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The Tempter Unmasked (again?)


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#1 Interpretum_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:29 AM

Hi Folks

I've been reading Evangelion's post, "The Temptation of Christ, The tempter unmasked" at
http://www.btdf.org/...hp?showtopic=22

Whilst it makes interesting reading, I disagree with Evangelion's conclusion that the Tempter (the Devil) was "a member of the Sanhedrin".

Let's revisit this story once again, first of all from Mathew:

-----

Mat 4:1-11 (RSV): "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him."

-----

First, it is clear from this passage that the character who tempts Jesus is both described as "devil" and "satan".

This is confirmed by the short parallel account of this event in Mark 1:13 (RSV):

"And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him."

So, in this account, the terms "devil", "satan" and "tempter" are interchangeable.

We are told: "And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."" (Mat 4:3,4)

Does this passage mean that the tempter did not know that Jesus was the Son of God?

Not at all! The devil here is characterized as a tempter, so he was TEMPTING Jesus to satisfy his hunger by turning stones into bread - in other words, to use his power for his own benefit.

Jesus PASSES THE TEST by saying: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

The devil then tests Jesus a second time: "Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" (Mathew 4:5,6)

Again, the devil TEMPTS Jesus to use his powers... this time to test God, to see if God would save him. Jesus PASSES THE TEST by saying: "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"

The other test is even more fascinating:

"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."" (Mathew 4:8,9)

Let us look at the parallel account in Luke:

"And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." (Luk 4:5-7)

So the devil...

(a) takes him to a very high mountain
(b) shows him "all the kingdoms of the world" "in a moment of time"
Offers them to Jesus in exchange for an act of worship.

What does the phrase "all the kingdoms of the world" mean?

The phrase "of the world" is translated from the Greek word "oikoumene", which has many different uses. For instance, as Evangelion pointed out, it is used by Jesus to describe the worldwide preaching:

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout THE WHOLE WORLD, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." (Mat 24:14)

"The whole world" is translated from two Greek words, "holos oikoumene".

We know that, in the 1st century, the testimony about the Christ went far beyond any territory that could be seen on top of a mountain. Paul himself had preached in Spain, Malta and Italy... and other congregations were in Asia. So "the whole world" stretched way beyond territory that could be seen at the top of any literal mountain in Israel or Judah. Certainly this encompassed the Roman Empire... but upon which mountain on Earth would you be able to view the ENTIRE Roman Empire?

However, in Luke 4, the devil does not show Jesus "the whole world", but rather "all the kingdoms of the world"... or, in Greek, "pas basileia oikoumene". So the devil is showing the KINGDOMS of the world.

Note also that the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world "in a moment of time".

However, what the devil SAYS is most interesting: "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours."

So the devil was offering Jesus "this authority and their glory"... that is, the authority of the "kingdoms of the world".

What individual human being... or even group of human beings... had the authority to offer Jesus the "authority" and the "glory" of "all the kingdoms of the world"?

Certainly, members of the Sanhedrin couldn't do this... they didn't even have the authority to have Jesus put to death - they had to go to the Roman authorities for that!

Certainly the Roman authorities (such as Pontius Pilate, Herod etc) could not do this, because their authority was granted to them by Caesar, and the Senate.

Could it have been Caesar himself? Possibly... but there is simply NO EVIDENCE in scripture to say that Caesar himself came to tempt Jesus. Also, what MOTIVE would Caesar have to offer his empire to Jesus? The history of the Caesars shows that they were willing to kill their own family members to retain power! Why would he suddenly offer these kingdoms over to Jesus on a plate?

The answer is... he wouldn't. And there is no evidence in the Scriptures to indicate that he would.

In other words, NO HUMAN had all the "authority" and "glory" of the "kingdoms of the world" in his hand, in order to offer it as a temptation to Jesus.

However... the traditional Christian character of Devil and Satan (that of a supernatural being) had EXACTLY that authority!

However, the Devil's temptation failed. Jesus did not bite.

So... "when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."

Yes, the devil "departed" from him. This, therefore, couldn't have been "the sin within him" either.

In conclusion, of the three possible identities of the Devil in this account...
(a) a member of the Sanhedrin
(b) the sin within him
a supernatural being

I would argue that only fits the bill.

Let's recap...

(a) No member of the Sanhedrin was in a position to offer the "authority" and "glory" of the "kingdoms of the world"... even the Sanhedrin was subject to the Roman authorities, and couldn't even put Jesus to death without their go-ahead!

(b) The "sin within him" was also not in a position to offer the "authority" and "glory" of the "kingdoms of the world", because it didn't own this in the first place. The "sin within him" couldn't have "departed" from Jesus at the end of the temptations, if it resided in him.

A supernatural being, with the title of Devil and Satan, could well have been in a position to tempt Jesus. If the Devil is also the ruler of the kingdoms of the world, he would have been able to offer Jesus the kingdoms of the world, he could have showed them to Jesus "in a moment of time", and he could have "departed" from him after the temptations were over, until an "opportune time".

Edited by Interpretum, 01 April 2004 - 10:33 AM.


#2 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 10:58 AM

What would have happened if Christ had gotten off the cross? And yes, he did have the power to.

The temptations could have left him. He had sufficiently dealt with it that it wouldn't be an issue for him for a while.
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#3 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:06 AM

Please show me a mountain from which one can see the whole world, or even one that covers all of Israel.

Since when is Jerusalem in the desert?

Hebrews 4:15

Is a super natural devil tempting him like anything we have to go through? No,

Daniel 4:32

Did the devil really own the world?
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#4 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:15 AM

The devil then tests Jesus a second time: "Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" (Mathew 4:5,6)

Again, the devil TEMPTS Jesus to use his powers... this time to test God, to see if God would save him. Jesus PASSES THE TEST by saying: "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"

Doubt it is to see if God would rescue him. The point was more to make such a sign that it would be immediately clear to everyone that he is the Messiah. The Jews could hardly deny it then, especially if it was the temple.
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#5 Interpretum_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:37 AM

Hi Flappie

<< What would have happened if Christ had gotten off the cross? And yes, he did have the power to. >>

Yes, Jesus did have the power to get off the cross... I don't quite understand your point.

<< The temptations could have left him. He had sufficiently dealt with it that it wouldn't be an issue for him for a while. >>

Yes, but the scriptures say the tempter left him, not the temptations. "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."

<< Please show me a mountain from which one can see the whole world, or even one that covers all of Israel. >>

Precisely. There is no mountain from which you would be able to see the whole world. That is why the devil "showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time". It was a vision.

<< Is a super natural devil tempting him like anything we have to go through? No >>

With all due respect, Flappie... the 1st century Christians DID suffer in many ways like Christ. Many of them were fed to lions, or set on fire to light up Rome. So true Christians have always been tempted, sometimes in horrific ways. (All they usually had to do, to escape martyrdom, was drink some blood... or give an act of worship to Caesar.)

<< Did the devil really own the world? >>

Well, he had the ability to offer Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world", didn't he?

<< Doubt it is to see if God would rescue him. The point was more to make such a sign that it would be immediately clear to everyone that he is the Messiah. The Jews could hardly deny it then, especially if it was the temple. >>

How would it be clear to everyone? Jesus was in the wilderness during those forty days... there is no indication that there are any other humans with him.

Edited by Interpretum, 01 April 2004 - 11:38 AM.


#6 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 11:53 AM

Hi Flappie

Hi

<< What would have happened if Christ had gotten off the cross? And yes, he did have the power to. >>

Yes, Jesus did have the power to get off the cross... I don't quite understand your point.


The reaction of the people? Would they not all bow down? Including the Romans present?

I think Jesus was quite capable of taking over and starting his own kingdom without having to suffer.

<< The temptations could have left him. He had sufficiently dealt with it that it wouldn't be an issue for him for a while. >>

Yes, but the scriptures say the tempter left him, not the temptations. "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."


Yeah, his internal urge to sin was switched off for a while, till the temptations got very strong.

<< Please show me a mountain from which one can see the whole world, or even one that covers all of Israel. >>

Precisely. There is no mountain from which you would be able to see the whole world. That is why the devil "showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time". It was a vision.


Yeah, and why couldn't the vision have been inside his own head, created by himself?

<< Is a super natural devil tempting him like anything we have to go through? No >>

With all due respect, Flappie... the 1st century Christians DID suffer in many ways like Christ. Many of them were fed to lions, or set on fire to light up Rome. So true Christians have always been tempted, sometimes in horrific ways. (All they usually had to do, to escape martyrdom, was drink some blood... or give an act of worship to Caesar.)


I know they suffered. I didn't mean that. Everyone is tempted by one thing or another, but they are all perfectly natural. Jesus temptation here wasn't perfectly natural, how is it like ours?

<< Did the devil really own the world? >>

Well, he had the ability to offer Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world", didn't he?


Nope, proof from somewhere that isn't in these verses?

<< Doubt it is to see if God would rescue him. The point was more to make such a sign that it would be immediately clear to everyone that he is the Messiah. The Jews could hardly deny it then, especially if it was the temple. >>

How would it be clear to everyone? Jesus was in the wilderness during those forty days... there is no indication that there are any other humans with him.

So why was the temptation to jump of the pinnacle of the temple? Was there a temple in the wilderness? Or was he just having a vision of jumping off the temple?

Edited by Flappie, 01 April 2004 - 11:54 AM.

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#7 Billi

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 02:06 PM

I think it's pretty clear that Jesus was experiencing some sort of 'vision'.

However, just because it was a vision, doesn't make it unreal. The fact remains that Jesus was really hungry after 40 days of fasting. I'm sure if Jesus were to fall off a high place, he would love to see Father to send angels down to rescue him. Further, his destiny is to be the king of the world. And he has the power to be it right NOW if only he were to reject the will of the Father.

All of this could possibly be some sort of inner struggle withing Jesus himself. Your option (b). After all, Jesus was human.

However, option is still possible too.

It is self evident that we all have this sinful nature within us. The debate is how did this sinful nature enter us. My question is whether our sinful natures are really just nothing more than our selfish desires... or perhaps it's more than that? Perhaps they operate with a collective mind... serving somebody name Satan.

I'm still not 100% sure whether it's B or C, but whatever it is, I guess it's not that important. Because the important thing is for us to serve God and God only. We all just have to learn to deny our selfish desires... or reject any influences from Satan.

Edited by Billi, 01 April 2004 - 02:07 PM.


#8 Dianne

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 02:13 PM

I don't agree with Evangelions theory of an 'external' tempter. I believe was was struggling internally.

Scripture tells us that Christ was tempted in 'all points' like we are which means the process of his temptation is the same as ours.

So, I'd like to for someone to show me where else was anyone tempted in a similar fashion, where a 'supernatual-fallen-angel' approached them face to face.

Edited by Dianne, 01 April 2004 - 02:14 PM.


#9 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 02:21 PM

I don't agree with Evangelions theory of an 'external' tempter. I believe was was struggling internally.

Scripture tells us that Christ was tempted in 'all points' like we are which means the process of his temptation is the same as ours.

So, I'd like to for someone to show me where else was anyone tempted in a similar fashion, where a 'supernatual-fallen-angel' approached them face to face.

I agree 100% :P
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#10 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 02:31 PM

Billi. It actually is important. It teaches us how sin entered the world, what sin is, and how it is dangerous to our selves.

We ourselves want to go against God. Not some super natural person. We want to do what we like, contrary to what God likes. It's an internal battle, not external.

We have to deny ourselves, not that super natural person, us.

Mark 8:34
Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

We have to crucify our flesh, the source of our sin. The source of sin is not a fallen angel, it's our flesh

Galatians 5:24
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

It doesn't talk about resisting an external force, but something internal, our flesh, ourselves. It is our flesh that wants us to go against God, not something outside of us.

Edited by Flappie, 01 April 2004 - 02:32 PM.

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#11 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 03:31 PM

Or it could be John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3).

:unsure:

That actually serious?

if you're applying Isaiah 40:3 to John, it'll be his work, baptising the repentant.
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#12 Deborah

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 03:40 PM

I agree 100%


Me too :smart:

#13 Grace

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 03:42 PM

Heh. I would jump in, but...

#14 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 03:48 PM

Or it could be John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3).

:unsure:

That actually serious?

if you're applying Isaiah 40:3 to John, it'll be his work, baptising the repentant.

Yeah, I was being serious. :yep:

Well, it does depend on when you put the comma:

3 The voice of him that crieth, "In the wilderness prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God".

John the baptist makes no sense.

Ever think it might be a spiritual wilderness Isaiah is refering to?
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#15 Flappie

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 04:09 PM

If it is John, then all the temptations are just suggestions, and the actual temptations are Christ's own.

I somehow don't see how he could seriously tempt Christ. And how do you explain the 3rd temptation? To who would Christ bow down?

Edited by Flappie, 01 April 2004 - 04:13 PM.

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#16 luke

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 04:53 PM

Aye, John the baptist as the tempter doesnt' make any sense, although I agree that Isaiah 40:3 does say, "prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness" - it's talking about coming out from the world, away from the things of the world - but that's got nothing to do with tempting Jesus. John was preparing the way of the Lord before Jesus arived on the scene.

#17 simondjames_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:04 PM

flappie, isn't it speaking figuratively? to 'bow down to the devil' could be seen as some sort of giving way to temptation - if Christ had succumbed to his temptations, he would be 'bowing down' to the 'devil' - giving his inner self more reverence than God.

#18 ksalzar_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:07 PM

I don't agree with Evangelions theory of an 'external' tempter. I believe was was struggling internally.

Scripture tells us that Christ was tempted in 'all points' like we are which means the process of his temptation is the same as ours.

So, I'd like to for someone to show me where else was anyone tempted in a similar fashion, where a 'supernatual-fallen-angel' approached them face to face.

I disagree with this line of thought.

First, I don't see why an 'external' tempter is exclusive to an internal temptation Dianne.

Second as I understand it, Christ being tempted in 'all points' like we are implies the types of temptation he faced, not the way in which these temptations come about.

What I mean is, is it not possible that an 'external' tempter played his role and that Jesus was also internally tempted? Just because the tempter may have been a 'supernatural-fallen-angel' is not mutually exclusive to Jesus being tempted in all ways as we are.

#19 simondjames_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:11 PM

>>>> What I mean is, is it not possible that an 'external' tempter played his role and that Jesus was also internally tempted? Just because the tempter may have been a 'supernatural-fallen-angel' is not mutually exclusive to Jesus being tempted in all ways as we are. <<<<

I agree - although temptations are all from within, sometimes things happen outside the start us thinking...

but i'm not sure that this is what is happening in this situation.

#20 itinerant_*

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Posted 01 April 2004 - 05:18 PM

Isa 40:3 LXX
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God.

cf

Mat 3:1-3
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.


It applies to John and what he was doing but I fail to see how this can be extrapolated to make the temptation of Jesus a part of what John was doing.

For context:

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
(Isa 40:1-5)






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