God’s Word for You
Luke 11:4c The Seventh Petition and Doxology
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, July 6, 2018
THE LORD’S PRAYER: THE SEVENTH PETITION
AND THE DOXOLOGY
but deliver us from evil.
In this final petition, Jesus teaches us to pray for deliverance. This petition is not found in Luke except in a very few manuscript copies where this petition is carried over from Matthew 6:13, but we will meditate on these words because there is no reason to omit them from any study of the Lord’s Prayer in general.
In Matthew 6:13, “deliver” is the Greek verb rhyomai (ῥύoμαι), “save, rescue.” In Romans 11:26, Paul uses this word as a title for Christ: “The deliverer will come from Zion, he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sin” (cp. Jeremiah 31:33-34 and Isaiah 59:20-21).
Here in the Seventh Petition, the prayer is for our Savior to tear us out of the clutches those enemies who would possess us, including the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, but also from the other enemies such as death, the grave, and even hell itself. We are begging Jesus Christ to rescue us from all of these things—everything that would ravish us and rip us away from the arms of our loving God—and bring us safely home to heaven. In this way, this is the most comforting of the Petitions. But because it has been misunderstood over the centuries, many Christians have been bothered and troubled by this Petition. Some have speculated that, thinking these words apply only to the Devil, that this is why the Doxology was added to the prayer (so that the Great Prayer would not end with a reference to the Devil). Although this is certainly possible, it lacks any historical proof, since the Doxology has a very ancient provenance and there is no hint of this explanation is any of the ancient sources.
This Petition forces us to come face to face with the Biblical truth that we will never achieve anything approaching perfection in this lifetime. We will always need to be delivered from evil. The Psalmist prayed, “Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men” (Psalm 71:4), and King Hezekiah prayed, “O LORD our God, deliver us from his (the Assyrian’s) hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God” (2 Kings 19:19; Isaiah 37:20). God’s people must keep praying this way because every inclination of man’s heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21); we are always evil, all the time. This doesn’t mean we should despair. It means we must cling to Christ our Savior, our Deliverer. So in this Petition, we ask God to deliver us from the evils of this world and also the evil punishment that awaits those who have turned away from Christ.
Luther said: We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil that threatens body and soul, property and reputation, and finally when our last hour comes, grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven. (Small Catechism)
For the kingdom, the power and glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
The history of this doxology which is not present in Luke’s Gospel is long and complicated. The majority of Greek manuscripts of Matthew include it in Matthew 6. If it were only a pious addition, why omit it from Luke but include it in Matthew? Why not make it identical with the slightly shorter form found in the Didache (AD 130)? When we pray the doxology, we should pray it with all the same confidence we have in the seven Petitions and the unquestioned Address. The Doxology, which seems to condense 1 Chronicles 29:11, also includes language used by Paul and Peter in the New Testament:
“To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ, Amen” (Romans 16:27).
“To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:16).
“To him be glory forever and ever, Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).
“To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).
“To him be the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:11).
“To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
In this doxology, or prayer of praise, we return to the First Petition and offer to God all our praise and worship, setting aside his name and everything that describes our Almighty Lord as God the Holy One. All that there is to be praised is praised in him. Indeed, what we praise in God here in the doxology is asked of God in reverse order of the first three Petitions. The kingdom of God recalls “Your kingdom come.” The power of God recalls “Your will be done.” And the glory of God recalls “Hallowed be your name,” as we have already said. We desire in this doxology to ascribe to God everything that is his and is his alone, and to praise him for his word, his work, and our salvation.
We can be sure that these petitions are acceptable
to our Father in heaven and are heard by him, for
he himself has commanded us to pray in this way
and has promised to hear us. Therefore we say,
“Amen. Yes, it shall be so.” (Luther, Small Catechism)
Pastor Timothy Smith
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