Tempt

temt, tem-ta’-shun (nacah, "to prove" "try," "tempt" maccah, "a trial," "temptation"; peirazo, "to try" "prove" peirasmos "a trial," "proof"): The words have a sinister connotation in present-day usage which has not always attached to them. Originally the words were of neutral content, with the sense of "putting to the proof," the testing of character or quality. Thus, God is "tempted" by Israel’s distrust of Him, as if the people were actually challenging Him to show His perfections (Ex 17:2; Ps 78:18; Ac 15:10; Heb 3:9, and often); Abraham is "tempted," being called upon to offer up Isaac (Ge 22:1); and Jesus is "tempted" to a spectacular Messiahship (Mt 4 and parallel passages (see Temptation of Christ)). No evil is implied in the subject of these temptations. Temptation therefore in the Scripture sense has possibilities of holiness as well as of sin. For as all experience witnesses, it is one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall. To be tempted--one may rejoice in that (Jas 1:2), since in temptation, by conquering it, one may achieve a higher and nobler manhood.

"Why comes temptation but for man to meet

And master and make crouch beneath his foot,

And so be pedestaled in triumph?"

Holiness in its best estate is possible only under conditions which make it necessary to meet, resist and triumph over temptation. Thus, Jesus Himself became our Great High Priest in that, being tempted in all points like as we are, He never once yielded, but fought and triumphed (Heb 4:15).


Charles M. Stuart