4
  • Matthew 4

    1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted a by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
    4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
    5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
    “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
       and they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
    7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
    8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
    10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”
    11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

  • Luke 4

    1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted a by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
    3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
    4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ”
    5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
    8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ”
    9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
    “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you
       to guard you carefully;
       11they will lift you up in their hands,
       so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
    12Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
    13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Matthew gives the order of temptations as:

  • "tell these stones to become bread"
  • "throw yourself down"
  • "bow down and worship me"

However, Luke gives the order of temptations as:

  • "tell this stone to become bread"
  • "bow down and worship me"
  • "throw yourself down"

Can any significance be attributed to the different orders?

  • 1
    There are many many slight differences between the accounts four accounts of the Gospels. This is just another one. – Dottard Jul 2 at 20:02
  • @NigelJ - that is indubitable. That question goes to the overall theme and structure of Luke compared to Matthew which is a much larger subject, not just the temptations. – Dottard Jul 3 at 0:46
  • @Dottard Actually, yes. I see your point.The question then appears extremely broad, covering the entire message-interpretation of both books. – Nigel J Jul 3 at 0:49
3

Mark mentions that there are temptations in the dessert but no detail. None of the three temptations are described. Mark was a minimalist.

Luke was a gentile and a doctor. He was probably the most logical of the 4 gospel writers. He prefaced his gospel with Luke 1

1 Many have undertaken to compose an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by the initial eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

I suspect that Luke's account of the 3 temptations are chronological.

Matthew was a Jew and familiar with the OT theology. He placed the worship-Satan temptation last because theologically it is the ultimate temptation. It hit the climax.

John's focus is on love and doesn't mention the temptations at all but mentions Satan in John 14:30

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.

Sounds like John knew about the three events but decided not to put them in his gospel.

John 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Each gospel shows the personality of the author a bit. The different ordering here reflects their different writing styles.

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  • But do you accept that the inspiration of each writer is from One Author - the Holy Spirit. And in his inspiration of four individuals would you accept that the content of each of the four books is focussed on a different aspect of Christ and his ministry ? Thus, every detail will reflect that aspect, the whole conveying a definite view of Christ : even in such a detail as this, we should be able to discern why the events are ordered in the way that they are. – Nigel J Jul 3 at 10:58
  • 1
    Right. That would take spiritual discernment. – Tony Chan Jul 3 at 13:26
2

I can answer 'Why is the order ... different ?' But I cannot discern the actual meaning of the order being different. I would be guessing, if I tried, to be honest.

Matthew's purpose - or one might say, the purpose of the Holy Spirit who inspired Matthew - is fairly clear regarding the setting forth of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the context of an earthly kingdom which is, nonetheless, an earthly kingdom authorised by God.

The conflict : of those who wish to retain an earthly kingdom and who are unwilling to relinquish the earthly shadow and type, in order to realise the fulfillment of that earthly figure in the reality of the heavenly counterpart : becomes evident.

Whereas Luke's purpose - again, the purpose of the Holy Spirit who inspired that writer - is, I would suggest (and others agree) the setting forth of the Saviour and the Grace of God to the whole earth - Jew and Gentile.

I would not wish to broaden this particular question too much and therefore I do not enlarge any more on this or one would have to extend this answer into a study of both books.


But that is the reason why there will be a subtle difference in the ordering of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness.

Certain temptations will be pertinent - and their order significant - to the King of the Kingdom of Heaven and his royal rule.

Certain temptations will be more relevant to the Saviour and his saving work and saving ministry.

So, one would look at such things as the worshipping of the (initially anonymous) spirit who approaches Jesus and its significance to both aspects of Christ. And then one would look at the casting down from the temple pinnacle to see how that will bear upon those two aspects.

There is a subtlety in the different order, expressed by the Holy Spirit, in each of the two narrative accounts.

But I am not confident enough in my perception of the passage to feel I can state, in detail, my own view of exactly the reasons for it.

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