The Lord’s Prayer is in perpetual error

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, forever and ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)

Why do we pray the Lord’s Prayer ending with the last line:
“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever. Amen.”?

Early sources from the 4th and 5th century CE do not have this last line. It is only seen in later Greek manuscripts from the 7th or 8th century CE. It is very likely a conflation of 1 Chronicles 29:11, and inserted into Matthew 6 by scribes. Therefore, we can safely say that later manuscripts have been tampered with by additional extraneous texts.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all. (1 Chronicles 29:11, NKJV)

So if this last line of the Lord’s Prayer is not supposed to be there, we are voluntarily perpetuating an error. We’ve already corrected this error in our translations based on reliable sources, but we have been praying this prayer at church and at home for ages on end and I think it’s about time we correct it in our daily use. Roman Catholic’s don’t recite this last line so I think it’s about time we protestants make this correction in our recital of the Lord’s Prayer.

16 thoughts on “The Lord’s Prayer is in perpetual error

  1. Anglo-Catholics, at least in Australia, certainly do not use the “last line of the “Lord’s Prayer”.


  2. Stuart said: Textual history can be more tricky than we sometimes think. Early manuscripts do not always equal better manuscripts. For every theory of scribal additions to the text an equally possible theory of scribal omission could be set forward.

    Stuart, welcome to this blog. That’s a really good point. And I think this is largely ignored, and that’s the trouble with biblical scholarship. It’s only based on probability. I suppose if one day, an archaeological dig finds earlier manuscripts with texts we thought were extraneous text, it would turn biblical scholarship upside-down.

    Yes, Tim’s comment about the Didache does add an interesting twist. Since it does come from the first or second century, you never know what might have happened in between that 300 year gap between the 1st and 4th centuries. I wonder what is the probability of scribal additions during this period of time?


  3. I think Tim’s comments about the Didache quote brings out an interesting point for us to consider.

    Textual history can be more tricky than we sometimes think. Early manuscripts do not always equal better manuscripts. For every theory of scribal additions to the text an equally possible theory of scribal ommission could be set forward. Other textual witnesses may help narrow the field, but at times can be equally as ambiuous as the text evidence itself.

    Apparently (if I read my Nestle-Aland apparatus correctly) the earliest manuscript we have of this portion of Matthew is from the 4th century. The Didache may hail from the first or second century. What if the Didache records the earliest form of the prayer outside the original manuscript of Matthew?

    Of course, the earliest extant manuscript we have of the Didache (at least to my knowledge) is much later than the earliest manuscript we have of Matthew 6 . . . so a scribal addition could have been made to the Didache just as it could have been made to Matthew 6. . . in which case the Didache does not help solve the issue.



  4. Rich S., I’m assuming that’s the red book (1941). With the doxology at the end after the Lord’s Prayer, I can already feel the climax.


  5. I like the way it is handled in The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 15 with the communion liturgy. It has the pastor reciting the prayer, then the congregation sings the doxology at the end of the prayer. Done well, it is an emphatic conclusion to that specific part of the liturgy.


  6. Rich H., welcome to the New Epistles blog. The only way to get around this dilemma is to change the name of the prayer to, maybe, The Lord’s Example…or in the same line as Richard R.: “The Lord’s Template”?

    Richard R., I don’t know if I would say it’s all just moot but I can see where you are coming from. I agree that we can use the Lord’s Prayer as a model prayer; however, I wouldn’t say that aiming for correction would be succumbing to literalism. Sometimes a textual correction that changes even our theology might be a good thing. I know it has happened to me.

    David, I probably will always remember the Lord’s Prayer with the extraneous addition but ever since I’ve heard the Catholic version of the prayer without it, I began to question why. Now that I know why, it likely wouldn’t bother me if it wasn’t included in the prayer. But I know how you and many others feel.


  7. Kevin, when I taught my children this prayer we used the most traditional rendering so we have “who art” and “hallowed” and “trespasses” and the closing formula. Why would I, a CEV fan, do that? Because the traditional rendering of this prayer is inseparable from our church life.

    Your post raises the question of when does a text become “the original” Is it when the words leave Jesus’ mouth? Or when they are loving remembered and shared with increasing variation by his followers?


  8. David, thanks for the link. I guess footnoting this extraneous addition would then be appropriate for translators.

    Damian, I don’t think it would be wrong to include the addition if we approach prayer as a dynamic conversation with God but in liturgy, I would prefer the Lord’s Prayer without it.

    Tim, thanks for pointing that out that it was also in the Didache. That’s neat.

    Esteban, the Orthodox and Catholics got it right in the first place. A Catholic priest told told me that it was never in the Catholic liturgy to begin with.


  9. Good post, Kevin. But I don’t include the last line.

    My translation of choice has a note on it, but it’s not in the text.


  10. There is also the problem that we pray this prayer as though Jesus had said:

    “Pray these words.”

    instead of saying as he did:

    “This, then, is how you should pray: (NIV)”

    So the Lord’s Prayer is really a template of how to pray, not just words which can become meaningless ritual.

    By template, I mean:

    1) Acknowledge who God is
    2) Pray for His work on earth
    3) Ask for what you need. (Notice that this comes third!
    4) Ask for forgiveness. (At the end, folks, not the beginning!)
    5) Ask for a way out of any testing.

    I think the order is important. The fact that we throw in a doxology, which has early textual roots, is moot. To call it an error is to succumb to literalist thinking. The very kind of thinking which prevents us from learning how to form all our prayers from the Lord’s Prayer.


  11. The only real issue that I can see is the common title of the prayer: “The Lord’s Prayer”. Since the doxology is not part of what Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the title is in error, and could mislead or confuse some people.

    There’s no problem in praying these words–in fact there’s much right, as far as I can see. But we need to make sure that people understand the prayer’s origins–what is and what is not attributable to Jesus.


  12. I marked through the text in the Bible I use for note taking. I don’t that with other verses as well. It makes it easier for me to notice when it’s God’s Word I’m rather and when it’s men’s words.

    If it’s not in the manuscripts, don’t put it in the Bible. Seems simple enough.


  13. By “why do we pray” you mean, of course, only Protestants: neither Roman Catholics nor Orthodox, whose Liturgies have assigned one form or another of the doxology to the celebrating priest from time immemorial, think that these words are actually a part of the Prayer. Sola Scriptura, indeed!


  14. Kevin,

    I like the ending. It gives it a little kick at the end. 😉

    But seriously this is an example of a passage that is heavily used in liturgy and for that reason it is in a special category from the rest of Scripture. In other words, as a translator, you would leave this verse out to your peril!


  15. There is also evidence from the Didache, which could have been written as early as the late 1st century:

    “Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Yours is the power and the glory for ever. (Didache Ch. 8)”


  16. Kevin,

    You are right that the last line was not originally in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s called a doxology, which is basically a short additional prayer added onto the end of something. You’re right about its possible origins. It seems to me, that the doxology became a part of Christian life, and hence is a textual error that crept in early as scribes who were used to saying it in daily living added it into their copying of the scripture. I believe the Catholic mass does have the doxology, it is simply further on in the liturgy.

    However, why do you think it is so wrong to pray the Lord’s prayer with this addition, which is simply praising the Lord further? Why is the Matthew version of the prayer (which is far more elaborate) your choice rather than the Luke version?


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