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In Matthew 4:1, it says that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” This passage can be understood to mean that the Spirit led Jesus into a situation where he would be tested or challenged by the devil rather than suggesting that the Spirit was actively tempting Jesus to sin.
It is important to note that the historical account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is an account from the New Testament of the Bible, and its purpose is not necessarily to provide insight into the why’s but rather simply to provide a historical account of events. Different people may have different interpretations of this account, and some may see it as a historical account, while others may view it as an allegory or a moral lesson. We can dismiss the latter allegorical moral lesson because, as conservative evangelicals, we look for reasonable answers to difficult Bible questions.
Bible difficulties refer to challenges or problems that people may encounter when reading and interpreting the Bible. These difficulties can be related to various aspects of the text, such as its historical context, language, or cultural references, and they can make it difficult for people to understand the meaning of the passages in question fully.
Some common examples of Bible difficulties include:
- What seem like inconsistencies or contradictions within the text
- Passages that are difficult to interpret due to their language or cultural references
- What appear to be historical or scientific inaccuracies
- Differences in translation between versions of the Bible
People who study the Bible may attempt to resolve these difficulties by examining the original language of the text, consulting commentaries or other resources, and considering the cultural and historical context in which the passages were written. Some people may view certain difficulties as opportunities for further study and reflection, while others mistakenly see them as challenges to their faith.
Some understand this passage is to see it as an example of Jesus being strengthened and tested by God, preparing him for his ministry. By enduring temptation and temptation from the devil, Jesus demonstrated his faithfulness and commitment to God’s will. In this sense, the Spirit may have led Jesus into the wilderness as a way of helping him to grow and become more prepared for the work that he was called to do. Again, not a reasonable answer, and it is also unbiblical.
Matthew 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Gr, peirazo) by the devil.
The Father does not tempt us, but he does allow us to go through temptations. As we know from Adam and Abraham, the Father can test us but never tempt us with sin.
The text specifically states that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness “to be tempted.” How do we reconcile that Jesus is being led by the Spirit “to be” tempted? First, (Peirazo) can be rendered either as “tempted” (UASV, ESV, NIV, LEB) or “tested” (CEV, MSG), but seeing that Satan is carrying this out, it is best to be rendered “tempted.” This is not a literal versus a dynamic equivalent issue because almost all dynamic equivalents have “tempted.”
Second, the Father would have foreknown that Satan was going to tempt Jesus and that he would wait until his weakest moment to do so. What Satan would see as an opportunity to tempt Jesus, the Father may very well have seen as an opportunity to test Jesus, as he did with Abraham, establishing his faithfulness, which the Father was well aware was perfectly fine. Therefore, God allowed Jesus “to be” tempted, which he used as a test to confirm what he would already know to be true, an evident demonstration of Jesus faith. Jesus’ actions would establish or demonstrate God’s confidence in him. Jesus clearly revealed that his faith was a living faith. The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “Since he himself was tested in that which he has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tested.” (Heb. 2:18) Paul went on to write, “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” – Hebrews 5:8-9.
 “to obtain information to be used against a person by trying to cause someone to make a mistake, ‘to try to trap, to attempt to catch in a mistake.’” – Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 329.
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