In The Lord’s Prayer As It Is Commonly Recited In Protestant Churches, The Ending Phrase “For Thine Is The Kingdom And The Power And The Glory, Forever And Ever” Is Not In The Prayer As Delivered By Christ. What Is The History Of That Ending?
Here, indeed, is a true observation. In the two versions of the prayer that Christ taught his disciples to pray (Mt. 6:9-13; Lk. 11:2-4), neither of them have this ending in the earliest Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. To be sure, this ending does appear in some Greek manuscripts of Matthew and Luke from about the 5th century and later, but those that have it seem to derive it from the early liturgical tradition of the church rather than from the earliest versions of Matthew and Luke. The earliest liturgical version including this sort of ending is found in the Didache, a Christian compedium of the apostles’ teachings dated to around the end of the 1st century. Here it says to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times each day, and in reciting it, the ending is given as “for Thine is the power and the glory forever and ever.” Interestingly, this same phrase appears three more times in the Didache independently of the Lord’s Prayer, suggesting that it was singularly important to the early Christians to attribute all sovereignty to God. Possibly this line was initially recited by early Christians as a response to the Lord’s Prayer, but very early it became so strongly linked to it that it has become standard liturgical tradition. One finds it, for instance, in the version of the prayer given in the Diatesseron (a version of the gospels produced by Tatian in about AD 170) as well as in the version recited by John Chrysostom (late 300s AD).
In the Book of Common Prayer, which has come down to Protestant English speaking peoples from the prayer books that preceded it in various other languages, the Lord’s Prayer consistently is given with this longer ending. However, in Roman Catholic tradition, the Lord’s Prayer often is recited either without this ending or else with this ending as a response rather than part of the prayer itself.
So from where do these words come if Jesus did not say them? The substance of this concluding phrase seems to have been taken from David in his prayer of praise just before his death, when he delivered over to Solomon his plans for the temple. In the presence of the assembly of Israel, David blessed the Lord, and in his prayer he said, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chro. 29:11). The liturgical ending to the Lord’s Prayer seems to be a shortened version of what David prayed.
The appropriateness of this ending is that it ties together all the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. As a response, it gives substance to the hope expressed: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” While the consummation of this hope awaits the final day, the kingdom, power and glory already are in God’s hands. We may pray for God’s kingdom precisely because the kingdom is his already. We may hallow his name because the glory is his. We may pray for strength to do his will because the power is his. We may share in the provision of daily bread, forgiveness and deliverance because all these gifts come as an expression of Christ’s kingdom, power and glory, secured by his resurrection from the dead and ascension to the highest place at the Father’s right hand.
Pastor Dan LewisJanuary 1, 2014