February 17, 2010
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17 (1) or Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Return to the | LORD, your God,
who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in | steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)
1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
After his Baptism, according to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus
spent forty days in the wilderness, fasting and being
tempted by Satan (Mt. 4:1-11, Mk1:12f., Lk. 4:1-13). Our
Lord's fast was not, however, originally associated with the
Lenten season, which has its roots in the fasting and other
ascetical disciplines undertaken by catechumens in
preparation for Baptism at Easter. These pre-Easter
exercises can be traced at least to the second century; at
first they lasted only one or two days, and only in the
fourth century Festal Letters of St. Athanasius do we first
hear of a forty-day period of fasting. Even so, the
reckoning of Lent as a forty-day period has never been
established throughout the whole church: the Eastern
Churches spread the season over eight or nine weeks.
A penitential season of exactly forty days was made the rule
at Rome in the sixth century (before the time of Gregory
the Great); this was accomplished by including in the Lenten
fast the four days before the first Sunday in Lent. (The
Sundays in Lent do not count as fast- days; all Sundays,
being commemorations of Easter, are feast-days.)
The name "Ash Wednesday" derives from the medieval
custom of blessing ashes which were used to mark the
foreheads of the faithful as a symbol of penitence. The
reformed churches have generally discontinued this
ceremony, which they felt did not accord well with the
Gospel command (in the Roman and Sarum Missals
the Gospel appointed is Mt. 6:16-18).
1. TEXT: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Giving to the Needy
6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The Lord's Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you....
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust  destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
 6:19 Or worm; also verse 20
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by
Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
6σὺ δὲ ὅταν προσεύχῃ, εἴσελθε εἰς τὸ ταμεῖόν σου καὶ κλείσας τὴν θύραν σου πρόσευξαι τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ: καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι. 7Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται. 8μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς, οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν. 9Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς: Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου, 10ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς. 11Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον: 12καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν: 13καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. 14Ἐὰν γὰρ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, ἀφήσει καὶ ὑμῖν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος: 15ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, οὐδὲ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἀφήσει τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν. 16Οταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί, ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες: ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. 17σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι, 18ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ: καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 19Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν: 20θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν: 21ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
The Gospel for Ash Wednesday, a section of the Sermon on
the Mount, is a short catena of what Bultmann calls "Rules
of Piety" (cf.5:23f., 23:16-22; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 17:3f.) They
contain very little that is foreign to the best in contemporary
Judaism. The section may be outlined as follows:
Introduction: Mt. 6:1 - Ostentatious piety is condemned.
l. On Almsgiving: 6:2-4.
2. On Prayer: 6:5-6.
3. On Fasting: 6:16-18.
4. On Treasures: 6:19-21.
Verses 1-6,16-18 are peculiar to Matthew's Gospel. The
content of the sixth logion of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas
is similar to that of 1-6,16-18: "His disciples asked him
and said to him: do you wish us to fast? And in what way
shall we pray (and) give alms? And what observances shall
we keep with respect to eating? Jesus said: Do not speak a
lie and do not do what you hate, because everything is
manifest before Heaven. For there is nothing hidden which
shall no be made manifest, and there is nothing covered that
shall remain without being revealed" [cf. Mt. 10:26, Lk.
The content of these "rules" may well derive from Jesus
himself, but their formulation is due to the early Church.
The striking parallelism exhibited by the "rules" is clear
evidence of redactorial activity, either of Matthew or of
some earlier collector of Jesus' sayings.
To Matthew himself are doubtless due the introduction (6:1)
and the insertion of the Lord's Prayer (6:7-15).
Each of the first three "rules" consists of two brief
commands, one negative and one positive. The negative
commands enjoin the disciples not to imitate the
ostentatious behavior of the hypocrites who perform their
religious duties in public in order to gain a reputation for
piety (hopos phanosin tois anthropois [ doxasthosin hupo
ton anthropon]); solemn assurance is given after each
injunction that there is no further reward for hypocritical
behavior: amen lego humin , apechousin ton misthon auton .
The negative commands are couched in the plural, but the
positive ones are in the singular, as if in them the Lord is
addressing each individual disciple. Unlike hypocrites,
Jesus' followers are to perform their religious duties with
due modesty; their reward will be God's approval.
Mt. 6:1 - prosechete [de] tein dikaiosunen humon mei poiein
emprosthen ton anthropon pros to theathenai autois -
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to
be seen by them" (AILL) - Dikaiosune is a very important
word in the NT. In the Pauline Epistles it is used of God's
righteousness, but here (and in Mt. 5:10,20) the meaning is
quite concrete: right conduct before God. It thus serves as a simple
shorthand for the acts of piety mentioned in the following verses.
- - The root of the athenai appears in English "theater"; the meaning
of the Greek verb is to look over, to regard (with attention and
surprise), rather than simply to see.
6:2 - hotan oun poies 'eleeimosunein - "Thus, when you give
alms..." (AILL) - Almsgiving had an important place in
Jewish piety. Tobit 12:8 runs, "It is better to give alms
than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from
death, and it will purge away every sin."
- - me salpiseis emprosthen sou... - "sound no trumpet
before you" (AILL) - There is no evidence for supposing that
the rich were accustomed to blow horns to summon the poor in
order to give them alms. The blowing of horns did play a
part in fasts, but this was a ceremonial matter. Jesus is
merely telling his disciples not to call attention to
themselves when giving alms to the poor; we might paraphrase
this saying as "Don't ring the church bells every time you
put a dollar in the collection plate." -- hupokritai - found
in vss. 2,5, and 16; the basic meaning is "one who explains
or interprets," hence actor. The word had originally a
neutral connotation, but in the NT only the sense "one who
acts insincerely" is found.
6:3 - me gnoto he aristera sou ti poiei he dexia sou - "do
not let your left hand know what your right is doing" (AILL)
- In the Bible, as in many ancient cultures, the right hand
is regarded as the hand of strength and of blessing (cf. Job
40:14;,Gen. 48:14), while the left hand is considered
unlucky,unclean, even deadly (Judges 3:15,21; II Sam.
20:9f.). This being so, it is at least conceivable that
this saying means "Don't let your left hand, which is
accustomed to doing evil, prevent your right hand from doing
good." However, it is more likely that we have here a
simple exhortation to secrecy. The saying also occurs in
logion 62 of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas.
6:4,6,18 - en to krypto kai ho pater sou ho blepon en to
krypto apodosei soi (vs. 18 has kryphaio for krypto). - "(so
that your alms may be) in secret; and God who sees in secret
will reward you." (AILL) - The phrase 'en to phanero is
absent from the best ancient manuscripts; it was no doubt
added by pious scribes wishing to make the antithetical
parallelism with the preceding en to krupto more explicit.
The point of all the "Rules of Piety," however, is not the
public nature of the Father's reward but its superiority to
mere human approbation.
6:5 - hoti philousin 'en tais synagogais kai 'en tais
goniais ton plateion estotes proseuchesthai - "for they love
to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street
corners" (AILL) - Standing was the usual attitude of prayer
among both Jews and Greeks. 'Estotes may represent a Hebrew
word meaning continue or persist; if so, Jesus is referring
to the length of the hypocrites' prayers. It seems more
likely, in view of the context, that Jesus is condemning
their love of publicity, although there is in fact no Jewish
evidence for the practice of praying in the streets except
during public fasts.
6:6 - su de hotan proseuchei, eiselthe eis to tameion sou
kai kleisas ten thuran sou proseuxai to patri sou - "But
when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray
to God (who is in secret)" (AILL) - This is a reminiscence
of Isaiah 26:20 - "come, my people, enter your rooms, shut
your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a while until the
wrath has passed by" - with "pray" in place of "hide." Jesus
takes public worship for granted (Mt. 5:24, Lk.18:9-14) but
those who engage in public worship should be as free of all
pretense as one who prays in the secrecy of a closet.
6:16 - hotan de nesteueite - "And when you fast"(AILL) -
Jesus took it for granted that his hearers practiced fasting
as an act of piety, though he made an exception for his
personal followers during his lifetime (9:14f. = Mk.
2:18-20; cf. also ll:18f. = Lk. 7:33f.). Pious Jews fasted
on Mondays and Thursdays; to distinguish themselves from
these "hypocrites," Christians were urged to fast on
Wednesdays and Fridays (Didache 8:1). --- me ginesthe hos oi
hypokritai skuthropoi, aphanizousin gar ta prosopa auton
-"do not look dismal, like the hypocrites,for they disfigure
their faces"(AILL) - Lack of proper nourishment can result
in one's appearing skuthropos, gloomy, sad, sullen, and it
is to avoid this that the Arch-eunuch urged Daniel and his
friends to abandon their vegetarian diet (Dan. 1:10
[Theod.]). The hypocrites in vs. 16 tried to imitate this
appearance by disfiguring their faces with ashes or
6:17 - su de nesteuon aleipsai sou tein kefalein kai to
prosopon sou nipsai - " But when you fast, anoint your head
and wash your face" (AILL) - Jesus commands his disciples
to take the opposite course, and by anointing their heads
and washing their faces to imitate the happy appearance of
those who are celebrating a feast.
6:19,21 - These verses have parallels in Luke 12:33f. and
hence may derive from Q. There seems to be an allusion to
them in Jas. 5:2f. In logion 76 of the Coptic Gospel of
Thomas the saying in vs. 20 is conflated with the Parable of
the Pearl of Great Price (Mt. 13:45f.).
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"All the world's a stage,/ and all the men and women merely players"
--AS YOU LIKE IT , II,7.
Shakespeare's famous line has been echoed by many
writers, as any dictionary of quotations will
prove. This is hardly surprising, since all human beings
are obviously "actors" playing different "roles." But they
are not merely actors: two 19th-Century English clerics,
A.W. and J.C. Hare, point out that "Everybody has his own
theater, in which he is manager, actor, prompter,
playwright, sceneshifter, boxkeeper, doorkeeper, and
audience" (Guesses at Truth, 1827). We like, so far as we
are able, to manage our own lives, to be in control of the
"action" in which we are the "actors." In the language of
the New Testament we are hypocrites, "putting on an act" so
that we will be thought well of by others and, as the Hare
brothers say, by ourselves--for we are our own most
important audience. Or are we? God is also watching, even
when we are not consciously "on stage." Since Lent is a
time for self-examination, we might profitably ask ourselves
such questions as: Where is our "theater"? How are we
"managing" it? What audience are we usually performing for?
What audiences should we pay more attention to? What are
the "box-office receipts"? What sort of applause do we
seek? From other people? From ourselves? From God?
What is the value of this "applause" in each case?
4. REFERENCES: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Bultmann, Rudolf. The History of the Synoptic Tradition,
transl. by John Marsh.2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell,1968.
M'Neile,A.H. The Gospel According to Matthew. London:
Johnson, S.H. "The Gospel of Matthew," in the Interpreter's
Bible, vol. 7. NY: Abingdon, 1951.
M.H. Shepherd. The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary.
NY: Oxford University Press, 1950.
G. Kittel, ed. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,
transl. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.
Articles on: dikaiosune, theaomai, eleemosune, nesteuo,
proseuchomai, salpingo, and hypokrites
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS
The new Episcopalian Hymnal 1982 has two settings (EH
140,141) of John Donne's poem, "Wilt thou forgive that sin
where I begun"; the second of these,harmonized by J.S. Bach,
may be easier for congregational singing. LORD JESUS, SUN
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (EH 144) and NOW QUIT YOUR CARE AND
ANXIOUS FEAR AND WORRY (EH 145) both look forward from the
penitential season to the goal of Easter. Also traditional
are O LORD, THROUGHOUT THESE FORTY DAYS (LBW 99) and
SAVIOR WHEN IN DUST TO YOU (LBW 91), and MY SONG IS LOVE
UNKNOWN (EH 458, LBW 94).
Exegete: Eugene V.N. Goetchius, Ph.D.,Th.D. now retired, was professor of Biblical Languages from 1963-1989, holding chairs simultaneously in the Episcopal Theological School and the Philadelphia Divinity School. He taught Greek and Hebrew and collaborated with colleagues from Harvard Divinity School and Weston School of Theology in teaching introductory courses in New Testament interpretation and exegesis. He wrote a Greek grammar book, The Language of the New Testament, with accompanying workbook; The Teaching of the Biblical Languages and The Gifts of God. He received his Th.D. in New Testament Studies from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Linguistics from the University of Virginia in 1949.
Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke
First Sunday in Lent | February 21, 2010
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 (11)
Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, you led your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that, following your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world toward the life you alone can give, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
One does not live by | bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the | mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)
1a. CONTEXT: LUKE 4:1-13
This text, the temptation of Jesus, is located at the
beginning of Lent, and the story itself is located in the
synoptics prior to the beginning of Jesus' public
ministry. All three synoptics use this story as Jesus'
preparation for public ministry following his Baptism.
Matthew and Luke interject a genealogy following the
Baptism and preceding the temptation story. Mark is brief
in describing the temptation story and merely says that
Jesus was tempted by Satan. Matthew and Luke expand on
the temptations describing three specific temptations. In
both, the first temptation comes after the narrative
states that Jesus fasted for forty days, and "that he was
Luke makes the second temptation related to all the
kingdoms of the world, and the third temptation is one of
personal safety for Jesus. Matthew has the last two
temptations reversed in order from Luke. Some contextual
items are quite obvious: Jesus in some kind of dialog
with Satan; The temptations forming a framework or stance
for all of Jesus' public ministry; Jesus' knowledge of
and comfort with quoting scripture (hence indicating a
rabbinical style of life); and the challenge of Satan to
Jesus to "prove who He is", by doing things that were
traditionally associated with messianic expectations.
Two other items need attention in the contextual
setting: Whereas Matthew and Mark end with the angels
ministering to Jesus, Luke--who has put the angels'
protection as the last temptation--makes no mention of the
angels ministering to Jesus; and ends this pericope with
the note that indicates there is more to come from the
1b. TEXT: LUKE 4:1-13
4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’ 11 and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
1Ἰησοῦς δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου ὑπέστρεψεν ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ 2ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν. 3Εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος. 4καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Γέγραπται ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ' ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος. 5Καὶ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτὸν ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τῆς οἰκουμένης ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου: 6καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος, Σοὶ δώσω τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἅπασαν καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν θέλω δίδωμι αὐτήν: 7σὺ οὖν ἐὰν προσκυνήσῃς ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ, ἔσται σοῦ πᾶσα. 8καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Γέγραπται, Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις. 9Ἤγαγεν δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν ἐντεῦθεν κάτω: 10γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε, 11καὶ ὅτι Ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. 12καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Εἴρηται, Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου. 13Καὶ συντελέσας πάντα πειρασμὸν ὁ διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἄχρι καιροῦ.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: LUKE 4:1-13
1-2 Iesous de pleires pneumatos hagiou - This
describes in two sentences (RSV) the time Jesus spent in
the wilderness. Not only was he full of the Holy Spirit,
but he was led by the Spirit throughout the wilderness
time. Schweizer suggests that those who are possessed by
the Spirit are most vulnerable to temptation. Mark
suggests that Jesus was driven by the Spirit. The forty
days may be a standard literary device to make the
unconscious connection with the commonly known religious
stories of trial and judgment: the Exodus and the Noah
story. Note that Luke uses the noun "diabolon" throughout
his pericope, for the evil one, rather than the proper
noun. Also there is a hint that the temptations may come
at the end of the wilderness fast, for "when they were
ended, he was hungry." After this statement Luke
describes the temptation to satisfy hunger.
3-4 Eipen de auto ho diabolos - This is the first
temptation. At first reading it seems to be a temptation
to satisfy a physical need--hunger. But the first phrase
is a direct challenge to Jesus's identity and mission.
Vincent Taylor's work on the Names of Jesus places much
significance on the titles given to Jesus. In this case,
the devil uses the title Son of God. In both OT and NT
precedent, this is a title given to someone who has the
power to reveal God. This use of the title can be seen as
the challenge of evil to God.
Note the stylistic formula denoting Jesus' response
according to the RSV:
"And Jesus answered (apekrithei) him." NIV simply says:
"Jesus answered." But the words in the Greek NT are not
exactly the same in all three responses: Verses 4, 8 and
12. Jesus' response is a quote from the manna story
(Deuteronomy 8:3b), and certainly the literary connection
is made between this event and the provision of manna in
5-8 Kai anagagon auon edeixen auo pasas tas basileias
teis oikoumeneis - The Second temptation does not begin
with a challenge to God but puts Jesus in the World. It
is here that the devil appears to have control and the
ability to give something to Jesus, for a price. "in a
moment of time" is an interesting phrase, that must be a
standard idiomatic expression. Jesus' response is the
Creed of Judaism: The Shema.
9-12 epi to pterugion - The Third temptation combines
the tactics of the two previous temptations: It places
Jesus in a precarious position, and it challenges his
identity. Furthermore, the devil also quotes scripture.
This also places Jesus in the "religious" setting, i.e. at
the Temple. This is at once both a lofty challenge, yet
almost ludicrous in its absurdity.
These three temptations not only represent rather
traditional challenges of evil to God, there is in Luke's
version a powerful, yet subtle, building of the momentum
and power of the temptations. In the first temptation it
is the devil and Jesus' hunger that depict a personal
struggle. The second temptation involves the whole world,
and the devil's presumed ownership. The third temptation
uses a religious context, and all the challenges to
identity, and even Jesus' method of quoting scripture, for
an issue of personal safety.
13 ho diabolos apeste ap autou archi kairou - Luke
gives the impression that every kind of temptation has
been tried on Jesus, but that the devil has not yet given
up. For the devil there is a "kairos," just as there is a
"kairos" for God, Jesus and God's people.
3. STRATEGY: LUKE 4:1-13
In the classical homiletical style of a generation
ago, this text is perfect! It is complete with
Introduction (tell them what you are going to tell them),
three main points (tell them), and conclusion (tell them
what you told them). Probably each one of us would do
well to preach this style of sermon at least once on this
text. But it is full of many other possibilities that
cannot be overlooked.
This text describes what it means to be "driven." In
Jesus' case, he is driven by the Holy Spirit. This would
provide an entry point for dialog with "type A"
personalities, and possibly open up the pitfalls of such a
personality type. Most of the time we characterize "type
A's" with a subtle negativity; but here is the opportunity
to affirm and to connect in a meaningful and theological
A second issue that this text raises is the matter of
identity. Jesus has to prove he is God, and to prove
himself in the face of evil. Do we have to prove we are
good mothers by making certain that our children always
have what they want to eat? Do we have to prove we are
good fathers by giving our children everything they could
ever ask for?
Do we have to prove our authority by ordering a secretary
to bring a cup of coffee, or to pick up our laundry?
A third way of approaching this text would be to look
at the redundant phrases as common punctuation or starting
expressions. "And Jesus Answered, It is Written..." How
do we react when confronted by the challenges of
life--challenges that will detract us from our mission, or
even destroy our effectiveness?
A fourth way of dealing with this text is to take the
devil's stance. What things would most easily attract
someone away from their purpose in life? The preacher
could even write some letters in the manner of C.S.Lewis.
John Killinger says each temptation was "extremely
basic to human nature." (page 31) The temptations were
"for bread, for glory and for religious certainty." (page
32) A fifth way of dealing with this text would be to
select the most basic or commonly expressed needs in your
specific community and do a l980's version of the story.
For some it might be a lifetime contract for employment, a
stated recognition factor (a month's vacation after 10
years, a silver watch after 25 years, and a gold ring
after 50 years), and having the company president know you
and always call you by your first name and ask about your
4. REFERENCES: LUKE 4:1-13
Schweizer, Eduard. THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO LUKE.
John Knox Press, Atlanta. l984.
Taylor, Vincent. THE NAMES OF JESUS. MacMillan,
Killinger, John. A DEVOTIONAL GUIDE TO LUKE. The
Gospel of Contagious Joy. Word Books, Waco. 1980.
Luecke, Richard. VIOLENT SLEEP; Notes Toward the Development of
Sermons for the Modern City. Fortress Press, Philadelphia. 1969.
Craddock, Fred. PREACHING. Abingdon Press, Nashville. 1985.
5. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS: LUKE 4:1-13
Hymn: "O Lord, Throughout these forty days" (HB
142, LBW 99) sets the theme in a traditional mode.
Hymn: "Breathe on me, Breath of God" (HB 508, LBW
488) could well be used in reference to the "Filled by
the Spirit" theme.
I cannot overlook the rich possibilities in the other
lessons: Psalm 91 describes the confidence of one "filled with the
Spirit". Deuteronomy 26: 5-10 "The Wandering Aramean"
passage describes the test of the people of God.
Romans 10:8bff again picks up the theme of filling of the person
by the Spirit of God, and the subsequent confidence it produces.
Exegete: Dale I. Gregoriew, D.Min., a graduate of Princeton Seminary, continues as pastor of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Allen, Texas. He was sworn in on August 8, 2001, as chaplain of the Allen Police Department. He served for three years as associate chaplain before this promotion.
Lexegete © 2010
Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925