THE LORD’S PRAYER, THE KJV AND MODERN TRANSLATIONS

One thing that I truly enjoy is studying text critical issues. This area of knowledge is absent in the modern church, where a great majority of church attendees could not even begin to give a cogent response if one were to ask, or even challenge the presupposition that what we have today in or English versions of the Bible is nothing less than the word of God preserved over centuries of transmission. Of course, some of this is due to laziness on the part of Christian themselves, but more often than not, the lack of knowledge in this area is due to the church leadership’s utter failure to educate their flock on this vital matter. When this happens, confusion can set in, with at times, tragic results, as noted by the King James Only controversy. For example, those who hold to a KJV Only position (please note that I am not speaking of those who prefer the KJV, but rather, those who make the claim that the modern translation attempt to pervert of distort the word of God) at times claim that the Lord’s Prayer has been altered by modern translations. At first glance, there certainly is a difference between what the majority is accustomed to saying regarding the Lord’s Prayer and how the modern versions read. But, is it truly the case that the modern versions pervert this most precious section of Scripture, or rather, is it the case that the modern translations are in actually delivering to us what was originally penned by the apostles or their spokespersons? I believe that it is the latter of these two possibilities, adding that it is my belief and the belief of many textual scholars that in actually, it is the KJV tradition (the Textus Receptus which somewhat represents the Majority Text) that added additional words into the text of Scripture, thus making the Lord’s Prayer read in a more expanded or fuller fashion. Note the information below of a brief glimpse into this issue.

Matthew 6:9-13

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (ESV)

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (KJV)

“Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.] (HCSB)

‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] (NASB)

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, 10 may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves a have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (NET)

There is an excellent textual note found in the NET Bible on this discrepancy, as seen below;

Most mss (L W Θ 0233 f 13 33 sy sa Didache) read (though some with slight variation) ὅτι σοῦ ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία καὶ ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν (“for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen”) here. The reading without this sentence, though, is attested by generally better witnesses ( א B D Z 0170 f 1 pc latmae Or). The phrase was probably composed for the liturgy of the early church and most likely was based on 1 Chr 29:11- 13; a scribe probably added the phrase at this point in the text for use in public scripture reading (see TCGNT 13- 14). Both external and internal evidence argue for the shorter reading. (The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press)

Interestingly, in the Lukan version of the Lord’s Prayer, the KJV offers a somewhat shorter reading, which makes it more consistent with the older, better witnesses (despite the expansion of verse 2 “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth” which is not found in the ESV, NET, NASB and other modern versions), as noted via a comparison between the ESV and KJV;

Luke 11:2-4

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (ESV)

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.3 Give us day by day our daily bread.4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” (KJV)

And now for those interested, the NA-28 reading and textual information on this disputed passage;

9 Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς· Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ·ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου· 10 ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς· 11 τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον· 12 καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν· 13 καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. (Matt 6:9-11, NA-28)

NA-28 Matt 6:9-13 Textual App

Greek Bible text from: Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th revised edition, Edited by Barbara Aland and others, © 2012 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.

As seen above, the older, better manuscript (ms) witnesses attest to the shorter rendering of the Lord’s Prayer in Matt 6:13. Also, it is not the case that the modern translations are attempting to eliminate anything regarding the Prayer, but rather, they are taking into account, older, better Greek manuscripts which are closer to the original autographs to make the determination that it is the shorter reading that is original; manuscripts that do not contain the longer reading in verse 13. Interestingly, the NA-27/UBS 4th Edition of the Greek New Testament gives the shorter reading in verse 13 an “A” rating, which simply means that they are by all accounts certain that the shorter rendering is authentic (see pg. 3 in the Introduction of the NA-27/UBS 4th) and directs the reader to 1 Chr 29:11-13 to see the source for the longer, supposed liturgical reading.

11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chr 29:11-13, ESV)

When all is said and done, it certainly seems that the shorter reading is the authentic and original rendering of the Lord’s Prayer. Hence, it is hard not the agree with the wise words of Arthur Carr when he states that “This doxology is not supported by high MS authority, it was doubtless an insertion from the liturgy,”[1] or the words of the editors of the Nelson Study Bible: NKJV where they proclaim that “The doxology at the end of the prayer is from 1 Chr. 29:11.”[2]


[1] Carr, A. (1893). The Gospel according to St Matthew, with Maps Notes and Introduction. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (p. 67). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Mt 6:13). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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