LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION?
This request in the Lord’s Prayer is somewhat of an oxymoron (Mt.6: 13). Primarily, if God is doing the leading and temptation is being taken to mean evil, then we have an act that is contrary to the very nature of God. God in essence is good and will not tempt anyone (Mk.10: 18; Ja.1: 13). God does test man’s loyalty but not to the point that he has to do wrong (I Cor.10: 13). It is man that harbors evil desires and invites trouble (Mt.15: 19; Ja.1: 14).
The Hebrews did believe in a God that could make it difficult for a person and could put stumbling blocks in the way for someone to fall. Jesus, of course disallowed the notion and assigned stumbling blocks to man (Mt.18: 6-9). All of Jesus’ instructions were verbal and he could have been misunderstood. However, it is more likely that translators, beginning with the Greek, assigned the wrong meaning to the verb “lead.” The Greek verb in question is “eisenegkes” from “eisphero” and it could mean “to lead” but also “to fall.” The person that is being tempted is not being led rather he is falling. A German translation reads, “When we fall into bad things, deliver us from evil.”
Another note of interest is the arrangement of the prayer. In contrast to verse 12, verse 13 is out of sequence. Verse 12 has God respond after man has complied with His condition. “Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. Verse 13 reverses the order in a way that suggests the fault lies with God. Therefore God ought to bail man out. When we take verse 13 and rearrange it according to verse 12, we end up as follows,
” Forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven our debtors.
And deliver us from evil,
as we fall into temptations.”
The underlying thought of verse 13 is a plea to God for safekeeping, or for protection from the evil one that rules the world. It is man that goes out of his way to find trouble and not God. It has become an endless and ungrateful chore for God to bail us out. For one reason or another, we cannot leave our childhood behind (I Cor.13: 11; Heb.6: 1). Our inclination to sin has never changed (Gen.6: 5; 8: 21).