“Devil.” The Greek word is diabolos (#1228 διάβολος), which literally means “Slanderer,” but diabolos gets transliterated into English as our more familiar name, “the Devil.” Slander is so central to who the Devil is and how he operates that one of his primary names is “the Slanderer.” [For more information on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil”].
“lofty.” The Greek adjective hupselos (#5308 ὑψηλός) has a basic meaning of “high” (as in Matt 17:1, Mk. 9:2, and Rev. 21:10). However, it can also have the connotation of “proud” or “arrogant.” We see this in Romans 12:16 when we are told to “not mind high things” (μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες), i.e. not be proud. The LXX uses this sense in Isaiah 2:12-14: “the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty…against all the lofty mountains, and against all the uplifted hills.” It is possible that here in Matthew the adjective has this connotation implied; the Devil tempted Christ to ‘mind high things’ by taking him to a ‘proud’ mountain, showing him all the splendor of ruling the kingdoms of the world. In English the word “lofty” captures both the sense of altitude and arrogance.
“showed him all the kingdoms.” Matthew and Luke both record the 3 temptations that the Adversary tempted Jesus with, but worded slightly differently and in a different order. We believe Luke has the order correct because Luke says he recorded things “in order” (Luke 1:3). However, it makes sense that Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus’ role as the king, would have the temptation about ruling over the world as the last temptation because to a king, the domain and people over whom he rules is of primary importance.
Commentators differ as to whether Matthew or Luke has the order of events as they actually happened. We suggest that another reason that Luke has the correct order is that it makes sense that to the Devil, the most desirable outcome would be to have Jesus worship him, but if he could not accomplish that, to kill Jesus and be done with him. The order of temptations in Luke accomplishes that goal. The second temptation would result in Jesus worshipping the Devil, and if that failed the third temptation would have resulted in Jesus’ death.