Text:   Matthew 4:1-11

Date:   February 17, 2002




Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A.        Comparison of English or other published translations

·        Verse 3: “command these stones” (KJV, NKJV, NRSV) vs. “tell these stones” (NIV) vs. “speak the word that will turn these stones” (Message)

·        Verse 4: “man” (NIV, KJV, NKJV) vs. “one” (NRSV’s gender inclusive language) vs. “it takes more than bread” (Message, gender neutral)

·        Verse 7: “tempt” (NIV, KJV, NASV, RSV) vs. “test”  (NRSV, NLT) vs. “trial (ASV)

B.         Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

·        Verse 10: “go” vs. possibly added material (“behind me”) that results in further embellishment of position (behind, away, hence).  Metzger suggests that if the words “behind me” were original, there is no reason for them to have been omitted; however, copyists may have recalled the words of Matthew 16:23, in which that phrase is included.


C.                 One's Own Rough Translation

·        “Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.  And having fasted days forty and forty nights afterward he hungered.  And approaching the tempting said to him: If Son you are of God, say in order that these stones may loaves become.  But answering he said: It has been written: Not on bread only shall man live but on every word proceeding through the mouth of God.  Then the devil takes him into the holy city and stood him on the wing of the temple and says to him: If you of God you are then cast yourself down; for it has been written: To the angels he will give command concerning you and on hands they will bear you, lest you strike against a stone your foot.  Said to him Jesus: Again it has been written: Do not overtempt your Lord God.  Again the devil takes him to a mountain exceedingly high and shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and says: These things to you all I will give if falling you will worship me.  Then says to him Jesus: Go, Satan; for it has been written: the Lord God shall you worship and him only shall you serve.  Then leaves the devil and behold angels came and ministered to him.”

Step II - Disposition
A.        Genre - How the text says what it says

·        The genealogy, the birth stories, the flight and return, and the baptism seem to be leading up to this early confrontation.  There is a showdown between two forces; the force of evil and the force that Matthew identifies as the Messiah, the Moses-like anointed one.  The story is one of a cosmic conflict.


B.         Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

·        Why does the Spirit lead Jesus into conflict?  Is endurance of evil not enough?  Is direct conflict with the forces of evil something to be avoided or sought out directly?

·        Is “tempt” the same as “test”?

·        What is this text saying about evil?

·        The concept of evil

·        Role players in evil

·        Is evil a force?

·        A coincidence

·        A result of someone’s/something’s actions

·        Who’s actions?

·        Ours

·        The “other” - Satan


C.                 Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

·        God as hidden actor throughout this pericope (and through the gospel as a whole; Satan as hidden opponent throughout gospel, but appears as a particular character in this story.


Step III - Composition
A.        Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

·        The story is located immediately after the baptism of Jesus and just prior to Jesus’ calling of disciples.


B.                 Organization of the Compositional Whole

·        Matthew’s concern for a Jewish audience might be seen in his presentation of Jesus as one who descends from Jewish lineage (the genealogy), one who confronts and dispatches evil (the temptation) and one who moves forward with authority after the confrontation (the calling of disciples).

·        The plot of Matthew’s gospel as a whole might be understood to be one of kingdom conflict; kingdom of God vs. kingdom of this world.


C.                 Issues of Authorship



Step IV - Context
A.        Primitive Christianity

·        Contrast with Mark 1:12-13 – very brief description of conflict, which seems to be of physical/endurance nature, rather than moral temptation


B.                 Old Testament and Judaism

·        No Jewish tradition appears to exist that portrays Satan tempting the Messiah; is this reason for some to question his “messiahship?”

·        “test” vs. “tempt”

·        peirazo used by Jewish authorities elsewhere in Matthew

·        Jesus generally responds with scripture


C.                 Hellenistic World

·        Jesus sharing in our human condition; vulnerability to temptation?

·        Philippians 2:5


Step V - Distillation
A.        Summary of Salient Features

·        We will be tested

·        Who does the testing?

·        Is evil real?

·        Is the evil one real?

·        If evil is real, what chance to we have to resist?


B.                 Smooth Translation


C.                 Hermeneutical Bridge

·        The mousetrap

·        Brutal force

·        We’re tempted to explain brutality away

·        Do we do the same with evil?

·        Explain it away

·        Rationalize; compartmentalize

·        The devil

·        Real or just red cartoon character seen on side of cans of deviled ham

·        Does it make a difference if Satan is real

·        Difference in terms of our response to temptation


Step VI - Contemporary Address
A.        Description of Audience

·        UM congregation in process of building; growing


B.                 Intended Goals for the Address

·        Acknowledge evil as real

·        Dangers of over rationalization

·        Psychological

·        sociological

·        Find help in resisting evil

·        Christ


C.                 Address