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Matthew 4:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And when the tempter - This onset of Satan was made (speaking after the manner of men) judiciously: he came when Jesus, after having fasted forty days and forty nights, was hungry: now, as hunger naturally diminishes the strength of the body, the mind gets enfeebled, and becomes easily irritated; and if much watching and prayer be not employed, the uneasiness which is occasioned by a lack of food may soon produce impatience, and in this state of mind the tempter has great advantages. The following advice of an Arabian philosopher to his son is worthy of attention. "My son, never go out of the house in the morning, till thou hast eaten something: by so doing, thy mind will be more firm; and, shouldest thou be insulted by any person, thou wilt find thyself more disposed to suffer patiently: for hunger dries up and disorders the brain." Bibliot. Orient. Suppl. p. 449. The state of our bodily health and worldly circumstances may afford our adversary many opportunities of doing us immense mischief. In such cases, the sin to which we are tempted may be justly termed, as in Hebrews 12:1, την ευπεριστατον αμαρτιαν, the well circumstanced sin, because all the circumstances of time, place, and state of body and mind, are favorable to it.

If thou be the Son of God - Or, a son of God, υιος του Θεου . υιος is here, and in Luke 4:3, written without the article; and therefore should not be translated The Son, as if it were ὁ υιος, which is a phrase that is applicable to Christ as the Messiah: but it is certain, whatever Satan might suspect, he did not fully know that the person he tempted was the true Messiah. Perhaps one grand object of his temptation was to find this out.

Command that these stones - The meaning of this temptation is: "Distrust the Divine providence and support, and make use of illicit means to supply thy necessities."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The tempter - The devil, or Satan. See Matthew 4:1.

If thou be the Son of God - If thou art God‘s own Son, then thou hast power to work a miracle, and here is a suitable opportunity to try thy power, and show that thou art sent from God.

Command that these stones … - The stones that were lying around him in the wilderness. No temptation could have been more plausible, or more likely to succeed, than this. He had just been declared to be the Son of God Matthew 3:17, and here was an opportunity to show that he was really so. The circumstances were such as to make it appear plausible and proper to work this miracle. “Here you are,” was the language of Satan, “hungry, cast out, alone, needy, poor, and yet the Son of God! If you have this power, how easy could you satisfy your wants! How foolish is it, then, for the Son of God, having all power, to be starving in this manner, when by a word he could show his power and relieve his wants, and when in the thing itself there could be nothing wrong!”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Concerning Christ's temptation, observe, that directly after he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, he was tempted; great privileges, and special tokens of Divine favour, will not secure any from being tempted. But if the Holy Spirit witness to our being adopted as children of God, that will answer all the suggestions of the evil spirit. Christ was directed to the combat. If we presume upon our own strength, and tempt the devil to tempt us, we provoke God to leave us to ourselves. Others are tempted, when drawn aside of their own lust, and enticed, Jas 1:14; but our Lord Jesus had no corrupt nature, therefore he was tempted only by the devil. In the temptation of Christ it appears that our enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring; but he can be resisted. It is a comfort to us that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that our temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only. Satan aimed in all his temptations, to bring Christ to sin against God. 1. He tempted him to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care concerning him. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition; and those who are brought into straits have need to double their guard. Christ answered all the temptations of Satan with "It is written;" to set us an example, he appealed to what was written in the Scriptures. This method we must take, when at any time we are tempted to sin. Let us learn not to take any wrong courses for our supply, when our wants are ever so pressing: in some way or other the Lord will provide. 2. Satan tempted Christ to presume upon his Father's power and protection, in a point of safety. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Satan has no objection to holy places as the scene of his assaults. Let us not, in any place, be off our watch. The holy city is the place, where he does, with the greatest advantage, tempt men to pride and presumption. All high places are slippery places; advancements in the world makes a man a mark for Satan to shoot his fiery darts at. Is Satan so well versed in Scripture as to be able to quote it readily? He is so. It is possible for a man to have his head full of Scripture notions, and his mouth full of Scripture expressions, while his heart is full of bitter enmity to God and to all goodness. Satan misquoted the words. If we go out of our way, out of the way of our duty, we forfeit the promise, and put ourselves out of God's protection. This passage, De 8:3, made against the tempter, therefore he left out part. This promise is firm and stands good. But shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? No. 3. Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon. Christ was tempted to worship Satan. He rejected the proposal with abhorrence. "Get thee hence, Satan!" Some temptations are openly wicked; and they are not merely to be opposed, but rejected at once. It is good to be quick and firm in resisting temptation. If we resist the devil he will flee from us. But the soul that deliberates is almost overcome. We find but few who can decidedly reject such baits as Satan offers; yet what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Christ was succoured after the temptation, for his encouragement to go on in his undertaking, and for our encouragement to trust in him; for as he knew, by experience, what it was to suffer, being tempted, so he knew what it was to be succoured, being tempted; therefore we may expect, not only that he will feel for his tempted people, but that he will come to them with seasonable relief.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 215.4

Had Adam and Eve heeded the words that God spoke to them in the beginning, they would not have fallen from their first estate. Our Saviour met temptation in a stronger, fiercer form than it was presented to Adam, and His only weapon was one that is within the reach of all—the Word of God. When Satan came to Christ in His weakness, and told Him to satisfy His hunger by turning the stones into bread, and thus prove Himself to be the Son of God, Christ answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).... TDG 215.4

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 24

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Hebrews 2:18. SD 24.1

Though enduring most terrible temptations, Christ did not fail or become discouraged. He was fighting the battle in our behalf, and had He faltered, had He yielded to temptation, the human family would have been lost. SD 24.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 209-10

Many of the people of God are stupefied by the spirit of the world, and are denying their faith by their works. They cultivate a love for money, for houses and lands, until it absorbs the powers of mind and being, and shuts out love for the Creator and for souls for whom Christ died. The god of this world has blinded their eyes; their eternal interests are made secondary; and brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost to increase their worldly possessions. And all this accumulation of cares and burdens is borne in direct violation of the injunction of Christ, who said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” CS 209.1

They forget that He said also, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven;” that in so doing they are working for their own interest. The treasure laid up in heaven is safe; no thief can approach nor moth corrupt it. But their treasure is upon the earth, and their affections are upon their treasure. CS 209.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 486-90

The Redeemer of the world knew that the indulgence of appetite would bring physical debility, and so deaden the perceptive organs that sacred and eternal things would not be discerned. Christ knew that the world was given up to gluttony and that this indulgence would pervert the moral powers. If the indulgence of appetite was so strong upon the race that, in order to break its power, the divine Son of God, in behalf of man, was required to fast nearly six weeks, what a work is before the Christian in order that he may overcome even as Christ overcame! The strength of the temptation to indulge perverted appetite can be measured only by the inexpressible anguish of Christ in that long fast in the wilderness. 3T 486.1

Christ knew that in order to successfully carry forward the plan of salvation He must commence the work of redeeming man just where the ruin began. Adam fell by the indulgence of appetite. In order to impress upon man his obligations to obey the law of God, Christ began His work of redemption by reforming the physical habits of man. The declension in virtue and the degeneracy of the race are chiefly attributable to the indulgence of perverted appetite. 3T 486.2

There is a solemn responsibility upon all, especially upon ministers who teach the truth, to overcome upon the point of appetite. Their usefulness would be much greater if they had control of their appetites and passions, and their mental and moral powers would be stronger if they combined physical labor with mental exertion. With strictly temperate habits, and with mental and physical labor combined, they could accomplish a far greater amount of labor and preserve clearness of mind. If they would pursue such a course, their thoughts and words would flow more freely, their religious exercises would be more energized, and the impressions made upon their hearers would be more marked. 3T 486.3

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