Gibbs, Jeffrey A. “Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus, God’s Son, Overcomes Satan.” St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 187-199.
In the context of Satan’s temptation of Jesus, Gibbs observes that although the verb may be used with neutral connotations, in Matthew it is uniformly used negatively and that “Jesus is always the target of the temptation” (Gibbs 2006, 187). In this passage, Satan is referred to by three names - “the slanderer,” “the tempter,” and “the adversary” (Gibbs 2006, 188).
Gibbs notes that in Matthew 4:4, the future tense “will not live” “has a true indicative force . . . rather than the sense of an imperative” (Gibbs 2006, 189). The third person in thefuture rarely has imperatival force, though the second person does. Jesus’ responses to Satan use second person future indicatives as commands (Gibbs 2006, 190-191).
Matthew 4:1-11 and 26:36-46, the two passages of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew, provide the bulk of Matthew’s uses of the historical present. Gibbs views this as a way Matthew attempts to make these passages particularly vivid (Gibbs 2006, 189).
In Matthew 4:6 many6 translations view Satan’s words as a direct quotation of Psalm 91:11-12. However, Gibbs sees the word ὅτι “as introducing indirect discourse” (Gibbs 2006, 190). The statement is not a direct quotation, but a paraphrase which omits the idea that the angels will keep God’s people. Normally Matthew introduces direct quotations without ὅτι, using it only here.
Gibbs urges the reader and interpreter to disregard the potentially misleading chapter break at the end of chapter three. After the voice of God affirms Jesus’ baptism in 3:17, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God (Gibbs 2006, 191). Jesus passes through the water and is led into the desert, just as Israel in the Exodus (Gibbs 2006, 192). In contrast to Israel, which was “tested,” Jesus is “tempted.” He proves himself to be the worthy Son of God.
Gibbs notes that Matthew 4:2-4 has a clear parallel in Exodus 16, where Israel, led into the desert, complains of hunger. The people of Israel were supplied with food but kept grumbling. Jesus, on the other hand, was not supplied with food, yet he never complained (Gibbs 2006, 194). The temptation of Jesus was that he should do something which Satan acknowledged he could, and which he later showed an ability to do, as he fed large groups of people. Gibbs emphasizes that Jesus knew that God had spoken - recently - in 3:17, and that Jesus acted as an obedient and trusting son.
The temptation for Jesus to throw himself down from the temple follows in Matthew 4:5-7 (Gibbs 2006, 195). Gibbs finds a typological application less clear than in 4:2-4. At issue is God’s power to protect his people. Jesus refuses to test the matter, confessing that we do not test God (Deuteronomy 6:16).
The final temptation, which Gibbs sees as the climax, is that Jesus should fall down and worship Satan (Gibbs 2006, 196). Israel was prone to worship of other gods. Yet the nation was pictured as a son of God, which would be bound to allegiance only to God. Citing Deuteronomy 6:13, Jesus affirms worship is reserved only for God. Though Satan has shown a progressively lower view of Christology throughout the temptations, Jesus’ view of God has remained high. He is the Messiah who will obey God.
In Matthew 4:11, Satan leaves Jesus for the time being. Gibbs sees this as Matthew’s sign to his readers that Jesus will be able to defeat Satan in the end. The emphasis, further, is on Jesus’ work to overcome Satan, rather than on Jesus as an example to show us how to be victorious (Gibbs 2006, 197) Gibbs says that “the primary message of 4:1-11 must be that Jesus is Victor over Satan on behalf of the nation and ultimately on behalf of all people” (Gibbs 2006, 198). Yet at the same time the Christian is encouraged to live by rightly grasping Jesus’ identity.