Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The first three subprayers of the Lord's Prayer are: "Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10; Luke 11:2).

I have always assumed that "on earth as it is in heaven" refers only to "your will be done." But in his book "Surprised by Hope", N.T. Wright writes, "Jesus taught his followers to pray that God's kingdom would come on earth as in heaven." So he, apparently, lets the phrase refer also to the second subprayer.

Are there any indications in the original text that could give us a clue about which parts of the Lord's Prayer are referred to by "on earth as it is in heaven"?

share|improve this question

migrated from christianity.stackexchange.com Jun 9 at 11:46

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

    
Bruce Metzger has argued in favor of translations that allow "on earth as..." to apply to all three of the preceding petitions (see p 278-279) faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/new_testament_greek/… –  Susan Jun 10 at 10:10
    
That's interesting, Susan. But his paper is not 100 per cent clear in my opinion. He says that letting "on earth as..." apply to the three first petitions provides "the best and fullest sense". But I'm still unsure if the original Greek indicates that the text MUST be translated in that way, or only that it MAY be translated in that way. In other words: Is the Greek text ambiguous? –  oz1cz Jun 10 at 11:45
1  
I think it's safe to say that the Greek allows but does not require it to apply to all 3 imperatives. Get rid of all punctuation and type-setting in the English (I think you're quoting ESV or NIV above?) and you have a pretty good sense of it. I don't think there are any hidden answers to this question in the Greek (which is why Metzger favors leaving it open), but I look forward to being proven wrong if someone will answer the question. –  Susan Jun 10 at 12:21
    
(except in Greek the ordering of the last phrase is "as in heaven, so also on earth" - I like that English, never understood why it's turned around in almost all translations) –  Susan Jun 10 at 12:32
    
Thank you, Susan. If you feel confident, please turn you comment into an answer, and I will acknowledge it as the answer to my question. –  oz1cz Jun 10 at 14:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+50

Analysis of the Greek

Below is given the Greek of the majority text for both the Matthew and Luke passages. The UBS/NA text omits the words below that are in [brackets]. Thus, Luke 11:2 does not contain the phrase in Luke if one follows the minority reading. Note that otherwise, the passages are the same, so I have only translated Matthew here (since it without question contains the reference you refer to). I've added line numbers for reference, and commentary follows on the translation referencing those line numbers.

Mt 6:9b-10

(1) Πάτερ  ἡμῶν  ὁ   -   ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς  
    Father of us the one in the  heaven(s) 
(2) ἁγιασθήτω           τὸ  ὄνομά σου 
    let it be made holy the name  of you
(3) ἐλθέτω      ἡ   βασιλεία σου    
    let it come the kingdom  of you 
(4) γενηθήτω      τὸ  θέλημά σου 
    let it happen the will   of you
(5) ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ  ἐπὶ [τῆς] γῆς·
    as in heaven also upon the  earth

Lk 11:2b

Πάτερ [ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοις]
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου.
Ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου. 
[Γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, 
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῳ, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς].

First line: note that when translating the adjectival phrase Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς I have added the word "one" to reflect that in the Greek, the adjective is referring back to the "Father" just mentioned. Also the Greek word here for "heaven" is in the plural, but without getting into too many details, let me just note that often the plural is translated as a singular. The word for heaven is a plural form in Hebrew (even if talking about singular), and the Greek often carries that over since the writers were Jews familiar with Hebrew. But I also note this because the later reference to heaven is in fact a singular form.

Second line: This is the first of three requests. All three requests begin with the use of an aorist imperative verb form in Greek, which is the form of a command. But when such a "command" is addressed to one deemed superior (such as God is superior to us), then the idea is that of a request, such as "let" or "may" this be done. So the first request is passive in form, and is for God's name to be made holy. The verb used (ἁγιάζω)1 is specifically the act of making something holy, and so the request implies His name is not yet as holy as it needs to be made so.

Third line: The second request is for God's kingdom to come. The verb (ἔρχομαι)2 means "come," and demands a change from what is not present to what is. So the request can only mean it is not yet come. This matches with the fact that both John the Baptist and Christ only proclaimed the kingdom was "at hand" or "near" (Mt 3:2, 4:17, et. al), and so not yet come.

Fourth line: The third request is for God's will to actually begin to come about. The verb (γίνομαι)3 is the idea of coming into being, existence, or originate. So the idea that something "happens" is contained in it as well. Its emphasis is on a change (though it can at times mean simply "to be" in a place or state, but that is the least common idea of the verb).4

Fifth line: After the third request is your line in question, "as in heaven also upon the earth." So the question, as you have noted, is what all does that "cover" from the preceding requests?

All Three Are Covered

Grammatically, the phrase could either apply to only the third request or all three requests (it would be arbitrary to attempt to make it cover only the second and third).

Conceptually, however, the phrase almost demands application to all three. This is because all three requests are seeking for something to come about that is not yet come about. If it only applied to the third request, then that would imply that neither God's name being holy nor His kingdom existing is currently happening in heaven either. That does not make sense from the rest of Scripture.

So the request is that all three come about upon the earth as they already are in heaven. For those like myself that are essentially "futurist" when it comes to prophecy, the first part of this prayer is that God would bring about the final stage of the kingdom on earth, where God is directly ruling over earth as He is in the heavens, and all are honoring His name (i.e. no recognition of other gods, blasphemy of His name, etc. allowed) and His will is done (i.e. no sin and rebellion allowed).

God's name is praised in heaven (e.g. Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8), but can be defamed in earth (e.g. Lev 20:3, Ps 29:2), but one day will not be (e.g. Isa 45:23; Ezek 39:7; Rev 15:4)— the first request is asking for that coming future state.

God's kingdom is in heaven (e.g. 2 Chr 20:6; Ps 103:19), but not yet fully manifest on earth (e.g. Act 1:6; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 2 Tim 4:1), but one day will be (e.g. Jame 2:5; Rev 11:15, 12:10)— the second request is asking for that coming future state. Note that the passages given about God's kingdom in heaven also mention that He rules over the earth. But He rules over the earth from heaven; the kingdom being requested to "come" is that of His direct rule upon the earth.

God's will is done in heaven (even by Satan, Job 1:6-12), but not yet fully on earth (Eph 6:6; Col 4:12; 1 Pet 4:2), but one day will be (e.g. Rom 14:11; Rev 21:3, 22:5)— the third request is asking for that coming future state. There are many passages where God's will is done on earth (e.g. Gen 41:32; Josh 8:7), but people are still in rebellion to God, and as such, His will is not yet fully upon the earth as it is in heaven.

Conclusion

The overall evidence from Scripture indicates that all three requests are things that do not yet manifest fully on earth, and as such, all three are included in what is to be prayed for.


NOTES

1 William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), s.v. ἁγιάζω.

2 Ibid., s.v. ἔρχομαι.

3 Ibid., s.v. γίνομαι.

4 As a theological side note, I see this request as arguing for some distinction between what God allows to happen and what He truly desires to happen. The request does not make sense otherwise. That is, God's sovereignty means He has determined things may happen on earth that are against what He wishes to happen on earth. The request is to bring into alignment what does happen with what He wishes to happen, but the request must be made because it has not yet become so.

share|improve this answer
    
Something Adam Clarke wrote was very interesting; he noted that the word "kingdom" meant reign. I then checked the Young's Literal Translation bible and found the word "kingdom" isn't used there; actually "reign" is used instead. Do you consider there to be quite a difference between the words "kingdom" and "reign", especially when used in Matthew 6:10? –  John Martin Jun 14 at 16:10
    
Matthew 6:9-10 (YLT) "Our Father who [art] in the heavens! hallowed be Thy name. 10 `Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth." Thanks. –  John Martin Jun 14 at 16:19
    
@JohnMartin The difference is in focus. The word βασιλεία can mean either the idea of the "act" or "right of ruling" (i.e. reign; clearer example, Rev 17:18) or the "realm" (i.e. kingdom; clearer example, Mt 4:8) over which one rules. You cannot have one without the other (else one is not ruling anything). So little difference, but a shift in focus between the right of authority itself vs. the realm that right is granted over. God is not yet "ruling" upon earth as in heaven, so the "realm" of earth is not yet under His direct rule. Either word may be used in Mt 6:10 to reflect the idea. –  ScottS Jun 14 at 16:28
    
@JohnMartin: Here, however, "kingdom" makes a little more sense to me because of the final contrast between heaven and earth. That is, it seems the "realm" of God's rule is more the focus rather than His right or act of ruling (though I do believe it is referring to the act of His direct rule upon earth; He comes down from heaven to rule on earth); so the act of reigning is not absent from the idea, but does not seem to be the focus as much as the realm of where it is occurring (upon earth). –  ScottS Jun 14 at 16:36
    
Thanks for the clarification/explanation. –  John Martin Jun 14 at 22:31

So to find out what the Greek meant, you can go to the Aramaic version. The Greek "hos" leaves room for interpretation, so your best bet for an answer is this, that is, to find out what was taught by the early churches.

Aboon Dbishmaya, nitqadash shimokh, tethe melkuthukh, nehve sibyanukh, aikna dbishmaya aop baria.

Aboon = Father 
Dbishmaya = in Heaven 
Nitqadash = blessed, holy 
shimokh = name 
tethe = come 
melkuthukh = kingdom 
nehve (o nehaveh) = be 
sibyanukh = your will 
aikna = as 
dbishmaya = in heaven
aop = as well as
baria = on earth. 

So aikna, connects the lines nitqadash shimokh, tethe melkuthukh, nehve sibyanukh, because of the fact that the root for aikna is aikn. I believe that it's modified to show both this, in fact being emphatic in Aramaic. It's not absolute (because it's modifying something) and not construct because it's not modifying the one that is directly before it.

This would be akin (which is a false cognate with Aramaic) to Jesus saying, "May your name be sanctified on earth as it is in heaven, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and may your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven." Therefore, what he was saying is not limited to just either one or the other, or both. The emphatic, I'm willing to say, is connecting the 1) sanctification of the name of God, 2) the coming of the Kingdom, and 3) the will of God, together with on earth as it is in heaven.

share|improve this answer

The term "On earth as it is in Heaven " is not in the Luke 11:1-13 account. But we do find it here:

Matthew 6:10 Text Analysis

Let come the kingdom of you; let be done the will of you as in heaven [so] also upon earth.

For in God's Kingdom his will is done, yet on the earth his will has not been done. Therefore in the prayer, we are asking, that his will also be done on the earth.

When this occurs, then God's Kingdom will also be on earth.

1 Corinthians 15:24 NKJV

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.