“And do not lead us into temptation,”
Key Word Analysis
καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν
The passage up to this point has dealt with the past and the present. This phrase takes the believer into the future. And like the portion before it, it has an and/but conditional aspect similar to the and/as-we phrase used previously. The language indicates continuing action through the life of the believer. The prayer is not intended to be applied to just one moment in time but continuously.
And/καὶ begins the phrase with one of the most common primary participles in the New Testament, used thousands of times in biblical writing and previously in this passage. It is intended to connect the current with the previous phrase.
Do Not/μὴ is also relatively common but has different meanings. It can be negative or positive and used to communicate do not, cannot, unless, only or other than. Its meaning depends on the sentence in which it is used.
“The bridegroom cannot morn”, Matthew 9:15
“Do not fear those who kill the body”, Matthew 10:28
“We have only five loaves and two fish.” Matthew 14:17
“I say to you, unless you are converted”, Matthew 18:3
“let no man separate”, Matthew 19:6
“for nothing is hidden, except to be revealed”, Mark 4:22
“you shall be silent and unable to speak”, Luke 1:20
“I tell you no, but unless you repent”, Luke 13:3
“He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb”, John 3:4
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws them”, John 6:44
Lead/εἰσενέγκῃς is the least common word in this phrase, used only eight times in the New Testament. It is used to communicate bring, bring in, carry in or lead others. In five of the eight examples, it is use used to describe the physical movement of a person or object. The object being moved or carried, tangible or intangible is presented as real and present, not spiritual or imagined.
“they were trying to bring him in”, Luke 5:18
“but not finding any way to bring him in”, Luke 5:19
“lead us not into temptation”, Luke 11:4
“When they bring you before the synagogues”, Luke 12:11
“For you are bringing some strange things to our ears”, Acts 17:20
“For we have brought nothing into the world”, 1 Timothy 6:7
“whose blood is brought into the holy place”, Hebrews 13:11
Us/ἡμᾶς is the object of the lead verb in these verses. It is a first person pronoun in this case used in the plural sense. This form of the word is commonly translated as I, my or me. Jesus used this word commonly when referring to his ministry or work.
“everyone who hears these words of Mine.”, Matthew 7:24
“everyone who hears these words of Mine.”, Matthew 7:26
“these two sons of Mine,”, Matthew 20:21
“for a friend of mine has come to me”, Luke 11:6
“But these enemies of mine”, Luke 19:27
“There is a danger that this trade of ours”, Acts 19:27
“the sufferings of Christ are ours”, 2 Corinthians 1:5
This form of us is a very collective, possessive word. It refers to a close group with common goals and interests. Into/εἰς is the primary preposition connecting the people and the action, us and temptation. It is a very common form of the word and used over a thousand times in the New Testament.
Temptation/πειρασμόν ends this phrase. It is a far from common word, used only twenty one times in the New Testament. In this form it refers to a trial or trials, an enticement to sin. It can be a temptation of God or of man.
“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation.” Matthew 26:41
“When the devil finished every temptation”, Luke 4:13
“in time of temptation”, Luke 8:13
“who have stood by me in my trials”, Luke 22:28
“with tears and with trials”, Acts 20:19
The words of this phrase translate today almost exactly as they did in the time of Jesus. The believer is asking The Father to protect from trial and temptation by attempting to walk in The Father’s way or will. The perspective of the disciples on these words is our next examination.
Historical Theology Analysis
This portion of the passage had very limited historical perspective or significance to the disciples. The theology of being led to temptation was largely a New Testament concept from a biblical perspective. The phrase lead us as used in this passage only appeared once in the Old Testament.
“Then he said to him, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up here.” Exodus 33:15
While lead us has this very limited reference, there is no reference in Hebrew Old Testament for the word temptation. There are several examples of the concept but no exact Old Testament matching word or phrase to the words of Jesus on this day. The first example of temptation in the Old Testament may be one of the best known of all biblical accounts.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from [a]any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:1-7
This familiar biblical account of the serpent’s temptation of Adam and Eve served as an example of the temptation of a believer from a strong outside influence. The passage indicates that we should ask our Heavenly Father to help us avoid such situations altogether. Temptation does not come from God but from Satan. The concept of asking God for protection from harm would have been a familiar one to any Jew of that day and this Old Testament reference would have given them clear historical perspective.
There were examples of God giving Satan permission to temp a follower.
“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power , only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:12
“So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Job 2:6
God had given Satan permission to temp one of his best. That permission came with the limitation that Job’s life could not be taken. It is logical to believe that God could also have denied Satan that permission. This would have been part of the historical perspective of the disciples that would lead them to take notice of the words of Jesus instructing them to ask God to also protect them from temptations.
It is possible that the disciples may have assumed God would protect them from temptation naturally and without requesting it.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
“Here is the core of this beautiful psalm about God’s leadership” of his believers. The indication that God protects believers from temptation except where He has given Satan permission blends the writing of David with the words of Jesus that day. Jesus words indicated that now believers must request the protection of The Father from temptation in this new life based on a direct relationship with God through Jesus. This may have been a new concept. While new to them, this is possibly one part of the prayer passage the disciples would have easily accepted and adopted. By asking for protection, the protection given their ancestors would be granted to them as well. How the contemporary believer might do the same is the next focus.
Contemporary Theology Analysis
This work examines each portion of the key passage in an attempt to best understand the entire work. This phrase of the passage can be best understood as a guide for contemporary living by connecting it to previous parts of the passage.
“Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors
Do not lead us into temptation”
Jesus connected daily nourishment of the body, daily cleansing of the heart and the possibility of future sin all into one thought. The body and the soul, present and future, are all vital to everyday Christian living. They are connected. God will provide fuel for the body, current cleansing of the heart and future protection if we asked Him. He will also provide daily protection from sin’s temptations if we ask.
Jesus may also be indicating that temptation in the life of the believer is not likely from God. Job was a notable exception. New of us have the standing with God as did Job. If we are walking with God, when we are tempted it is not from him. Humans will be tempted by the world. “Jesus knew well from his own experiences in the wilderness after his baptism, that
temptation was pare of being human.” In the daily Christian walk, temptation is not Godly but worldly.
God will nourish us physically, cleanse us spiritually and protect us from temptation if we walk in His ways. It is the power of God that allows this process. “You have no power of your own.” Satan, using the world, can destroy a person at will, if allowed to do so by God. Part of the Christian process is to seek God’s protection from the forces of worldly temptation. Avoiding those temptations is a goal of the believer.
The scripture calls for God to “lead us not into temptation”. It does not cover when we go there on our own. The believer who takes himself into temptation situations and at the same time prays the prayer every day is “a hypocrite without a mask”. The believer must seek to keep his own walk away from temptation as well as seeking to avoid leading others there as well.
This may seem a natural part of the walk of the believer and that God would automatically protect us from the world. He seeks to do so but we must walk in his way to insure this occurs. “While God does not will temptation, he may permit it.” If we seek his protection, through our intentions and our daily walk, he will protect us from being overcome by the world.
“No temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
While this portion of the passage, a guide for prayer and life, continues on from previous portions and seems a natural part of the Christian life, the question of its necessity is indicated. Jesus leads the believer to ask for protection from temptation not for protection from sin. To be protected from sin would seem to be the logical end result, but Jesus did not encourage his believers to as for this protection.
“All of Jesus’s prayer asks God to give us the grace to send our lives in the right direction. None of it is a promise.” We will sin. It is our nature. It is not possible that we will not sin. Sin is real in the life of the believer. To deny this fact is “non-reality or illusion.” To seek to be like The Father is to seek to be hallowed, a word from the early phrase of this passage. Sin is unholy, or un-hallowed. To avoid it is to embrace the grace of God. Grace and law start to bridge at this point, one becoming more important than the other.
“law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane,” (1 Timothy 1:9)
God’s grace allows us to avoid sin by asking God’s protection from its temptation. But, as Jesus indicated, we must ask. And we must ask daily based on the perspective of the passage. A daily walk is just that, daily. Give us this day begins this portion of the passage for Christian living and sets the time perspective for the believer.
This phrase of the passage continues to process of daily nutrition of the body and soul started in the previous versus and adds the element of future temptation. While largely a New Testament concept, temptation was well known to the disciples from the original story of Adam and Eve.
We may only be tempted by the world if God allows it or we chose to put ourselves in circumstances likely to lead to this circumstance. Jesus indicates that just as God will nourish us physically and spiritually on a daily basis, he will also protect us from outside temptations in the same way if we seek his protections.
Just as God’s grace promises to care for us physically and spiritually it promises to protect us from potential harm. This verse, and lead us not into temptation completes the most practical and easily applicable portion of the passage. We must only ask The Father for what Jesus promised his disciples that day. The last request of the believer to The Father is the next portion of this work.
Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), 315.
 Frederick William Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 289.
Curtis Rose, The Lord’s Prayer: A Collection of Historical Writings on the Lord’s Prayer, (Castle Rock, CO: reNew Publications, 201). 126.
Philip Mathias, The Perfect Prayer, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2005), 138.
Rowan Williams and Wendy Becket, Living the Lord’s Prayer, (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson plc, 2005), 67.
Curtis Rose, The Lord’s Prayer: A Collection of Historical Writings on the Lord’s Prayer, (Castle Rock, CO: reNew Publications, 2014), 138.
Dom Eugene Vandeur, Living the Lord’s Prayer, (London, England: B. Herder Book Company, 1961), 138.
Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Volume 3, Sin and Salvation, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2004), 105.