Why did Jesus say that man cannot live on bread alone?

The phrase "man cannot live on bread alone", is a commonly repeated phrase. This is a quote from our Lord Jesus Christ. Why did he say this?

When we look to the scriptures, we see that he said this because we are to diligently read and study the Bible.

Jesus wanted us to know the the word of God provides life better than food.

Matthew 4:4 (ESV) - 4 But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'

Bread may sustain us physically, but the word of God sustains us spiritually. Jesus said this because it is very important that we live by studying scripture. Those who claim they love God and live through him, but do not spend any time in his word are not following what Jesus commanded.

Jesus said this to resist temptation.

Additionally, we learn more when we see who Jesus said this to.

Matthew 4:1-3 (ESV) - 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."

He said this to Satan when Satan was tempting him. So, in part, what we can learn from this is that reading the words of God should be more important to us than food or anything that takes up our time. When we make excuses that we don't have time to read the Bible, what we are saying is that we don't think the Bible is that important.

Additionally, we see that this itself is something Jesus quoted from scripture to defend himself from temptation. If we do not have the words of God on hand as Jesus did, we deprive ourselves of a weapon to slay temptation. We will succumb to sin and false teaching if we do not consume the pure words of God.

Jesus said this to remind us of the manna in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV) - 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 because this verse speaks about the Israelites who did not have food in the wilderness, just as Jesus did not have food in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-3. We learn there that God made them hungry for a reason.

God made them hungry so that they would know to rely on his word. It is through his word that manna came and the life that came from the manna represents the life we can have through reading his word. When we do not read the Bible, we reject his gift to us and fall into the same sin as the Israelites who would listen to or trust God's word. Not feeding on the word of God keeps us in the desert and hungry without hope.


Jesus said that man cannot live on bread alone because he wanted us to know that the word of God gives life and is valuable. He also said this because having the word of God helps us resist temptation.

Let us read the Bible diligently. No excuse will do. No one says they don't have time to eat food. Why should anyone say they don't have time to read the Bible?