The primary meaning in the Bible is of testing. God tested the reality of Abraham's belief by the command to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22:1–9). But, secondly, the word acquires its more usual modern meaning of enticement to sin (which does not come from God, Jas. 1:12–15). The petition in the Lord's Prayer that we be not led into temptation is a case of the primary meaning: that we may be spared the ultimate test of apostasy. It is also the meaning of Jesus' temptations in the wilderness, when he was put to the test after his baptism: was he really prepared to be a MessiahSon of God in the terms of the Suffering Servant? The brief narrative in Mark (1:12 f.) with a reference to wild beasts coming to Jesus (paradise regained?) is expanded by Matt. (4:1–11) and Luke (4:1–13) into a dramatic and pictorial story; there is no mountain in existence from which all the kingdoms of the world can be surveyed (Matt. 4:8)! It is possible that the narratives in Matt. and Luke had the emperor Caligula in mind as a model for Satan. Caligula did in fact grant a kingdom to a Jewish ruler, Agrippa Ⅰ, and at his court the etiquette of prostration was initiated—much to Jewish consternation. Cf. Matt. 4:9. The narratives specify that the temptations came after forty days of fasting, and, supported by the quotations from Deut., it is plain that the evangelists interpret Jesus' temptations as a reversal of Israel's temptations in the wilderness after the Exodus [[➝ Exodus, the]]. There the Israelites repeatedly put God to the test (e.g. Deut. 6:16). ‘If he brought us out of Egypt, why does he let us suffer these hardships?’ But the temptations to which they succumbed in forty years are now successfully resisted by one individual, and God's purpose is being fulfilled. Jesus refuses to use his status as Son of God, recently established at his baptism (Matt. 3:17), to exercise a worldly sovereignty or to save his own life (Matt. 4:5). Cf. Matt. 27:42–3.

Dictionary of the Bible.

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