Matthew 4:5–10 – Is there a mistake in recording the wilderness temptation of Christ by Matthew or Luke?

Problem: According to both Matthew and Luke, the first temptation was to turn stones into bread to satisfy Jesus’ hunger. The second temptation listed by Matthew took place at the pinnacle of the temple. The third temptation listed by Matthew involved all the kingdoms of the world. However, although Luke mentions these same two events, he lists them in reverse order—the kingdoms of the world are mentioned second and the pinnacle of the temple is mentioned third. Which is the correct order?

Solution: It may be that Matthew describes these temptations chronologically while Luke lists them climactically, that is, topically. This may be to express the climax he desired to emphasize. Matthew 4:5 begins with the word “then” while verse 8 begins with the word “again.” In Greek, these words suggest a more sequential order of the events. In Luke’s account, however, verses 5 and 9 each begins with a simple “and” (see nasb). The Greek in the case of Luke’s account does not necessarily indicate a sequential order of events. Furthermore, there is no disagreement on the fact that these temptations actually happened.

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. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 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; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 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. (Matt 4:5-10)

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