Preach it or pass it?
Let’s say you decide to preach a series on the “Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6:9-13. As you exegete the text it is inevitable that you have to decide what to do with the last section, namely “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Amen.” You now have a dilemma. How do you reconcile the last phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that is traditionally recited in the church when such phrase isn’t found in the text?
You have two options. One, you can just tell the congregation that the last section isn’t there and you conclude the series with “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Or you still preach it but do so very carefully. Several years ago I chose the former, but recently I chose the latter. If you’re interested, here’s what I did.
The entire series took me 14 weeks to finish (spent last 4 sermons on theology of temptation and the tempter). On week #13 I did inform the congregation that technically the prayer ends with “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” On week #14 I concluded the series with a sermon entitled “Addendum Prayer” to clarify some lingering yet related questions, and point out some powerful implications.
I opened the last sermon with the most obvious question is: how do you reconcile the last phrase in the Lord’s Prayer that is traditionally recited in the church when the last section isn’t found in the text?
For me as a pastor this is a perfect time to teach about textual criticism without even mentioning the word “textual criticism.” In NASB the last phrase “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” is italicized. It also has a note on the side that says, “This clause not found in early mss.” The ESV just omitted it all together with a note that says the phrase is added in some manuscripts. However, in KJV it is included as part of the verse with no mention of any textual addition and the verse looks “normal.” That’s why some “KJV-Only” advocates often argue using an example like this to say that modern translations are inferior and that KJV is superior.
However, it is easy to debunk such argument. First and foremost, the problem is not a translation issue. Rather, it is textual issue. The real question is what did the original manuscript say? If the original manuscript isn’t available, then what do the best manuscripts that are closest to the original manuscript say? Almost all the NT scholars (past and present) affirm that the last section of the prayer is not found in the best, early, and older manuscripts. However, many scholars do believe that this was included in the prayer by the early church because, after all, most Jewish prayer by the first century concludes with some doxology. In fact, what is added in KJV or the addendum to the last section is known as David’s doxology because it comes straight out of David’s prayer of praise in 1 Chronicle 29:11. That’s why some believe that 1 Chron. 29:11 actually supplies the conclusion to the Disciples’ Prayer. In essence, David’s doxology contains strong emphasis on the kingship of God and on the sovereignty of God, especially, verse 11. You cannot get away with kingly and kingdom language, such as, “Yours is the dominion (like “yours is the kingdom” in the Disciples Prayer) and you exalt yourself as head over all.” Perhaps such language is used because David himself is a king and he understands kingly and kingdom language. David prays as a king to the real King, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
This prayer by David is prophetic – in terms of both foretelling something of the future and forth-telling of the present reality. It is an example of already but not yet. According to David, he affirms the present reality of God’s kingship. Notice that all the verb tenses are present. Yet this is also true of what will happen in the future from the time of David. What is happening here is prophetic to what anticipates later or what is to come in the future because if you fast forward to 1,000 years from 1 Chronicle 29 we find ourselves in Matthew 6, where Jesus, the son of David is teaching the subject of prayer! That is, in Matthew 6 Jesus the son of David is echoing what David prayed in 1 Chronicle 29. By the way, in case you didn’t know, all three Gospel writers refer to Jesus as the “son of David” (Matthew 1:1; Mark 10:28; and Luke 1:32). Perhaps the most notable verse is “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). In essence, the person that David describes in his prayer of praise in 1 Chron. 29 is none other than Jesus Christ. How? Because Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” (John 5:39). David’s description of God is all powerful. Now, listen to what Paul says similarly:
NAU Colossians 1:16 For by Him (i.e., Jesus Christ) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
So, does this mean we shouldn’t pray this prayer (i.e., the addendum) since the last section of the prayer has been added? The addendum does not take away anything from rest of the prayer. If anything, the addendum enhances the prayer. What could be more biblical and theological than attributing God’s kingdom, power, and glory at the conclusion of the prayer? Although textually the section isn’t there, there’s nothing wrong of speaking repeatedly of God’s greatness. Matthew Henry said, “A true saint never thinks he can speak honourably enough of God.” Hence, as one NT scholar says, “It is not wrong to utter the ending as a personal prayer.”
Perhaps another good reason why we should include the doxology at the end of this prayer or any prayer for that matter is because prayer should always conclude with praise and not our petitions. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said:
There must be a kind of final thanksgiving, there must be some sort of doxology. As we consider our needs, our dependence upon Him, our relationship to Him, we cannot stop by saying, ‘Deliver us from evil’. We must end as we began, by praising Him. The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and of thanksgiving in our prayers.
Another writer observes that at the beginning of this prayer we’ve moved from heaven to earth. Now, at the end of this prayer, we move from earth to heaven.
So, that’s what I said and that’s what I did. If you do decide to preach the addendum, be prepared. Some may accuse you of preaching what isn’t there in the text. But again, we preach the doctrine of the trinity (and other things) though the word is not found in the Bible.
At the end of the day it is the preacher’s choice in what to do with the last section of the Lord’s Prayer – to preach it or to pass it.
“But it may be argued that it is unlikely that a first-century Jewish prayer should conclude without a doxology and that its absence in many MSS may be because it was simply assumed, while in others it was explicitly included. On the whole it seems probably that it was a liturgical addition made early in the life of the church, but we should not regard this as certain” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, PNTC [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 149).
Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, edited by Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 231.
J. Barton Payne, “1 & 2 Chronicles” in EBC, 12 volumes (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988), 4:438.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 2 volumes in 1 (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), 2:77.
Alan Redpath, Victorious Praying: Studies in the Lord’s Prayer (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1993), 18.