Three Temptations of Christ

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The Three Temptations of Christ consisted of the devil confronting Jesus at His weakest moment (after He had been fasting for 40 days) and trying to break His faith and adherence to God. See Matt 4:1-11 . Jesus passed these temptations as a man, whereupon He embarked upon His ministry and miraculous deeds.

The First Temptation was for Jesus to act in a self-serving manner by turning stones into bread.[1] Jesus refused. Self-centered behavior is the root of much evil today.

The Second Temptation was for Jesus to put God to the test by descending from the highest point of the temple.[2] Jesus declined. Often those who have turned away from God demand a special sign.

In the Third Temptation, the devil announces that he has dominion over this world but will delegate his power over this world to Jesus in return for Jesus's worship of the devil.[3] This revealed the underlying uncertainty and chaos in the world—the meaning of the word "devil"—nearly 2000 years before science discovered it. See Biblical scientific foreknowledge.

Jesus declined the Third Temptation, observing that one should worship God alone. Many evil deeds are motivated by a desire for power over the world, or obsession with by it.

One commentator summarized these three temptations as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life."[4]

in Literature

There are many references to the Three Temptations of Christ in great literature. Fyodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov:

And could anything truer be said than what he revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst reject, and what in the books is called “the temptation”? And yet if there has ever been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that day, on the day of the three temptations. The statement of those three questions was itself the miracle. If it were possible to imagine simply for the sake of argument that those three questions of the dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had to restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered together all the wise men of the earth—rulers, chief priests, learned men, philosophers, poets—and had set them the task to invent three questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but express in three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of the world and of humanity—dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal to the three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the wise and mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions alone, from the miracle of their statement, we can see that we have here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but with the absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole subsequent history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into one whole, and foretold, and in them are united all the unsolved historical contradictions of human nature. At the time it could not be so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that fifteen hundred years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions was so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled, that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.[5]


  1. Mt 4:3-4
  2. Mt 4:5-7
  3. Mt 4:8-10

See also