It is well known that the order of the temptations in Matthew is not the same as in Luke. Commentators and Harmonizers assume that the one is right and the other is wrong; and proceed to change the order of one in order to make it agree with the other. See Ap. 96.
But an examination of the combined accounts, giving due weight to the words and expressions used, will explain all the differences, and show that both Gospels are absolutely correct; while the differences are caused by the three temptations being repeated by the devil in a different order, thus making six instead of three.
Mark and Luke agree in stating that the temptations continued all the forty days (Mark 1:13. Luke 4:2); they are described as follows :--
I. (Luke 4:3,4) "The devil (ho diabolos) said to
Him, 'Speak to this stone (to litho touto) that it become a loaf
(artos).'" This appears to be the first temptation: and there
is no reason whatever why it should not have been repeated in another form;
for it is nowhere stated that there were three, and only three temptations
The devil claims to possess the right to the kingdoms of the world, and the Lord does not dispute it. Satan says : "To Thee will I give this authority (exousia) and all their glory, for to me it has been delivered, and to whomsoever I wish I give it. Therefore, if Thou wilt worship before me, all shall be Thine."
Nothing is said here about "falling down", as in Matthew. Here only "authority" is offered; for all the critical Greek texts read "pasa" (not "panta") fem. to agree with exousia.
The Lord did not say, "Get thee hence" (as in Matt. 4:10), but "Get
thee behind Me", which was a very different thing. Satan did not
depart then, any more than Peter did when the same was said to him (Matt.
There is nothing said about this "keeping thee" in Matthew; moreover,
it is stated that having finished every form of temptation, "he departed
from Him for a season". Note that the devil departed (apeste)
of his own accord in Luke 4:13, while in Matthew the Lord summarily dismissed
him, and commanded him to be gone. (Matt. 4:10).
This angelic ministry marked the end. There is no such ministry mentioned at the end of the third temptation in Luke 4:3-12; for then Satan "departed" of his own accord, returning (in Matt. 4:3) after "a season" (Luke 4:13).
True, the Lord had said "Get thee behind Me, Satan" (Luke 4:8); but He did not, then, summarily dismiss him, nor did satan depart : he continued with his third temptation, not departing till after the third had been completed.
We thus conclude that, while there were temptations continuous during the whole of the forty days (Mark 1:13. Luke 4:2), they culminated in six direct assaults on the Son of man, in three different forms; each form being repeated on two separate occasions, and under different circumstances, but not in the same order.
This accords with all the variations of the words used, explains the different order of events in the two Gospels and satisfies all the conditions demanded by the sacred text.
The two different orders in Matthew and Luke do not arise from a "mistake"
in one or the other, so that one may be considered correct and the other
incorrect; they arise form the punctilious accuracy of the Divine record
in describing the true and correct order in which Satan varied the six
temptations; for which variation, he alone, and neither of the Evangelists,