LOOKING FORWARD

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)

v. 13(b) “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

 

These words do not appear in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew and are therefore omitted from most modern translations. But that doesn’t mean this phrase isn’t biblical. Rather, this passage seems to be an adaptation of 1 Chronicles 29:11 where David proclaims,

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

So why were these words added to the earliest versions of Matthew’s Gospel?

Perhaps Christ’s followers had remembered that he frequently used this passage at the end of his prayers and decided it should be incorporated into the text. Or, perhaps the early Jewish Christians added this doxology as part of their worship services and it “stuck.”

Jewish literature—especially poetry—was often characterized by parallelism and repetition. The author would present his main idea and then restate it for emphasis. This may explain why later manuscripts included the phrase “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” These closing words echo the opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus calls us to hallow our Father’s name and live in holy expectation of his coming kingdom.

In any case, this phrase is consistent with the witness of scripture and is useful in helping us pray well. Because the deeper our interaction with God, the more profoundly we will respond in worship. This passage is really a doxology—a short hymn of praise that focused on three reasons to praise:

  • God’s eternal kingdom
  • God’s infinite power
  • God’s unsurpassed glory

Let’s take each of these in order.

His Kingdom: The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Throughout history, Jews saw themselves inextricably connected to their national heritage and to the land God had promised them. And yet, foreign empires often occupied Israel and carried her people into exile. The Jews longed for the day Israel would be delivered and her glory restored. They looked toward heaven in eager expectation of a Messiah who would do both.

Many of the Jews who followed Jesus were disillusioned when he did not destroy Israel’s enemies and restore their earthly kingdom. They did not understand that the kingdom of God was bigger than Israel, the Roman Empire, and even the earth itself. Jesus revealed a coming cosmic kingdom where the whole universe—seen and unseen—would be redeemed and recreated in a unified heaven and earth. On that day, things will be on earth as they are in heaven: every creature living in loving worship of the King for eternity. The Lord’s Prayer crescendos with the proclamation that God alone is the rightful sovereign of this kingdom.

His Power: God holds his lordship by virtue of his omnipotence. By his infinite power, he created the universe and everything in it. By Christ’s sacrifice, he destroyed the authority of sin, death, and hell. God our Father reigns supreme with his Son, our Savior, at his right hand (Ephesians 1:20, Hebrews 1:3). There is no power in heaven, on earth, or under the earth that he does not control. Nothing is beyond his dominion or above his command. The Lord’s Prayer crescendos with the acclamation that our God is fully able to accomplish whatever he pleases.

His Glory: And it pleased God to send his Son to take our sin so that we might know his glory. God’s glory is his pure, unsearchable, blinding, purifying, terrifying, clarifying, transcendent, all-loving essence. When we experience even a glimpse of his presence, we cannot help but respond in praise. We give him glory because he is glorious. If we had not been redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice, we would be consumed by God’s glory. But since it pleased God for us to be adopted as his sons and daughters in Christ, we can now cry “Abba” to our Father as well as “Glory” to our Redeemer.

In Revelation, John sees living creatures worshiping at God’s throne along with twenty-four elders whose godly lives have earned them heavenly crowns. These elders then do a curious thing: they take the crowns that they received by grace and return that glory to its source:

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:9-11)

When something is glorified, it’s magnified so that everyone might marvel at its true nature. When we glorify God, we make his true character and magnificence known to everyone around us. We proclaim him to the world as we praise him to his face.

Fittingly, the prayer ends with the word, “Amen,” an affirmation meaning, “So be it.”