Slideshow image
This post is available as a blog post or as a podcast. You can choose which format you prefer to receive it in!
If you subscribe to the podcast through Google podcasts, it should show up in your feed so you won't need to go find it. Our social media sites will link to our podcast page, which also offers a PDF of the text.
Click here if you would prefer to listen to the podcast audio of this message!

One of the first rules for interpreting scripture is to allow other parts of scripture to shape our interpretation. As we continue into the Lord’s prayer we come into a passage that is, for many of us, hard to understand because it seems to fly in the face of what we read in other parts of the Bible. But what if those challenges could be overcome through a little punctuation mark - something that wasn’t an option to help clarify things in the original Greek? That’s our topic in today's Covenant Weekly - Lead Us.

As we have been doing each week in this series, let’s begin by reading a contemporary translation of The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name.
10 Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
11 Give us the bread we need for today.
12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
13 And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Today, we have made our way to the final expression in most contemporary translations of this prayer:

And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

In discussing temptation, pastor and author Adam Hamilton writes, “We all experience temptation. We’re tempted to over-consume, tempted to gossip, tempted to not care, tempted by the desire for more, tempted by the need for affirmation, tempted to want what is not ours, tempted to blow up at one another, tempted to live and think as if the world revolves around us. Temptation is a universal part of the human condition.” Even Jesus was tempted, although he never sinned in response to it.

It is a reasonable desire and prayer to not be led into temptation. Most of us desire to not get tempted by those things that hold us in bondage or harm ourselves or others. From that perspective this prayer makes sense. But why do we need to pray that God would not lead us into temptation? Is that because God is prone to lead us into temptation otherwise?

Interpreting scripture by scripture, I think we can emphatically say, “No” to the idea that God would lead us into temptation. James is emphatic in wanting to make this point when he writes the following:

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.

Good things come from God. Temptation never has its source in God. It is real. It is powerful. It is not from God.

So how do we make sense of this line of the prayer?

And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Let’s talk about punctuation. Maybe that could help us!

First, to clarify something, this contemporary translation has words in a different order than they are in the Greek. The original Greek actually reads like the traditional interpretation of this prayer. “And lead us not into temptation…” Of course, we don’t normally talk that way. So the translators switch the words into a more contemporary English and say, “And don’t lead us into temptation…” This makes sense if our goal is simply to take the literal reading and bring it into up to date English. But what if there was something missing in the original…something that didn’t exist in Greek, but maybe should be there in the English translation?

I’m talking about a comma.

A favourite thing I’ve seen emphasizing the impact of a comma was on a t-shirt. It said:

Let’s eat grandma!

Let’s eat, grandma!

Commas save lives.

It is true that commas dramatically change the meaning of a sentence. But when it comes to scripture, the Greek texts don’t use commas at all, like we do. We have it infer where we should put commas during translation.

Is there a way we could insert a comma into this sentence that makes sense of the prayer and makes sense of the assurance we have that God does not actually tempt us? It seems there is. Look at this line, in the traditional translation, but with the only difference being an added comma. Notice just how different this phrase reads.

And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Including a comma after “lead us” changes the entire emphasis of this prayer to a way that is consistent with the rest of the scripture. Rather than pleading with God not to lead us into temptation or trouble, it is simply asking God to lead us.

And as God leads us, we will not be into temptation. Rather as we follow God we will be delivered from evil. The heartbeat of this part of the prayer is simply that we would be led by God. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, may we follow his leading away from the places where we are tempted to go astray. This prayer acknowledges the evil – the evil that emerges from our own base desires and the evil that pushes on us from outside – and asks God to lead us in ways that protect us from it. This is a call on God to be leading and, with that, it is an expression of our desire to follow.

Be assured that God is not tempting us. God is not doing that to you or me. And pray together, “And lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Weekly Reminders:

  • Before we get into our reminders for this week, I want to apologize to everyone who connects with our Sunday morning gatherings online. This past Sunday our internet was really struggling. We don’t know exactly what was causing it, but eventually, we had to totally reboot our router. Our tech team worked hard on the fly to troubleshoot and fix the problem, but it made it really tough for you who are online. We are sorry about that. If you are interested, the full service was recorded to a harddrive and has been uploaded to our YouTube channel. You can watch it there or on our website. We want to maintain a consistent online connection for those at home and are really sorry that we couldn’t do that this past Sunday.
  • There was a good Inspire Maker Space Camp planning meeting this past Sunday. Lots of great ideas and planning happened. On Monday morning…just yesterday…our registration opened for the camp which will run from July 10-13. As of this writing, we have about 25 kids registered already! This is going to fill up fast and we are going to need as many hands on deck to help run this camp for the kids of our community! For more information visit and visit the events page. There you can find the links to register as a volunteer or to register a participant.
  • One more reminder for today is that Easter is coming. We are hoping to do a joint Good Friday service with the Protestant churches in Penetang. Watch for more details about that. And Easter Sunday we will be gathering at Covenant for our Easter Celebration at our normal service time - 10:30 am.

Before you go, I invite you to pray the traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer with me - and maybe add a comma!

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass
against us.
And lead us, not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Blessing to you as you go through this week.

Comments for this post are now off.