Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in every respect as we are. What does it mean that He was tempted "in every respect" as we are?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 ESV

  • Related: christianity.stackexchange.com/q/2485/20 – Flimzy Apr 20 '12 at 22:22
  • I suggest that in the phrase "in every respect," the word "respect" can be understood as a category. If I ask you, for example, in what respect is Frieda a good person, you might respond with "Well, her morals are above reproach, she's very friendly and sociable, she's ethical, she's well dressed but modest, she's intelligent, she's a kind person . . .." What you've done is give me categories in which Frieda is a good person. IOW, "in every respect" she's great. Now, the apostle John summarizes the categories in which human beings are tempted: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of – rhetorician Sep 20 '16 at 17:18
  • life (1 John 2:16). He refers to these things as "all that is in the world [system which is Satan's realm]" John doesn't mean those three things are all the temptations in the world but simply the three categories of temptations to sin. Perhaps if you interpret Hebrews 4:15 from that perspective, you'll be on your way to an answer. IOW, Jesus was tempted in 3 respects (or aspects): the lust of the flesh (turn stones into bread), the lust of the eyes ( have all the kingdoms of the world), and the pride of life (put God to the test by jumping from a cliff). Compare Genesis 3:6. Don – rhetorician Sep 20 '16 at 17:26

Being the nerdy type, I sought out a more technical answer. Apparently the word used for "in every respect" (or as the KJV puts it, "in all points") is κατα παντα, (kata panta). That latter word, πᾶς, (pas) means

1) individually 
  a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything 
2) collectively 
  a) some of all types

[source: BLB]

It's the same word used to refer to "all the world" or "the whole world" - passages that we don't necessarily take 100% literally. That is, it could mean he was tempted with 100% all the same temptations we undergo, or, more likely, that he has experienced the same class of temptation and experiences we have, so he is able to sympathize with us.

Additionally, as was implied in RiverC's answer, Christ's "temptations" weren't limited to the showdown with the Devil in the wilderness.

For thirty years, Jesus lived a pretty normal life. He was a carpenter's son. Pure speculation, but I suspect the kinds of people he'd work with wouldn't have the purest of mouths. He was exposed to everything we are exposed to; he both

  1. endured the trials of the human life that we do, and

  2. resisted the temptations that we are exposed to and fail to resist

Ultimately, the point is, he didn't give in. We don't know what other temptations Adam underwent, but the one in the garden was the significant one. Same with Jesus, the second Adam. He was exposed to a nasty temptation like Adam and Eve, and resisted. He was subjected to the same things we were, regardless of what technically "in every respect" means, and he can identify us, but more importantly represent us as a perfect Adam.

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Tempted == Tested

The fathers say there are stages of temptation:

  1. Presence of the temptation
  2. Entertaining the temptation
  3. Sinning
  4. Habitual sin

In (1) the person is being tempted (such as if one hears evil words) but if one ignores them and does not react, one has neither 'been tempted' in the more normal usage of the word which means more 'one's heart inclining towards sin' which is reflected in (2), entertaining the temptation, or sinned.

So when Christ was tempted, he was exposed to all of the general temptations of men; lust, gluttony, pride, avarice: that is to say, he was a man in presence of women, had situation to overeat, had possible cause to vaunt himself above others, had the possibility to accrue possessions. He did not entertain these.

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  • 2
    The fathers say there are stages of temptation... This is an interesting explanation, but not something that most of us are going to be familiar with. Which "fathers" said it? Where, and in what context? Generally, for something less universally-known than, say, the Sermon on the Mount or the Ten Commandments, we ask people to provide references when making doctrinal or historical claims. Would you mind editing your answer to add citations? Thanks. – Mason Wheeler Apr 12 '12 at 21:24
  • Sure. Take a look at this link: orthodoxchristian.info/pages/sin.htm But this teaching is common to mostly all monastics since the 4th century... the Philokalia probably contains a wide variety of similar teachings, specialized for a particular situation. Thus the only proper way to say it is 'the fathers say...'. I can add a reference, but the teaching varies slightly from father to father. – user304 Apr 12 '12 at 21:27

At least apart from the temptation in the wilderness, I also know of the following:

"And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor." (Luke 20:20).

"Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none..." (Matthew 26:59-60).

This is a typical temptation any man would go through when he claims he has better ways, different from what is approved by existing authorities, of dealing with issues and thereby winning people to his side. Look at politics, and even the church. Such attacks and tricks will be directed to you to catalyse your downfall.

While on earth as a complete man, he proved his earthly being as man. Jesus got tired and thirsty

"...Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey... Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. " (John 4:6-7).

He hungered,

"And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred." (Matthew 4:2).

He got angered in the temple, wept at Lazarus' grave, cried on the cross, slept, sweated during prayer in the garden, loved, felt torture and pain etc. I could not cite all the bible locations.

He definitely must have gone through all, perhaps more than all the possible temptations man could ever experience.

In all, he chose to do his Father's will.

"...O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. " (Matthew 26:42).

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Jesus was tempted like us, in every way as us.

But it goes beyond what we endure.

Jesus could have called angels to drive the soldiers away from the cross and take Him down. He suffered horrible torture and pain and yet he endured without calling on angels or His father other then to ask for strength to see it through. We don't have that temptation, we will never be faced with that choice so we could argue he was tempted in all our ways and went far beyond anything we humans will ever experience.

When He felt his life slipping away the urge to survive had to be very strong. And yet His only concern was for our salvation.

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For your consideration, re. the Peccability of the Christ:


My opinion: If in fact Jesus was incarnated to this earth for the purpose of proving that it is possible for any human to obey God's laws and thereby refute Lucifer's claim, then He should have been at risk of failure. Otherwise, the hollow bet proves nothing and we are not saved.

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I have a wonderful boss who said this in a light that just BLEW my mind yesterday.

Jesus was tempted by all things yet did not sin. Now, to have a High Priest who knows all that we could ever go through means, not only was Jesus tempted by the things we automatically think of....lust, greet, deceit etc. It means He was tempted to do every horrible evil unspeakable act that we have here on this earth.

Insane right? It's easy to understand Jesus was tempted by the "regular" things. But to think that at some point He was tempted to kill a child, have intimacy with a brother, everything vulgar and sinful. Now before anyone can jump on this and say that I'm wrong, search the scriptures out in your prayer time.

Hebrews 4:15 says He was tempted in every way that we are but without sin. Well that doesn't just limit it to a certain "level" of temptation. Just as we can't say, murder of a child is a worse sin than lying in the eyes of the Lord, we cannot say that Jesus was tempted of ALL THINGS but not those really yukky hard to think about temptations.

Can you imagine, how it would feel, to be the Lord of all, and to feel a desire (remember temptation isn't just a thought, it's an urge, a wanting, a deep desire, longing to do something) to commit some of the most unmentionable acts we have on this earth.

Yet..He did not sin.


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  • I don't see anything mind-blowing. This is something expected from God. Even humans can resist many temptations simply by their own will, why wouldn't God be able? – Grasper Jun 9 '17 at 13:37

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