Matthew 4:5-7


What is the holy city?

The holy city at the time of the temptation was Jerusalem. 


Why is it referred to as the holy city?

Some might say it was holy because the temple was there. But, we can recall the event of the burning bush. During this meeting between Moses and Jehovah, God told Moses to remove the sandals from his feet because “the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Genesis 3:5). The ground was holy on account of the presence of God and because it is a place of revelation. This makes the location special or set apart from others. Progressing through the scriptures, then next identification of holy is associated with the assemblies of the Israelites at the tabernacle. The holiness of the tabernacle and the event associated were based on the presence of God and the sharing of the Word of God (Law).


Is it still the holy city?

No. The holy city is now where the Lord resides and His Word is revealed.


Where is the holy city today, since the resurrection of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost?

The holy city is now Christ’s church.

But you have drawn near Mount Zion, even the city of the living God, to a heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 

and to a gathering, an assembly of the first-born ones having been enrolled in Heaven; and to God the Judge of all, and to spirits of just ones who have been perfected; 

                                                                        Hebrews 12:22-23


What is the pinnacle of the temple?

This should be understood to be the high point of the temple. The writer is not perfectly clear. But the word used comes from the Greek word meaning wing. This derived word should be understood to mean an extremity. The meaning is, of course, subject to the intention of the writing.


Why would the devil lead Jesus to the top of the temple?

Satan wanted to attain a clear view of the valley as seen below the temple. Thereby, viewing much of Jerusalem.


Is the devil not sure if Jesus is the Son of God?

Satan knows who Jesus of Nazareth is just as the demons did.

And crying with a loud voice, he said, What is to me and to You, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure You by God, do not torment me. 

                                                                        Mark 5:7


Why does the devil ask, “if you are the Son of God”?

This is not an attempt to convince Jesus to do something to prove who He is. This was an attempt to appeal to pride. If Jesus answered the temptation by taking up the challenge, He would have been caught up in a demonstration of power but not true authority. The temptation here is for Jesus to intentionally put Himself at risk of doubtless death in order for the God to be forced to save Him. In throwing Himself from the temple, Jesus forsakes the purpose of Him living the mortal life.


What is the point of throwing yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple?

At that point it would mean certain death.


What scripture is the devil quoting in Verse 6?

Psalm 91:11-12


Is Satan capable of knowing scripture?

Yes. There are plenty of enemies of God that seem to profess righteousness and quote many scriptures but prove to be the hypocrites they are.


Is Satan capable of understanding scripture?

Yes. Even hypocrites can understand the condemnation that is predicted for them. Also, apostates are better off not having known the Word than having tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:3).


Is Satan capable of telling the truth with respect to scripture?

Even lies, or misrepresentations can have some truth involved. That can make the deception that much more effective to its evil intent.


Did the devil quote the scripture correctly or did he change anything?

Psalm 91

For He shall give His angels charge over You, to keep You in all Your ways. 

They shall bear You up in their hands, that You not dash Your foot on a stone.

Matthew 4

for it has been written: "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and they shall bear You on their hands, lest You strike Your foot against a stone."

Matthew provides a quote that follows the Psalm.


Did Satan use the scripture according to the context of the intention of the scripture?

The devil is speaking of Jesus performing an act unto death prior to His time (Matthew 26:18). This would be Jesus straying from obeying the will of the Father and thus tempting the Father by making God’s plan and blessings strictly about Him. Christ shows us we obey, not to our glorification, but to the glorification of others. Christ did not die for Himself but for us. Satan leaves out the second part of the quote from Psalm 91:11, “to keep you in all your ways”. The way of Christ is obedience to the Father and nothing had the power to override God’s authority in it, whether it be assigned to the Christ or the angels. Satan had to leave that part out in order to tempt Jesus into deviation from the path of righteousness. Therefore, the quote should not be considered consistent with the Psalm or the context intended.


Did Satan abuse the scripture so as to fulfill and glorify himself instead of God?

Yes. The whole motivation of someone compromising or adulterating the scriptures is to glorify themselves and flatter their arrogance. The motivation for the communication of deviated scripture is to stroke their boastful pride. The purpose of expressing the abuse of the scriptures is to lead others into a life of subjugation that reinforces the perpetrator’s pride. In fact, Paul instructs us that all false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, and otherwise purveyors of false doctrine follow the example of Satan.

For such ones are false apostles, deceitful workers transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 

And did not Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light? 

It is not a great thing, then, if also his ministers transform themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 

                                                                              2 Corinthians 11:13 

Satan was presenting himself as having authority not empowered to him. In this instance Satan is presenting a form of rebellion for the Son of God in likeness to his own rejection of God’s purpose and intention for him. Satan is acting in his nature at this point and lying.


Did Jesus refute Satan’s reference to the scripture?

Yes. The manner of refutation is not to go head-to-head in an argument about words in the scriptures Satan is referencing. The tactic is to refer to scriptures that contradict the falsehood presented. The falsehood is inaccurate context. The scriptures presented by the Lord refute the false context by providing supporting context. This is the method of forming sermons for many preachers. We should not reference a single scripture and compose a doctrine when other supporting scripture is available to help give definition to the intended meaning by the Spirit.


How did Jesus answer the challenge and temptation of the devil?

Despite the physical stress the Lord would be under due to the fasting, He was able to remain composed to give logical answers to the tempter. The routine was to answer the lies with the truth. Always deal with the false teachers with the truth and nothing but the truth.


What scripture did Jesus use to answer Satan in Verse 7?

“You shall not tempt the Lord your God” comes from Deuteronomy 6:16: You shall not test Jehovah your God as you tested Him in Massah. Massah meaning the desert or the occasion of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.


What did Jesus mean in quoting “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test”?

It is to test the grace of the Lord. Paul spoke concerning sinning in order to continually realize the grace of God. Paul’s point was this is illogical. The problem is doing this in the concept of measuring how far a soul can go before God reacts. We should not mistake God’s patience for us with indifference to sin.


Is the scripture Jesus quotes comparative to or compliment the scripture Satan quotes?

Yes, but the key is that Christ understood what Satan was trying to do. It is important to understand your enemy and know how that enemy can hurt you. In this effort, if you can think steps ahead of the false teacher, the proper scriptures can be referenced to present truth effectively to bring conviction concerning such lies (Hebrews 4:12). We should remember the admonition from Paul to be wise to what is good and studied in the truth.

For your obedience reached to all; therefore, I rejoice over you. But I desire you to be truly wise as to good, but simple toward evil.

                                                                     Rom 16:19 

Give diligence to present yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

                                                                                2Ti 2:15 


Can we “put the Lord to the test” today?

Yes. But it is highly unadvisable. The testing in this scripture is based on people trying to validate their desires of the flesh of their pride by a lack of faith in the word of God. This attitude inherently involves a high degree of hypocrisy. A person puts God to the test when they claim to be a follower of Christ and desire the credit for faithfulness but are not proving themselves capable of living out what they know to be the works of righteousness. Some examples: lack of giving (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), negligence in attendance to worship with a congregation (Hebrews 10:25), or attending the need of our brethren/neighbors (Ephesians 4:25, Galatians 6:2, Philippians 2:4).


How do you reconcile the quote by Jesus with Malachi 3:10?

Malachi is conveying the desire of God for His people to be confirmed in the promises He has given. What God is instructing through Malachi is obedience. God was challenging the Israelites to do the Law of Moses. Jesus, is telling us, do not challenge God to prove His authority by making new promises or covenants. Believe in God and His word faithfully and the promises of God will be proven.


If we put God to the test, are we showing dependence and full confidence in His Word?

If done according the instructions in Malachi 3:10, yes. In order to test Jehovah as Malachi teaches, we must do the works of righteousness according to Lord’s law. Everything God tells us to do is the means by which we test the Lord scripturally. Testing the Lord to fulfill our own desires or testing the Lord on our own terms is not within our power.


If we feel the need to put God to the test, do we have doubt and a weakness of hope in us?

Consider Jacob in Genesis 28:10-22. Here is the account of Jacob’s dream. Jacob seems to test the Lord or challenge Him. If God will do certain things for him then he would seek after God (Verse 20-22). Did Jacob not follow after God before this, according to the ways of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham? He did. Jacob already new what God expected of him. Jacob already new God’s law. All Jacob is doing is confirming his expectations of God. He was telling God that he would continue in His law with the expectation that the promises would be kept. Jacob was confirming the covenant between him and God. We must do the same day-to-day without doubt according to the purpose of the Lord. We can not invent works to be reconciled to life. We do those works instructed by the Lord and the Spirit (Romans 8:28).


Do we put God to the test when we have fear because our expectations are not met?

Yes. We must continue in life steadfast in faith despite any hardships or seemingly bad events that work against us. Many times, these troubles can strengthen us and challenge us to greater faith. We should celebrate and rejoice when we remain faithful through events the world suggests should cause us to change adversely (James 1:1-2). We fear nothing except the wrath of God. When we stumble or are depressed because we did not receive what we were not promised by God (Matthew 6:33) then we are likely living with unscriptural fear. This leads into temptation and compromises we might not otherwise concede.