by Aaron Bjorklund


“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'” Matthew 6:13 NIV

Evil is bigger than the devil. In ancient cultures, including Jewish culture, evil was seen as a bigger thing than the devil. Here in the Lord’s prayer we are invited to pray that God would deliver us from the “evil one,” but the sentence could read as follows; “deliver us from the
evil.” Matthew’s original readers would likely have heard this and thought of this larger evil both of the devil and all other evils in the world. To the Jewish mind, evil was not just a thing that people did; it was almost an entity in and of itself. Evil was like a conscious pollution that contaminated the world.  

We see this image more clearly in the story of Cain and Abel. Look at this text:

“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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


See, sin and evil are things that creep up and desire us. Why is it important to understand the Lord’s prayer? Perhaps it’s simply the fact that popular culture has disarmed the devil by personifying him as a little red guy with a pointy tail. The devil and evil are more insidious than some little cartoon character. We are asking God to protect us from everything that is wrong in the world. We are asking God to guard us from participating in that evil. 

Perhaps this week, as you pray this prayer, try feeling the implications of changing the wording to something like this: “and Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from being evil and being harmed by all that is evil and wrong in the world.”

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