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I remember that while Jesus was being tempted in the desert by the devil, the devil had asked Him to jump down from a height, because the angels would be sure to rescue Him. But Jesus answered that one should not test God.

What does it mean to "test" God?

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Welcome to Christianity.SE. I think this is a good question on its own, but you might be interested in checking out this related one here: Where do we draw the line when questioning/testing God? –  Caleb Oct 9 '11 at 20:00
    
I know that's not exactly a duplicate question, but the answer is given in the other question. Does that count at this being a duplicate? It's harder for me to tell on this site than it is on StackOverflow. Nuance seems more important here... –  David Stratton Oct 9 '11 at 20:11
    
@DavidStratton: I wasn't sure on that one either which is why I didn't mod-close this. While the accepted answer there gave a definition, that wasn't the point of the question and it's possible these two could be addressed more succinctly as two questions rather than as a merged duplicate. You are welcome to put in a close vote if you think otherwise. This is a good case for the community to decide rather than a mod ;) I tend to think it's useful to have this as a separate simpler question and have the other one make whatever definitions it needs to to answer the 'draw the line' question. –  Caleb Oct 9 '11 at 21:21
    
@Caleb Oh shoot, I didn't find that question when I did a search. Thank you for alerting me, that was definitely helpful also! :) –  wrongusername Oct 10 '11 at 4:41
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In this context, it meant to demand that God prove Himself.

My answer to this question address this, as does the one on the link @Caleb provided in the note above.

The short version of it is that throughout Biblical history, from the Exodus on, God has shown little patience with people demanding He prove that He exist, particularly the Israelites, who had seen His miracles time and time again.

In this context, the conversation could be paraphrased as this, (and this is a rough paraphrase, reading in my understanding of the context):

Satan is tempting Jesus to prove who God is, and who He is. Satan already knew who He is, so the essence of Satan's asking Jesus to do this is "Oh, yeah, if you're God's son, and God is so powerful, then prove it." Christ, recognizing Satan's goading as a mockery of God, refused. In doing so, He showed not only His obedience to God the Father, but also His perfection and inability to be goaded and tempted by Satan.

Satan's temptation was no different than the mocking given to Jesus in Matthew 27:37-42.

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David, I have been curious about this too, and I'd like to clarify your answer for myself. Are "goading and mocking" the same as "testing"? –  new wings Oct 10 '11 at 2:42
    
I don't think so. I think that "goading" is attempting to get someone to slip up. "Mocking" is sometimes used as a tool to irk someone into slipping up, or sometimes it's just a way for someone to feel better about themselves in and of itself. In other words, mocking can be used to goad, but mocking isn't the same as goading. Similarly, insults can be used to start a fight, but insults aren't the same as fighting. –  David Stratton Oct 10 '11 at 3:05
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Come watch my kids interact on some days, and you can see the difference. ;-) –  David Stratton Oct 10 '11 at 3:05
    
Thanks...I've got kids, too. So, maybe the goading the mocking is only to "test" our patience? –  new wings Oct 10 '11 at 4:28
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