Kingdom, Power and Glory
The concluding line of the Lords Prayer (like the concluding verses of Marks Gospel), "For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen" is missing from most manuscripts that are available to us. Of course, no original manuscript of any part of the biblical canon has survived; what we have are copies, some citing a few verses only, dating from as early as the second century. This is a whole lot closer than any of the great secular books. For example, we can get as close as thousand years to Caesars Gallic War, the writings of Herodotus and Thucydides, over 1,300 years, and the History of Tacitus, at least 700 years.
In the case of the New Testament, there are about 5,000 manuscripts available for study, in various languages and translations. The science of textual criticism endeavors to make judgments as the exact nature of the canon. Estimates of variants in these manuscripts range into the hundreds of thousands, and the vast majority are easily recognizable as scribal errors in copying: missing out a letter, or even a line; repeating a word (dittography); confusing two letters which look similar; and, the practice of inserting marginal comments which later became part of the received text. There is a science. Known as textual criticism, that seeks to determine what the original text might have been. It is a perfectly laudable science and something that Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture ought not in any way to fear. Nor should Christians be under the impression that they cannot trust their Bibles: less than 3% of the New Testament is in dispute, and no major doctrine is ever in question. Professor F. J. A. Hort, the nineteenth century Greek scholar put it this way: "The amount of what can in any sense be called substantial variation can hardly form more than a thousandth part of the whole text." (1)
All this becomes relevant as we consider the "Doxology" that closes the Lords Prayer. The earliest commentaries known to us on this prayer, including Origens commentary on the Lords Prayer (c. 185-c.254 a.d.), and that of Gregory of Nyssa (330 c.335 a.d.) inform us that most manuscripts available to them did not contain the doxology. Some manuscripts contained only a reference to the "power and glory," without the "Amen" or the reference to the "kingdom." Whilst one of the Church Fathers, Chrysostom, argued for its inclusion, some of the most notable argued against its inclusion, including Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine. In what is possibly the greatest puritan commentary on the Lords Prayer, written by Thomas Watson in the middle of the seventeenth century, no comment is given on the concluding doxology. (2) A similarly well-known commentary on the Lords Prayer by Herman Witsuis (1636-1708), does contain a brief section on the doxology which includes a bold attempt to justify its inclusion based on the (so-called) "received text" as complied by Erasmus in the early sixteenth century. (3)
Nevertheless, it has become so much part of the Christian tradition, and its doctrine is so utterly biblical, that we are bound to make some comments on it. Some parallel statements in Scripture include the following:
"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 Chron 29:11).
"The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (2 Tim 4:18).
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Tim 1:17).
"How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation." (Dan 4:3).
The Bible contains many doxologies. The most well known are:
" to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Gal 1:5; c.f. Rev 1:6).
" to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Eph 3:21).
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen." (2 Pet 3:18).
"To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Rev 5:13).
"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Rev 7:10).
In the liturgical history of the church, the Gloria in Excelsis (based on Luke 2:14) was used up until the Reformation, when both Calvin and Cranmer omitted it in favor of the Ten Commandments. By far and away the most well known doxology, still in use in the churchs liturgy, is the Gloria Patri (based on Matt 28:19f, and originating in the second century):
Glory be to the Father, And to the Son, And to the Holy Ghost;
Doxologies are essentially praise: praise to God for all that He is and does. As such, it forms an essential sub-set of all true prayer and worship. As Thomas Watson was to say about the relationship of faith to repentance, so we adapt it for the relationship of prayer and praise: that they are like the two wings of bird by which we fly into heaven. Praise-less Christians are earth-bound Christians; only diseased hearts fail to praise.
We need to learn to fill our prayers with praises to the Lord!
Praise, my soul, the King heaven, To his feet your tribute bring; Ransomed, healed,
Resource and Reliability
The Lords Prayer, thus, takes us full-cycle: having started with God, the prayer now ends with God. And he wants us to know that our praying is not in vain. He intends to answer us from the riches of His resources. God does not mock by inviting us to do something that He has no intension of heeding. C. H. Spurgeon once wrote:
Kingdom and Power
But what good is meaning without muscle, brain without brawn, intent without intensity? Rulers can be overthrown. Thus, we are reassured that the power is Gods, too. He can do whatever He purposes to achieve. Job was brought low in order to confess it: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2). As Jesus would say, "All things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27). This last statement needs some interpretation to make sense of it. Theologians have drawn boundary lines: it is not that God do anything: He cannot lie, or change His character, for example (Numb 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; 2 Tim 2:13). Thus we might put it this way: God can do anything that is within His moral and rational nature to do.
Knowing this is liberating and invigorating. It was this thought that drove the Psalmist to say:
"I love you, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psa 18:1).
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psa 46:1).
There is no power that can overthrow the rule of Almighty God. Jesus came into the world to destroy the devils naïve claim to power (1 John 3:8).
What needs to you have? The kingdom and power are the Lords to provide!
What sins have you confessed? The kingdom and power are the Lords to pardon!
What temptations threaten to undo you? The kingdom and power are the Lords to protect you.
Glory was how the Israelites thought of God ever since Moses asked to glimpse His glory and God passed by as a bright, shining light ¾ which later became known as the Shekinah ¾ and ever-after was to be glimpsed (only by the High Priest) in the Tabernacle and Temple (Exod 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10ff). Glory was understood as that which defined Gods essential being. Thus, whenever John wants to tell us that Jesus is none other than the God of the Old Testament, he can find no better way as a Jew to say, "we have seen His glory" (John 1:14). Paul seems to be thinking of all of this whenever he writes to the Corinthians: "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor 4:6). And John seems to be saying the same thing whenever he brings the New Testament to its close in the vision of Christ in the New Jerusalem, by saying: "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." (Rev 21:23).
Glory then becomes synonymous with who and what God is. The doxology is therefore attributing, not only rule and might to God (kingdom and power), but also, in a sense, divinity. To say that all glory belongs to him is synonymous with saying, HE IS THE LORD!
But the Bible gives us a much fuller meaning of what giving, or ascribing glory to God means; Take, for example, the following lines of thought.
We give glory to God by:
Worship, faith, confession, obedience: demonstrating these in our lives ascribes glory to God.
No! This is beyond our grasp. We are time-bound and it is hard for us to imagine what a lifetime is let alone endless existence. We find ourselves asking, "How long is forever?" only to discover that the question is meaningless. "But you remain the same, and your years will never end," the Psalmist says. (Psa 102:27). But what does that mean? A great many modern theologians and philosophers read this as suggesting that God is "within time." But, our forefathers, ¾ men like Augustine and Calvin, were surely right in thinking that God is outside of time, that time is itself part of the created order of things.(7) God is not subject to the ravages of time; he has no yesterday or tomorrow. It is because of this that he unchangeable, utterly dependable, always the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (cf. Heb 13:8).
Our relationship with God as his children will never change, because God will never change.
Ever since the Paul recorded that the early Christians added "Amen" to prayers to suggest that what they say is true and dependable, Christians have done so ever since (1 Cor 14:16). Saying "Amen" to this prayer, the Lords Prayer, is to assert ones conviction that everything in it is ones own conviction and longing. This prayer is my prayer. These petitions express the longings of my heart. This is my confession of faith, my record to what is essential and true.
I want to give reverence to the name of God.
(1) F. J. A. Hort and B. F. Westcott, The New Testament in the Original Greek,
cited by John Blanchard in How to Enjoy Your Bible (Welwyn: Evangelical Press,