The book of Romans is the most intriguing epistles of Paul. The authorship of this epistle is ascribed to Paul. Paul explains about the “righteousness of God” from positive and negative aspects (Wrath of God as a contrasting theme). Romans 1: 16-32 is an introductory passage which has cluster of themes which will be explained by Paul in the epistle. Christ has inaugurated a new humanity. This is an act of God’s righteousness. To have a comprehensive understanding on how Paul explained “the righteousness of God” in the following text, it is necessary for us to understand its setting, form, structure, key word and its theology. Later the meaning of the text is applied to different perspectives to address different pertinent issues.
II. FORM AND STRUCTURE
Dunn classifies Romans 1:16-17 as a didactic section especially v. 17. This section introduces theme of the Epistle as well as it serves as a climax for the introduction. Vv. 18-32 can be classified as an argument which according to Dunn echoes Adam narratives (Gen. 2-3). It also can be categorized as Jewish polemic which a common literary style in the Hellenistic literature.
The structure of Romans 1: 16-82 two-fold- midrashic structure (Vv. 116-17) and exposition (Vv. 18-32). Vv. 18-32 has three-fold pattern of structure- one is a cause (vv 23, 25 and 26) and consequence (vv. 24, 26 and 28). The phrase (μετ) ὴλλαζαν (and they exchanged) in vv. 23, 25 and 26 is a cause of God’s giving them up over which is repetition of παρὲδωκεν in vv 24, 26 and 28. This structure helps us to understand that cause and consequence of sin which is a covenantal formula. Maillot categorizes God’s judgment according the nature of sins described in vv 19-32. One is “sin against truth of God (vv 19-23), sin against nature (vv 24- 27), and sin against other (vv 28-32).”
A. LARGER SETTING
Rome was a pivotal city and the centre for the Mediterranean world. Rome has become a prominent place to visit by various ethnic groups. Roman political system has benefitted the development of Jewish group , Greeks and other ethnic groups. However, these ethnic groups had to face racial discrimination though Jewish group have had some significant influence in Rome. It is this aspect of disparity that made Paul to confront in his epistle to the Romans. The pluralistic society of Rome had influenced both Jews and also Jewish Christians.
B. IMMEDIATE SETTING
The text conveys us that Paul wrote the Epistle of Romans to Roman Christians which is a mixed community of Jews and Greeks. This community is predominantly Gentile background. It is very much possible that Roman Christians have had contact with Christians before Paul. It is in this Greeko- Jewish setting Pauls writes his epistle as “a servant and an apostle” of Christ (Romans. 1:1). It is very much probable that the immediate recipients of this epistle would be Jews and Greeks. In his salutation Paul lays out a brief Christology which conveys the importance and significance of Christ event who justifies the righteous by faith.
IV. ANALYSIS OF THE KEY WORDS AND PHRASES
A. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
The word “δικαιςύνη” is derived from the word “δὶκη” which means “law.” The connection between Law and the “Righteousness of God” is of relational. Law itself projects a relationship between two parties. The relationship exists as long as both the parties abide by the rules of the relationship. Therefore, it is by the abiding by the law that helps to maintain the relationship. This aspect has been radically changed in Pauline thought. The “Righteousness of God” though being relational but it is a gift given by God, the concept which was not there in Judaism prior to Paul. Therefore, the concept of righteousness with all its Jewish legalistic nuances was taken up by Paul and gave a radical meaning to it from the perspective of God’s act of righteousness in Christ.
B. POWER OF GOD
The word ‘δύναμαις’ is derived from the stem δυνα- which has the basic meaning of “ being able,” of “ capacity” in virtue of an ability. The phrase “power of God” has connotations of OT concept of the power of God which points out to the omniscient and creative power which is invisible was made visible in Christ. This power has kreygmatic and stereological dimensions in Pauline thought. According to Paul Gospel is the power of God which brings salvation to those who believe in Christ. This power is an active and operative power not just a static power as of the Hellenistic idea.
V. EXPOSITARY EXPLANATION
A. EXEGETICAL OUTLINE AND EXPLANATION
a. Gospel: the power and the righteousness of God Vv 16-17
b. Sin against God Vv 18-23
c. Sin against self Vv 24-25
d. Sin against other Vv 26-32
a. Gospel: The Power and the Righteousness of God Vv 16-17
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
These two verses serve as a climax for the introduction of the previous verses and introduces theme for the rest of the epistle. The phrase “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” is an “early Christian formula.” There might be two reasons for such a statement. One is Paul is a “self-styled apostle, lacking the self-evident authorization of the Twelve.” The second one is the possibility of hostility of the Gospel that would be preached. This gospel is the power of God which is active at work which brings salvation for those who put their faith in this Gospel. M. M. Thomas rightly says that the objectivity of salvation is the revelation of God’s righteousness to the mankind and subjectivity of salvation is the human response to God’s call for salvation. Paul collectively presents the whole humanity as Jews and Gentiles who are to respond to the call of God’s salvation. The righteousness of God is not simply an attribute of God but it is a quality by which God judges his people. In other words it is an activity of doing right. The righteousness of God is the power of God which has been operative in the framework of his covenantal relationship with Israel and the nations at large. Paul uses the Greek word “άποκαλὺπτω” which means to “unveil, reveal.” This word specifically used in relation to the righteousness of God that has been revealed in Christ. This objectivity of revelation has to be responded by the subjective response of humans. This exactly it means when Paul says, “through faith (objectivity) for faith (subjective response).”
b. Sin against God. Vv 18-23
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals and reptiles.
This pericope can be seen as humanity without Gospel. In other words the humanity is “universally under sin” and there is no one who is righteous. The phrase “wrath of God” is used in contrast with the phrase “righteousness of God.” It is intriguing that both are revealed. One has to do with the specific revelation that God has revealed to Jew by which he counts them accountable. Therefore, the righteousness of God has to do with the covenantal relationship of God with Israel. The wrath of God has to do with the general revelation by which God judges Gentiles. The phrase “ὸργὴ θεου” means God’s wrath which is an act of God more than His attribute. It is a response against human unrighteousness. According to Barret Paul uses the same tense for wrath of God as that of righteousness of God. In other words “wrath of God” is an ongoing process. According to Paul it is not the ignorance of truth but the deliberate rebellion against God that has invited God’s wrath. Therefore, no one is righteous and no has any excuse. (Vv 20-21). It is the denial of “righteousness of God” that led man to dethrone God and placed himself in the his place which led to futile thinking, and idolatry. This is what it means by the phrase “they exchanged the glory of the immortal God.” According to the objective search of truth has become futile as humans rejected the ultimate reality which has darkened the reason. Therefore, it gave birth to contradictions of the self, disparity in relationships, and spiritual complacency.
c. Sin against self Vv 24-25
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever! Amen
These verses speak of retributive justice of God. The phrase “God gave them up” should be understood as the God’s response against deliberate rebellion of man against him. This phrase has been used three times (v 24, 26, 28). In all these verses the word “παρὲδωκεν” is used rhetorically to emphasize the ongoing judgment. Here sin is seen as the judgment of God and to which God gave them up – sin against self (Vv 24-25) and sin against other (Vv. 26-32). The immediate consequence of this judgment is dishonouring self. By dishonouring God, men dishonour themselves.
d. Sin against others Vv 26-32
26For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die- yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.
The consequences of human rebellion against God are three-fold- disparity in relationships- with God, self and others. Paul addresses the disparity of relationships because of human rebellion against God. Paul again uses the phrase “God gave them up” in a rhetorical manner to emphasize the fact the God’s wrath is an ongoing process. It is a retributive justice of God- a necessary feature or attribute of God towards human rebellion (V 26). Perversion of morals and ethics is the result of God’s wrath. In this regard Paul gives a list of vices and sexual immorality is one among them (V 27-31). Many scholars argue that these vice list indicative of God’s wrath on Gentiles only. However, these vices indicate that Jews and Gentiles were given up to sin (V 28). Paul is not focusing on any particular sin but the whole conduct of the self and relationship with others do get distorted by deliberate rejection of righteousness of God which was reiterated in V 32. Those who approve such sinful acts were considered even more sinful.
VI. THEOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
The phrase “δικαιοςύνη θεου” in Pauline thought is radically different from the legal conception of righteousness in Judaism. There are three presuppositions of the Pauline though of “Righteousness of God.” One is God is the judge who demands obedience to his law and punishes those who do not obey the Law. This is typical OT concept. The second one is the rejection of optimistic view of law in Judaism. The third is righteousness of man is only a gift and act of grace by God but not dependent on man’s work. The righteousness of God is not simply an attribute of God but is an act of God. William summarizes various views in the scholarship:
i. Human righteousness which counts in the eyes of God (though theo being understood as an objective genitive)
ii. God’s own saving power or activity (though theo being taken as subjective genetive)
iii. God’s gift of righteousness (though theo being taken as genitive origin)
There is an objective and subjective aspect of “the righteousness of God.” It is objective as it has been revealed in Christ and was given as gift to everyone who believes. It is subjective as it calls for human response. It is an active power of God which is at work-confronts and transforms the unbelieving. Failure to recognize this gift of grace invites divine wrath which delivers us into the hands of sin.
VII. APPLICATION: A PERSPECTIVAL READING OF THE TEXT
Paul treats Jews and Gentiles as equally responsible and accountable for their rebellion against God. Sin has distorted humanity. Firstly it has distorted the relationship between God and man, secondly with self, and thirdly, with others. The intriguing point to be noted is that sin is not of ignorance of requirements of God but deliberate rebellion against God and approval of the same. Today Feminists are fighting for women liberation. Liberation is not something that you get liberated to oppress the other gender. Liberation is a transformation of relationships. Same applied for Dalits, as they are fighting for liberation from the oppressed structures which are oppressing them; they have fight for the transformation of relationships with others.
The realization to create a “new humanity” comes from the realization of righteousness of God which has been appropriated in Christ. Once we as individuals receive this gift of righteousness there can be a corporate transformation of relationships which can shape a “new humanity.”
The dominant theme of Romans 1: 16-32 is “the righteousness of God.” Paul explains this concept very dexterously from Jewish and Gentile points of view. The righteousness of God has been revealed in the life, work and person of Jesus Christ. Christ –event is the dawn of new humanity. The objective revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ calls for a subjective response as an individual as well as a corporate body. In other words no one is justified by their own merits but justification comes through faith in the righteousness of God which has been appropriated in Christ . The righteousness of God is not static but it transforms our relationship with God, man and other; thus creating a new humanity.
Barret, C. K. The Epistles to The Romans. Edited by Henry Chadwick. Black’s New Testament Commentaries. London: Adam & Clark Black, 1971.
Dunn, James. D. G. “Romans 1-8.” Word Biblical Commentary. Edited by Bruce. M Metzer. Vol. 38. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988.
Fitzmyer, Joseph A. Romans. Vol. 33. The Anchor Bible. NY: Doubleday, 1992.
Grundmann, Walter, and Gottlob Schrenk. “δὺναμαι, δυνατός, δυνατέω, άδύνατέω, δύναμις, δυνάστης, δυναμόω, ένδυναμόω.” Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: WM. Eerdmans Publishing company, 1964.
Johnson, S Lewis. “‘God gave them up’: a study in divine retribution.” Master’s Seminary Journal 21, no. 1 (Spr 2010): 21-29.
López, René. “A study of Pauline passages with vice lists.” Bibliotheca sacra 168, no. 671 (Jl-S 2011): 301-316.
Quell, Gottfried, and Gottlob Schrenk. “δὶκη,δὶκαιος,δὶκαιοσύνη,δικαιόω,δικαίωμα,δικαίωσις,δικαιοκρισία.” Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: WM. Eerdmans Publishing company, 1964.
Reasoner, M. “Rome And Roman Christianity.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993.
Thomas, M. M. A New Man in Jesus. Translated by T. M Philip. Contextual Theological Commentary 12. Tiruvalla: CSS & BTTBPSA, 2009.
Williams, Sam K. “The ‘righteousness of God’ in Romans.” Journal of Biblical Literature 99, no. 2 (Je 1980): 241-290.
This post is the result of an endured pain and struggle in order to get the marriage certificate by Nepal Government. This post specifically applies to the Christian community who is intending or has already got married in the Church. This post also applies to those, if one person is from India and the other from Nepal. The process is mainly divided into three sections- a) Acquiring NOC (No objection certificate), b) Applying for the Marriage registration c) Police clearance certificate.
At last I will give some advices and list of documents needed for the process.
a) Acquiring NOC (No objection Certificate)
The first document that is required by the bride and the groom is NOC. This is nothing but ‘declaration of Single Status.’ The CDO (Chief District Office) requires this document to proceed with the marriage registration.
If it is an Indian national (any foreign national), CDO requires an NOC from the respective embassies. However, I have inquired the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. They have informed that they will not provide any such NOC per se. Nevertheless, they advised me to go to my domicile and get a notarized ‘declaration of Single Status’ certificate and this, they said, they would endorse it. As per the suggestion, you need to get this certificate and give to the Embassy of India for endorsement.
If it is an Nepali citizen, he/she should get her single status declaration certificate from his/her respective VDC (Village Development Committee).
b) Applying for marriage registration
After acquiring NOC both bride and the groom should go to CDO, at Babarmahal, Kathmandu. You need to request for an application for Marriage registration. You have to fill in the application as per their suggestion and follow their directions (you may have to run around different departments in CDO for different official signatures). After finishing this process, the CDO office will give you one document requiring us to give that to Police head quarters at Hanuman Dhoka. (Do not forget to take the photocopy of the all the application with the detailed signatures). The CDO will ask you come to the office within 14-15 days after the application with three witnesses (even own relatives is also fine).
c) Police clearance Certificate
The bride and the groom or any one related to them or a friend can go to Police headquarters at Hanuman dhoka and submit the document that is given by CDO office. In turn, they will write a letter to the respective VDC police stations to do the needful in order to get the Police clearance. The Police headquarters will ask you to bring that police clearance from the respective VDC police stations back to them.
The bride and the groom, should go to their respective VDC’s and hand over the given letter by Police head quarters. The police in the VDC may ask you to bring at least 5 witnesses from the same VDC. Then you need to take them with the photocopies of their citizenship, your citizenship, NOC (declaration of single status), Passport photocopy (for Indian national), address proof (place where the Indian national is residing in Nepal)- Note: Indian national should produce a document of the address proof. This can be acquired if the land lord writes a letter to VDC that he/ she is residing there. If it is an official campus, then the head of the institution should do the same.
After checking the documents, the VDC police will again write a letter to Police Headquarters. This letter you have to carry it back to Police headquarters as they have asked. After submitting both letter from the respective VDC’s. the police headquarters will write a ‘police clearance’ to the bride and the groom to be given at CDO.
The bride and the groom, both should take this letter from Police headqurters and submit in CDO. Also you have to take 3 witnesses with their photocopies of citizenship. Now, only thing you may have to follow their instructions. Finally, you will receive your marriage registration certificate. This certificate need to be attested by the Indian Embassy, Kathmandu.
1. Please do not go for shortcuts: There are people who would be willing to do this, if you pay 50-70,000 NPR. Please do not do it. Literally, you do not have to pay anything.
2. Patience: Please have patience. Endure the process. It is worth and reliable. Of course the system may seem very lethargic, but hold on and go along with the process.
3. Time: This process may demand time. If you are working, then you may have to take some home leaves. It is worth taking leaves for this.
List of document required:
1. NOC (No objection certificate/ declaration of Single Status)
2. Passport photocopy (for Indian national)
3. Citizenship photocopy (for Nepali)
4. Address proof (for Indian national)
5. Certificate of registration of an Indian national photocopy
6. Police clearance certificate (Indian and Nepali)
7. 10 Passport size photos (Indian and Nepali)
I hope this information is helpful. I wish you all the best as you go through this painful process.
An Ultimate Test of Faith: An Exposition on Matt. 4: 1-11
How often you and I paused for a moment in our spiritual journey and asked ourselves whether or not we are really Christians? Is our salvation genuine? Have we ever allowed our faith to be tested? The world very subtly offers us three kinds of temptations- lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. In other words we face temptations in our material needs, our own doubts and in our moral values. How is our faith today in those areas? Matt. 4: 1-11 address these temptations. It is a narration about how Jesus was not only led by the Spirit to be tested but also it narrates how He overcame. Therefore, having led by the Spirit to be tested, Jesus faces the ultimate test of faith right before His mission and thus providing a great model for us to imitate HIM to overcome our own temptations or tests. Keeping this in mind I would like to entitle this sermon as “An ultimate test of faith.”
Let me lay out context which helps us to have comprehensive understanding the text in a better. I need your undivided attention as what follows could be life-changing and confrontational to our own Spiritual lives.
II. The context:
The passage that has been selected is very unique. This is a narration of Jesus’ test of His status quo as ‘the Son of God.’ There are only two characters involved here. One is Jesus and the other is the devil. Before going further I want to draw your attention to the fact that before He was led to be tempted by the devil, He was fully aware of His unique Son-ship, fully aware of His mission and fully aware that His way is the way of the Cross. In Matt. 3: 17, we see God himself declared the son-ship of Jesus.
Matt. 4: 1:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The context here tells us that it was God who led Jesus to be ‘tempted.’ Why God allowed such temptation? Has God allowed that temptation to commit sin? What is the meaning of temptation here? The understanding of this verse is a key to rightly understand the text as well as Jesus’ ministry. We need to note two important words here- one is conjunction ‘then’ and the other is the verb ‘tempted.’
i. Confirmation of Jesus status quo the Son of God:
The conjunction ‘then’ here marks an important sequence after the confirmation of Jesus status and mission at Baptism (Matt. 3: 16-17). This was followed by the testing of His response to that experience. Let us see briefly what the word ‘temptation’ means.
ii. It is a ‘test’ of faith but not a temptation:
Jesus, then, was not only confirmed as God’s only son but also ‘led up by the Spirit’ to be tempted which expresses the intention of being tested. Now, let us examine the word ‘temptation’ here for a while.
Firstly, this passage is a specific examination of Jesus’ newly-revealed relationship with God. Secondly, the word ‘tempt’ often used by the Biblical authors to express something that leads to do wrong or sin (1 Cor. 7:5; Jh. 6:6; 2 Cor. 13: 5). Thirdly, the Greek word is peirazw (πειραζω) which may mean ‘to test, tempt, attempt.’ When this word is used in conjunction with the phrase ‘led up by the spirit’ it means ‘to try, make trail of, or test for the purpose of ascertaining one’s quality.’ In other words, in a good sense when God tests His beloved people as in Heb. 11:17. Therefore, having been ascertained by God that Jesus is the Son of God, God is leading Him to the ‘test’ the same not to make Him to stumble in Sin but let Him know who He is in Him. When God tests us, it is to ascertain who we are in Him. But when Satan ‘tempts’ it is to make us to fall into sin. Therefore, it is a ‘test’ of faith but not a ‘temptation.’
iii. Wilderness context
This passage is also a description of the lessons God put before the Israelites in the wilderness before their mission of conquest of the promised- land. When tested them (Dt. 8:2) as man disciplines his son (Dt. 8:5), Israel (sons of God) failed to learn. Now it is Jesus, the true Israel and true Son of God (Matt. 2:15), again to be put to the test.
Sometimes, it becomes necessary for us, though being saved and claiming to know God, we have to be aware of Satan’s subtle devices against us. In other words, we need to allow God to help us in such ‘testing’ times. Let us learn how to allow ourselves to be tested only to know who we are in Christ. This is the background from which we will try to understand how one should allow the ‘test’ of faith in one’s life.
III. Testing our Salvation
Our salvation can be tested against materialism, skepticism (doubt) and compromising of values. Let us discover then, whether you and I are really Christians.
A. Temptation of materialism: Matt. 4: 3-4
3The tempter came and said to him, “If (Since) you are the Son of God, Command these stones to become loaves of bread. 4But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The first temptation can be categorized as materialism– a temptation to fulfill our selfish desires which may be our physical needs. Failure to fight back leads to disobedience. From the text we find that this temptation is not to doubt Jesus’ son-ship but it is a temptation of exploiting His own power to fulfill His physical needs. Jesus responded with scripture quoting Det. 8: 3 which says,
“man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
If we read this text within the context of Det.8: 3, we understand Israel failed to learn the lesson that God is teaching them in their wilderness experience. However, Jesus learned and was able to provide redemption for us. What is this lesson that God intended to teach the Israelites? Let us see Deut. 8: 3 in its own context.
Det. 8: 3 says,
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.
This verse is a reminder to the people of Israel that experience of hunger in the wilderness is only to teach them humility and absolute dependency on God’s word before any material needs. However, Israel failed to learn that lesson.
In the same manner, Jesus’ experience of hunger was designed by God to teach the lesson of Det. 8:3. For the sake of ministry, Jesus’ mission then, has to put his own material needs behind and put God His first priority. Israel failed. Jesus did not.
i. Spiritual application:
How can we apply this truth in our spiritual lives? Is having a desire for material needs a sin? It is not that having a desire to have material needs is a sin but if our material needs takes the place of God or has the potential to hinder us from doing the work of God then it is a sin.
In the movie, “Chariots of fire” directed by Hugh Hudson which has won 4 Oscars tells us the true story of two athletes, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddel, who are going to compete in running race in 1924 Olympics. Harold Abrahams is a Jew and passionate about proving himself and Eric is a devout Christian who is passionate about God. There comes a point in the story, Eric was asked to run for a qualifying test on Sunday. He refuses in spite of the pressure from Olympic committee. He refused because he had to attend the Church service. On Sunday, however, Olympic committee managed to arrange a 400 meter track later. Both Erick and Harold races to achieve their dreams and both win their respective races. The difference is Erick ran for the glory of God putting behind his own material need whereas Harold ran for his own glory. Later, Erick becomes a missionary to China thus becoming a mighty instrument in the hands of God. According to his fellow missionary, Erick’s final words are “It’s complete surrender” in reference to how he had lived his life to his God.
Here is a man, who sacrificed his material needs for the sake of God though he knew that fulfilling his own needs he may attain glory and honor. The question for us today is – are we ready to sacrifice anything – our material needs when it comes to God and his mission?
B. Temptation of doubt- Skepticism: Matt. 4: 5-7
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,6 saying to Him, “If (since) are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘ He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus Said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the LORD your God to the test.”
The second temptation can be categorized as ‘skepticism’ or ‘doubt’ with regard to God’s enablement. As Son of God Jesus can surely claim the protection which God promises in Psalm 91:11-12 according to the devil? Satan also seems to suggest Jesus ‘trying out’ that promise by forcing God’s hand. Satan is tempting Jesus to ‘try out’ to test God of His godness.
Satan tries luring Jesus into doubting God that whether He would really enable Him to be true to His calling as He will be facing a hostile opposition, mockery, insults and the death on the Cross.
Devil took this as an opportunity to tempt Jesus as he knows what Jesus must accomplish. He suggested that it would be foolish to enter into such kind of ministry without the proof of God’s protection. He wanted Jesus to challenge or test God by quoting Psalm 91:11-12.
We need to notice four things. Firstly, the devil quotes the scripture inaccurately. Secondly, he omitted the original phrase “to keep or guard you in all your ways” after “concerning you.” Omission destroys the true intention of the original text. Thirdly, the text in Psalm 91:11-12, does not encourage testing God by taking unnecessary risks. Fourthly, God will guard our ways provided they are in conformity with His divine will.
Jesus also understood that He is being tempted just as Israelites were tempted at Massah for water where they doubted God’s very existence (Exod. 17: 7).
7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
Jesus recalled that incident and quoted Det. 6:16
“You shall not tempt LORD your God…” (as you tempted Him in Massah)
C. Temptation to escape Cross: A compromise Matt. 4: 8-10
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away with you Satan! For it is written,
‘worship the LORD your God, and serve only HIM.’”
Devil present to the ‘imagination’ of Jesus by showing a vision of the kingdoms of the world which were destined to become ‘the kingdoms of the LORD and His Christ.’ The devil offers them to him without the necessity of the Cross. We need to take notice of four aspects here.
Firstly, these verses imply Devil’s dominion which is and was never his’. (Lk. 4:6; Jh. 12:31). It was this dominion Jesus came to contest. Secondly, the Devil wanted to avoid this contest by offering a compromise which has provided a greatest temptation of all i.e., to escape Cross or bypass the way of the Cross by renouncing loyalty to God.
Thirdly, Jesus could have done this to attain an instant dominion over the world. Fourthly, at the prospect of being suffering servant, being insulted, rejected, dejected, mocked, beaten, stripped and shamefully put to death on Cross, the offer seems quite tempting.
In fact the climax of Jesus’ mission is to have absolute dominion over the world. He could have reached this end by worshiping the devil. Sometimes, we delude ourselves into thinking that as long as I am doing good, it doesn’t matter by what means I am achieving good. Ends should not justify means rather means should justify the ends.
According to Det. 6: 10-13, Israelites were warned about not to forget LORD God in their abundance of blessings and also they were warned about the idolatry. In other words, they were not supposed to forget God and they have to worship Him exclusively. However, Israel has often forgotten that divine warning.
Jesus remembered and rebuked Satan and casted him away from His presence. Worship is due only to God not to anyone or anything.
i. Spiritual application
What can we learn from this? It is clear that Satan is tempting Jesus to ‘compromise’ Jesus’ ultimate destiny. How often, we Christians compromised our values in order to achieve our own selfish agendas. How often, our leaders succumbed to the allurements of wealth, untamed passions and finally compromised their own faith.
These three temptations or tests are not to be taken as if Jesus was tempted only at that time. Luke 4:13 says, “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”
Firstly, Jesus was continually tempted. Here Jesus was tempted to make the stones into bread to satisfy His physical need but later He emphatically said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and complete His work.”
Secondly, Jesus had to resist the temptation of performing ‘sign’ to prove His authority so that He can win the favor of the people. But Jesus refused as we see in Matt. 16: 1-4 which says,
1The Pharisees and Sadducee came, to test Jesus. They asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2He answered, them, “When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. Then he left them and went away.
Thirdly, when all the ways are leading to the Cross from Jerusalem, he had to resist the temptation of escaping the Cross, even as the temptation is from His beloved disciple Peter as we see in Matt. 16: 21-23.
Finally at the point of His death on the Cross, Jesus was tempted. Luke records this event very vividly. In Luke. 23: 39,
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding (blaspheming) him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
Jesus Christ has passed the test of materialism by emphasizing to do the will of God. He passed the test of skepticism by putting His trust in God and thus rebuking Satan. He passed the test of compromise by His unconditional obedience- obedience even to the death on the Cross. Because Jesus passed these tests we are enjoying salvation today.
On Dec 9th 2013, Issac Hunter, aged 36, founder and pastor of mega-church in Orlando, Central Florida, committed suicide. He resigned from his pastoral office after admitting to an affair. His wife flied a divorce describing him as ‘unstable and suicidal.’ I was deeply moved and my heart went out to their family as they were coming into the terms with what happened.
Here is a man of God, who succumbed to Satan’s traps and compromised his ultimate destiny. Let us all retrospect into our own lives. How many times we have compromised to Satan’s temptations thus diverting from our ultimate destiny?
The question for us today is- are we passing these tests of faith or are we failing? Have we been without our knowledge prioritizing our material needs over the will of God? Are we struggling with doubts about our faith but doesn’t care about clarifying them? Are we compromising our values and morals in our professional and spiritual lives? I leave these questions to you so that you can answer for yourselves and see where we are in our Spiritual lives. If we are failing, may we ask the strength of God to strengthen us in our weaknesses and if we are succeeding, may we ask God to help us to be humble.
 Some scholars opine that the word should ‘since’ suggests Satan already knew the status of Jesus and the purpose of this temptation is not the tempt Jesus to doubt that status but to exploit the same which leads to disobedience that in turn results in materialism.