“May you not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.”
(Matthew 6:13, KJV)
In this last verse of the prayer, we have the final two petitions—“lead us not” and “deliver us.” The first of these addresses our mental needs and the second deals once again with our spiritual needs. You will also notice, as you look at the two translations back to back, that the King James Version contains a benediction at the end of the prayer. This benediction is not included as part of the oldest Biblical manuscripts that we have access to, which is why most English Bible translations do not include it. It is likely that the last line was added somewhere in seventh or eighth century; never-the-less, it is a wonderful benediction and is a staple part of most of our prayers.
We must always remember that the act of being tempted is not sin. Christ, our Lord, was tempted and tested in every way, yet was free from sin. It is where temptation leads when we give in to it—that, as James tells us, is sin, and sin leads to death (James 1:14-15). Thus, the language of this prayer is not one which pleads with God to prevent testing or tempting, but to be kept from being led into temptation—to be preserved from succumbing to the testing and to be preserved from its end—namely death. This ties quite closely with the language of the fourth petition—to be kept from evil or from “the evil one.” Though we may walk through dark roads, we are asking God’s provision and protection that we don’t find ourselves in the mouth of the roaring lion.
The word ponhro/ß (ponaros), which refers to evil, wickedness, or being degenerate, is an adjective that occurs in this verse with a definite article. In other words, the literal translation of this clause is: “deliver us from the evil.” Usually, in Greek, when an adjective is used in such a way, it is used to refer to someone or something that embodies what that adjective describes, hence the translation, “deliver us from the evil one.” It is a recognition that as believers we are in a battle with the evil one of this world—Satan himself—and that it is only by the strength of God’s hand that we can be delivered from such a foe. Just as it took God’s hand to deliver his people from the ruler of Egypt, so too, it requires God’s hand to redeem us from ruler of this world, Satan.
Friends, these two petitions are prayers for provision in the battle. Provision that our minds be kept sharp and straight and keep us from entertaining the lusts of our heart, and provision from falling prey to the dragon who only wishes to destroy the people of God (Revelation 12:17). That provision we need every day and every moment of our lives.