Does God tempt?


Genesis 22:1 (Genesis 22:1-18)

KJV: And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

James 1:13 (James 1:13-14)

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.


The apparent contradiction here stems from the KJV's use of the word "tempt." The definition of "tempt" (from Dictionary.com) is:

  1. to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.
  2. to attract, appeal strongly to, or invite: The offer tempts me.
  3. to render strongly disposed to do something: The book tempted me to read more on the subject.
  4. to put (someone) to the test in a venturesome way; provoke: to tempt one's fate.
  5. (Obsolete) to try or test.

"Tempt" in Genesis 22:1 refers to definition 5. The verse comes from the account of God's testing of Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his son Isaac. God was testing Abraham to see if he would do the right thing (trust God's instructions and be obedient to him), not enticing him to do wrong. In contrast, James 1:13 refers to the temptations of evil, which of course falls under definition 1.


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