Is the Pope Right or Wrong on “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”?

Pope Francis recently created an international theological incident when he told an Italian TV interviewer that the classic, traditional wording from the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” is “not a good translation.” Instead he favors translating this particular petition in the Lord’s Prayer something like, “Don’t let us fall into temptation.” The pope argued,

I am the one that’s falling. It’s not [God] who’s leading me into temptation to see, then, how I fall. No, a father doesn’t do this. A father helps you to get up right away. The one who is leading you into temptation is Satan. That is Satan’s mission. The prayer that we say means: “When Satan leads me into temptation, please give me your hand.”

Is the pope’s (re-)translation of the Bible here right or wrong?

Defending the pope

My Italian is a bit rusticchio, so I asked a native speaker to translate the whole portion of the interview in which the pope appeared. I wanted to give Pope Francis a full hearing. I discovered that, in spite of the internet hoopla over his comments, Pope Francis didn’t actually say much; he didn’t mount any lexical arguments, discussions of the meaning of the relevant Greek term—instead he made a very brief theological case. But that case is clear enough.

I’d like to start my evaluation with three important things the pope got right:

1. The pope mixed theology and Bible translation, and that’s fine.

It’s tempting to cordon off Bible translation into some objective corner, free from all bias. But theological arguments like the one used by the pope are allowed in Bible translation. If the wording of a given Bible passage appears to conflict with accepted theology, it is not just permitted but necessary for the translator to look to theology in order to properly translate the passage. Ultimately, theology needs to fit the Bible and not the other way around. But it’s naïve to think we can go to our translation work without a theology. If at first blush it seems like a passage should be translated, “And behold, Jesus insisted that he was not divine,” you’d be right to scratch your head. You know your theology well enough to find this translation unlikely.

So if indeed “Lead us not into temptation” (Matt 6:13) seems to conflict with “[God] tempts no one” (Jas 1:13), we should definitely consider that we may be misunderstanding the Greek somehow.

To suggest a different translation of the Lord’s Prayer is not necessarily the same thing as changing the prayer. Jesus gave us the prayer; it’s not going away. But the way we render it in our various vernaculars may indeed need to change. The pope deserves a hearing on this.

2. The pope was willing to alter highly traditional terminology.

It takes major mental and spiritual energy to scrutinize familiar wording. How many times has Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, spoken the words “Lead us not into temptation” in Spanish (No nos metas en tentación), Italian (Non ci indurre in tentazione), and Latin (Ne nos inducas in temptationem)? No matter how unsettling it may be to re-examine such traditional renderings, sometimes it must be done—namely when they’re wrong. Again, the pope deserves a hearing—no matter how strong the tradition is against him.

3. The pope mounted an implicit critique of the Vulgate.

The pope is doing something like what Martin Luther did in the first of his 95 Theses: he’s (at least implicitly) correcting the standard Bible translation of Catholicism, the Vulgate. This Latin translation, used by the Roman Church for sixteen centuries, has always said inducas, a common transparent compound of ducere, to lead, and in, whose meaning you may be able to guess. The main Bible of Catholicism since time immemorial says, “Lead us not into [ne nos inducas] temptation,” and Pope Francis is saying that’s not good. To my knowledge he hasn’t offered a Latin alternative, but that’s the next logical step. For the record, I’m with the pope on this one: I’m for subjecting the Vulgate to critique.

Disagreeing with the pope

I’m very glad for this conversation, and I think the pope’s argument is important to consider. Ultimately, however, I side with Christian tradition against the pope. (Boy, that felt weird.) Here’s why.

1. The new rendering is lexically unlikely.

This is the ultimate issue: What do these Greek words mean, and how do we know? We’re not asking, “What will get the right message across to Christians?” We already know the answer to that: it’s whatever God in fact said. And he said “Lead us not into…”

Εἰσενέγκῃς (eisenenkēs) is, like the Latin inducere, a transparent compound—in this case from εἰς (“into”) and φέρω (“bring”). Etymology doesn’t clinch the meaning; butterfly doesn’t mean a dairy product sailing through the air. But all the standard Greek-English dictionaries concur: the word means “bring in” or “cause to enter.”

And the final court of appeal, usage, is also clear. In the New Testament, everybody who “brings in” something using this word is actively involved in the bringing. It isn’t a mere permitting. The men who “brought in” the paralytic to be healed didn’t allow him to enter the house; they carried him (Lk 5:18). The priests didn’t permit the blood of sacrificial offerings to enter the holy place; they carried it (Heb 13:11). I’ve looked at this word in the LXX, too, and I can’t see a lexical way out of the “lead us into” rendering.

It’s a bracing truth, but it’s a true truth: God can and does “lead” or “bring” us into temptation and yet he encourages us to ask him not to.

2. The new translation doesn’t necessarily help.

Let’s turn from the lexical back to the theological, where Pope Francis began.

The fact is, I’m not sure Pope Francis’ translation helps—God or us. If people really are thinking that “Lead us not into temptation” means God sometimes pushes us into sin, the new rendering might raise the same basic question. We still need a theodicy here (a justification of God) if what Jesus is saying is, “Don’t let us fall into temptation.” You mean, God could have held me back but instead he let me fall? Instead of an active sadist, he’s a passive one? Why didn’t God give me his hand before Satan even showed up?

This is the basic question my own children have asked me repeatedly—but about Adam and Eve. Why did God permit them to sin? The Bible gives an indirect answer; that is, it gives us a number of responses, but it doesn’t fit them all together. God is love (1 John 4:7), God doesn’t sin or tempt us (Jas 1:13), God does all for his own glory (Isa 48:9–11), God sends us trials and even led Jesus into temptation (Matt 4), mankind chose sin (Gen 3:6), every person is responsible for his or her sins (Ezek 18:20)—somehow these truths all fit together whether God leads us into temptation or lets us into it. And putting them together is a theological challenge. In the end, I think every Christian will find he must simply trust the Lord.

When I’m in a bad situation, I want to know that God is truly in control—not reacting but directing (Gen 50:20). I must accept that God is allowed to lead me into temptation without himself sinning—or tempting me. That takes a big God. That’s the kind of God I want when I’m facing temptation. I want to know that even the bitter cup was measured out by his hand.

3. Sometimes tradition starts to look like providence.

This is sanctified speculation readers may take or leave, and I myself hold it very lightly, but I think it’s worth some rumination: if nearly every Christian in the West for many centuries has been handed the same wording at their mother’s knee (I checked 77 Bible translations across multiple European languages, and they overwhelmingly stick with “Lead us not into temptation”), what does it say about God’s providence if this wording is simply wrong? Has God permitted some of the most famous and important and personal words in Scripture, the very prayer our Lord taught us to pray, to be radically misleading? I know the role played be the faulty Vulgate rendering poenitentiam agite in the Reformation; I’m a dyed-in-Genevan-wool Protestant. Semper reformanda and norma normans non normata forever and ever, amen. But sometimes tradition starts to look to me like providence. This is one such case.

A suggestion for the pope

There is one more option that deserves consideration. If Bible interpreters feel they simply cannot reconcile “Lead us not into temptation” with the rest of the Bible (particularly James 1:13), perhaps they need not alter “lead us not into” but instead should find a different word than “temptation.” Πειρασμός (peirasmos) can mean “trial” or “temptation” depending on the motivation of the one doing the trying/tempting. It is indeed Satan’s mission to devour us, and God’s to refine and save us (1 Pet 1:6–7). So what about “Do not lead us into hard testing”?

This is the rendering in the Complete Jewish Bible—and a suggestion in a number of major Matthew commentaries (Carson, Blomberg, France, Nolland, Davies/Allison, Hagner). It is strange, in fact (though not unheard of), that so many commentators would prefer this option and it be picked up by so few translations (this tends to support a contention I’ve often made that Bible translations are generally conservative). I’m comfortable with the strong existing translation tradition, in part because I think the best interpretation of it still amounts to something quite like “Lead us not into trials.” Using that wording directly in the Bible text has to be a viable option, too.

May I humbly suggest that the pope try it instead?

Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Pro. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (forthcoming, Lexham Press).


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  1. Sounds to me like the attempt to iron out a contradiction where there is none. If the verse said “don’t tempt us”, that’d be a contradiction to James 1:13. There’s not one biblical example of God tempting someone, but countless examples where he permitted temptation by someone or something else (serpent, satan, sin etc.) It’s a legitimate (an the more I think about it, important and urgent) prayer that God might NOT lead us down that path.

  2. Larry Weldon says:

    I’m not a theologian but I get it: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

    Thanks Mark.

    • =) Right.

      It is possible for us to think something is working when it’s broken, so this discussion was not needless. Sometimes you need to prove that something isn’t broken! But in the end, you pretty well summarized my point.

  3. Thanks Mark! The moment I saw that headline, I was hoping someone would both look honestly at what the Pope said, and carefully examine the Greek text. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait long.

  4. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

    The current translation of “And lead us not in to temptation” is in fact the correct one, even if modern political and theological “correctness” seems to be against it.

    Does God lead some one in to temptation?

    The answer is in the affirmative, but only in a few extra ordinary circumstances.

    This happened, in fact, when God through His Holy Spirit led the LORD Jesus Christ in to the wilderness, preparatory to His public ministry, “to be tempted by the Devil”, which resulted in Satan’s temptation of the LORD Jesus Christ in that wilderness, but which also showed the victory of the LORD Jesus over Satan in the three acts of temptation there.

    How ever, we can also see “temptation” and “tempt” in the trans lation to mean “testing” or “test”, and it can also be an accurate rendition of the original Greek.

  5. Thanks for this reflection. However, this matter is not settled in English. Many translations of this text do not use ‘lead us not into temptation’ other variations are ‘do not bring us to the time of trial’ (NRSV), ‘do not subject us to the final test’ (NAB), ‘do not cause us to be tempted’ (CEV). The modern accepted ecumenical translation is ‘save us from the time of trial’, this reflects both the experience of trials in this life and the final trial in the judgement. Even WBC quotes ‘καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, “and do not bring us into testing.” πειρασμός, depending on the context, can be translated “temptation” or “testing.” Here the latter is to be preferred because God does not lead into temptation (cf. Jas 1:13); he does, however, allow his people to be tested.’
    Hagner, D. A. (1998). Matthew 1–13 (Vol. 33A, p. 151). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.
    This translation may be in common use in English translations influenced by from the imperfect Vulgate, but it does make the only answer to understanding the text in English. Many modern translations have just left unaltered the common translation form the original C17th translation, that does not make it perfect. It is, after all, a translation of the Greek from the original Aramaic that we are trying to understand in English.
    We are always helped by reflecting on different ideas to encourage the richness of our faith.

    • In my original draft, I included this text, but since the pope didn’t mention Aramaic, my editor made me cut it. =)

      1. The Lord’s Prayer is in the Greek God gave us.

      Many of the pope’s defenders (including Father James Martin, speaking to NPR) join a few evangelical commentators in arguing this way: Perhaps Jesus was speaking Aramaic anyway, so we shouldn’t get hung up on Greek details.

      To be clear, the pope didn’t say this, but I feel it’s ground that needs to be cleared before proceeding.

      Simply put, this is an unsatisfying, destabilizing line of reasoning. There is good evidence that Jesus spoke Greek, but even if he didn’t, God gave us the Lord’s Prayer in 87 Koine Greek words. That’s the authoritative, divinely breathed-out version of the prayer. We can’t and shouldn’t try to get “behind” it to some original. To do so means smashing through the one solid thing we possess. Nolland (NIGTC) says of the key word in this phrase, “A Semitic original may have been ambiguous, but our Greek text is not” (291).

      I also wanted in my original draft to acknowledge the existence of the eschatological interpretation: “Lead us not to the hour of trial” or something like that—but the commentators were pretty firm in rejecting it because of the absence of an article before πειρασμός. And, again, the pope didn’t mention it, so I couldn’t think of a way to bring it in.

      And yes, there are serious Bible translations that take an alternate view; I acknowledge this in the piece. I also agree that just because the KJV (and before it Tyndale) had “Lead me not into temptation” doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way for all time. I also agree that the matter is not settled—if that means any of the major views can achieve 100% certainty. That happens in interpretation, because we’re finite and fallen. I also agree that reflection encourages rich faith!

      • Scott Loras says:

        Mark, thanks for writing the article. It was definitely needed in light of other error this Pope has uttered of late. I agree with your overall reasoning. I also agree there is evidence Jesus spoke Greek, but being able to do so, and whether He did so the majority of the time, when speaking most of the time to His Hebrew listeners, is hard to believe considering the weaknesses of Greek relative to Hebrew as a language, and that almost all or Torah, Prophets, and Writings, were in Hebrew (and a little in its related Aramaic).

        Most important, for a good student of the Whole Bible, it’s really not a difficult phrase. God may lead us there (to be strengthened), while not also being the “tempter.” Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5 clearly identify the “tempter” as the Adversary or hasatan himself. After all (even using the traditional English words), being led into temptation and being tempted then falling for the temptation are quite different matters. Only a Pope not familiar with the Whole Word on a deeper level would be confused by this.

        • I must say in fairness to the pope that evangelical commentators have raised basically the same issue—and certain evangelical translations such as the NLT have offered translations like that of the pope without raising hackles.

          But I tend to agree with you: God can lead us into temptation without being the tempter; instead it is “the evil one.” It seemed to be the pope’s concern to preserve this truth; I think he could have done it in a way better matching what the text actually says.

  6. Mitchel L. Galishoff, MD says:

    There is a broader theological issue of God’s absolute sovereignty vs man’s responsibility. Scripture upholds both and so should we despite not being able to fully understand it. There are mysteries. God permits times of testing and temptation. We read Matthew 4:1–3 (ESV)

    4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

    And: Mark 1:12–13 (ESV)

    12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

    And: Luke 4:1–2 (ESV)

    4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

    Different Greek words but all describing God’s activity in bringing Jesus to the temptation – a necessary component of his being the second Adam and the innocent lamb of God. Temptation was all around Jesus as it is all around us.

    Further, the verse in question is poetry and not narrative. It must be interpreted as such – there is a parallel structure:

    Matthew 6:12–13 (ESV)
    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.

    Forgiveness and deliverance are linked in our salvation and frame our mercy and grace to others/God’s providential mercy/grace to us.

    No, the prayer is not only correct linguistically but theologically – rich, difficult and yet simple, and with the awe and wonder surrounding the mystery of God’s ways. Teach it, pray it and spend a lifetime pondering in gratitude.

  7. Michael Risser says:

    I think the real issue with this verse is two-part. The first is something that Mark touched on, but didn’t go into detail with. And that is that there is a difference between temptation and sin, Hebrews 4:15. As has already been mentioned, temptation is being tried or being put to the test. While sin is transgressing God’s law, missing the mark.

    The second is, again, something that Mark touched on, but didn’t go into much detail on, there is a difference between *leading* someone or something somewhere and *causing* someone or something to act.

    God does not tempt us Himself, James 1:13 makes that clear, but He does sometimes lead us to a place where we are tempted, Mark 1:12 for example.

  8. The issues of grammar and translation are slightly more complex than this. See here:

    • Robert, I read your article just now (and the ones you linked to: my money is with Wallace; although I always enjoy reading Esolen, he felt a little out of his normal realm).

      My question for you is about the hinge of your article: I’m not convinced (see my comment above) that the Aramaic ought to play any role at all in this little debate. I suppose I could be persuaded, and in a way it was nice to be brought to an actually attested text rather than a reconstructed one—but when that attested text is itself a translation of the Greek New Testament, one made quite possibly centuries after the GNT was written, I’m at a loss to see what relevance it has. Am I missing something?

      • Dr. Ward,
        This debate is not really about what words the ancient texts use, but about what those language facts communicate. Using the Peshitta was simply a convenient way to introduce the notion that there is a Semitic world behind the Gospel texts, whether one proposes a Hebrew or Aramaic original or simply acknowledges Semitic influence on the Greek. And that, in turn, was a convenient way to highlight the linguistic deficiency of the entire discussion. While the permissive/tolerative modality is typically associated with the Semitic causative verb derivation pattern (Afel or Hiphil, etc.), this is very likely permitted (pun intended) by the Greek in question, since it is a common feature of causative semantics in languages that don’t strictly enforce the use of auxiliaries to carry these types of nuances. In this light, your lexical study of the verb doesn’t really get the point of deeper semantic analysis. This isn’t going to be solved by simple word study; it requires understanding how languages operate (i.e., general linguistics).

        • Dr. Holmstedt, you have specialized training in linguistics that I lack, so readers who are drilling down this far into the comments ought to trust you over me. But I’m not prepared to acknowledge Semitic influence on the Greek here; again I find this so speculative as to be unhelpful. Positing such influence never seems, in my experience, to get exegetes anywhere solid—not that all exegesis has to be rock-hard certain, but I’d at least like some rock chips instead of jello. =) I come to the end of an article like “Semitic Influence on the New Testament” feeling as if I wasn’t given much. I already knew that certain Aramaic words (Talitha koumi, etc.) were attested in the Gospels, and that quotations from the LXX are likely to show Semitisms, and that Jewish literary forms appear in the NT. But no scholar I’ve run across seems to offer any reliable criteria for discerning when my survey of the usage of a specific word or construction—such as μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς—needs to take Semitic structures into account. I thought Deissmann taught us a long time ago to read the NT as pretty well standard Κοινή.

          I am, however, fully prepared to draw on general linguistic categories such as semantics and pragmatics; in particular, in the original draft of this article (which you can’t be blamed for not seeing!) I made an implicit argument from the latter by noting that the contrasting phrase, “but deliver us from [the] evil [one],” implies that “temptation” is a better rendering than “trial” or “testing.”

          I find myself wondering what necessity there is for looking for a Semitic tolerative modality when my lexical study makes perfect sense in context. Is the evidence for such modalities so strong that I need to overturn an interpretation/translation that works just fine? “Don’t bring us into temptation,” as I’ve argued, fits the context and the rest of the NT. Why do I need to posit the influence of another language? Feel free to load me up with books and articles I ought to read: I’m open to learning, truly!

  9. I appreciate the balance in this article. I have just one minor correction: in Latin, the Lord’s Prayer reads “ne nos inducas in tentationem” not “ne inducas nos in tentationem.”

  10. Mark, somewhat off topic, but can you give some insight on this:

    I have heard evangelists and (some) preachers argue/teach that one’s name can be “blotted/removed” from the Book of Life, based on KJV/NKJV Rev. 22:19.

    But the word translated “book” in the KJV is xylon = tree (not biblion = book). All other translations I have looked at (e.g., the NASB95 and ESV, etc.) say “tree” in Rev. 22.19.

    So is “book” an erroneous translation in the KVJ/NKJV? — or is there more to this?

    Thank you.

    • It’s a textual-critical issue. If you’re not very familiar with that field, one resource you’ll want to pick up is our very own Lexham Textual Notes, which explains to readers without Greek knowledge,

      Most early manuscripts have “of the tree of life,” but later witnesses have “of the book of life.” The translation found in the NKJV and KJV, “from the book of life” does not exist in any Greek manuscript; it only exists in Latin witnesses. See Metzger for more discussion.

      Metzger goes into greater detail, but says the same thing:

      Instead of ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου, the Textus Receptus (followed by the King James Version) reads ἀπὸ βίβλου, a reading that occurs in no Greek manuscript. The error arose when Erasmus, in order to provide copy for the last six verses of Revelation (which were lacking in the only Greek manuscript of Revelation available to him), translated the verses from the Latin Vulgate into Greek (see 8*above). The corruption of “tree” into “book” had occurred earlier in the transmission of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word ligno (“tree”) as libro (“book”). (690)

      Does that help?

      To dig more into textual criticism, I highly recommend this newly revised introductory book.

      • Yes. That helps. But since the translation “book” is erroneous (in KJV/NKVJ), why has it not been corrected?

        • The KJV was last revised in 1769 (subsequent revisions were so minor as to not count as revisions). I simply don’t know whether they realized back then, before major advances in textual criticism, what they were dealing with. I’d have to do some homework, and it’s late. =)

          The NKJV purposed to stick with the KJV’s textual basis, and in passages like this one they prove they did so.

  11. PS. I checked my library and already had the Lexham Textual Notes, but had forgotten about it.

    Thanks for your reply that reminded me of it.

  12. William Grove says:

    Mr. Ward, I enjoy reading your articles, you always give me something to ponder. Having read and studied the Bible for years (I am a non-vocational pastor) I believe the original languages the Bible was written in are the inspired scripture our translations are based. My wonder is that after 500 years the Roman Church still leaves Christ on the cross, still holds to salvation by grace AND works, still deals with transubstantiation, Level one issues that really require review and consideration… how do we encourage them to “see” what inspired Luther? (BTW, I do love my Roman friends.)

    • And your “Roman” friends love you all, too – though surely we should include all Catholics here, not just the Latin Rite. ;)

      You wouldn’t ask a Democrat about Republicans or socialists about capitalists, right? Well, certainly not only one perspective without the other, at any rate.

      If you sincerely desire to understand why we have yet to chuck all our doctrines and embrace Luther’s, I would respectfully suggest that you learn them from the Catholic Church rather than someone outside it.

      Spend some time perusing the library at – not (necessarily) to change your mind, but at least to begin to open your eyes to our perspective on those subjects. To refer to them as level one suggests that your apologetics diet needs considerable balance.

  13. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

    I really am glad to read all the comments here, and the article as well, all of which are so lucid in their propositions and presentations of thoughts.

    I love to read your discussions here, it enhances my logical ability, and it increases all so my knowledge hundred folds, and it is just a great joy to discuss these things of the LORD and to read them!

    Please keep and continue your posts, comments, articles, discussions, and exchanges, they are very good foods for our minds and souls.


    dear mark, dont know what i am missing here. but in india we are already using the option of “lead us not into temptation” as “lead us not to the test”

    so what exactly the Pope is planning to retranslate and why whats the urgency.

    currently, the western world is under the threat of getting “Islamised’ and our Pope focusing on retranslation of traditional prayers? …

    i havent heard Pope speak anything against Islamisation taking over Sweden and in the EU..i live in India and am worried at horrific events like increasing number rape and violence taking place there.

    why Pope is wasting is his time…

    • The Pope had agreed to an interview with an Italian man whose prison ministry he had previously assisted. The conversation was about confusion expressed by the interviewer regarding the Italian translation (not English, Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek) – not about the Pope’s plan to change anything.

      Surely you don’t consider ministering to the imprisoned a waste of time just because there are other larger concerns in the world? Otherwise one might just as legitimately question why we Christians are on here discussing such a minor concern when Islam is at the gates?

  15. Pastor Chima says:

    Does any of the major church leaders actually believe in the eternal truth of the Bible these days? No sooner had the Archbishop of Canterbury thrown the bombshell about letting little children choose their own gender, than the Roman pontiff elected to help God by changing the words of Jesus!

    Please stick to the Bible! In it there is eternal life!

    • Actually, whatever disagreements I might have as a Protestant with the pope (and I do have some important ones!), in this case I really don’t think he’s changing Jesus’ words. He’s arguing for a re-translation of those words based on theology all evangelicals would agree with (the idea that God doesn’t push us into sin), a re-translation that some evangelicals have already suggested.

      • Mitchel Galishoff says:

        Dr Ward – It seems that the Pope is doing more than just an innocent translation revision. He is proposing changing the meaning and therefore the text itself. One’s theology should not over ride a translation. Let Scripture interpret Scripture and let the verse be taught properly. God does not tempt us but he permits times of testing/temptation for his own purposes. There is abundant Scripture to support this. The verse should be left alone, but then again, as Dr. McCoy would say Jim I’m a physician not a pope :-)

        • Ah, but the way you summarized the verse is the way the pope did. =) “He permits times of testing/temptation.” I certainly agree with that, but it’s not what Matthew 6:13 is saying. The operative word is not “permit” but “lead” or “bring.” The more I read up on this topic, the more I think the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 should guide our interpretation here: the Spirit led (though this is a different Greek verb than that in Matt 6:13) Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

          I, too, think the verse should be left alone; I don’t think theology should override a clearly accurate translation. And I’m a Protestant not generally inclined to give the pope a pass. But in this case I can’t in all honesty be appalled at what he did. If you see a tension in Scripture, it is appropriate to look to the Greek or Hebrew to see how much leeway one has: perhaps indeed the translation needs to be adjusted a bit. I don’t think it does in this case, but the impulse is not necessarily wrong.

          • Mitchel L. Galishoff, MD says:

            Dr Ward – thank you for your kind reply. It seems to me, and please correct me, that we can agree our Lord permits us to be tempted/tested. Further, using Jesus’ temptation as a model, we see that he was brought to the place and situation of temptation. Is there a similar Greek word or idiom in use at the time that would have made the clear distinction between God permitting and God actually doing? Would this have been necessary then or is it our later sensibilities that desire different wording in this regard? I would imagine if Jesus intended us to petition our Lord not to tempt us he would have said “do not tempt us” (I do not know how to convert this into Greek but I imagine it would be distinct). As far as being appalled it is not so much that — for me it seems the RCC could simply teach its people how to read and interpret Scripture properly and how to reason through apparent contradictions or problems. Then again, we did have a reformation whose formal cause was sola scriptura. Thanks for your time — I love learning and wish I had the time and youth to learn Greek in depth.

  16. Eduardo Espiritu says:

    JB Phillips seems to have had similar thoughts decades ago.

  17. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

    I have read all the comments above, and I find the discussions very enlightening.

    Regarding the Semitic Aramaic influence in interpreting and translating the Koine Greek in properly rendering the originals in to the English and other languages, I prefer to stick with the Koine Greek if the Greek is clear and accurate enough, and if the Greek is attested by “great clouds of witnesses” which are other extra or even intra canonical works.

    Also, there is a clear, although narrow, difference be twixt the two acts of leading in to temptation, and doing the act of tempting it self.

    Leading in to temptation can be an act of God, although God exercises it only in extra ordinary circumstances (such as God leading Satan to test Job in the Old Testament, and God the Holy Spirit leading the LORD Jesus Christ in to the desert in order to be tempted by the Devil) and with valid theological purposes (such as showing His glory and providence).

    Leading in to temptation can also be an act of humans exercised on their fellow humans, and it can also be an act of Satan or the demons (fallen angels) exercised against humans.

    But the act of tempting it self, the very commission of the act of tempting, is not an act that can be attributed to God: as James the Disciple teaches us in his Catholic Epistle (James 1:13).

    Rather, the act or commission of the act of tempting, is done primaryly by Satan and the demons (the fallen angels) against humans.

    It can also be performed or done by a human against an other human, and most of these usually through a prior temptation or influence also exercised by the Devil on the human tempter, in which case the human tempter be comes an instrument — an accomplice or accessory, so to say (in criminological and penal terms) — in the act of tempting being done by the Devil or his demons.

    Applying these now in to the subject verse in the Lord’s Prayer under consideration, I will up hold the traditional translation and rendition — “Lead us not in to temptation” — as the correct one, and I will sustain that rendering as truely faith full to the original Koine Greek which was the language used by the Sacred Writers, under the inspiration, power, and influence of the Holy Spirit, to convey to all of us the divine message.

    Had the Semitic writers intended to incorporate a Semitic nuance in the Indo-Aryan Koine Greek words that they used (eisenenkēs) that points to “permission or toleration”, so that “the connotation could also be ‘do not allow us to enter’ or ‘do not permit us to enter'”, as Dr. Holmstedt above proposes, I am sure the Sacred Writers could have employed an other Greek Koine term that presents that thought and nuance more clearly and accurately than the current term which is in the text (eisenenkēs).

    But the Sacred Writers decided not to, and used the Koine Greek word as it is, and as it should be: to lead in to, to bring in to, to cause to enter in to.

    Just my thoughts on these matters, thanks for the privilege of audience from you.

  18. JD Cancino says:

    Hi, Mark. Thanks for your article. Let me note that in Spanish the traditional Catholic version is “no nos dejes caer en la tentación” (“don’t let us fall into temptation”). Perhaps the Pope’s Argentinian background has some influence on this. (

    • A friend who grew up in South America privately suggested the same thing, but he didn’t provide a footnote like you. Excellent.

      Except that this does change my read, doesn’t it… Tradition may begin to look like providence, but tradition in which country/language? I’d like to find out definitively which phrase little Jose Bergoglio grew up saying. =) How long has that catechism been in place? And would he have said this in Spanish rather than Latin? My knowledge of South American Catholicism in the first part of the 20th century is a bit slim…

    • Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

      The Italian of the multi lingual Catechism of the Catholic Church has “Non ci indurre in tentazione”, which is basically congruent with the Latin Vulgate’s “Ne nos inducas in tentationem”, both of which translate as “Do not lead us in to temptation”.

      The Spanish “No nos dejes caer en la tentación” (= “Do not let us fall in to temptation”) is there fore a departure from this Vulgate tradition.

      From this, we can see that Pope Francis relied for his new proposed translation not on his Italian or Latin fore bears, but on his Spanish (Latin American) ones.

      Interestingly, the very text of the Catechism it self, in its catechesis and theology of the Pater Noster, gives a pastoral exhortation that favours the Spanish rendition, not the Latin and Italian ones.

      So Pope Francis may have been influenced by both the Spanish rendition as well as the catechesis of the Pater Noster as contained in the Catechism it self.

      Incidentally, the Catechism is a document that was heavyly influenced by Hispanic prelates in Latin America, and was edited profusely in its final drafts by the Austrian theologian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

  19. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

    I have reviewed all the Felipino translations of the Holy Bible in to the Tagalog (Felipino) language, and I am quite glad that they are also faith full to the original Koine Greek in this instance.

    I am proud to show my findings here, thus:

    Ang Dating Biblia (1905): “At huwag Mo kaming i hatid sa tukso” = “And do not usher us to temptation”

    Ang Biblia (1978): “At huwag Mo kaming i hatid sa tukso” = same as in above

    Ang Biblia (2001): “At huwag Mo kaming dalhin sa tukso” = “And do not bring us to temptation”

    Ang Salita ng Diyos: “Huwag Mo kaming dalhin sa tukso” = “Do not bring us to temptation”

    Ang Bagong Tipan (Felipino Standard Version): “At huwag Mo kaming pa bayaan sa panahon ng pag subok” = “And do not abandon us in the time of testing”

    As we can see, the translators use two Tagalog (Felipino) verbs in rendering the Koine Greek “eisenenkēs” in the Felipino Bible versions above, which are two verbs that are very closely related to each other: “i hatid” and “dalhin”.

    “I hatid” literally means “to usher”, “to accompany in to”, “to escort in to”, “to deliver in to”, “to fetch”, and it is usually used in referring to a man escorting, accompanying, or ushering a woman to her home after a date in order to see to it that the woman arrives to her home safely.

    “I hatid” can also be used in referring to things being delivered by some one to an other, such as a person delivering or bringing a thing that was loaned or lent to him in order to return that loaned thing to its owner.

    On the other hand, the Tagalog verb “dalhin” literally means “to bring”, “to carry”, “to bear”, “to fetch”, and it is the most ordinary and commonly used Tagalog verb when it comes to referring to bringing, or carrying, or bearing some thing.

    From these Tagalog renditions, I believe that our Felipino Bibles are quite accurate in rendering the original Greek.

    Thanks for your audience to my post regarding this matter.

  20. JD Cancino says:

    I don’t what know what little Jorge Bergoglio used to quote, but I know that in the eighties in Mexico little JD used to quote what I mentioned above, which brings to mind my experience with providential tradition and The Lord’s Prayer. Since I’ve known the Spanish Catholic version by heart since childhood—a providential blessing in itself—I’ve found it difficult to quote the Protestant Reina-Valera’s distinct wording. It feels like quoting Psalm 23 as “Jehovah [is] shepherd of mine, I do not lack” instead of the more familiar wording. So, when I pray in Spanish (and in private), I pray what, by God’s providence, I’ve known by heart since I was kid. And, as you suggested, I try to be informed about the meaning of what I’m quoting. This is part of avoiding mindless repetitions.
    I appreciate Bible versions that respect traditional wordings of memorable texts and limit changes in wording to as little as necessary.

  21. Felmar Roel Rap. Singco says:

    Thanks for the very informative post, JD Cancino, especially about your experiences there on the El Nuestro Padre, relating also to young Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s experience of it in Mexico.

    It has bearing to us here in the Philippines, be cause the Philippines and Mexico are like sister nations, both having been Spanish colonies to gether for hundreds of years, and hence both experiencing cultural, religious, social, and political exchanges through those years.

    By the way, the Felipino (Tagalog) Bibles that I quoted above are all Protestant translations or versions, be cause, as of date, there exists only one (1) Catholic translation of the Holy Bible in to the Felipino (Tagalog) language from the original language.

    This one Catholic translation of the Holy Bible in to the Tagalog (Felipino) language from the original languages is called the Biblia ng Sambayanang Pilipino (Bible of the Felipino Community), and it was translated by a host of Felipino Catholic translators, linguists, prelates, clerics, and theologians.

    In partnership with Indian and Chinese Catholic translators, prelates, and theologians a cross Asia, these Felipino Catholic translators also colaboured to bring about a uniquely Asian translation of the Holy Bible from the original languages in to the English language, created for uniquely Asian uses and purposes, and this translation is called the Christian Community Bible.

    For the scriptural devotional, pastoral, and liturgical needs of the Catholic Church here in the Philippines in the native Felipino (Tagalog) language, the Catholic Church and clergy use the Biblia ng Sambayanang Pilipino all through out.

    There is also the Felipino Catholic edition of the Protestant Magandang Balita Biblia (Good News Translation Bible), which simply is a Protestant translation of the Protestant Good New English Bible in to the Tagalog (Felipino) language, done by Felipino Protestant translators.

    This Catholic edition of the Protestant Tagalog (Felipino) Bible — much like the Catholic edition of the widely success full Protestant Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the 1950s and 1960s — includes the Deutero Canonical books.

    Viewing now through these lenses the Our Father in Matthew 6, I found the following Felipino and Asian Catholic translations, thus:

    Christian Community Bible (2013): “Do not bring us to the test”

    Biblia ng Sambayanang Pilipino (2013): “Huwag Mo kaming dalhin sa tukso” = “Do not bring us to temptation”

    Mean while, the Protestant Magandang Balita Biblia (Good News Bible) has:

    Magandang Balita Bibliya: “At huwag Mo kaming hayaang ma tukso” = “And do not let us be tempted” or “And do not allow us to be tempted”

    This is quite different from its Good News Bible English source, which says: “Do not bring us to hard testing” (= “Huwag Mo kaming dalhin sa ma hirap na pag subok”

    From these, we can see that, in deed, the natively Asian and Felipino Catholic translations of the Bible both in to its native Asian Felipino (Tagalog) language as well as in to English are all in line with the letter and spirit of the original Koine Greek text.

    Finally, I think we should assure our selves here that what we are concerned about is not fidelity to ancient traditions and praxes of translation, but rather faith fullness and stick-to-it-iveness to the original words and texts of the Sacred Writers’ auto graphs.

  22. My understanding is that Pope Francis was referring specifically to the Italian translation being problematic as the Italian interviewer himself was questioning the wording of the translation which is more confusing to modern Italians owing to the way living languages evolve over time.

    I would compare it to the English use of “Holy Ghost” evolving to”Holy Spirit” after paranormal interests exploded in the 20th century and rendered the modern common cultural understanding of “ghost” problematic in reference to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

  23. Friedrich says:

    In a very simplistic way this (the furor over the popes words, not the above article) seemed to engender much hand wringing and worry when in the end, it was just an attempt to get at what the text means. I applaud that. And this was an interview, for goodness’ sake, not an encyclical. I’m curious about the meaning of such words, for sure, and their consequent application for life. Curious why we pray for Him NOT to lead us into . . . but yet He does? What do we make of that? Furthermore, though I know there is the temptation/trial duality of meaning, I also wonder if we make too much of that. If we are in trial we are “tempted” in some way, no? Mark, if that is true, I was just curious about your leaning toward “temptation” as the better rendering because of it’s proximity to “Evil One.” My first thought was Job. would we say he was “tempted” or “tried” by all of those events. I kind of think the latter. If so, it was still the Evil one behind that. Just some late night thoughts. peace.

    • Excellent thoughts. I’ve wondered, too, whether those who speak a language (such as English) in which trial and temptation are *not* one word might be missing something. I just don’t like to conclude that about such a common word—and a common phrase such as “Lead us not into temptation.” You are, of course, right about Job being both tempted and tried, and about trials being necessarily temptations. Perhaps what we’re all hung up on is, as often, that central theological question: how does an all-good, all-powerful God relate to evil? I always find myself going back to Joseph’s words to his brothers: “You planned this for evil, God planned it for good.” In the same event there are two intentions: Satan’s tempting one and God’s trying one, the one that brings endurance and ultimately hope.