Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
The word “tempter”in the Greek is the word “peirazo”which means to scrutinize, entice, to examine, test, and prove. Notice in this text, Satan said; “if You are the Son of God,”Satan’s temptation was determined to prove that Christ was not the Son of God, but instead Christ proved that He was. In another sense; “if You are the Son of God,”may also implicate mockery, such as was done in; Matthew 27:40, where it reads; and You destroying the temple and building it in three days, save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.The Jews did not ask Jesus to come down from the cross so that they may believe, but instead they belittled and mocked Him for saying earlier that, Christ would destroy and rebuild the temple in three days, which was referencing His own body as the Temple. Furthermore; Christ would soon give a greater sign to men affirming and proving Christ is the Son of God. Christ would not prove He is the Son by delivering Himself from the torment of the cross, but instead Christ would prove His Son-ship by delivering Himself from death as He resurrected from the dead conquering death and sin.
As I was studying, I came across a statement by a man named Wetstein, who I found must be Johann Jakob Wettstein. He was an 18th century Swiss theologian, but not in the likes I would ascribe to. He was a New Testament critic and believed there were areas of mistranslation in the Codex Alexandrinus, which was a 5th century translation of the Greek New Testament. Some areas he believed to be mistranslated are passages referring to the divinity and deity of Christ. He believed there was a misinterpreting of the word “God” with the word “who.” For example; the King James Version of 1Timothy 3:16, where it reads; “God was manifest in the flesh, manifest means; clearly see, shown, visible, recognized, and understood. That being said; we believe the God in this verse to be Christ, who was manifest in the flesh. Wettstein would teach that the proper translation is supposed to be “who was manifest in the flesh” in the stead of “God manifest in the flesh.”The entire verse in the Modern King James Version reads:
1Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among nations, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.
Wetstein would claim it is supposed to read; And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among nations, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.
This is highly a critical issue because if it is truly to be understood as merely Christ being manifested in the flesh; then it does not necessarily mean Christ as God manifested in the flesh, merely meaning that Christ was seen by angels in heaven, preached to the nation, and so on. It would rob this verse of every implication of Christ being manifested as God in the flesh. If taken seriously this may cause many to doubt the divinity as the second person of the trinity. Do you see how Satan operates in his cunningness and temptation to man? The enemy has been after the mind of God since the beginning. Guard your mind by laboring in the word of God, so you may not be deceived.
2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity due to Christ.
Suppose Wetstein is right, and the original manuscript does read as “who” instead of “God.”There are still several other passages that testify and implicate Christ as God and always existing as God, which would justify the changing of “who”, too “God.”Furthermore, if in the Greek manuscript is truly written as who instead of God, then the original translators of the Greek to English knew it was in reference to Christ, and by God’s merciful providence wrote these verses where it implied the divinity of Christ for the readers sake because,1 not all are meant to become bible scholars, and learn Greek and Hebrew; but all are supposed to seek to rightly divide the Word of God.
What I find disturbing is what I found when I looked to see how modern translations have wrote this verse. Most modern English translations have now substituted God, for the noun who, or he. That single detail changes the context of the verse. The NIV reads; “He appeared in the flesh,” of course Christ appeared in the flesh, which is obvious, what is not obvious anymore is that God appeared in the flesh, which would then imply to us that Christ is God. The New world Living Translation, “Christ was revealed in a human body.”English Standard Version, “He was manifested in the flesh.”The Berean study and literal bible, New American Standard Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, the ISV, NET, and so many more have removed God from the text, and instituted a different noun not exclusive to just he, or who;I consider this a compromise. Translations that have kept God in the text are; The King James Version, Modern King James Version, King James 2000 Bible, American King James Version, The Jubilee Bible 2000, Darby Bible Translation, Webster’s Bible Translation, and Young’s Literal Translation. As for me and my household; we will be abiding by any version of the King James.
Satan told Jesus, “Command that these stones be made bread.”If there was nothing significant about this, Satan would not have used it. It is very interesting that this verse is cross referenced with Genesis chapter 3 verses 1-5. Where the Serpent caused Eve to doubt the word of God, and deceived her into disobeying God. Not because she was hungry, but with her it was because she fell for the sophisticated seduction of his slithering tongue. Likewise Satan tried a similar method; in addition waiting until Jesus was at the end of His fast, knowing than men are most vulnerable when they are most hungry. In Genesis 25: 29-34; Jacob was boiling a soup as his older brother Esau was coming from the field extremely hungry. Jacob told his brother to sell him his birth right for the price of a meal. Esau agreed and gave an oath to give him his inheritance for the price of one meal.
Consider the ramifications of Jesus failing the test; such a thought seems almost unfathomable. Satan is not omniscient, and his intent to test Christ reveals that he believed Christ may fail. It reveals Satan’s impotence; his lack of knowledge and power, “if you are the Son of God” served not to assure Christ of His deity; it was even heard from heaven after His baptism.Satan knowing the prophecies and the signs of time; no doubt knew this was the Messiah, but what he was not sure about was whether or not Christ in His human incarnate nature may be inclined to sin. The fact that the proposition was even offered to Christ for Him to turn stones into bread, reveals to us Christ’s awesome power He could have received from His Father if He so chose. But just as the fruit was forbidden to Adam and Eve in the Garden; so to it was forbidden by God for Christ to use such power at this time.18th century Non Conformist Theologian Matthew Poole writes in his English Annotations of the Holy Bible;“The temptation plainly was to the use of means which God did not allow him (explain), to relieve him in his distress of hunger, to distrust the providence of God in supporting of him.”If Christ looking at these stones, which perhaps at the state of hunger He was in already probably looked like small loaves of bread; would have attempted such a power, He would have failed. His death on the cross would have been invalid for the redemption of souls, invalid for the remission of sins, because in order to justify sinners into heaven; someone would have to obey all of God’s commandments for our sake since we are incapable. That hope was being balanced on the obedience of Christ to His Father, which He was victorious in defeating the schemes of the Devil. Now all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ have remission of sins and the gift of eternal life with Christ in paradise, where He went to prepare a place for each of us who love Him.
Now; in response to Satan’s attempt of a shrewd and cunning proposal, Jesus replies with:
Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
It was common to the Jews whenever they reference a scripture to begin with “as it is written.” Jesus begins His reply with the same custom as He cites:
Deuteronomy 8:3 And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger, and then He fed you with manna, which you did not know, neither did your fathers know it, so that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of Jehovah man shall live.
Isn’t it interesting here that Jesus took a passage from the Old and applied it to His particular situation. Yet He did it soundly without distorting the context from which it was written. As the Israelites were allowed to be hungry in the desert; God then provided bread for them to eat from the miraculous mystery of God; so that His people learn to trust and have faith in God, that God is the reason for their subsistence. It is not by the efforts of the Jews coming together to survive, but by God who provides every gift which comes from heaven, and in their case it was bread which rained from heaven.
Just as the Israelite were allowed to go hungry; so was Christ allowed going hungry for forty days and nights, and just as God supernaturally provided bread from heaven; Christ knew God would provide for the Son everything necessary to fulfill the Fathers will. Christ knew He did not need to depend on Himself performing a miracle for His own survival. All of His miracles were for the sake of others; can anyone think any miracle Christ performed with a self imposed interest? Furthermore; just as God did not forsake His people in the wilderness for the forty days and nights, then neither would God the Father forsake the Son of God in the wilderness during His forty days and forty nights. What amazing consistency we find in the scriptures! What an astounding intelligent design! How can the similarity between the events of Deuteronomy 8 and the events of Christ in the wilderness for forty days be an accident, or mere coincidence? I truly believe with faith that Deuteronomy 8 typifies the advent of Christ in the wilderness. How can anyone believe that God has not been in control of every aspect of existence from all eternity? What an amazing God we have.
For the Christian there is a life application for us from this as well. Many of us may be in the wilderness several times in our lives. Some of us have seen the power of God’s grace incline us to endure trialing times. It is important to remember that just as God provided for the Jews in the desert, and provided for Christ, and rewarding Him with food after He passed His test; that God will provide a way out from your temptation so long as you persevere in your faith. Remember that the best reward and provision that God may give you has already been giving to you if you believe in Christ. Just as God gave heavenly bread to sustain the physical lives of the Jews in the wilderness; God has already provided you with the heavenly bread to sustain your eternal life with God in heaven, which is the bread of life, which is the Son of God.