In the Lord’s Prayer, why does it say “let your kingdom be on Earth”?

Any question in my view, surrounding the Lords Prayer deserves a more complete answer because of the significance and subtle complexity of the passage itself. The Lords Prayer is found throughout the gospels with minor differences, the version of the Lords prayer that is most referenced is the one that appears in Matthew.

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Matthew 6:9-13

The context of the prayer in Matthew is as part of a discourse deploring people who pray simply for the purpose of being seen to pray. Matthew describes Jesus as instructing people to pray after the manner of this prayer.

Taking into account the prayer's structure, flow of subject matter and emphases, makes the Lord's Prayer a guideline on how to pray rather than something to be learned and repeated by rote.

Some believe that the prayer was intended as a specific prayer to be used. The New Testament reports Jesus and the disciples praying on several occasions; but scripture neverdescribes them actually using this prayer.

The Matthew account adds a doxology, which is to say Jesus never said it, but this verse was added by the Catholic Church later. Roman Catholics usually do not add the doxology, "For Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory, forever and ever." However, this doxology, in the form "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever", is used in the Catholic Mass, separated from the Lord's Prayer by a prayer, spoken or sung by the priest, that elaborates on the final petition, "Deliver us from evil."

In the 1975 ICEL translation, this prayer reads: "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."

The Luke account does not include the doxology and breaks down as follows..

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” Luke 11:2–4

"Our Father, which art in Heaven"

Together, the first two words — Our Father — are a title used elsewhere in the New Testament, as well as in Jewish literature, to refer to God.

The opening pronoun of Matthew's version of the prayer — our — is plural, which means the prayer was intended for communal, rather than private, worship.

"Hallowed be thy Name"

The prayer begins in the same manner as the Kaddish, (Aramaic: "holy") refers to an important and central prayer in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name.) hallowing the name of God, and then going on to express hope that God's will and kingdom will happen. In Judaism the name of God is of extreme importance, and honoring the name central to piety.

Names were seen not simply as labels, but as true reflections of the nature and identity of what they referred to. So, the prayer that God's name be hallowed was seen as equivalent to hallowing God himself. "Hallowed be" is in the passive voice and so does not indicate who is to do the hallowing. One interpretation is that it is a call for all believers to honor God's name. Those who see the prayer as primarily eschatological understand the prayer to be an expression of desire for the end times, when God's name, in the view of those saying the prayer, will be universally honored.

"Thy kingdom come"

The request for God's kingdom to come is to say that Gods kingdom is not presently among mankind, it is the belief, common at the time, that a Messiah figure would bring about a Kingdom of God. Some scholars have argued that this prayer is pre-Christian and was not designed for specifically Christian interpretation. Many evangelicals see it as quite the opposite — a command to spread Christianity. Although these views have some basis, the fact is Christianity did not begin until Jesus was resurrected.

"Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so in earth"

This is to say that Gods will is NOT being done on earth in the way it IS done in Heaven. Some see the expression of hope as an addendum to assert a request for earth to be under direct and manifest divine command. Others see it as a call on people to submit to God and his teachings. In the Gospels, these requests have the added clarification in earth, as it is in heaven, an ambiguous phrase in Greek which can either be a simile (i.e., make earth like heaven), or a couple (i.e., both in heaven and earth), simile is the most significant common interpretation.

"Give us this day our daily bread"

The more personal requests break from the similarity to the Kaddish. The first concerns daily bread. The meaning of the word normally translated as daily, epiousios, is obscure. The word is almost a hapax legomenon, (Hapax legomenon is from the Greek "meaning something said only once.") occurring only in Luke and Matthew's versions of the Lord's Prayer. (It was once mistakenly thought to be found also in an Egyptian accounting book. Daily bread was a reference to the way God provided manna to the Israelites each day while they were in the wilderness, (Exodus 16:15–21). Since they could not keep any manna overnight, they had to depend on God to provide anew each morning. Etymologically epiousios seems to be related to the Greek words epi, meaning on, over, at, against and ousia, meaning substance. It is translated as supersubstantialem in the Vulgate (Matthew 6:11) and accordingly as supersubstantial in the Douay-Rheims Bible (Matthew 6:11). Early writers connected this to Eucharistic transubstantiation.

Some modern Protestant scholars tend to reject this connection on the presumption that Eucharistic practice and the doctrine of transubstantiation both developed later than Matthew was written. Epiousios can also be understood as existence, i.e., bread that was fundamental to survival. In the era, bread was the most important food for survival. Koine Greek had several far more common terms for the same idea. Some interpret epiousios as meaning for tomorrow, as in the wording used by the Gospel of the Nazoraeans for the prayer. The common translation as "daily" is close in meaning to the other two possibilities as well.

Christians who read the Lord's Prayer as an eschatological view - epiousios as referring to the second coming — Most scholars disagree, particularly since Jesus is portrayed throughout Luke and Matthew as caring for everyday needs for his followers, particularly in the bread-related miracles that are recounted.

"And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us"

After the request for bread, Matthew and Luke diverge slightly. Matthew continues with a request for debts to be forgiven in the same manner as people forgive those who have debts against them. Luke, on the other hand, makes a similar request about sins being forgiven in the manner of debts being forgiven between people. The word "debts" does not necessarily mean financial obligations as shown by the use of the verbal form of the same word in passages such as Romans 13:8. In Aramaic the word for debt is also used to mean sin. This difference between Luke's and Matthew's wording could be explained by the original form of the prayer having been in Aramaic. The generally accepted interpretation is that the request is for forgiveness of sin, not of supposed loans. But some groups read it as a condemnation of all forms of lending. Asking for forgiveness from God was a staple of Jewish prayers. It was also considered proper for individuals to be forgiving of others, so the sentiment expressed in the prayer would have been a common one of the time.

"And lead us not into temptation"

Interpretations of the penultimate petition of the prayer — not to be led by God into peirasmos — vary considerably. Peirasmos can mean temptation, or just test of character. Traditionally it has been translated temptation. Since this would imply that God leads people to sin, individuals uncomfortable with that implication read it as test of character. There are generally two arguments for this reading. First, it may be an eschatological appeal against unfavorable Last Judgment, though nowhere in literature of the time, not even in the New Testament, is the term peirasmos connected to such an event. The other argument is that it acts as a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job. Yet, this would depart heavily from Jewish practice of the time when pleas were typically made, during prayer, to be put through such tests. {Psalm 26:2; 139:23} It can also be read as: "LORD, do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations". Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (i.e. material sustenance), it can be seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given.

"But deliver us from evil"

Translations and scholars are divided over whether the evil mentioned in the final petition refers to evil in general or the devil in particular. The original Greek, as well as the Latin version, could be either of neuter (evil in general) or masculine (the evil one). In earlier parts of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Matthew's version of the prayer appears, the term is used to refer to general evil. Later parts of Matthew refer to the devil when discussing similar issues. However, the devil is never referred to as the evil one in any Aramaic sources.

Referring to the doxology in Matthew..

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen "

The doxology of the prayer is not contained in Luke's version, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew. The first known use of the doxology, in a less lengthy form ("for yours is the power and the glory forever"), as a conclusion for the Lord's Prayer. There are at least ten different versions of the doxology in early manuscripts of Matthew before it was standardized. Jewish prayers at the time had doxological endings. The doxology was originally appended to the Lord's Prayer for use during congregational worship. It is based on 1 Chronicles 29.

“Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

The doxology was not part of the original text of Matthew, and modern translations do not include it, mentioning it only in footnotes. Latin Rite Roman Catholics do not use it when reciting the Lord's Prayer, but it has been included as an independent item, not as part of the Lord's Prayer, in the 1970 revision of the Mass. It is attached to the Lord's Prayer in Eastern Christianity (including Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches) and Protestantism.

The Lords prayer is not for modern day Christians. This prayer was given by Jesus prior to his resurrection.

1. The first observation is that missing in this prayer is the name of Jesus. This prayer was given to the Apostles before the authority and power was given in Jesus’ name. (Matthew 28:18)

2. Jesus gave a new model prayer to be used after his resurrection.- in John 16.

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” John 16:23-24

3. There is no record that the disciples or Paul ever prayed the Lords prayer, nor any believers from Acts to Revelations.

4. The phrase “Thy kingdom come” in the Lords prayer, suggest Gods kingdom has NOT come. However..

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” Colossians 1:12-13

This letter from Paul comes after the resurrection and is part of the new covenant. But Jesus’ prayer was given before the complete establishment of the new covenant.

The “us” in Colossians 1:12-13 refers to born again people. He hath DELIVERED us from the power of darkness, or the evil one. We have not only been delivered, but translated or conveyed to the Kingdom of His Son of Love.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection believers are delivered from the power of darkness. This is evidenced through the admonition of the Holy Spirit and the power that accompanies His manifestation.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

The point here is that you can’t resist the devil unless you have been delivered from the power of the devil and moreover, the devil or demons do not have to leave or listen to anyone that does not have the authority.

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;” Mark 16:17

What Jesus is saying here is that believers have authority over malevolent spirits. After the resurrection, God does not have to do anything more about the devil because he gave believers authority to do it directly.

Finally, with all these various slants on the Lords prayer, God in all his Grace, mercy, wisdom, omniscience and understanding of the creature he has made (MAN) knows best our heart and how to relate to us. The Lords prayer, in spite of its contradictions by scholars or absolute acceptance by others in no way creates a disconnect in our communication with God. The most important aspect of prayer is to do it.

Why Christians Believe What They Believe 

© Tony - W.A.M