Posts tagged ‘Didache’

“For Thine Is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory” – Where Did That Come From?

“Sermon on the Mount” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

This past weekend in worship, we studied the most famous prayer of all time:  the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus offers this model prayer as part of His Sermon on the Mount:

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Whenever I teach on the Lord’s Prayer, someone inevitably notices that, in Matthew’s account, the doxology often included in traditional versions of this prayer – “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever.  Amen” – is missing.  Where did it go?

Interestingly, the old King James Version includes the doxology because the Greek manuscripts from which the translators of that day were working incoporated it.  As biblical textual criticism has advanced over the past four hundred years, however, we have learned that the doxology is absent from the most ancient and significant manuscripts of the Bible, including Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, and is also omitted in early patristic commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer including those of Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian.[1]  Thus, these words are not included in more modern translations with the understanding that they were probably not a part of the original biblical text.

It is important to understand that the exclusion of the doxology as part of the biblical text does not mean that it is errant or inappropriate to the prayer.  Quite the contrary.  It reflects the spirit of 1 Chronicles 29:11: “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.”  Moreover, the doxology has been included as a liturgical strophe from the earliest days of the Christian Church.  The Didache, a manual of church practice from the turn of the second century, includes a truncated version of the doxology: “For Yours is the power and the glory for ever.”  The Didache goes on to encourage the faithful to pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day.[2]  Christians, then, were speaking these words from the earliest days of the church…a lot!

More than likely, this doxology began as a response of the people, gathered for worship, to the words of the Lord in this prayer.  It is much like, at the end of a Scripture lesson in worship today, the reader will sometimes conclude, “This is the Word of the Lord” and the people will sometimes respond, “Thanks be to God.”  The doxology, then, was a way for those assembled to praise God for the prayer His Son had given them.  With time, however, the liturgical function of this doxology was forgotten and people began to assume that the words were part of the prayer itself.

We, along with many others, continue to pray these words because, finally, they are a statement of faith in the heavenly Father to whom we are praying.  We believe that the reason He can bring His kingdom to pass, give us our daily bread, forgive our trespasses, and deliver us from the evil one is because the Kingdom, power, and glory are at His disposal to do with as He wishes.  And His wish, as we delightedly learn from the Lord’s Prayer, is to bless and save us.  And so, we continue to praise God with this doxology and pray as Christ has taught us.


[1] See Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London:  United Bible Societies, 1971), 16-17.

[2] Didache, Chapter 8, “Concerning Fasting and Prayer.”

August 6, 2012 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – Harder Than A Hard Day’s Night

Christianity promotes and celebrates the value and the glory of work.  Indeed, the famed, even if sometimes maligned, “Protestant Work Ethic” has been instrumental in engendering much of the industriousness that has marked the history of this country.  From the faith’s earliest years, Christians have esteemed work and eschewed laziness.  The Didache, a manual of early Christian practice, doctrine, and discipline from the turn of the second century, lays down this rule for those who wish to join the Christian community:

Let every one that comes in the name of the Lord be received…If the comer is a traveller, assist him, so far as you are able; but he shall not stay with you more than two or three days, if it be necessary. But if he wishes to settle with you, being a craftsman, let him work for and eat his bread. But if he has no craft, according to your wisdom provide how he shall live as a Christian among you, but not in idleness. If he will not do this, he is trafficking upon Christ. Beware of such men. (Didache 12:1-5)

With these words, we hear a call to both charity and industry.  On the one hand, Christians are to receive even strangers into their midst and assist them as much as possible.  On the other hand, if Christians catch whiffs of idleness among a person who joins their ranks, he is to be disciplined.  Laziness will not be tolerated.

Certainly such a strict and demanding work ethic has raised more than a little ire among many.  Overbearing corporate policies and malfeasance among management types is the bane of many rank and file employees.  These troubles, in turn, often lead to a spirit of idleness.  After all, the reasoning goes, if a work environment is miserable and miserly, why would an employee want to give it their all?  If the powers that be won’t treat them fairly, they simply won’t offer their best.  They’ll just do what they need to do to keep their job until a better prospect comes along.  The difficulty with this kind of thinking, however, is that it is patently unbiblical.  The apostle Peter admonishes:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1 Peter 2:18-20)

A couple of words jump out at me from this passage.  First, the word for “masters” is despotes, from which we get our English word “despot.”  In our day and age, nobody likes a despot.  Dictionary.com defines a “despot” as “any tyrant or oppressor.”[1]  Peter says, despite the wickedness of some despotic superiors, we still ought to work hard.  Their vileness should not result in our laziness.  Second, the word for “harsh” in Greek is skolios, from which we get our medical term “scoliosis,” a condition which describes an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, or, more popularly stated, a crooked back.  Peter knows full well that many managers are crooked.  Yet, he encourages us to be faithful in our work even when these managers are unfaithful in their leadership.

The sentiment put forth by Peter’s words is certainly not a popular one.  But is a Christian one.  Peter knows and admits that our work will not always be easy.  And yet, when our work is hard and the road is long, we have this promise:  God is working in us and through us amidst even the most adverse of circumstances.   As Paul reminds us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).  Our work, then – even our arduous work – is a place and a space for God to work.  God hides His glorious work in our sorrowful work.

Do you see your work this way?  By faith, you can.  I love the way Gene Veith puts it in his book on Christian vocation:  “It is faith that transforms suffering into a cross.”[2]  May we see the suffering we encounter in our vocations as a cross, gifted to us by Christ, redeeming our suffering for His glory.

Want to learn more? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/despot

[2] Gene Edward Veith, Jr., God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2002) 153.

October 3, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – “We Got Spirit, Yes We Do!”

I went to junior high, high school, and college at three different places, but the cheer at the beginning of our school basketball games was the same.  In order to get everyone hyped up, the cheerleaders would come prancing out and lead the crowd in saying, “We’ve got spirit.  Yes, we do!  We’ve got spirit.  How ‘bout you?” at which time we would all wag our fingers at those on the opposing side of the gym, egging them on to respond.   And respond they did – with the same cheer, except louder:  “We’ve got spirit.  Yes, we do!  We’ve got spirit.  How ‘bout you?”  And this volley would continue back and forth, back and forth until everyone in the audience was hoarse, trying to “out-spirit” the opposing side by sheer volume.

The question cheerleaders ask at the beginning of basketball games is the same question people ought to ask of themselves, though they ought to ask it with a capital “S.”  Do we have “Spirit,” as in the “Holy Spirit?”  The apostle Peter says that we receive the Holy Spirit when we repent of our sins and are baptized into God’s name and family:  “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  Thus, if you have been baptized and remember your baptism as you daily repent of sin, there is no question: You “got” Spirit.

Although Christians “got” Spirit, sometimes, some Christians want to know how they can get more Spirit.  More than once, more than one person has asked me, “How can I be Spirit-led?”  Or, “How can I be Spirit-filled?”  Some in the Charismatic movement have made this kind of talk about the Holy Spirit the whole locus and focus of their theology.  According to these folks, you must not only have the Holy Spirit, you must be filled with Him.  And if you are not filled, some in the Charismatic movement would say that your faith is weak and, perhaps, even non-existent.

As a Christian, you “got” Spirit.  But how much Spirit is enough Spirit?  And wouldn’t it be nice to get a little more Spirit?

Being Spirit-led and Spirit-filled is not as mysterious, nor is it as exclusive, as some people would make it out to be.  Not only does every Christian “got” Spirit, every Christian is filled with the Spirit thanks to God who continuously and generously pours out His Spirit into our lives and hearts.  Indeed, this is precisely Peter’s point on Pentecost when he quotes from the prophet Joel:  “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).  The Greek word for “pour out” is ekcheo, meaning not only “to pour out,” but “to pour out lavishly.”  In other words, God, when He pours out His Spirit, does so generously.

Interestingly, this same word ekcheo is used in the Didache, a manual of early Christian liturgical practice, to describe baptism:  “Pour water on the head three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Didache 7:3).  The Greek word for “pour” is again ekcheo.  The picture of baptism, then, is a powerful one:  Just as water is poured lavishly over the head of a person in baptism, the Spirit is poured lavishly into his heart.  In baptism, every Christian is generously filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is often the most overlooked Person of the Trinity.  And yet, His importance can hardly be overstated.  For the Spirit dwells in us, leads us, guides us, and gives us faith in Christ.  As I mentioned in Adult Bible Class, without the Holy Spirit, there would be no Christians because the Holy Spirit is one who converts us to Christ in the first place.  So today, give thanks for the Spirit of God.  Give thanks that you “got” Spirit.  And not just a little Spirit, but a lot.

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

November 15, 2010 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


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