Like Adam, Christ (the second Adam) endured temptation only from without, inasmuch as His human nature was free from all concupiscence ; but unlike Adam, He withstood the assaults of the Tempter on all points, thereby affording His mystical members a perfect model of resistance to their spiritual enemy, and a permanent source of victorious help ( Hebrews 4:15-16 ). In our first three Gospels ( Matthew 4:1-11 ; Mark 1:12-13 ; Luke 4:1-13 ), the narrative of Christ's temptation is placed in immediate connexion with His baptism on the one hand, and with the beginning of His public ministry on the other. The reason of this is clear. The Synoptists naturally regard the baptism of Christ as the external designation of Jesus from above for His Messianic work to be pursued under the guidance of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Him on this occasion; and they no less naturally regard Christ's sojourn in the desert where He was tempted, as His own immediate preparation for that great work under the guidance of the same Holy Spirit. As our first three Gospels agree concerning the time to which they assign the temptation of Christ, so they are at one in ascribing the same general place to its occurrence, viz. "the desert ", whereby they no doubt mean the Wilderness of Judea, where Jesus would indeed be, as St. Mark says: "with beasts". From St. Mark (i, 13) -- with whom compare St. Luke iv, 2 -- we learn that Jesus Christ was tempted during the forty days which He spent in the desert (cf. St. Augustine, "Harmony of the Evangelists ", II, xvi), so that the three onsets given in detail by St. Matthew and St. Luke are apparently the three final assaults of Satan against Christ. The first of these assaults is directly connected in both St. Matthew and St. Luke with the prolonged fast of Jesus in the wilderness. The Tempter suggested to Jesus that He should use His miraculous power to relieve His hunger, by changing into bread the loaf-like flints of the desert. The two other assaults are given in a different order, St. Matthew adhering probably to the order of time, and St. Luke to that of place. The spot pointed out by tradition as the summit from which Satan offered to Jesus dominion over all earthly kingdoms is the "Quarantania", a limestone peak on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. As regards the Temple's pinnacle from which the Tempter bade Jesus cast Himself down, it was not the top of the House of Yahweh, but probably the roof of Solomon's portico from which, at a later date, St. James was actually hurled to the pavement below ( Eusebius, "Hist. eccl.", IV, xiii).
According to St. Luke (4:13) , after having subjected Christ to all kinds of temptations -- the Messianic import of which is undoubted -- Satan withdrew, awaiting a favourable opportunity like that which followed Christ's prolonged fast in the desert. The later conflict thus alluded to is no other than that of Christ's Passion (cf. Luke 22:53 ; John 14:30 ). The ministry of angels to Jesus, in connection with His temptation, is mentioned in Mark, i, 13. Satan's exact manner of appearance to Jesus is not stated by the Evangelists. Despite the difficulties urged, chiefly by non-Catholic scholars, against the historical character of the three temptations of Jesus, as recorded by St. Matthew and St. Luke, it is plain that these sacred writers intended to describe an actual and visible approach of Satan, to chronicle an actual shifting of places, etc., and that the traditional view, which maintains the objective nature of Christ's temptations, is the only one meeting all the requirements of the Gospel narrative.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online