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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Lord's Prayer

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LORD’S PRAYER

Matthew 6:9-13 .

Matthew 6:8 Thus therefore pray ye:

(1) Our Father which art in the heavens;

(2) Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:10 (3) Thy kingdom come.

(4) Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on [the] earth.

Matthew 6:11 (5) Our daily (?) bread give us to-day.

Mat 6:12 (6) And forgive us our debts, as we also [forgive] our debtors.

Matthew 6:13 (7) And bring us not into temptation;

(8) But deliver us from the evil ( one? ).

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, unto the ages. Amen.

Luke 11:2-4 .

Luke 11:2 Whensoever ye pray, say,

(1) [Our] Father [which art in the heavens];

(2) Hallowed be thy name.

(3) Thy kingdom come.

(4) [Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on the earth.]

Luke 11:3 (5) Our daily (?) bread give us day by day.

Luke 11:4 (6) And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

(7) And bring us not into temptation;

(8) [But deliver us from the evil ( one ?)].

The request of one of the disciples ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1 ) expresses a desire which doubtless found a place in the hearts of all. Great teachers were expected to give their disciples a form of prayer. Because John had taught his disciples to pray, Christ was petitioned to do the same for His followers.

The Lord’s Prayer has been delivered to us in two forms, one by Mt., another by Lk.; in each case in a different context. The forms are set out above for comparison, in a literal translation, as a preliminary to the consideration of questions connected with the texts and the contexts. The places in which there is a difference of reading, or where words are omitted by some authorities, are enclosed in brackets. The form in Mt. consists of eight clauses, which correspond, clause by clause, to an equal number in Lk., according to the longer text. The shorter Lukan text omits clauses 4 and 8. The Doxology is found only in MSS of Mt., and not in the oldest of these.

‘Thus,’ ‘after this manner’ (Matthew 6:9 ) introduces the prayer as a model of acceptable devotion. ‘Whensoever’ ( Luke 11:2 ) enjoins the use of the words which follow, and implies that the prayers of Christ’s disciples should be conceived in the spirit of the form He was giving them.

In clause 4 (Mt.) the article before ‘earth’ is omitted in some MSS; but as, by a well-known rule, the article in Greek is often implied, but not expressed, after a preposition, the omission does not demand a change in the translation.

In clause 6 (Mt.) a few old authorities read the perfect ‘have forgiven.’

In Lk., clause 1, the words ‘Our’ and ‘which art in the heavens,’ and the whole of clauses 4 and 8, are omitted by a few ancient authorities, and, in consequence, have been rejected by the RV [Note: Revised Version.] . Yet the TR [Note: Textus Receptus.] of Lk. is attested by the majority of the MSS. If we go behind these witnesses, and, in spite of their evidence, accept the shorter Lukan form, it will perhaps follow that the rejected clauses were never parts of the Prayer, as taught by Christ, but are later amplifications, which obtained a place in Mt., and thence were copied into the Lukan text.

Clause 6 in Lk. explains the corresponding words in Mt. In the latter ‘as’ is not of strict proportion, but of general condition. It cannot be, as is sometimes stated in devotional exegesis, that we are to pray God to measure His boundless pity by our imperfect attempts to forgive; but we plead that we have endeavoured to remove what would be a bar to His grant of pardon; and this is expressed clearly in Lk., ‘for we ourselves also forgive.’

The Doxology, which is not found in the oldest MSS, is contained in the majority of copies. The evidence of the ancient versions is divided. Some of the Fathers, in commenting on the Lord’s Prayer, take no account of a Doxology; but Chrysostom and others recognize it, and note its connexion with the preceding petitions. If the Doxology be not an integral part of the Matthæan text, it is certainly of very great antiquity. It may have been interpolated from a Liturgy; for it is now admitted that liturgical forms existed in the earliest days of Christianity, although perhaps at first they were unwritten, and were transmitted orally.

The word in clause 5 which we have provisionally rendered ‘daily’ was of doubtful import in early times, for different interpretations have been given by the ancients.

Origen (3rd cent.), the greatest textual critic of primitive days says that the word ( epiousios ) was coined by the Evangelists, and is not found in earlier Greek writers. Among the Syrians, one Version (Curetonian) has in Mt. ‘bread constant of the day,’ in Lk. ‘bread constant of every day’; in Lk. the Lewis Version (not extant in Mt.) has the same as the Curetonian; in Mt. the Pesh. has ‘bread of our need today,’ in Lk. ‘bread of our need daily.’ The ancient Latin rendering of epiousios was ‘daily.’ This is read now in the Vulgate in Lk., but in Mt. was altered by Jerome to ‘super-substantial.’ The term is derived either from epi and ienai , ‘to come upon,’ i.e . ‘succeed,’ ‘be continual’; or from epi and ousia , upon substance,’ i.e . ‘added to, or adapted to, substance.’ The Syriac rendering ‘constant’ comes from the first derivation; the second derivation permits their other rendering ‘of our need,’ bread ‘ adapted to our human substance .’ Jerome’s rendering in Mt. takes epiousios in a spiritual sense, ‘something added to natural substance .’ In either case ‘bread’ may be taken in an earthly or a heavenly sense. The fulness of Scriptural language justifies the widest application of the term. If we adopt the derivation from ienai ‘to come,’ the bread epiousios will be (i) whatsoever is needed for the coming day, to be sought in daily morning prayer ‘give us to-day’; (ii) whatsoever is needed for the coming days of life. The petition becomes a prayer for the presence of Him who has revealed Himself as ‘the Bread.’ Another application, the coming feast in the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 14:15 ), seems excluded by the reference to the present time in both Evangelists.

In clause 8 the Greek may be the genitive case of ho ponçros , ‘the evil one,’ or of to ponçron , where the article to is generic, ‘the evil,’ ‘whatsoever is evil.’ The Greek is indefinite, and commentators have taken the words in both applications.

We have already observed that the longer readings in the Lukan form of the Prayer may be due to the attempts of copyists to harmonize the text with the form found in their days in Mt. Some may further argue that the two forms are different reminiscences of the same instruction. If it beheld that the Gospels are late compositions, in which, long after the events recorded, certain unknown writers gathered together, without method, or accurate knowledge, such traditions as had reached them, it will be as justifiable as it is convenient to treat all related passages as mere varying traditions of the same original. But if it be admitted that the Evangelists were accurate and well-informed historians, there is no ground for identifying the Prayer in Lk. with that in Mt. They occupy different places in the history. Mt. records the Prayer as part of a discourse. It was delivered unasked, as a specimen of right prayer, in contrast to the hypocritical and superstitious habits which the Master condemned; and it is followed by an instruction on forgiveness. The occasion in Lk. is altogether different. Christ had been engaged in prayer; then, in response to a request, He delivered a form for the use of His disciples, and enforced the instruction by a parable and exhortations teaching the power of earnestness in prayer. The differences of text, especially if the shorter readings in Lk. be adopted, distinguish the one form from the other; and it is unreasonable to deny that the Master would, if necessary, repeat instructions on an important subject.

The Prayer is rightly named ‘the Lord’s,’ because it owes to the Master its form and arrangement; but many of the sentiments may be paralleled in Jewish writings, and are ultimately based on the teachings of the OT.

In a work accessible to the ordinary reader, Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (ed. C. Taylor), we read (ch. 5:30): ‘R. Jehudah ben Thema said, Be strong as a lion, to do the will of thy Father which is in heaven.’ In ch. 4:7 (n. [Note: . note.] 8) examples are given of the use of ‘the Name’ as a substitute for titles of the Almighty, and including all that they imply. The Rabbinical doctrine of the correspondence of the upper with the lower world is exemplified by Taylor, ch. 3:15 n. [Note: . note.] Hillel said of a skull floating on the water (2:7), ‘Because thou drownedst, they drowned thee, and in the end they that drowned thee shall be drowned’; which illustrates clause 6 of the Prayer. From Talmudic prayers are quoted (p. 128) the petitions: ‘May it be thy will to deliver us from evil man, evil chance,’ etc.; and ‘Bring me not into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of temptation.’ In the OT we may compare with clause 1, Isaiah 63:16 ; clause 2, Exodus 20:7 ; clauses 2, 3, Zechariah 14:9 ; clause 4, Psalms 103:20 ; Psalms 135:6 ; clause 5, Exodus 16:4 , Proverbs 30:8 ; clause 6, Obadiah 1:15 . The Doxology may be compared with 1 Chronicles 29:11 .

It is remarkable that there is no instance in the NT of the use of the Prayer by the disciples; but the scantiness of the records forbids an adverse conclusion. There is in 2 Timothy 4:18 what seems to be an allusion to clause 8, and to the Doxology, in relation to St. Paul’s experience. The first word of the Prayer in our Lord’s vernacular and in the Evangelists’ translation is alluded to in Romans 8:15 , Galatians 4:6 . It is doubtful whether an Oriental would consider that he had satisfied the requirements of the ‘thus’ and the ‘whensoever’ by ex tempore or other devotions, which merely expressed the sentiments of the Prayer. In any case, from early days the opinion has prevailed in the Church that the use of the actual words is an essential part of every act of worship.

G. H. Gwilliam.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Lord's Prayer'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/l/lords-prayer.html. 1909.

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