Was the temptation of Jesus by the devil real?

Was the temptation of Jesus by the devil (Mt 4,L 4) real or only allegorical ? The picture of Jesus following the devil (having horns, tail,mean expression in face etc.?) to climb upto the pinnacle of the temple,top of the high mountain etc. is difficult to imagine.

Why wouldn’t it be real?

Certainly a supernatural creature like the Devil could conjure up such stuff - literally bring Jesus to the pinnacle Temple or a mountain (or maybe give the illusion of doing so). That doesn’t mean that Satan is equal to God in power, just that he can do certain things that humans couldn’t. He is a fallen angel after all.

And no, the Devil likely doesn’t literally have horns or a tail or carry a pitchfork. That’s just how we portray him in art (to symbolically convey how evil / nasty he is - not as an actual indicator of his appearance), but as a (fallen) angel, Satan is a bodiless spirit - you might say he doesn’t have a ‘real’ visible form, certainly not one that’s visible to us. I think he could appear in whatever form he wanted to.

St. Paul once said that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light:” he could certainly appear in a beautiful / pleasing form in order to deceive the unknowing. (He’s the deceiver, after all - I think he’ll do anything to deceive.) Are you familiar with The Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion? It’s like how the dark lord Sauron deceived a whole bunch of people by assuming a fair form.

Why does Satan have to appear with horns and a tail?

Paul says that Satan’s appearance is very deceiving:

2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for **Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. **15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Well I’m pretty sure Pope Francis thinks it was real…


For this reason, he warned, “we should not be naïve”. The Pope observed that the Lord gave us certain criteria to “discern” the presence of evil and to follow “the Christian way when there are temptations”. One of the criteria is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” only “halfway”.

“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me,” the Pope said. Jesus, he added, came to destroy the devil, “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us”. And, he cautioned, this is not “exaggerating”.

“On this point,” he said, “there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation” of us all.

Yes, God the Father willed that Jesus go through that.

Remember that Jesus is 100% God, and 100% human.

All the posts say that it is real.In that case satan would not have been in spiritual state, that is without body.It could be that he was in the normal shape and appearance of a local person while taking Jesus to the testing spots .Interesting! Out of the three tests two tests were challenging Jesus to show the divine power. However in the third test satan promises to give all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if satan is adored.A very weak and practically a no temptation causing test .First of all satan did not have that right over the kingdoms and secondly Jesus would never have wanted them also.

I highly doubt satan appeared with horns and a tail, that is the way we depict him, but I believe when he takes material form, he is a very beautiful man in his 20s with curly blonde hair and white robes, but then again, he can take any form he likes, depending on the situation I assume.

Im not sure this event was real, and may not be meant to taken literal, it could be symbolic or metaphorical, like many other bizarre kinds of verses.I tend to think in reality, satan would know its useless to even try to tempt Jesus, before he even spoke to him. (keep in mind,satan or any demon does not need faith like we do, they already know for a fact how all powerful God is, they would know its pointless to try anything on him), I think it was meant to be a lesson to us about resisting temptation though.

Yes it was real.

Revelation 12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his head seven diadems.

Tail can mean limitation of ownership.

This is an excellent question. I once saw a priest on tv who said that the temptation narrative was an attempt by the writer to show that Jesus was at the same time both God and man. This is the position that I hold. The temptation narrative does not convey (to me, at least) the same genuiness that much of the Gospels convey. I can imagine Jesus at the wedding in Cana…I can see him with Mary and Martha after Lazarus died…I can see him with the many named people of the Gospels but the temptation narrative itself just seems to be out of place, a unique occurrence that upsets the flow of the Gospels.

I fail to see how your quotation affirms a literalness of the text.


Wow. :eek: If the Bible says Jesus was in the wilderness and He was tempted by Satan, then He was tempted by Satan.

Of course it was real. Saint Paul even alludes to it in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

If you start considering such episodes allegorical, you are skirting the Docetist heresy.


Have you also plucked out your eye or cut off your hand due to sin?

Jesus said so and it is in the Bible, so we should, then, shouldn’t we?

Hardly in the context of what I was saying. Jesus was speaking symbolically. However, His temptation by Satan was real.

Modernist. :frowning:

Oh, I see. So you get to decide what is symbolic in the Gospels and what is literal?

Is it not enough for Jesus to say “amen, amen I say to you…?” Isn’t that enough to make it literal?

Using your logic, “If the Bible tells us that Jesus said to pluck out our eye if it causes us to sin, then we are to pluck out our eye.”


One question I have concerns the third temptation, where Satan is said to bring Jesus to the top of a mountain to look down at all of the kingdoms of the world. For those who interpret the passages to say that Satan literally tempted Jesus, do you believe that he tempted him but present him a conjured image of the world’s kingdoms or did he really take him to a tall mountain to do that?

I ask because the second temptation put him at the top of a temple so he can jump off and be rescued by angels. If the temptation is not figurative then I would think the scripture says he was taken to a literal temple with the threat of death if he fell. Then in the next sentence after Jesus says the Lord is not to be tempted he’s brought from the temple to the mountain. The way I see it the temple would have to have been real, while the mountian overlooking the world’s kingdom would have to be an illusion (what with the roundness of the earth). Thoughts?

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