Pope Francis recently announced that he is considering changing one line in the Lord’s Prayer (aka The Our Father). The Pope hopes that such a change will make this famous Christian prayer more theologically accurate. Apparently, the problematic line is “Lead us not into temptation.” In the pontiff’s opinion, God does not lead people into temptation. That, Francis feels, is exclusively Satan’s job.

Naturally, the Pope needs to tread lightly. For more than two millennia, the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) has been revered by millions as the consummate prayer of many Christian denominations. First uttered by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, this brief prayer (about 56 words) is considered by scholars and theologians to be sublime in its simplicity yet profound in its theology. It has even been transformed into a beautiful hymn. Its brevity and poetic wording have made it the quintessential go-to prayer for almost any occasion.

Nevertheless, some dangers are involved in this editing endeavor. First, many of the faithful may be shocked that Pope Francis seeks to change the words of the Good Book — and, even worse, words spoken by Jesus. In fact, Jesus Himself said something about that. “The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 and Mark 13:31).

On a more chilling note, the book of Revelation contains a frightening warning for anyone seeking to add or subtract words from Revelation. By extrapolation, the following passages could also apply to all the books of the Bible: “If anyone adds to these words, God will visit him with all the plagues described therein!"

If anyone takes from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share in the tree of life and the holy city described here!” (Revelation 22:18, 19)

In researching this data, I consulted six different Bibles, wanting to see how each one dealt with the sentence, “Lead us not into temptation.”

1. The New American Bible: “Subject us not to the trial.”

2. The New Living Translation: “And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

3. The Good News Bible: “Do not bring us to hard testing.”

4. King James Version: “And lead us not into temptation.”

5. New American Bible: The Catholic Bible: “And do not subject us to the final test.”

6. The Nelson Study Bible: “And do not lead us into temptation.”

In the first example, this Bible explained that the word “trial” is not used here as a synonym for temptation but refers instead to an end-time apocalypse.

As a closing thought, with all of today’s troubles — terrorist attacks, random shootings, sexual harassment — shouldn’t we be reading the Bible and following the words of Jesus instead of changing the words of Jesus?

Lord, yes.

Harry Mosley of Carterville is a retired professor of English.


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