Luke 4:1

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness-“

– Luke 4:1, NIV

Jesus was baptized in water by John the Baptist. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form as a dove. Then Jesus, who was full of the Holy Spirit, was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. While there, He would be tempted of the devil. This temptation came just at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Parallel passages in the gospels are Matthew 4:1 and Mark 1:12.

Full of the Holy Spirit

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. The adjective “full” (pleres) denotes a condition that existed at the time. It does not in itself say when the fullness began or how long it lasted. However, the context does contain this type of information. As Robertson (p. 48) says, being “full” of the Spirit is, “An evident allusion to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:21f.). John 1:33 indicates that the Spirit “remained” on Jesus. Here, the ongoing ministry of the Spirit in leading Jesus indicates a continuous fullness.

Was Led by the Spirit

Jesus “was led around by the Spirit.” The verb was led (egeto) is an imperfect passive tense and means that Jesus was continuously (or repeatedly) led. The leading of the Spirit was an ongoing experience for Jesus. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days and was led by the Spirit the entire time. Actually, “by” the Spirit can be translated either “in” or “by” the Spirit. “By” the Spirit fits the context better, but in the end there is not much difference. Certainly, the impact of the Spirit upon Jesus was felt. He was empowered by the Spirit.


Jesus had just been baptized in water, the Spirit had just descended upon Him, and He was preparing to enter His earthly ministry. It was at this time that Satan sought to destroy Christ’s ministry. Jesus was a young man and was going to engage in His powerful Messianic ministry. Satan attempted to get Jesus to put His own needs and potential concerns above the will of His Father. He wanted Jesus to act independently of His father. He wanted Jesus to sacrifice His secure future for the enticements of the present. Jesus met challenge by trusting His Father to do all things in His time, in His way, and with His result.

Beyond the fact that the Spirit led Jesus, Luke does not say anything about the Spirit’s role in helping Jesus overcome temptation. However, we can assume that the Spirit did minister to Jesus. Given the Triune nature of God, we could hardly think otherwise.

Similarly, Luke does not mention the role of the angels in ministering to Jesus. However, Mathew and Mark do. As Matthew (4:11) tells the story, when the devil left, the angels came and “were ministering” to Jesus. Mark does not mention the departure of Satan and leaves the impression that the angels “were ministering” throughout the forty days of temptation. We can conclude that the angels ministered to Jesus through the forty days and especially at the end.

For Further Reading

Bickersteth, The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1959.
Bruner, Frederick Dale. A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1970.
Carter, Charles. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.
Cumming, James Elder. Through the Eternal Spirit. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1965.
Dunn, James D. G. Baptism in the Holy Spirit. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1970.
Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1976.
Palma, Anthony D. The Spirit–God in Action. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1974.
Lenski, R. C. H. St. Luke’s Gospel. Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1946.
Owen, John. The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications,1954.
Palmer, Edwin H. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.
Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vols. 1-6. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930.
Swete, Henry Barclay. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. London: Macmillan and Company, 1910.

Copyright 2002 © George M. Flattery

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