A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

August 7, 2016

Matthew 6:13

And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power
and the Glory forever. Amen.

   This is one of the most recognizable verses in the Bible... or it should be.  You will recognize it as one of the instructions in what is commonly known as "The Lord's Prayer".  It is called that, not because praying is a new concept to the Disciples, and originated by our Lord -- after all prayer had been offered among the pagan nations for centuries before the Hebrews were called by the God of Abraham.  But this prayer is distinctively connected to Jesus, because it is the way He recommends we all pray.
     I selected this particular verse of The Lord's Prayer for two reasons:  1) to suggest a broader understanding of the idea of "temptation" in our lives, and 2) to discuss the inclusion of the Doxology here in Matthew (the concluding phrase, "For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever") and the absence of it in The Lord's Prayer in the Book of Luke.
     First things first ... what is your understanding of the part of the prayer that asks God to not "bring [or lead] us into temptation, but deliver us from evil"?  Do you think that God tempts us in order to evaluate our faithfulness?  Or do you believe that these temptations are brought upon our lives [by God] as times of strong testings, to discipline us and purge us of our fleshly pride; that we might be brought low in our own weakness, so that we can rise in newfound dependence on, reliance on, and need for God?  
     Let's get a Scriptural truth about whether God tempts man or not ... James 1:13 says, No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.  So we can dispel any idea that God tempts man.  Now, to the second viewpoint ... would God work with evil, allowing us to be tested and brought to our knees in order to ultimately glorify Himself?  Notice that if you believe this concept, then you must read Matthew 6:13 in the active tense ... God is bringing us into the time of temptation; He is cooperating with evil to test us.  If that were so, then it would seem to indicate that God thinks the tests and trials sent by the devil are good for us, or meant to help us in some way get closer to Him.
     But I'd like to suggest another way to look at this verse... actually, I want to let you read the Greek translation of this verse:  And do not lead us into the place of testing where a solicitation to do evil would tempt us to sin, but deliver us from the Pernicious [wicked, corruptive] One.  Can you see how the translation from Greek to English loses a vital component of this verse?  
     The tempting is being done by the Enemy, and they come in the form of attacks meant to destroy us and our relationship with God.  To me, this verse is asking for protection against being subjected to those places and times of attack by the devil; and there is a plea to be delivered (or rescued) from those attacks.  It is a prayer for spiritual warfare to take place!  Protect me ... Rescue me.  Be my Fortress and my Deliverer!  

     Now, to attempt to explain the presence, or not, of the Doxology as included here in Matthew 13. I will try to be as succinct as possible...  The Lord's Prayer appears both here in Matthew 13 and in Luke 11.   I have done a lot of research, and read several theories based on early Church manuscripts and the writings of Early Church Fathers, as well as theories of translation errors and omissions down through the centuries.  The explanation that made the most sense to me, regarding the inclusion of the Doxology in Matthew and its exclusion in Luke, is the one that justified the differences in the two versions by the context in which Jesus expressed this prayer.  Here is the explanation as presented:
     In Luke 11 we read that our Lord was in prayer; and when he had ceased, his disciples asked for instructions on how to pray.  Whereas the prayer in Luke is given in response to the disciples' request for instruction, the prayer in Matthew 13 is given in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.  The Sermon on the Mount included the following three teachings (among others): 1) the kingdom of heaven belongs to God  2) the folly of self-glorification; and 3) the laying up of treasures in heaven. The Doxology is included in Matthew's version of the prayer because the Doxology relates to these teachings.
     Luke had referred to the "Kingdom of God" 12 times before the introduction of the Lord's Prayer in Chapter 11, so that by the time we get to the prayer it has already been established that the kingdom belongs to God.  Before the Lord's Prayer in Matthew, our Lord only refers to the kingdom as "the kingdom of heaven", and for a total of 7 times.  In this context where the connection between the "kingdom" and "God" has not been made yet, it is more necessary than in the context of Luke 11 to declare that the kingdom belongs to God, our Father which art in heaven. So, here in Matthew, Jesus is making sure that all those who are listening to his Sermon on the Mount get it ... that the kingdom in heaven He's been talking about belongs to God (Yours is the Kingdom).  Jesus also wants to make it perfectly clear that the power they had witnessed of Him healing "those suffering with various diseases and pains, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, paralytics (Matthew 4:24) ... came from God (Yours is the Power), not as a result of His own power as a manThen He goes on to make sure they know that the glory that derives from the Beatitudes also belongs to God (Yours is the Glory) -- it's not about us, it's about Him!
     In summary, the inclusion of the Doxology in Matthew -- and its exclusion in Luke -- is made obvious when considered in context of the individual circumstances.  And besides, as one who believes that Scripture is divinely inspired -- in spite of the fallibility of men -- then I have no problem accepting both the longer and shorter versions of this prayer as spoken by my Lord. 

     I hope you can see the richness of Scripture, and the depth to which we can go to seek out a greater understanding of what Jesus was teaching us.  I am never bored with the Bible, and have learned to never take a particular verse, or word for that matter, for granted.  My love for the Word, which, in its entirety, is an expression of my Lord, grows daily.  He continues to astound and amaze me!

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