Matthew-6.13

Matthew 6.13 (cf. Luke 11.2-4)

 

The prayer to “Our Father” that Jesus teaches the Apostles (Matt. 6.9-13) ends with this petition:  “Do not lead us to a peirasmos, but keep us free from harm”–or “from Harm.”  We can’t tell which is the intended meaning, since the noun is in the genitive:  apo tou ponerou, and could be either the neuter, to poneron, “bad,” or masculine, ho Poneros, “Bad.”  In either case, Jesus is telling us to ask our Heavenly Father to ease up on the trials and to keep us out of trouble.  He does not elaborate further, but goes on to explain what he clearly considers to be the most important petition of the prayer, “to forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.”  “Debts” are “trespasses,” he says, and we need to forgive the trespasses of others before God will forgive ours (Matt. 6.14-15).

Matthew reduces the Beelzebul parables from five to four, using the examples of satan/Satan only once, but in so doing he seemingly reveals that Satan does indeed has a kingdom:  “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.  How then will his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12.25-29).

After the Beelzebul discussion, Matthew adds other interesting uses of “bad” (poneros):

1) A good man takes good things out of a good treasure, and a bad person takes bad things out of a bad treasure (Matt. 12.35).

2) A bad and adulterous generation asks for a sign (Matt. 12.39).

3) The unclean spirit goes out of a person, and eventually brings back seven other spirits “badder” than itself, making the last state all the worse; so it will be with this bad generation (Matt. 12.43-45).

 

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Luke’s version of the Our Father contains the petition, “Lead us not into temptation,” but is lacking the final clause (“Deliver us from harm/Harm”)—though some ancient copies of Luke have added it (Luke 11.4).  It may well be that Luke’s short rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is the primitive version, and that Matthew’s fuller version is later.