Bible Question:

Jesus teaches us in the “Lord's prayer” (as you said, really “our prayer”), “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”. However, you quote it later as, “keep us from temptation and rescue us from evil.” I have always found it difficult to understand the part “lead me not into temptation.” Though I believe that God may at times lead us into “the wilderness to see what is in our hearts,” which is His prerogative, I have found it difficult to understand why I should pray that He would not lead me into temptation. Is your translation correct? I would love to have a deeper understanding of that part of the prayer.

And am I right to understand that, “deliver (or rescue) us from evil” has a lighter implication than “deliver us from the evil one?” Evil is just a part of the evil one. What is in the original language?

Bible Answer:

The literal English wording of the Greek text for Matthew 6:13, with the exception of two words, reads like this,

. . . and not EISPEVEGKES us into temptation, but RUSAI us from the evil. (NASB) Matthew 6:13

The two odd words ” EISPEVEGKES and RUSAI refer to Greek words that are commonly translated “lead” and “deliver.”

EISPHERO

EISPEVEGKES is the aorist active subjunctive form of EISPHERO. The basic word EISPHERO can be translated as “take into,” “brought into,” or “carry.” When we include the word “not” we end up with a request to “do not take into.” The Greek word “temptation means “testing.”

The aorist active subjunctive has the idea that something may happen at some point in time. If we combine all of this, the meaning is “do not lead us into a potential situation of testing.” If we reword this phrase to be positive, we have “keep us from any testing” or simply “keep us from testing.”

Why did Jesus say this? God works in mysterious ways and in ways we do not understand. God allows us to choose to sin, but never tempts anyone to do evil (James 1:13-15). He allows us to enter into testing. So Jesus is encouraging us to ask, “keep us from testing” or “do not bring us into a testing situation.”

RUOMAI

RUSAI is the aorist middle imperative of RUOMAI. RUOMAI means to “deliver,” “rescue,” “save,” “guard,” “snatch,” or “free” in general. The aorist middle imperative is actually a command to help us rescue ourselves from evil. It is the idea of God helping us to rescue ourselves! The “middle” voice refers to action by the individual making the request.

This Greek word for “evil” is PONEROS which has the idea of “evil which results in sorrow.” It refers to evil in general, not just Satan. Jesus is encouraging us to ask for help – to help us rescue ourselves from evil – all kinds of evil, that includes all manner of sin. It includes Satan!

What kind of help do we need? We need to submit to the Holy Spirit. Listen to Galatians 5:16.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit . . . (NASB) Galatians 5:16-17

Many Christians are not aware of this passage. It is the key to victory over sin. Notice that it says if we walk by the Spirit, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh. What are the desires of the flesh? The next several verses (Gal. 5:18-21) say the flesh wants to sin. So if we walk in the Spirit, we will be sinning less and less and the fruit of Spirit will become increasingly evident in our life (Gal. 5:22-23). So, Lord rescue us from evil. Give us a desire to flee sin (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22) and to walk in the Spirit!

Conclusion:

Since there is a “but” between these two thoughts, lets combine them. Here is the essence of the verse,

. . . and do not allow us to enter into a “testing situation,” but rescue us from the evil situations (you and I together). (NASB) Matthew 6:13

Keep us from testing and rescue us from hurtful evil.