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A Little Ocean Ambiance
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Doctrinal Writings
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Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
Vassar, Michigan
Doubtless many preachers have tired of the controversy over Bible translations and the New Testament text which still rages among fundamentalists. Often they see no point in arguing about the variant manuscript readings when the differences seem to make little difference! Some are saying openly that it doesn't matter what version of the Bible a church uses, as long as the people can understand what is written. However, it does matter whether or not a church switches from the old Bible to a new one. The altered readings of the revised Greek text do make a difference in what the people hear, what they learn, and what they believe. The truth is that every fundamentalist preacher should be asking for the reasons behind the changes, and demanding solid proof that the changes should be made. The revised text is based on a different theory of textual criticism than was followed in the publication of the old Textus Receptus. That new theory, of course, was published and promoted by Drs. Westcott and Hort over a century ago. The practical importance of the changes in theory and text can be missed unless the more prominent revisions of familiar New Testament passages are closely examined. Have you noticed what the new versions have done to the Lord's Prayer?

The most familiar record of what we call "the Lord's Prayer" is found in the sixth chapter of Matthew, verses 9b through 13. The Authorized Version presents it this way:

"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."
This was the model prayer the Lord Jesus used to illustrate how His disciples should pray each day. The passage in the book of Matthew that presents the Lord's Prayer is part of Christ's great Sermon on the Mount. Luke 11 also records the prayer as part of a private lesson on praying that Jesus gave the twelve at a later time. We find it in verses 2 through 4 in a slightly shorter form than in Matthew because of the Lord's particular use of the model in that context.

What the new Bibles do to the Lord's Prayer in both passages will surprise most believers, and the reasons behind the changes will inform us about the fallacies of the new text theory. Here is Matthew 6:9b-13 in the New American Standard Bible:

"Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.]"
The last sentence is bracketed to indicate that it was not in the original. Here is Luke 11:2-4 in the New International Version:
"Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation."
As you can see, the revised text fairly decimates the prayer in Luke, and ends it abruptly in Matthew. The reasons behind the major omissions in Luke are really the same as those behind the deletion of the ending in Matthew. We will study the theory and facts behind the removal of the traditional ending in Matthew, and then research the situation in Luke, learning in the process about the theory that is causing many to give up the traditional way the Bible reads. According to Matthew 6:13, the Lord's Prayer ends with this doxology:
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Was this line in the original manuscript of the book of Matthew? Are these words that Jesus actually said? Why do modern scholars reject them? Shall we say the Prayer with or without them from now on?

Any "critical" Greek New Testament will tell us what the manuscripts say about the Lord's Prayer in Matthew. The traditional ending is found in the vast majority (99% according to Burgon) of the hand-written Greek copies. This great number includes fifteen uncial (capital-letter) manuscripts dating from the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries. It also includes the great bulk of cursive Greek manuscripts. Almost all of the ancient translations (Syrian, Coptic, Gothic, Armenian, Ethiopian) end the Prayer in the traditional way. Scholars question the last line only because it is missing in five uncial copies, a few cursives, and in the ancient Latin translation. The fact is that the disputed words are present in all copies of the most ancient translation, the Peshitta Syriac, which dates from the second century. They are discussed in the writings of Chysostom, who lived in the early 400's, and are cited in the Diatessaron of Titian from the second century, and the Apostolic Constitutions of A.D. 380. The fact that they are ignored in some of the ancient commentaries must be attributed to their omission in the Latin translation most of the "church fathers" used. All of these facts can easily be explained if the genuineness of the traditional ending is accepted.

The Apostle Paul seems to refer to the questioned line under divine inspiration in II Timothy 4:18.

"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Compare these words with
". . . but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
Paul clearly makes reference earlier in the epistles to Timothy to "sayings" commonly known among Christians. Find them in I Timothy 1:15, 3:1, and 4:9, and in II Timothy 2:11-13. We also find a reference to another New Testament scripture in I Timothy 5:18 (citing Luke 5:18). It would be no surprise, therefore, to find him referring to the Lord's Prayer in II Timothy 4:18. Actually, it seems certain that this is the case!

Why then do modern textual critics reject the traditional ending of the Prayer? The reason is in their assumption that the text of any document of ancient origin must have been seriously corrupted over the centuries. They began years ago trying to handle the Bible just as they would any other old document that has been transmitted by hand. They worked with the presupposition that the text of such a writing must be in need of restoration to its original form. Therefore the testimony of the vast majority of copies was automatically discounted, and the value of a few disagreeing old manuscripts was highly esteemed. However ordinary believers in the Bible recognize that it cannot be properly handled as any other ancient book. God promised to preserve the very words over the generations. Notice what these scriptures say.

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." (Psalms 12:6-7)
"He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children . . ." (Psalms 78:5-6)
"Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever." (Psalms 119:152)
"As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever." (Isaiah 59:21)
"It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) "Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18)
God has promised to preserve the words of Scripture, and if a certain reading is found in the vast majority of copies, having prevailed over other readings in the acceptance of God's people over the centuries, a Bible believer should reverence it and keep it.

There is a simple explanation for the omission of the last line of the Lord's Prayer in the Latin translation and in a few old Greek copies. For a long time it has been known that in ancient liturgy, the choir would finish their part in the public recitation of the Prayer with the words, "deliver us from evil." Then the minister alone would say the doxology: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever." Since the choir never repeated the final line, the scribe who wrote the archetype manuscript behind the errant copies mistakenly omitted it! Several instances of text corruption due to practices of early church liturgy have been found. This was probably simply another such case.

Such an explanation of the evidence is burdened with much fewer problems than denying that the doxology was in the original. If these words were not in the original, then where did they come from? You may have read the theory that this was an old Jewish doxology derived from I Chronicles 29:11. However, no such formula is known to have ended Jewish prayers, and there is little chance that early Christians under persecution would adopt Jewish liturgy! We know that in the first era of church history formal openings and closings were added to prayers, but none of them were like this one. They usually referred to the name of Jesus or to the Trinity. The fact is that the traditional end of the Lord's Prayer has much to commend it as genuine and original. It is found in the vast majority of copies handed down to us. We can trust that they were the words that Jesus used.

The new-version omissions in the model prayer of Luke 11 are also based on the faulty new text theory. The words removed from the first part of verse 2 appear in no less than twenty old uncial manuscripts (some of them dating from the fifth century), in the great majority of the cursive Greek manuscripts, and in most ancient translations. These words ("which art in heaven") are omitted in just three uncials, in one papyrus fragment, in a few cursives, and in Jerome's Latin Vulgate. The words dropped from the second half of verse 2 ("Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth") are found in even more uncials, including the famous fourth-century Sinai codex, in almost all the cursive copies, and in nearly every ancient translation except the Vulgate. "But deliver us form evil" (v. 4) is also found in the great majority of Greek manuscripts and is omitted in only three uncials, the Vulgate, and a few manuscripts of certain ancient translations. The evidence for keeping the Lord's Prayer in Luke as it reads in the King James version is overwhelming.

Surely it will be a sad and tragic thing if the churches change the Lord's Prayer as they move into the twenty-first century. There is not enough evidence to condemn the final line in Matthew's record to extinction. There is not enough reason to take more than a third of it away in Luke. Yet the theory behind the condemnation of these beloved words in the new Bibles is the same theory that has condemned and executed many precious passages of the sacred text. See what they have done to the woman taken in adultery in John 8, to the Great Commission in Mark 16, to half of the "Love your enemies" verse (Matthew 5:44), and to the condition for answered prayer in Mark 11:26, for examples. The theory of modern textual criticism discounts the divine preservation of the traditional text and looks for answers among long-discounted manuscripts of dubious credibility. People who believe in providential preservation must reject this theory. The results of the current debate over the new Bibles will have a powerful effect on the churches and the Christians of future days. They will determine, among other things, how we read the Lord's Prayer. The pastors and teachers of our time will have to decide whether to trust God's promises and God's providence by keeping the traditional text of the Bible, or to make radical changes based upon a questionable man-made theory. And these things do matter.

Monthly Article
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
(517) 823-7848

Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data

Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)

Articles published in the;
Sword of the Lord
Baptist Preacher,
Christian View of the News,
Pulpit Helps,
Maranatha Watchman
Church Bus News,
and other national periodicals.

His Majesty's Service
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Teaching the Word
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