Lead us not into temptation

This is the final part in a three part series on The Lord’s Prayer by Dr. George Parsenios, Sessional Professor of New Testament at St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary. This article is republished with the permission of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Catacombs of San Gennaro, Naples

Catacombs of San Gennaro, Naples

The word translated here as “temptation” is the Greek word “peirasmos.” The term appears in the New Testament to describe many types of temptation, but it also appears in biblical passages that describe the temptations awaiting the faithful in the last days, when even believers will be hard pressed to renounce or ignore their faith. God will support the faithful in the midst of such temptations. Revelation 3:10 says, “I will preserve you from the hour of temptation (peirasmos).” We should not imagine, though, that such temptation lies only in the future. In Christ, the kingdom of heaven has already drawn near (Matt. 3:19). We are already in the time of trial, already tempted to fall away, and we beg for God to deliver us from this trial. In the midst of such struggles Christ remains our savior, as he says, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that the present world is not our final home. We are citizens of a heavenly commonwealth (Phil. 3:20) and we must live here and now in the light of our heavenly future. Such an approach to life meets with necessary struggles, but we do not toil alone. The same Lord who gave us this prayer also promised, “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:30). Amen!

This article has made extensive use of the following two works: Dale Allison, The Sermon on the Mount: Inspiring the Moral Imagination (Crossroad, 1999); Alistair Stewart-Sykes, (transl.) Tertullian, Cyprian and Origen on the Lord’s Prayer (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004). Those interested in further reading may consult them.

George Parsenios, M.A. Duke University, M.Div. Holy Cross School of Theology, M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. Yale University, is Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and Professor of New Testament at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

Used with the kind permission of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Outreach and Evangelism.

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