The Lord's Prayer and temptation

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Pope Francis made headlines last December for wanting to change words of the Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us enter temptation.” At the time, some Roman Catholics were already using the newer translation, and since then others have decided to do so, while still others have decided not to. I waited to write about the matter until now, because it relates to the Gospel Reading many will hear tomorrow (Mark 1:9-15).

The New Testament’s original Greek of this Petition is the same in both Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4, where it forms a request for the Lord not to bring or lead us into temptation or trial (the Greek noun is the same, but it is usually translated into English differently, depending on whether it comes from the devil or from God, as in Genesis 22:1-19). The usual translation of the Petition is accurate.

Faithful Lutherans might see the Pope’s comments as his putting himself over the Lord and His Word, and so as typical of what many non-Catholics regard as his “office”, but we certainly agree, as the Divinely inspired James wrote first (James 1:13-14), and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther repeated nearly five centuries ago in his Small Catechism, that “God tempts no one.”.\ Rather, we believe, teach, and confess that we pray in the Petition “that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature would not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, or other great shame and vice.” And, we pray “that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.”

We can only win such a victory if we are baptized into Christ, Whom the Holy Spirit notably led into the wilderness in order to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). To some extent there, but especially on the cross, Jesus defeated the devil as promised (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8), and, in part because Jesus has been tempted, though was without sin, He sympathizes with and helps us who repent and believe in Him (Hebrews 4:15; 2:18).

The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.

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