There has recently been some debate on the last line of the Our Father:
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.—Matthew 6:13
Should the Our Father read “lead us not into temptation” as it has always been translated or the modern “let us not fall into temptation”? Let’s look at the Greek. The Greek of Matthew 6:13a is καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. Word-by-word, it is καὶ (and) μὴ (not) εἰσενέγκῃς (to bring/lead) ἡμᾶς (us) εἰς (into) πειρασμόν (temptation.)—Matthew 6:13
Notice that the verb εἰσενέγκῃς (pronounced ace-in-egg-ace) is the active verb translated as bring or lead. On the other hand, the whole idea of “let us not fall into temptation” is still technically an active verb in the English denotation, but very passive in the connotation. Of course, God tempts no one: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.—James 1:13.
But if God tempts no one, then why would we ever ask God not to lead us into temptation? Since God always wills our good, wouldn’t it be better to simply ask God not to let us fall into temptation?
Why? Because Jesus said lead them not into temptation in the Aramaic of the Our Father. How do I know that Jesus said lead in the Aramaic? Because the Holy Spirit inspired the Greek to say lead (εἰσενέγκῃς.) But if you won’t grant me the premise of inerrancy in the Scripture, then all blog posts on this topic are giant piles of poop, including this one. None of it matters.
But since the Bible is true……I’m all the more amazed how many good Bible-believing Catholics continue to ask me (after I explained the Greek to them) if it were still not better to ask of God that He not let us fall into temptation, rather than not leading us to evil, especially since God always wills our good.
Well, Jesus still got it right. Here’s why: “Let us not fall into temptation” is still technically an active verb in the English denotation, but very passive in the connotation. (Think about it: let me not…) So, for the sake of brevity, we’re going to label that business of let not fall into temptation as passive. Of course, lead us not into temptation is a negation of an active verb, but it’s still obviously an active verb being used: lead.
Why in the world does it matter if the verb that we speak to God-the-Father has Him doing something passive or active? Because a female deity has a passive role, whereas a male deity has an active role. It was the one God of the Universe (not me) who chose to reveal Himself as Father. And the Father never takes a passive role in our spiritual warfare or our salvation.
You see, to your mother, you might say, “Don’t let me fall into the bathtub.”
To your Dad, while hunting, you might say “Don’t lead me to the beasts I can’t handle.”
Thus, Jesus got it right when he taught us the Our Father.
(Still, I’m pretty sure that the infinite, eternal Divine Word doesn’t need my stamp-of-approval on that.)1
Just for the record, I do not think that these translation problems are new in the Church. The Creed in Greek has Jesus descending into “the depths” (of the Hebrew Sheol) but the ancient Church [erroneously?] translated it into the Latin as “hell” (as in the Hebrew Gehenna.) I am open to correction, but I think this was a horrible translation that even remains in the Traditional Latin Mass in Latin. This ancient error has led modernist theologians to teach that Jesus emptied hell on Holy Saturday. The truth of our dogma, however, is that Christ descended to the limbo of the patriarchs to bring them to heaven. So, people messing up doctrine by getting translation wrong 1500 years ago is still a serious problem. Notice that my blog post does not mention any Pope or Vatican II. This is an ancient problem. So, I’m very much against getting doctrinal language wrong, because when we get doctrinal language wrong, people’s faith gets messed up, too. That’s why I found this worthy of a blog post. Try to see past the current news in my blog posts. ↩