Changing the Lord’s Prayer?

Recently, Pope Francis offered that the church should modify the translation of the “Our Father” to clear up the confusion around the phrase “lead us not into temptation.” “That is not a good translation,” the Pope said. The phrase in question appear in Matthew 6:13 and Luke 11:4 as μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. The Greek verb for lead is “eisphero” and the original Greek word for testing or temptation is “peirasmos.”

eispherō   “carry in, bring in” Luke 5:18f., of the lame man, who had to be carried into the house; 12:11: ὅταν εἰσφέρωσιν ὑμᾶς ἐπὶ τὰς συναγωγάς, “when they bring you [with force] before the synagogues”; 1 Tim 6:7: “we brought nothing into the world”; fig., in the construction μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, “lead us not into temptation” (Matt 6:13 and Luke 11:4); ξενίζοντα … εἰσφέρεις εἰς τὰς ἀκοὰς ἡμῶν, “you bring some strange things to our ears” (Acts 17:20). (Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament: 402)

The fundamental meaning of peirasmos corresponds to a large extent to that of English test and try; put to some sort of test. This testing is accompanied by burdening, risk, uncertainty, and even danger and mistrust. Depending on the intention at hand, the test can be, positively, a test in which one proves oneself or, negatively, an enticement to failure. Since persons are virtually the only object of such testing in the NT, trust, faithfulness, and obedience usually play a role as well. (Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament: 65)

James 1:13 makes clear that God does not tempt. God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does God tempt anyone. Enticement to sin comes from own’s own desires. However, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul insists that God does not allow one to be tempted beyond one’s strength, and also provides the way to escape. This text might seem to imply that God tempts, but what lies behind is the conviction that God controls everything. The sense of the Pauline text is that God helps in time of temptation, but does not lead to sin.

The French speaking churches of Europe already use “do not let us fall into temptation,” in their Biblical translations, although not yet in the liturgical usage. The common Spanish translation already is “no nos dejes caer en la tentacion” or “do not let us fall into temptation.”

Here is a current survey of English translations of Luke 11:4

  • (New American) 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
  • (New Jerusalem) 4 for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.’
  • (Douay Rheims) 4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.
  • (New Revised Standard) 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
  • (New King James) 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
  • (New International) 4 Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted.’ ”
  • (NASB95) 4 ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

….Just in case you were wondering….

One thought on “Changing the Lord’s Prayer?

  1. Way before the Pope announced this and recently posted on my Sunday snippet, I am not comfortable with this phrase. I m glad it is changing and it will help me reflect dapper on the Lord’s Prayer. I

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