18.8 C
Thursday, September 21, 2023
ReligionChristianityLord's Prayer – Interpretation (2)

Lord’s Prayer – Interpretation (2)

DISCLAIMER: Information and opinions reproduced in the articles are the ones of those stating them and it is their own responsibility. Publication in The European Times does not automatically means endorsement of the view, but the right to express it.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATIONS: All articles in this site are published in English. The translated versions are done through an automated process known as neural translations. If in doubt, always refer to the original article. Thank you for understanding.

Guest Author
Guest Author
Guest Author publishes articles from contributors from around the world

More from the author

Sahel - conflicts

Sahel – conflicts, coups and migration bombs (I)

The new cycle of violence in the Sahel countries can be link to the participation of the Tuareg armed militias, who are fighting for an independent state
Proposed law against the public burning of holy scriptures in Denmark

Proposed law against the public burning of holy scriptures in Denmark

Denmark is a peaceful country where laws are respected, and the society practices an age-old proverb; One can always agree to disagree. This mindset has helped Danes to avoid big differences, minimise societal conflicts and live a rather peaceful life. The cornerstone of accepting the differing opinions is the notion of unlimited freedom of expression. It means that people can say anything, they please. It has worked because Denmark has been a mono-cultural, mono-ethnic, and a Christian nation for nearly one thousand years. That attitude, however, has also created an underlying intolerance and hostility towards other cultures, faiths and living styles, especially towards Muslim communities and Islam.
OECD Survey - EU needs a deeper Single Market

OECD Survey – EU needs a deeper Single Market and to accelerate emissions reduction...

The latest OECD survey looks at how European economies are reacting to the negative external shocks as well as the challenges facing Europe moving forward.

By Prof. A. P. Lopukhin

Matthew 6:12. and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors;

The Russian translation is accurate, if only we admit that “we leave” (in the Slavic Bible) – ἀφίεμεν is really set in the present tense, and not in the aorist (ἀφήκαμεν), as in some codices. The word ἀφήκαμεν has “the best attestation”. Tischendorf, Elford, Westcote, Hort put ἀφήκαμεν – “we left”, but the Vulgate is the present (dimittimus), as well as John Chrysostom, Cyprian and others. Meanwhile, the difference in meaning, depending on whether we accept this or that reading, is significant. Forgive us our sins, because we ourselves forgive or have already forgiven. Anyone can understand that the latter is, so to speak, more categorical. Forgiveness of sins by us is set as a condition for forgiveness of ourselves, our earthly activity here serves as a model for the activity of heaven.

The images are borrowed from ordinary lenders who lend money, and debtors who receive it and then return it. The parable of the rich but merciful king and ruthless debtor can serve as an explanation for the petition (Mt. 18:23-35). The Greek word ὀφειλέτης means a debtor who must pay someone ὀφείλημα, money debt, other people’s money (aes alienum). But in a broader sense, ὀφείλημα generally means any obligations, any payment, to give, and in the place under consideration this word is put in place of the word “sin”, “crime” (ἀμαρτία, παράπτωμα). The word is used here on the model of the Hebrew and Aramaic “lov”, which means both debt (debitum) and guilt, crime, sin (¬¬ culpa, reatus, peccatum).

The second sentence (“as we forgive” and so on) has long led interpreters into great difficulty. First of all, they discussed what to understand by the word “how” (ὡς), whether to take it in the strictest sense or in an easier one, in relation to human weaknesses. Understanding in the strictest sense made many church writers tremble at the fact that the very size or amount of divine forgiveness of our sins is completely determined by the size of our own ability or ability to forgive the sins of our fellowmen. In other words, divine mercy is defined here by human mercy. But since a person is not capable of the same mercy that is characteristic of God, the position of the one who prays, who did not have the opportunity to reconcile, made many shudder and tremble.

The author of the work “Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum” attributed to St. John Chrysostom testifies that in the ancient Church those who prayed completely omitted the second sentence of the fifth petition. One writer advised: “Saying this, oh man, if you do so, i.e. pray, think about what is said: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Heb. 10:31). Some, according to Augustine, tried to make some kind of detour and instead of sins they understood monetary obligations. Chrysostom, apparently, wanted to eliminate the difficulty when he pointed out the difference in relations and circumstances: “The release initially depends on us, and the judgment pronounced on us lies in our power. What judgment you yourself pronounce on yourself, the same judgment I will pronounce on you. If you forgive your brother, then you will receive the same benefit from Me – although this last is actually much more important than the first. You forgive another because you yourself have a need for forgiveness, and God forgives Himself without needing anything. You forgive a brother, and God forgives a servant, you are guilty of countless sins, and God is sinless. Modern scholars are also aware of these difficulties and try to explain the word “how” (ὡς), apparently correctly, in a slightly softened way. A strict understanding of this particle is not allowed by the context. In the relationship between God and man, on the one hand, and man and man, on the other, there is no complete equality (paritas), but only a similarity of argument (similitudo rationis). The king in the parable shows more mercy to the slave than the slave to his comrade. Ὡς can be translated as “like” (similiter). What is meant here is a comparison of two actions by kind, not by degree.


Let us say that the idea of the forgiveness of sins from God under the condition of the forgiveness of the sins of our neighbors was, apparently, alien at least to paganism. According to Philostratus (Vita Apollonii, I, 11), Apollonius of Tyana suggested and recommended that the worshiper turn to the gods with such a speech: “You, oh gods, pay me my debts, – my due” (ὦς θεοί, δοίητέ μοι τὰ ὀφειλόμενα).

Matthew 6:13. and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

The words “and do not bring in” immediately make it clear that God leads into temptation, there is a reason for it. In other words, if we do not pray, we may fall into temptation from God, who will lead us into it. But is it possible and how is it possible to attribute such a thing to the Supreme Being? On the other hand, such an understanding of the sixth petition, apparently, contradicts the words of the Apostle James, who says: “in temptation (at the time, in the midst of temptation) no one says: God is tempting me, because God is not tempted by evil and Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13). If so, then why pray to God so that He does not lead us into temptation? Even without prayer, according to the apostle, he does not tempt anyone and will not tempt anyone. Elsewhere the same apostle says: “My brethren, receive with great joy when you fall into various temptations” (James 1:2). From this we can conclude that, in at least some cases, temptations are even useful, and therefore there is no need to pray for deliverance from them. If we turn to the Old Testament, we find that “God tempted Abraham” (Gen. 22:1); “The wrath of the Lord kindled again against the Israelites, and he stirred up David in them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah” (2 Sam. 24:1; cf. 1 Chr. 21:1). We will not explain these contradictions if we do not admit that God allows evil, although He is not the author of evil. The cause of evil is the free will of free beings, which is split in two as a result of sin, i.e. takes either a good or an evil direction. Due to the existence of good and evil in the world, world actions or phenomena are also divided into evil and good, evil appears like turbidity in clean water or like poisoned air in clean air. Evil can exist independently of us, but we can become participants in it by virtue of the fact that we live in the midst of evil. The verb εἰσφέρω used in the verse under consideration is not as strong as εἰσβάλλω; the first does not express violence, the second does. Thus “do not lead us into temptation” means: “do not lead us into such an environment where evil exists”, do not allow this. Do not allow us, due to our unreason, to go in the direction of evil, or that evil approaches us regardless of our guilt and will. Such a request is natural and was quite understandable to the hearers of Christ, because it is based on the deepest knowledge of human nature and the world.

It seems that there is no particular need here to discuss the very nature of temptations, some of which seem beneficial to us, while others are harmful. There are two Hebrew words, “bahan” and “nasa” (both used in Ps. 25:2), which mean “to try” and are used more often of a just test than an unjust test. In the New Testament, only one corresponds to both of these words – πειρασμός, and the Seventy interpreters translate them into two (δοκιμάζω and πειράζω). The purpose of temptations may be that a person be δόκιμος – “tested” (James 1:12), and such an activity may be characteristic of God and useful to people. But if a Christian, according to the Apostle James, should rejoice when he falls into temptation, because as a result of this he may turn out to be δόκιμος and “receive the crown of life” (James 1:12), then in this case he must also “pray for preservation from temptations, because he cannot claim that he will overcome the test – δόκιμος. Thus Christ calls blessed those who are persecuted and reviled for His name (Matt. 5:10-11), but what kind of Christian would seek slander and persecution, and even strive for them strongly? (Tolyuk, [1856]). The more dangerous for a person are temptations from the devil, who is called πειραστής, πειράζων. This word eventually acquired a bad meaning, as well as used several times in the New Testament πειρασμός. Hence, the words “lead us not into temptation” can be understood as temptation not from God, but from the devil, who acts on our inner inclinations and thereby plunges us into sin. The understanding “do not introduce” in a permissive sense: “do not allow us to be tempted” (Evfimy Zigavin), and πειρασμός in a special sense, in the sense of a temptation that we cannot endure, must be rejected as unnecessary and arbitrary. If, therefore, temptation in the place under consideration means temptation from the devil, then such an explanation should affect the subsequent meaning of the words “from the evil one” – τοῦ πονηροῦ.

We have already met this word, here it is translated in Russian and Slavonic indefinitely – “from the evil one”, in the Vulgate – a malo, in the German translation of Luther – von dem Uebel, in English – from evil (also there is an English version from the evil one. – Note ed.), i.e. from evil. Such a translation is justified by the fact that if it were to be understood here as “from the devil”, then there would be a tautology: do not lead us into temptation (it is understood – from the devil), but deliver us from the devil. Τὸ πονηρόν in the neuter gender with an article and without a noun means “evil” (see comments on Matt. 5:39), and if Christ meant the devil here, then, as it is rightly noted, he could say: ἀπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου or τοῦ πειράζ οντος. In this regard, “deliver” (ῥῦσαι) should also be explained. This verb is combined with two prepositions “from” and “from”, and this, apparently, is determined by the real meaning of this kind of combinations. One cannot say about a person who has plunged into a swamp: deliver him from (ἀπό), but from (ἐκ) a swamp. One might suppose, therefore, that in verse 12 it would have been better to use “of” if it were speaking of evil rather than the devil. But there is no need for this, because from other cases it is known that “to deliver from” indicates a real, already occurring danger, “to deliver from” – an assumed or possible one. The meaning of the first combination is “to get rid of”, the second – “to protect”, and the thought of getting rid of the already existing evil to which a person is already subject is not completely eliminated.


We note that the two petitions set forth in this verse are considered by many sectarians (Reformed, Arminian, Socinian) as one, so that the Lord’s Prayer has only six petitions.

Doxology is accepted by John Chrysostom, the Apostolic Decrees, Theophylact, Protestants (in the German translation of Luther, in the English translation), as well as Slavic and Russian texts. But there are some reasons to think that it was not said by Christ, and therefore it was not in the original gospel text. This is primarily indicated by differences in the pronunciation of the words themselves, which can also be observed in our Slavic texts. So, in the Gospel: “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen,” but the priest says after “Our Father”: “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever and ever.”

In the Greek texts that have come down to us, such differences are even more noticeable, which could not be if the doxology were borrowed from the original text. It is not in the oldest manuscripts and the Vulgate (only “amen”), it was not known to Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, Augustine, St. Gregory of Nyssa and others. Evfimy Zigavin directly says that it was “applied by church interpreters.” The conclusion that can be drawn from 2 Timothy 4:18, according to Alford, speaks against doxology rather than in favor of it. The only thing that can be said in its favor is that it is found in the ancient monument “The Teaching of the 12 Apostles” (Didache XII apostolorum, 8, 2) and in the Pescito Syriac translation. But in the “Teaching of the 12 Apostles” it is in this form: “because Yours is the power and the glory forever” ς); and the Peshitta “does not stand above suspicion in some interpolations and additions from the lectionaries.” It is assumed that this was a liturgical formula, which over time was included in the text of the Lord’s Prayer (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:10-13).

Initially, perhaps only the word “amen” was introduced, and then this formula was spread partly on the basis of existing liturgical formulas, and partly by adding arbitrary expressions, just as the gospel words spoken by the Archangel Gabriel are common in our church (and Catholic) song “Virgin Mary, Rejoice”. For the interpretation of the gospel text, doxology either does not matter at all, or has only a small one.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Must read

Latest articles

- Advertisement -