Gospel passages, no witnesses


This Sundays gospel was about Jesus in the desert being tempted by the devil. It made me wonder how this and other gospel passages with no apparent witnesses came to be. Thanks in advance…


Our Lord probably told the Apostles about it.


As will all the Bible, it was Divinely Inspired.


Probably this.

Considering that Christ’s ministry lasted three years, we have a very small selection of what He said. It’s entirely reasonable to think that Christ told his Apostles about what happened in the desert at some point, or more likely at several different points, during this time.

This is similar to how we have the account of the annunciation and birth of our Lord. The apostles weren’t there to witness it. In all likelihood, Mary told John about what happened while she was living with him after the crucifixion.


Mark 5 is what came to my mind regarding your question. I remember someone asking on CAL how Legion in Mark 5: 6 ("And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; 7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?’) knew Jesus was the son of God. I think it was Tim Staples started talking about Matthew 4. He said if you notice the devil said “If you are the Son of God”, this can be taken to show that up until that time even the Devil did not know that Jesus was the son of God. However, once this occurred all the unclean spirits would become aware of who Jesus truly was. I think I remember him cracking a joke about all of the spirits getting together at underground meetings. :wink:

Anyway, I think if I was there and saw someone we never met, especially a possessed someone, saying those words to Jesus, I would probable ask him how did he know who you were? At which time Jesus might have told them the story of Matthew 4. The end of John’s Gospel even states not everything was written down. Jesus was with the Apostles quite often 24/7, I can’t imagine it was all grueling studies this entire time. I would guess Jesus told them quite a few fun stories and even told them stories of his childhood from time to time.


John 15:26
But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.

John 16:13
But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you




What an odd argument! In Sunday’s reading, the ‘if’ statements are conditionals. For instance, “if you are the Son of God, [then] speak to this stone that it might become bread.” It’s a first-class conditional in the Greek: in other words, presuming the ‘if’ part as true for the sake of the conditional, then the ‘then’ part should be true, also. The Devil isn’t asking, “dude, are you really the Son of God?”, he’s challenging Jesus: “ok, buddy, if you are who you say you are, then demonstrate your divinity…!”


He is trying to get Jesus to doubt his divine filiation, doubt that he really is a Son in a relationship with a loving Father.

The devil tried the exact same thing on our first parents. The devil tried to get Eve to doubt that what God told her was really true.

He said to the woman, "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?" (Genesis 3:1)

But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. (Genesis 3:4)

This is the trick of the devil, to get us to doubt that we are his children and to try to get us to lose our trust in God’s promises,



Sorry about that I must of worded it wrong. But yeah that was the point I was trying to make, I’m pretty sure what you said is what he said.

Agree. Basically I think the point is the Devil isn’t omniscient like God so he would’t have know Jesus was the son of God the first time he saw him. Therefore, the only way Legion would have been able to know at first sight was if the Devil told him. Which to me should have raised some questions by the Apostles, which weren’t written down.


Why do you think Satan wouldn’t have been able to recognize Jesus as the Son of God? I believe the Church teaches that Satan and his angels were given complete knowledge of what their rejection of God would entail, and that they understood they would lose but still chose to reject God. If they did have complete knowledge of what was going to happen within time, then they would have been more than aware of who Jesus was.

Even discounting supernatural knowledge, Satan knows scriptures and would have been fully capable of recognizing the fulfillment of the various prophecies pointing towards the coming of the Messiah. Since he was, at one point, in the presence of the Trinity, he would also have understood that the Messiah was in fact the Son of God.


I apologize if I said something to upset some people here. I was just trying to help the OP out with a way of thinking about it using something I heard in the past. My memory isn’t always spot on so sometimes I have troubles totally recalling word for word something I heard once over a year ago. I was wrong though, it was Jimmy Akin not Tim Staples, CAL episode 6803 January 15, 2015 around the 32 minute mark. He states there are several theories and the one I mentioned is plausible. Also, he called it the Satan@underworld.com email list to get the word out to the other demons, so I was wrong on that point.

Anyway the point I was trying to make was if I was an Apostle I would have been surprised at the time that a demon would know who Jesus was and would have asked. So might have been when he told them about the desert.


There’s also a story of a demoniac that encounters Christ in a synagogue and says to Him (basically) what are we to you? We know who You are (the Christ/Anointed). Jesus exorcises the demon.


No worries, no one was upset. I was just curious. I apologize if my tone came off argumentative. I’m sure the apostles were quite surprised to see a demon addressing our Lord by name and with such great fear.


No problems! :thumbsup:

[Jimmy Akins] states there are several theories and the one I mentioned is plausible.

I think his point was that, even if the devil didn’t already know, he’d have gotten the idea after the failed temptations, and would’ve gotten the word out to his demons.

However, if you want to claim that this really was a “who in the world are you?!?!?” event, you still need to explain something: how can the devil have missed the nativity? How might we suggest that he missed seeing angels and shepherds and the birth of Christ?

Nah… he knew. And he was trying to trick Christ into making a mistake. :sad_yes:


Why do you think Satan wouldn’t have been able to recognize Jesus as the Son of God?

This is today’s featured apologetic’s post. :thumbsup:

Sheen in his Life of Christ takes the opposite stance, but the Greek seems to imply knowledge. It’s a good debate.

The OP’s question: Imagine you had just become friends with the president. You’d want to know everything he did (and wouldn’t mind asking), and you’d remember it all pretty well too, especially if you and his posse hung out together and talked about him all the time, sharing stories.


The only thing I claimed was I heard an apologist say it on CAL and he said there is more than one way of looking at it. Which I already proved by giving the date of the radio show.

This is your opinion because the church does not have an official teaching on this. That being said I do not disagree with your interpretation.

God Bless


Except that, this isn’t what Jimmy was addressing. The question was whether they knew Jesus, right? And his answer was, in effect, ‘what? you think Satan wouldn’t have sounded the alarm, the minute he knew Jesus was incarnate?!?!?’ :wink:

This is your opinion because the church does not have an official teaching on this.

There’s a curious dynamic in Catholic apologetics. Anything that’s not “infallible” is “just your opinion”, regardless of what it is or how reasonably it’s defended. :shrug:


Not sure why this is so important to you. I am not trying to prove any point to what is the correct interpretation of this passage, but you obviously you are trying to prove something. Jimmy’s exact words are “that is not necessarily the only way to think about it”…sure he made the point of the devil sounded the alarm, however I disagree Jimmy’s answer would never be “what? You think Satan wouldn’t…”. Jimmy never does apologetics with negativity or putting someone down, that only seems to be common around here. :wink:

I don’t understand what you mean with this statement. Are you saying If it is not defined by the church only the person who gives the best defense is allowed to have an opinion?



Yes, this medium does enable contentiousness… :sad_yes:

I don’t understand what you mean with this statement. Are you saying If it is not defined by the church only the person who gives the best defense is allowed to have an opinion?

No. Just that, regardless how solid a case might be made, the response is always “that’s just your opinion.” It’s a weird dynamic in Catholic apologetics, that’s all… :shrug:


Bishop Sheen book: THE LIFE OF CHRIST is my favorite Catholic Book outside of the Bible and is closely followed by Joseph Cardinal Rarzinger’s THE SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY. These two book are MUST READ for all Catholics:thumbsup:



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