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Matthew 4 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 4 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

(4:1) "Tempted of the devil"
Jesus is led by the Spirit of God to be tempted by the devil. Which, at least according to James 1:13 ("God cannot be tempted with evil."), means that Jesus is not God.
Tempted of or tempted with, what's the difference, it's all tempted right? Disposed of or disposed to, it's all disposing, right?
English 101:
  1. tempted of or tempted by someone means that someone tries to persuade you to sin. It does not imply you feel in anyway inclined to sin. The temptation is put before you, but it might not have any effect in your disposition towards what you are being tempted with.
  2. tempted with means to actually consider participating, even though you might ultimately reject the tempation.
To give a contemporary example: Data was tempted by the Borg queen in the movie First Contact. But not only was he tempted by her, he was actually tempted with her proposal, even though it was just for 0.6 seconds.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

(4:6-10) "For it is written"
The devil correctly quotes scripture (Ps.91:11-12), while Jesus misquotes Deuteronomy by adding "only" to Dt.6:13.
Jesus quotes Deut. 8:3, not Deut. 6:13 as the author of the SAB has it. And as far as I can see no words have been added.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

(4:6-10) "For it is written"
The devil correctly quotes scripture (Ps.91:11-12), while Jesus misquotes Deuteronomy by adding "only" to Dt.6:13.
The devil quotes scripture correctly when he leaves out the essential part of the Psalm? The devil doesn't cite the part “to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalms 91:11) The way down from the pinnacle is surely not by jumping down! Assuming God will protect you if you go out of your way is tempting God.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

(4:7) "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Can God be tempted?
Is it OK to test (or tempt) God?
Asking God to protect you if you deliberately endanger yourself is tempting God. That one shouldn't do. On the meaning of tempting in James 1:13 see also verse 1.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

(4:8) "An exceeding hight mountain"
The devil kidnaps Jesus and takes him up to the top of the temple, and then to the top of "an exceeding high mountain," high enough to see "all the kingdoms of the world." I guess the earth was flat in those days.
Does the author of the SAB really believe that Matthew believed there was a single mountain in this world from which you can see all kingdoms of the world? I myself have seen up to a distance of 300 kilometers, but you can only make out the contours. Undoubtedly the unpolluted air of those days would have given Matthew clear views at great distances, but he would know that you cannot really see details. So Matthew doesn't say here that the devil used the high mountain to look closely at things, but only that the devil took Jesus to the high mountain and from there, somehow, showed Jesus all the kingdoms. Luke even adds the detail that this happened in a moment of time (Luke 4:5).

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

(4:9) "All these things will I give thee."
Who is the Lord of the earth?
Who owns the earth?
It is a natural truth that he who creates, owns. Until a force stronger than you, for example a government, employs force to hand over the creation or (part of) the profits. So God is the creator and therefore the owner. Does this verse say that God gave the earth to Satan or that Satan took it with force? But note that God does not say here that Satan indeed owns this world. Satan, as the arch liar, simply presents this as fact. But in another chapter (Matthew 8:31) we read that he couldn't even enter into swine without permission, so this is just monstrous presumption on his part.
For lord of this world, see John 12:31.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

"Him only shalt thou serve" (4:10)
Should we serve God alone?
The word serve has to be taken here in the meaning of “worship”. The same word (the Greek uses radically different words for “serve”, “servant” and “obey”) does not always have the same meaning as the author of the SAB implies here. Serving an earthly master does not mean you worship him. But if this earthly master insists you worship him as well, then a christian is required to take a stand and may he be given the grace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who said to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:18), while acknowledging him as their king: “we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.

25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.