This last request is not to avoid the choice posed by temptation. This request is to be preserved through the choice. Father, do not let me fall into temptation to my doom.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) makes one main point which can be summarized in various ways: What does genuine saving faith look like? Who will inherit eternal life? Or what characterizes the children of God?
The third section (Matthew 6:1-7:14) examines the same question from another angle: Beware of the kind of righteousness that is a show for other people.
Jesus begins this section: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven (Mathew 6:1).” Then he gives 3 parallel examples of traditional Jewish religious practices (giving to the poor, praying and fasting). For each example, he contrasts how the hypocrites perform these practices with how those genuinely seeking God perform them. The particular point Jesus emphasizes is to avoid practicing your religion as a show for your peers and seeking their approval as your reward.
In the middle of his second example, Jesus includes a discussion of prayer which includes the Lord’s prayer.
5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. – Matthew 6:5-15
- Jesus criticizes the way the hypocrites and the Gentiles view prayer.
- Then he gives a counter-example, a prayer that models and embodies the right way of thinking about prayer and one that captures his main teaching.
- The Lord’s prayer is a prayer for one thing and one thing only: for God to establish His kingdom both in our hearts and in all creation.
- The first three petitions ask God to establish His holiness in all creation (Thy kingdom come).
- The second three petitions ask God to establish His holiness in us, His people.
How does God not lead us into temptation?
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13
What would it mean for God to lead us into temptation?
- “Temptation” is the Greek word πειρασμός peirasmos (Strong’s G3986).
- The basic meaning of the Greek word group (“test” periazo) is to test something to learn what it’s made of.
- If you are testing a person with the hope that he fails the test, this word is typically translated “tempted.”
- If you are testing a person with the hope that he succeeds, this word is often translated “try” or “test.”
- In some passages the distinction between “tempt” and “test” is crucial. For example, Scripture tells us God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). James tells us that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).
- The distinction in nuance becomes important when considering the motives of the one doing the “testing.”
In this context, is Jesus talking about testing? Or temptation? Or is that distinction important?
- This request could be a simple request: do not lead us into situations that tempt us.
- The problem with this option is we know in advance that the answer is no.
- The Bible emphasizes the fact that God does in fact test our faith. He puts us in situations where our faith is tested and shown to be genuine.
- When I am facing temptation, the choice is still before me. When I am fall into temptation, the choice is behind me. This Greek word can be used the same way to indicate a future choice or a past choice (e.g. 1Th 3:5; Matt 26:40-41).
- This request is not to avoid the choice. This request is to be preserved through the choice: Father, do not let me fall into temptation to my doom.
Evil or evil one?
- This second phrase could be translated “deliver us from evil” or “deliver us from the evil one.”
- Other biblical authors refer to Satan as the evil one (Eph 6:16; 2The 3:3; 1Jn 2:13-14; 1Jn 3:12; 1Jn 5:18-19).
- Jesus sometimes refers to Satan as the evil one (Matt 13:19; Matt 13:38).
- Either option makes sense in context. Deliver us from the evil in our souls that might lead to our destruction. OR deliver us from the one who tempts us to abandon our faith.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
- Some versions of the Bible end the prayer with the phrase: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
- One theory of textual criticism is confident this phrase was added later and was not in the original text.
- Another school of textual criticism is confident this phrase was not a later addition and should be included.
- If these words do belong in the prayer, they would be a kind of fitting end, acknowledging that God is sovereign over all.
- Compare with Daniel 2:37; 1Chronicles 29:10-11.