And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (Lk. 4:1 KJV)

Jesus was led by what type of spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil? For the New Testament scriptures state:

Let no one, when he is tempted, say, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and tempteth no man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away and enticed by his own lust. James 1:13,14

4 Answers 4


There is a simple grammatical rule in Koine Greek that the article is generally (there are important exceptions) is anaphoric to the previous occurrence.

Luke 4:1 provides a perfect illustration of this. Let me provide a very literal translation of this text.

Then Jesus full of Spirit holy, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Note that the first occurrence of "Spirit" does not have an article and the second does. This means that the second is anaphoric (refers back) to the first. That is, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.

James 1 does not mention "spirit" of any kind anywhere in the chapter thus is not relevant.

  • OK. However, the same verb is used by the devil to take Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem in Luke 4:9, why couldn't he also be the one who took Jesus to the desert?
    – Betho's
    Nov 21, 2023 at 22:40
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    @Betho's - because of the grammar as indicated in my answer. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit.
    – Dottard
    Nov 21, 2023 at 23:24
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    After investing some time, I meticulously examined every instance of the grammatical case in the Gospel of Luke. What piqued my interest is that in the rare instances where uncertainties surfaced regarding the meaning of the second word, the respective verse consistently included an additional sentence that clarified its identical meaning.
    – Betho's
    Nov 23, 2023 at 13:21

Both Matthew's gospel and Luke's have this statement about Jesus being led in chapter 4 verse 1 of their respective accounts. Strangely, I cannot find either listed in Young's Analytical Concordance, under the word 'led'. This caused me to check his literal translation.

Matthew clearly states that the Spirit of God descended on the newly baptised Jesus:

"Then Jesus was led up to the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil." Young's Literal Translation, Mat.4:1

"And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, turned back from the Jordan, and was brought in the Spirit to the wilderness, forty days being tempted by the Devil." Ibid., Luke 4:1

I then remembered a lecture from a New Testament scholar (some years ago) who said that Jesus 'being led' used a word that denoted a forceful driving by the Holy Spirit. I could not find any mention of this action of the Spirit in any of his five books about Christ. Nor did Young have either Matthew 4:1 or Luke 4:1 listed under 'drive' or 'driven' etc. in his Concordance.

However, the grammatical aspects already explained in the answer with the Green Tick show that the same Holy Spirit, or, Spirit of God, that had just been displayed in the form of a dove, was the Spirit that immediately got Jesus into the wilderness, for the express purpose of the Devil being given opportunity to try to tempt him. That just leaves your secondary question, about James 1:13-14, to be addressed.

James was writing to Christians, starting with a warning to be on their guard as to the true nature of succumbing to sin when they were tempted. Young's translation again:

"Let no one say, being tempted - 'From God I am tempted,' for God is not tempted of evil, and Himself doth tempt no one, and each one is tempted, by his own desires being led away and enticed, afterward the desire having conceived, doth give birth to sin, and the sin having been perfected, doth bring forth death." Ibid., James 1:13-15

God does not tempt anyone with evil, so the Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness was not leading him in order to be tempted with evil by God. The evil temptation was by the Devil. That is because there was no sin in Christ. Had not God just declared that Jesus was his beloved Son, in whom he delighted? (Matt. 3:17.) Jesus, being God incarnate, had no evil desires in him. The Devil knew that there was no sinful desire in Jesus that he could work on. That is why he used the Father's own words, forty days earlier, to get Jesus doubting what the Father had told him - that he was the Son of God. The first two temptations tried that tactic. After all, that had worked with the woman in the garden before she sinned - he got her doubting what God had said.

This shows how radically different the temptation of Jesus by the Devil was to the kind of temptations James was warning Christians about. The Devil is not even mentioned by James in this respect. The temptation comes from within the person, from their own sinful desires. Chalk and cheese differences here. The text quoted in James does not apply to this question about Jesus.


To be led can mean to be shown or to be assisted.

This verse can be understood as:

  • Before starting his ordeal, Jesus prepared himself by strengthening himself with God's holy spirit.
  • During the ordeal, he also used that spirit to provide himself with guidance and encouragement.

There's no suggestion that the ordeal itself was not something that Jesus voluntarily entered into, or that the temptation was anything but Satan's.


I don't think Jesus lusted to go without food for 40 days. He was tempted by the Devil and not by the Spirit. Since he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness one might assume that the Spirit is responsible. Bible hermeneutics leads us to use the examples in the Bible to answer this. God's people in my opinion are generally tested. The Greek word here is peirazo which is from the root word to test or try. Hope this helps. Strong's word numbers in the Greek dictionary are 3985 & 3984 if you use Strong's Concordance. A related reference, (and there are many) is why did God allow Joseph and Abraham's seed to be slaves in Egypt for 4 generations. In Genesis 22:1, the King James says God did tempt Abraham. The Hebrew word used is nacah ( Str.5254 ). It is a prime word meaning to test.

Note: A prime word cannot be broken down further so the definition to test is the most predominantly used meaning although tempt is a synonym and what KJV used. In answering your question the spirit is not capitalized in Mathew or Mark. Perhaps King James did not know the answer to this question for sure. I see three possibilities, but let me digress and offer something that may relate. In 2 Samuel 24:1 "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." Now this is where it gets interesting, in 1 Chronicles 21:1 it reads "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel,". I hope this is not off-topic but related. So was it the Holy Spirit, Jesus' own spirit, or the devil's spirit?

Conclusion: How relevant is this to the outcome that we are given? Jesus never sinned and always did God's will so if the spirit in the text is Satain or not it was God's will for Jesus to be tested.

  • 2
    So, to get back to the question, what type of spirit was it ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 21, 2023 at 22:20
  • I think it was the Holy Spirit based on Luke 4:1 where the word spirit was capitalized but I use regular King James. I have no idea what these new translation read.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 21, 2023 at 22:40
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    The capitalisation and use of the wording 'Holy Ghost' is used in the KJV only when the word 'holy' is attached to 'spirit' in the original. That is to say agion to pneuma. Otherwise the capitalisation is 'Spirit' but it is still an interpretation. 'Ghost' is not helpful as the word means spirit/breath/wind none of which are conveyed with the superstitious epithet 'ghost'.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 21, 2023 at 23:57

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