And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: …
— Matthew 6:13

Many people interpret this as a request for protection from external forces, some translations even saying "from the evil one".

But would it correct to interpret it from a personal position (as much of the rest of this example prayer is)?

For instance could it be paraphrased as:

Keep our paths away from temptation, and rescue us when we do stray toward evil

I'm asking from a Greek language perspective, not doctrinal.

This is similar to, but not a duplicate of: Is this literal translation of the Lord prayer faithful to the Greek sources?.

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why is "deliver us from evil" a possible translation?
    – Dottard
    Mar 23, 2023 at 21:42
  • @Dottard, it does if it is saying that "evil" must mean "the evil one", and that it can't grammatically mean our own tendency to be attracted to evil. Mar 23, 2023 at 22:53
  • 1
    του πονηρου means 'the evil'. Thus the concept covers that which is evil. Which could mean the evil that is within oneself. Or the evil which is within another person. Or it could mean the Entity referred to as The Poneros. The concept, as stated, is broad. Yes, it could interpreted as you say, but not exclusively. I can make this an answer if it is so desired, but it seems fairly obvious to me to have to state it.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 24, 2023 at 2:13
  • Does this answer your question? Matthew 6:13, what is the accurate translation of "πονηροῦ"?
    – Michael16
    Mar 24, 2023 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


The NIV footnotes of Matthew 6:13; The Greek for 'temptation' can also mean 'testing'. It reminds me in my early fellowship, the spiritual leader told me that 'testing' is from God, 'temptation' is from the evil.

When we compare the parallel of the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, we will find 'but deliver us from the evil one (NIV)' does not exist in Luke.

In my own language version, it did translate 'deliver us' in the sense of 'rescue', but then 'rescue us from the evil one' becomes a duplicate in meaning to 'lead us not into temptation', for no temptation/testing is allowed without the consent from God, as the book of Job revealed. Therefore if the Lord did not put us into testing, then He doesn't need to save us.

Correct me if I'm wrong, God never save anyone who were in temptation. God will let the one in temptation to make his choice. He made that clear to Cain, before he murdered Abel

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7 NIV)

Another example is the temptation of King Hezekiah, who failed.

31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:31)

It appears that except Jesus, nobody succeeded in temptation. So why did Matthew contain 'but deliver us from the evil one' while Luke didn't? I suspect Matthew added it for two possible reasons;

Reason 1 - to make the Lord's prayer ended smoothly with the Hebrew poetry parallelism format.

Reason 2 - In Matthew's enlightenment, he found the meaning of the Gospel, that the sentence in full should be 'but deliver us from the evil one through Jesus'.

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