”And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one”. (Mt. 6:13)
Pope Francis is considering changing the wording of the Lord’s Prayer. The reason for this is that he thinks that the phrase “do not lead us into temptation” has been wrongly translated and does not agree with the intent of the original text. The prayer – in its present form – seems to (wrongfully) indicate that God is the one who leads us into temptation and should therefore be changed into “abandon us not when in temptation”, according to the Pope.
The Pope definitely has a very important point. God does not lead us into temptation. The Apostle James was very clear regarding that:
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (Jm. 1:13-16)
Whenever we are tempted, we are drawn and enticed by our own evil desires. Satan, the tempter, works together with our fleshly mind and thought life, in order to – if possible – make us fall. It is never God that tempts us. If we believe so, we are deceived.
However, the question is whether the alternative translation, “abandon us not when in temptation”, is very much better. Jesus namely told His disciples:
”… I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. (Mt. 28:20)
Regarding the Holy Spirit, Jesus also said:
16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (Jn. 14:16-18)
The author of Hebrews adds:
”… For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. (Heb. 13:5)
The Holy Scriptures of the New Testament are clear that God never abandons us – not even in moments of sin or failure. The Holy Spirit has come to stay and lives permanently in the hearts of the believers. That fact that the Pope wants to change “lead us not into temptation” is good, but since God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us, the phrase “abandon us not when in temptation” isn’t very much better.
A good solution to this dilemma would probably be to go with the wording of the Spanish Bible translation, “don’t let us fall into temptation”. (If I had a say, I would have preferred, “protect us from temptation”). By doing so, one would avoid the problem of replacing one incorrect theological translation with another incorrect translation.