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Yeshua in Context >> Identity of Yeshua , Messiah , Temptation >> The Temptation in Luke

The Temptation in Luke

LUKE 4:1-13 Yeshua, filled with the Spirit, is tempted (1-2), desert-bread (3-4), world-kingdoms (5-8), Temple-pinnacle (9-12), the devil waited for an opportune time to test him again (13).

The commentary that follows is about the specific emphases in Luke's version on the filling with the Spirit, the different order from Matthew, and the overall meaning of the three temptations. See the other articles categorized under "Temptation" for a fuller view of this important scene in Yeshua's life.

NOTES: It is often assumed that the Spirit is either present or not present, that the "filling" of the Spirit has only one meaning. But Luke's use of the Spirit in both the gospel and in Acts shows that the Spirit's filling comes at different levels and has different meanings in different contexts. It is not that Luke would deny the Pauline emphasis that all of Yeshua's followers have the Spirit. Rather, Luke is aware of a more subtle and variegated view of the Spirit's Presence. As is the case with the Glory in the Hebrew Bible, the Spirit manifests in different ways and levels. One evidence for this is that in Acts, the Spirit's power is imparted specifically by the presence of one of the Twelve or Paul. Luke emphasizes the Spirit in the life of Yeshua more so than the other gospels (an emphasis somewhat similar to John's mystical perspective on Yeshua). Mark's "the Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness" becomes "Yeshua, full of the Holy Spirit . . . was led by the Spirit." Yeshua will conquer Satan's temptations with the Spirit's power and will emerge on the other side with the power of the Spirit in vs. 14. The order of temptations in Luke is desert-bread/world-kingdoms/temple-pinnacle whereas Matthew has desert-bread/temple-pinnacle/world-kingdoms (from a high mountain, says Matthew). The order of Deuteronomy allusions in Luke is 8:3; 6:13; 6:16 (while Matthew's order is descending: 8:3; 6:16; 6:13). Some argue Matthew's order is original: the elevation moves up from desert to pinnacle to high mountain and the Deuteronomy verses are in simple descending order. If so, then Luke has moved the world kingdoms temptation earlier and ended with the Temple pinnacle. All three temptations concern false notions about the identity of the Messiah: cheap miracles and the stones-to-bread, messianism as ruling power and the world-kingdoms, and signs to prove messiahship and the temple-pinnacle. Yeshua doesn't do cheap miracles, teaches a different idea of how power and kingdom work, and doesn't give signs to prove his identity. The order in Luke probably suggests two things about his emphasis in the scene: (1) Jerusalem is last in Luke's presentation because Jerusalem and the Temple will be the final test for Yeshua and (2) the Temple-pinnacle is the most potent temptation for Yeshua, to prove his identity by signs (Johnson).

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Filed under: Identity of Yeshua , Messiah , Temptation

4 Responses to "The Temptation in Luke"

  1. James says:

    May I ask a naive (stupid) question? Do you think it's reasonable to say that a person could have an "indwelling of the Holy Spirit" but, when we especially need to be strengthened, that we could experience a sort of "power surge" (I'm sorry, I don't know how else to say it) from the Spirit to get us through a particular trial?

  2. yeshuain says:


    Yeah, I'm saying that the Spirit's manifestations come in an unending number of levels and variations. It is not a simple binary: (1) have the Spirit (0) have not the Spirit.

    It is like the Glory in the Torah and prophets. So, being indwelt and filled is not a yes or no, but a more complex and subtle and mysterious matter of indwelt to what degree, for what empowerment, and so on.

    As evidence, I offer Acts and the fact that the Spirit fills when Paul or one of the Twelve are present and yet all have the Spirit already. It sounds like various narratives of the Glory/Presence in the Hebrew Bible.

    Derek Leman

  3. Don Young says:

    Even though the subject of this article is temptation, your comments concerning the filling of the Spirit grab my attention. I too have noticed that throughout all of the scriptures the" Spirit's filling comes at different levels and has different meanings in different contexts." I have a theory that the filling of the Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are very similar. Generally the difference seems to be in the broad distribution. Acts 2 quoting Joel 2:28-32, NIV.
    17 "'In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
    18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
    19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    One thing is clear, when a person or group is filled with the Spirit, something great happens (prophesy, visions, dreams, wonders, signs, blood & fire, billows of smoke, faith to resist temptation) and the righteous recognize the hand of the Lord. It seems to happen in a season of repentance and prayer. The purpose is always to glorify the Him. This would make a great study!

  4. Eleanor Burne-Jones says:

    Thanks for the above notes, I just spent a weekend puzzling over the difference between the two accounts and this insight helps.

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