The Lord's Prayer
Specific meaning in the wording and content of the original text.  Considering all the manuscript variants in Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-14

The Lord's Prayer, our "Our Father," or "Pater Noster," is a prayer found in two occurrences in the New Testament. While often referred to as parallel passages, they are only so in relative content and not in circumstances.  It appears that Jesus taught on prayer at two different times, one recorded in the gospel of Matthew, the other in the gospel of Luke.  Since the focus of both was to teach people how they should pray, without using rote repetition, it makes sense that the principles of the content would be similar in both occurrences, but with a need for them to be perfectly identical in wording.

The passage in Matthew was given in the context of the Sermon on the Mount, starting in Matthew 5:1, and it introduces prayer, starting in 6:5, by emphasizing that prayer is not something to be done for public accolades much less in a manner copying pagan with memorized and repetitious mantras or unintelligible mutterings:

    Matthew 6:5-8   "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  (NIV)

The account in Luke was, more simply, in the context of a direct question from Jesus' disciples. They knew that John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray and they wanted Jesus to do the same for them (Luke 11:1).  Both their question and Jesus' immediate positive response testify to the fact that they already understood the importance of prayer, something that Jesus has clearly modelled in his own prior actions (e.g. Luke 9:18, 28 as well as immediate circumstances of Luke 11:1).  Since knowledge of how John the Baptist's disciples prayed appears to have been common among the public (Luke 5:33), this is likely the circumstance that fueled the disciples question to Jesus.

    Luke 5:33  They [the Pharisees and teachers of the law] said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."  (NIV)

Jesus' disciples were likely curious as to not only the wording content of prayers, but whether or not they should have specific actions accompanying their prayers.  Jesus' answer focuses solely on the spoken contents of their petitions and adoration, the issue of fasting not pertinent while He was with them (Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:33-35). 

A comparison of the two sample prayers is in order:

    Matthew 6:9-13   "This, then, is how you should pray:  "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one [, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen].' (NIV, with footnoted variation in square parenthesis)

    Luke 11:2-4   He said to them, "When you pray, say:   "'[Our] Father [in heaven], hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  [May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.]  3 Give us each day our daily bread.  4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us [literally, in Greek, "is indebted to us"].  And lead us not into temptation [but deliver us from the evil one].'"   (NIV, with footnoted variations in square parenthesis)

The passage in Matthew is clearly longer than Luke, especially is the variations are omitted.  This raises a question concerning whether or not these variations should be there or not, something we will consider later.  First of all, in order, we will examine each of the clauses of these prayers.

Father or Our Father in Heaven

When we pray, we do we address?   Clearly, the example of Jesus was to pray to the Father.  In His prayer for us in John 17:1 He opened His prayer simply by saying "Father."  Later in the prayer He sometimes addressed Him in similar fashion or by adding extra, such as "Holy Father (17:11)" and "Righteous Father (17:25)."   Regardless of the clarifying words, there is no question that Jesus is addressing the Father, His Father, who is in heaven.   The variation in the prayers recorded in Luke and Matthew are irrelevant in this regard, both clearly point out that we are to address God the Father. In fact, personally addressing Him as Father, illustrates that we are His child (by adoption).  If we were to add "Our father" it illustrates two possible things.  If a corporate prayer, it illustrated that all believers are brothers and sisters under one Father (Ephesians 4:4-5).  If a solitary prayer, it illustrates that as a believer I am a brother of Christ, coheirs with Him, having one Father (Romans 8:15-17).   Of course, spoken or not, our Father is invisible and enthroned in heaven (1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27).

Since the prayer was given to be a pattern, not a rigid repetition, any wording that addresses God the Father, as He is revealed in Scriptures, is legitimate wording.

There are similarities between the opening of this prayer and other prayers of Jewish origin which were current around the time of Christ.  The Kaddish, in the Jewish Talmud (a document compiled circa 2nd - 5th centuries A.D), shows the invocation of "Our Father" is common in Jewish liturgy.  This appeared as "Our Father, our King" and "Our Father who is in heaven."  It's not surprising that Jesus, a Jew, would reference God the Father in a manner common to the Jews. 

Cyprian (lived circa 210-258 A.D.), writing of this passage, emphasized that Christians should not only pray for themselves and in private but that they should get together with other believers and pray together with them "Our" Father and not "My" Father, because they were praying for the whole people of God.  He also highly emphasized that thy were to be united in prayer, as adopted sons and daughters of God, part of one true home and one family.  He held that only those who had experienced the new birth have any right to call upon God as a loving parent, saying "our Father," or to utilize the Lord's Prayer which was meant for His children. 

    "and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one." (Cyprian, Treatise IV, On the Lord's Prayer)

    "Nor ought we, beloved brethren, only to observe and understand that we should call Him Father who is in heaven; but we add to it, and say our Father, that is, the Father of those who believe." (Cyprian, Treatise IV, On the Lord's Prayer)

Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come

These words are directly common to both Matthew and Luke's versions of this sample prayer.  It's not enough to merely address our Heavenly Father, the emphasis of each and every prayer is not to be about us - as is so commonly done - but rather it is to focus on the glory of God (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11) and His purposes (Isaiah 46:9-11).  To do or say anything else is dangerously close to misusing His name (Psalms 139:20; Exodus 20:7).  Praying that God's name be hallowed - set apart and held in Holiness - is to understand that He is different than all created beings or objects and not beholden to anyone or anything for any reason.  Likewise, desiring and praying for His kingdom, in all its fullness, is to recognize that His purposes, His overall plans, His will for my own life, and His immediate plan for every person and creature are the higher priority.   Only prayers that mesh with these will be answered in the affirmative.  God will not deny Himself or change His mind (1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19).  I must learn, by His Spirit, to pray according to His will and I must learn to rejoice in what God is doing for His kingdom, whether or not I like or understand it (e.g. Luke 6:20-23; Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Peter 4:12-14).   When the Kingdom comes in all of its fullness, and the final outpouring of God's wrath has been accomplished, the call to rejoice and give glory to God still remains (Revelation 19:6b-7, in context of Revelation 19:1-9).   If I cannot desire everything to be exactly as God wants it to be, I'm not yet ready for eternity, because the New Heavens and Earth are a home of righteousness where everything is exactly as God wants it forever (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 20:1-4; 22:3).

The Kaddish, in the Jewish Talmud (a document compiled circa 2nd - 5th centuries A.D), shows that calls for God's name to be hallowed and for His kingdom to come were already present in Judaism at the time of Christ: "May His great name be hallowed in the world which He created, according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom speedily and at a near time."

Origen (lived 185-254 A.D.) emphasized that we persevere in prayer because the kingdom of God is present today and also to come.  For this reason we don't only pray for the future triumph of God but also for each and every day to be under the sovereign control of God now, even as it will be in that final day.

Cyril of Jerusalem (lived 318-386 A.D.) also recognized this present aspect of the kingdom, that we should pray that the Father's name would be hallowed "in us" and that we should seek the kingdom come "in us" and also that God's will be done "in us;" which brings us to the next clause...

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Unquestionably included in the prayer of Matthew, it is a statement that is already implied by the preceding words "your kingdom come."  God's eternal kingdom, in all its fullness, brings the dwelling place of God to be with man (Ezekiel 37:27-28; Revelation 21:3-5, 22).  God will rule from where He dwells and all His servants (man and angel) will do His will forever (Revelation 22:3).  We long for home of righteousness where God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven (2 Peter 3:13; Hebrew 13:14).

The Greek of the Lord's Prayer, ignoring the punctuation and English text arrangement, allows the "on earth as it is in heaven" to apply to all three of the previous imperatives.  In other words, it need not merely state that God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but also that God's name be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven and that God's kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.   Whether or not the phrase is present in Luke, praying that God's name be hallowed and for His kingdom to come was implicit within those requests in these petitions too.

Give us each day our daily bread or Give us today our daily bread.

While not identical wording in Matthew and Luke, there is a common point.  We look to and trust God for our basic necessities of life each and every day.  Whether our prayer is for this provision for each and every day of the remainder of our lives, or for today alone, we still look to the only one who can provide.  Every good thing, and basic necessities of life are certainly good things, come from the Father (James 1:16-17).  While we can, and often do work towards these things, it is God who provides the circumstances that allow us to do so.  The farmer can work the fields, but it God who provides the sun, the rain.  It is He that keeps the crops from being destroyed by pestilence, theft or war.  It is He that gives strength to plant and harvest, and health to eat the outcome.  We work and live in the Providence of God.  We are not to worry over these things, but to seek first His kingdom and righteousness and He has promised to provide what He knows we need.

    Matthew 6:27-34   Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?   28 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (NIV)

The cure for worry over the necessities of life is incorporated into this humble petition to our Father, "Give us today, and every day, our daily bread."

Forgive us our debts or Forgive us our sins

The Greek text of this passage has "debts" and "debtors," in Matthew 6:12, but the Greek parallel passage in Luke 11:4 utilizes "sins" and "debtors."  How can debts and sin be used interchangeably?  Others would ask, "Which is it, sin or debts?", as if the two are contradictory to each other.

In the Koiné Greek language that God had the New Testament composed in; His usage of multiple eyewitnesses, recorded in the four gospels, has beneficial purpose.  It allows the text to convey a deeper meaning that might have been lost had we only been given one of the gospels.  Understanding the debts and sin question in the Lord's Prayer is a great example of this.

The Syriac gives us a clue as to what was originally meant by the spoken language each of these gospel writers was working to faithfully record.  Syriac is a continuation of the Aramaic language that Jesus would have been speaking during the event in question.  The Syriac has a single word ("hobha") in the Lord's Prayer, a word available in Aramaic but not Koine Greek, that has a dual meaning, "debts" and "sins."

This dual meaning of the word debts/sins is significant as every sin is an unpaid debt.  When Jesus died on the cross in my place, He paid a debt I owed (literally for every sin I've ever committed or ever will commit).  It's not surprising that Jesus' parables, illustrating forgiveness of sins, commonly used symbolism of owing financial debts (e.g. Luke 7:39-49; Matthew 18:21-35).

As we have forgiven our debtors

A sign of a forgiven heart is a heart willing to forgive.  This passage should never be misconstrued into thinking that our forgiving spirit somehow causes or earns God's pardon; rather God's pardoning grace is solely found in Christ's merits being graciously applied to us.  We are forgiven because of Christ (Ephesians 1:7) and because of Christ in us we learn to forgive.  Only a forgiving heart is ready to accept forgiveness, a fact that explains words which followed the Lord's Prayer in Matthew:

    Matthew 6:14-15  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (NIV, see also Luke 6:37b)

Our heart for forgiveness is to be as broad as God's, especially in regards to our brothers and sisters.  Wherein God has forgiven all our sins, we are not to limit how many sins we forgive (Matthew 18:21-35).

    Luke 17:3-4  "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."  (NIV)

    Colossians 3:13   Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  (NIV)


And lead us not into temptation

This line of the Lord's Prayer sometimes raises questions from believers, even scorn from those who believe the Bible is filled with contradictions.  In the Book of James (1:13-14) we are assured that "no one should say 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone."  That passage continues by assuring us that the root of our temptation is us: "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed."  So, if we are not tempted by God, why pray "lead us not into temptation?"  Clarification comes from the Word of God.

We pray this recognizing that only God controls the circumstances that we will see as temptation (Romans 8:28).  We pray this because God wants us to be in prayer seeking His help in all circumstances, especially with the possibility of temptation and due to the weakness of our flesh (e.g. Matthew 26:40-41).  We pray this knowing that whatever temptation may come, God will enable us to bear it and provide a way out of it, so that we can stand in His power (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Later in the book of Luke, Jesus again told his disciples to pray as they were about to face a time of temptation:

    Luke 22:39-40, 45-46   Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."  ...  45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."  (NIV)

God uses prayer as a means of driving us to seek His face and His help - Jesus wanted His disciples to get into the habit of seeking the Father's help even while He was physically still present.  Moreover, prayer changes us, making us holy as our wills are conformed to what God wills (John 17:17).  To pray "lead us not into temptation" is to recognize that only God can keep us from falling:

    Jude 24-25   To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.  (NIV)

Taken together, Scriptures show that the words Jesus gave in this section of this sample prayer can only mean "If it is your will, do not allow us, in our weaknesses and inclination to sin, to come into circumstances that will expose us to temptation where I could fail You."  As the New American Commentary states, "It is also better to see the verb not as causative ('Do not cause us to enter into temptation') but as permissive ('Do not permit us to enter into temptation')."  The NET Bible translators also note "The request 'do not lead us into temptation' is not to suggest God causes temptation, but is a rhetorical way to ask for his protection from sin."  Their footnoted alternate translation is "And do not lead us into a time of testing," as a way to express the implied thought in the Greek wording.

Cyprian (lived circa 210-258 A.D.) includes a variant of this petition, which reads, "And suffer us not to be led into temptation" or "And do not allow us to be led into temptation."  Aurelius Ambrose (lived circa 340-397 A.D.) likewise preferred a similar "do not allow us," as a probable clarification to the ambiguity of the original "and lead us not into temptation."  Of course, both knew that the original version could be read to mean that God leads people into temptation.  "Do not allow us," as an alternate, provides that God "allows" people to be tempted by the devil or their own desires, but does not actually tempt them directly - recognizing the clarification of other passages in Scriptures.  Also note that Cyprian's work was a verse by verse commentary in regards to the Lord's Prayer, with a primary purpose of educating pastors as to its meaning.

The Doxology: "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen."

This doxology is never included in Luke's version, nor is it found in the earliest extant manuscripts of Matthew's version.  It is commonly found in later manuscripts of what are commonly known as "the Byzantine text" manuscripts.  Lack of early manuscript evidence to its original existence has led many modern translators to exclude it from Matthew.

It is thought that the abrupt ending of the original sparked those using the prayer in liturgy to append a doxology to the Lord's Prayer as a proper conclusion in corporate usage.   Many feel that it was likely drawn from 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 and certainly its content is similar, albeit much more concise.

    1 Chronicles 29:11-13   Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the 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.  12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.  13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.  (NIV)

Certainly the Doxology of Matthew expresses Biblically warranted praise unto God.  The final Amen, of course, was a word invoking assent to all that was previously prayed.  It was frequently invoked for corporate purposes in the Law of Moses (especially in Deuteronomy, yet also consider Numbers 5:22) and also commanded of the people in Psalms (106:48).  Continued use of Amen, as an assent, is evidenced in New Testament times by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:16. 

Many feel that the Didache, a very early church document (circa late 1st century A.D. or early 2nd century at the latest), shows this common usage of such an ending to the Lord's prayer.  This book served as a guide book on everything from Christian ethics to rituals and practices of the church.  While not Scriptures it certainly provides evidence to at least how some churches did things in the early years of the church.  This document was widely known in subsequent centuries, alluded to by a number of early writers, and yet it was very clearly not recognized as being Scriptures (including by Eusebius, circa 324 A.D., Athanasius, circa 367 A.D., Rufinus, circa 380 A.D., and others in later centuries).

    And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory forever." (Didache 8:2)

It's not improbable that the Didache records what was actually being prayed in at least some corporate settings.  Some hold this as evidence that the Doxology was originally present in Matthew when composed, yet take note that the doxology presented here is shorter, with the longer form first appearing in still later manuscripts.  The Didache is not a great positive witness regardless, as it also shows that the churches which composed (or used) this document were willing to add to Scriptures, if not in words, certainly in practice.  For example, the verse immediately following this reference to the Lord's Prayer in the Didache commanded "(8:3) Pray thus three times a day," something that is nowhere found in Scriptures.  Notice that the rote repetition of the Lord's Prayer began very early, missing that it was template, a guide for "how" to pray.

Manuscript Variants - Long or Short

I've provided quick reference, below, to many of the major manuscripts and families that support or detract from the acceptance of the longer form of the Lord's Prayer in both Luke and Matthew.  The latter, of course, has far less in dispute.  The biggest question here is whether or not God intended both of these prayers to be exactly, or closely the same, or basically similar in intent (as would be in the short form).

Beyond the Greek manuscripts we have available there are other sources that also should be considered as evidence too.  For example, in regards to Matthew, there are very early Syriac translations of the Greek into Aramaic.  In is believed that the earliest forms of the Syriac were translated in the second century, so this is considered to be a very early witness.  The best manuscripts available showing the ancient Syriac, copied from earlier Syriac manuscripts, date to the 4th - 6th century A.D. so some argument could be made that additions (or alterations) could have been made, yet the commonality of them suggest faithfulness to a text translated much earlier. 

    "Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors, And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, because yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever."  Matthew 6:12-13 (Antioch Bible, English translation of the Syriac Peshitta).

Yes, the Syriac has the doxology found in the longer form of Matthew.  In the least this is testimony that there was very early adoption of this doxology and its inclusion into at least one Greek manuscript very early on (subsequently used to translate the Syriac).  The Diatessaron (circa 160-175 A.D.), a Gospel harmony, compiled by Tatian, an early Christin Assyrian apologist wanting to show the coherent narratives of the four gospels, included the doxology.  This document was adopted as the standard lectionary text of the gospels in some Syriac churches from the late 2nd-5th centuries until the Peshitta universally took over. 

The Sahidic Coptic translation, originating in Upper Egypt circa 250 A.D., mostly supported in fragments dating from the 5th century and later, also bears similar witness as it too includes this doxology.  A minor Coptic dialect, Mesokemic (or Middle Egyptian), which flourished in Middle Egypt during the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. , also included the doxology in Codex Scheide (circa 5th century A.D.).  [Strangely, without noting specific manuscripts, the NET Bible translators claim in their footnotes that the Mesokemic is evidence of the short form.  In contrast, the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia testifies to inclusion of this text in this major Coptic codex of Matthew.]

Taken together it appears that manuscripts circulating in the Eastern Church, very early, included the doxology of Matthew.  Some have speculated that these may have begun with a marginal notation suggesting how the prayer should be ended in corporate worship, subsequently being assimilated directly into the text by copyists.  This is speculation and no direct evidence exists in manuscripts to support this.  Interestingly the Complutensian Polyglot (New Testament completed in 1514) has a note that read:

    "In the Greek copies, after And deliver us from evil, follows For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. But it is to be noted that in the Greek liturgy, after the choir has said And deliver us from evil, it is the Priest who responds as above: and those words, according to the Greeks, the priest alone may pronounce. This makes it probable that the words in question are no integral part of the Lord's Prayer: but that certain copyists inserted them in error, supposing, from their use in the liturgy, that they formed part of the text." 

Admittedly this was likely an assertion made by Romanist trying to explain why the Eastern Church had this passage while the west did not.

Certainly, by fourth century, there was strong witness that the doxology was an accepted part of this prayer in the east.  John Chrysostom of Constantinople (lived circa 349-407 A.D.) clearly cites this passage: "by bringing to our remembrance the King under whom we are arrayed, and signifying him to be more powerful than all. 'For thine,' saith he, 'is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory' (St. Chrysostom, Homily XIX)."   Almost every ancient Lectionary (except Lectionary 547) also includes this doxology, showing usage in ancient church services.

Some of the Old Latin manuscripts utilized by Jerome to create the Latin Vulgate (translated circa 382-405 A.D.) did not have the long form (witnessed by 9 manuscripts), testimony that the western church had at least some early Greek manuscripts showing the short form (subsequently used to translate these Old Latin texts).  For the record, we do have four Old Latin manuscripts that do include the Doxology, yet all are from well after the time of Jerome: k (Codex Bobiensis, circa 400 A.D.), f (Codex Brixianus, circa 550 A.D), g (Codex Boernerianus, circa 850 A.D.) , and q (Codex Monacensis, circa 600 A.D.).   Jerome did not find sufficient witness to the presence of the doxology in the manuscripts he had available and he rejected it as being unauthentic.  Later Bibles based on the Vulgate did not include the doxology, nor was it used in the Roman Catholic Church.   The Wycliffe (alt. Wickliff) Bible of 1379 and Tyndale's (alt. Tynedale's) Bible of 1526 both did not include it (though his later revised edition in 1534 did), nor did the Roman Catholic Douay Rheims, translated 1582-1610 A.D., which does end with only the word "Amen."

Other early church fathers are cited as witnesses that the doxology was absent from Matthew in manuscripts of their day.  Cyprian of Carthage (lived circa 210-258 A.D.), in the western church, Origen (lived circa 185-253 A.D.), who spent much of his early life in Egypt, Tertullian (lived circa 160-220 A.D.), also of Carthage; Caesarius Nazarene of Arles (4th century), in the western church, Cyril of Jerusalem (lived circa 313-386 A.D.), and Gregory of Nyssa in Cappadocia (lived circa 335-394 A.D.) are all notables who failed to quote or reference the doxology when commenting specifically on this prayer.

The doxology was included in the King James due to its widespread appearance in the late Greek (Byzantine) manuscripts that formed the underlying text (also called the Majority Text) used in translating this soon to become popular Bible.

The question, for translators, is not whether a majority of manuscripts include this or not.  Unquestionably a majority do include it (of over 500 relevant Greek manuscripts all but approximately 10 include it).  The issue is age versus quantity.  Most modern translators, using standard methods of critical examination, give greater weight to the earliest manuscripts, as later ones are more susceptible to carrying errors or revisions, each being copied from something earlier.   As the earliest extant manuscripts do not have this, modern translators are inclined to follow the same assessment of the ancient translator Jerome that this text is not authentic to the original.

Regardless of the manuscripts, with or without the doxology, this can safely be said: The doxology includes what is taught elsewhere in Scriptures.  If included it certainly reinforces and teaches what is already present elsewhere.  If excluded, it is implicit in what is present and something that can be taught from other passages of Scriptures.

As for the numerous disputes in Luke, again it is the question of quantity versus age.  The oldest witnesses exclude the disputed portions, again leading modern translators to reject them as later additions or clarifications.  A majority of scholars feel that the shorter prayer in Luke was the original as written, with later scribes seeking to harmonize it with Matthew's version, adding in clauses that would bring them closer in wording.  If harmonization was their goal, consider that none carried the doxology of Matthew into the Luke passage; nor did they "correct" the word "sins" in the debtors' portion of the passage to match Matthew's "debts."  Admittedly there is a concept among modern textual critics that is also in play here too, in the evaluations of these texts.  This concept is that shorter renderings are almost always better; their understanding being that it is more common and easier for additions to come into the text rather than specific losses. 

As we have already seen in our examination of the two texts; there is no need for both of them to be identical, as they were given as guides for how to pray in two differing circumstances.  And yet, whether long form or short, both prayers implicitly or explicitly encompass all the same aspects or concepts.  I personally feel that God likely had two prayers recorded, differing in length, yet encompassing similar intent, so that people would be reminded that the prayer is a guide and not an end in and of itself.

God has made sure that the meaning and intent of what He desires has been faithful transmitted to us, something that transcends specific wording and languages. 


The Variants and Manuscripts

    Luke 11:2-4   He said to them, "When you pray, say:   "'[Our 1 2 4 A] Father [in heaven 1 2 3 4 A], hallowed be your name, your kingdom come [upon us D] [may your Holy Spirit come upon us and purify us B].  [May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 2 3 5 E]  3 Give us each day our daily bread.  4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us [literally, in Greek, "is indebted to us"].  And lead us not into temptation [but deliver us from the evil one 1 2 3 5 F].'"   (NIV, with footnoted variations in square parenthesis; footnoting is not exhaustive)

    Matthew 6:9-13   "This, then, is how you should pray:  "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one [, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen  1 2 3 6 C].' (NIV, with footnoted variation in square parenthesis; footnoting is not exhaustive)

End Notes

1. Not present in Sinaiticus (Aleph.  Circa 4th century A.D.)

2. Not present in Vaticanus (B.  Circa 4th century A.D.)

3. Not present in P75 (circa 200 A.D. or very early 3rd century)

4. Not present in Minuscules 1 (circa 12th century A.D.) and 700 (circa 11th century A.D)

5. Not present in L (Codex Regius.  Circa 8th century A.D.)

6. Also not present in D (Codex Bezae.  Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.), Z (Codex Dublinensis.  Circa 6th century A.D.), 170 (Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.) and in Minuscules family 1 (circa 12th century A.D.) and 205 (circa 15th century)

A. Present in A (Alexandrinus. Circa 5th century A.D.), C (Codex Ephraemi.  Circa 5th century A.D.), D (Codex Bezae.  Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.), W (Washingtonianus.  Circa 4th through 5th century A.D., not completed at one time), Theta (Codex Koridethi.  Circa 9th century A.D.), Minuscules family 13 (circa 13th century A.D.), and a majority of late Greek manuscripts.

B. Present only in Minuscules 162 (dated 1153 A.D.) and 700 (circa 11th century A.D.), in place of "the preceding "your kingdom come."  Tertullian (lived circa 150-225 A.D.) in the west, along with Gregory of Nyssa (lived circa 335-395 A.D.) and Maximus the Confessor in the East (lived circa 580-662 A.D.), in their commentaries give reason for such a wording.  Nyssa wrote: "For what Luke calls the Holy Spirit, Matthew calls the Kingdom."  These writers viewed the coming of the Kingdom in terms of the Holy Spirit's presence and sanctifying work.  This addition to these manuscripts may have been someone trying to make clear such an understanding.  It was not included in the Majority Text/Textus Receptus or the more recent Critical Texts (based on all current manuscripts finds), which is why no English translations include this line.

C. Present in L (Codex Regius.  Circa 8th century A.D.), W (Washingtonianus.  Circa 4th through 5th century A.D., not completed at one time), Sigma (Codex Rossanensis. Circa 6th century A.D.), Phi (Codex Beratinus.  Circa 6th century A.D.), 233 (Circa 8th century A.D.).  Also present in present in Minuscules 1 (circa 12th century A.D.) and 28 (circa 11th century A.D.) and 33 (circa 9th century A.D.) and 700 (circa 11th century A.D) and family 13 (circa 13th century A.D.) and more: 69, 124, 174, 230, 346, 543, 565, 788, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148 and 2174 (some as late as the 15th century).

D. Present only in D (Codex Bezae. Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.).  Bezae has more distinctive readings than any other known New Testament manuscript, including additions (and occasional omission) of words, sentences, and events.

E. Present in Aleph (Sinaiticus.  Circa 4th century A.D.), A (Alexandrinus.  Circa 5th century A.D.), C (Codex Ephraemi.  Circa 5th century A.D.), D (Codex Bezae.  Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.), W (Washingtonianus.  Circa 4th through 5th century A.D., not completed at one time), Theta (Codex Koridethi.  Circa 9th century A.D.), Psi (Codex Athous Laurae.  Circa 9th century A.D.), 70 (Circa 6th century A.D.), Minuscules family 13 (circa 13th century A.D.) and 33 (circa 9th century A.D.)

F. Present as a later correction to Aleph (Sinaiticus.  Circa 4th century A.D.), A (Alexandrinus.  Circa 5th century A.D.), C (Codex Ephraemi.  Circa 5th century A.D.), D (Codex Bezae.  Circa 5th or 6th century A.D.), W (Washingtonianus.  Circa 4th through 5th century A.D., not completed at one time), Theta (Codex Koridethi.  Circa 9th century A.D.), Psi (Codex Athous Laurae.  Circa 9th century A.D.), 70 (Circa 6th century A.D.), Minuscules family 13 (circa 13th century A.D.) and 33 (circa 9th century A.D.)

Article by Brent MacDonald  (c) 2015
Discipleship Training Institue / Lion Tracks Ministries
As posted on
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