What Did Jesus Mean When He Said “Lead Us Not Into Temptation?”

It is written:

“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

Some traditions hold that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew (or Aramaic, a later form of Hebrew). For example, two of the early church fathers write:

“Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.” (Papias (c. 120, E), 1.155, as quoted by Eusebius.)

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.414)

Now, it is not clear which came first (the Greek or the Aramaic); however, it is interesting to notice how an Aramaic copy of the Gospel of Matthew may shed some light on the part of the Lord’s Prayer where He says, “lead us not into temptation.”

For years, I have always wondered why would Jesus say that?

Why would we pray for God not to lead us into temptation?

Would God, Who tempts no man (James 1:13), lead His people into temptation if they did not pray this prayer?

Of course, the word translated here as “temptation” can also be translated as “trial” or “testing.” While God tests us (Genesis 22:1; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, 16; Judges 3:4; 1 Chronicles 29:17; Proverbs 17:3; Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 17:10; Malachi 3:10; James 1:12), He does not do so with the desire to see us fail.

But there is something fascinating about the phrases “lead us not into temptation” from an Aramaic point of view that I want to share with you. Writing of this passage and especially of different scholarly studies based upon the etymology behind it, one author has written:

“Jeremias’s solution has to do with language rather than culture. At times it is helpful to try to catch the fine tuning of the Aramaic that lies behind the Greek of the New Testament. Jeremias thinks that this is one of those occasions. His argument is that the Greek word for “lead us” that appears in this petition is eispherō. The Aramaic equivalent to this Greek word is nisyon, which has two shades of meaning. One is causative and the other is permissive. The causative means “Do not cause us to go into temptation” (that is: do not lead us). By endorsing the permissive the text would mean, “Do not permit us to go into temptations/ trials.”[ 5] On our faith journey, the tendency is to turn aside into trials/ temptations, and thus we are instructed to pray, as it were, “Oh, Lord, hold us back and do not let us take that path.” We catch overtones of this view in Mark’s account of the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus says to the sleepy Peter, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mk 14: 38). Perhaps this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a request to God for help in avoiding this self-destructive tendency. Regarding this text John Calvin writes, “In brief, being conscious of our own weakness, we ask to be defended by God’s protection, that we may have an impregnable position against all devices of Satan.”[ 6]”. (Kenneth E. Bailey,Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, 129 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

How often does God protect us from our own bad decisions?

How often do I need to ask God to protect me from delivering myself into situations where I will be tempted and tried?

How often I should be grateful God for protecting me from my own foolishness!

God is so GOOD in every way.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the

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