplay on the reference to safety under the “wings” of God in Ps 91:4, the same psalm quoted by the devil in the following verse.
  11. Matthew 4:6 sn A quotation from Ps 91:11. This was not so much an incorrect citation as a use in a wrong context (a misapplication of the passage). Ps 91 addresses one who has sought shelter in the Lord and assures him that God will protect him from danger. As Jesus points out in his reply, however, this protection does not extend to cases where the intent is to put the Lord to the test.
  12. Matthew 4:6 sn A quotation from Ps 91:12.
  13. Matthew 4:7 sn A quotation from Deut 6:16.
  14. Matthew 4:8 tn Grk “glory.”
  15. Matthew 4:9 tn Grk “if, falling down, you will worship.” BDAG 815 s.v. πίπτω 1.b.α.ב has “fall down, throw oneself to the ground as a sign of devotion, before high-ranking persons or divine beings.”
  16. Matthew 4:10 tc The majority of witnesses (C2 D L Z Γ 33 1241 1424 M) have “behind me” (ὀπίσω μου; opisō mou) after “Go away.” But since this is the wording in Matt 16:23, where the text is certain, scribes most likely added the words here to conform to the later passage. Further, the shorter reading has superior support (א B C*vid K P W Δ 0233 ƒ1, 13 565 579* 700). Thus, both externally and internally, the shorter reading is strongly preferred.
  17. Matthew 4:10 sn A quotation from Deut 6:13. The word “only” is an interpretive expansion in the Greek text of the NT not found in either the Hebrew or Greek (LXX) text of the OT.
  18. Matthew 4:11 tn Grk “and behold, angels.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).