“For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever,” or, “now and forever,” or, “forever and ever,” or, “to the ages of ages.”
This part of the Lord’s prayer is called a “doxology” – a statement or song of praise to God. It comes from a compound Greek word that means “word of glory.” The doxology we sing after the offering is just one of many doxologies that people use to praise God – many of which can be found in the Bible. Our benediction today will include one.
Whether this particular one does, however, is the subject of much debate. It does not appear in the two oldest copies of the Gospel According to Matthew. You can find it in the third oldest copy – and in many others.
Some of the early Church fathers mention it, while many of them don’t.
It may have been added by the early Christians who thought that ending our Lord’s Prayer with “deliver us from evil” was too abrupt. It needed something, and a doxology would be perfect.
William Carl – the former president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Lord’s Prayer for Today – insists that Jesus did not teach this doxology to His disciples. But he also insists that we should use it as part of the Lord’s Prayer.
…it’s a synopsis of what Easter is all about. For on that day of all days in the Christian year we say loudly, boldly, and confidently to the whole world that the kingdom, the power, and the glory of our lives belong to God.
Carl explains that when Jesus taught this prayer, He had not yet died or risen or returned to heaven to be crowned as King of Kings – so this doxology was added by Christians who had experienced living in His kingdom, by His power, and in the light of His glory.
It could be argued, though, that Jesus knew all this would come about eventually, and included it because He knew the kingdom, power, and glory awaited Him when His work on earth was done.
John Calvin knew all about the debate, and he insisted that the doxology did belong in the Lord’s Prayer.
And it is conceivable that Jesus really did finish the prayer this way. It was common in Jewish worship to end prayers with a doxology. First Chronicles 29 records King David’s prayer as he dedicated gifts for building the first temple:
“Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 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. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
If we condense all that down to one line, then “for yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever,” works pretty well, doesn’t it?
It ensures that the prayer, which began with a declaration about God –
His fatherhood, His heavenly being, and the holiness that is due His name – also ends with a declaration about His eternal kingdom, power, and glory.
The Roman Catholic Church has navigated these tricky waters very well, by separating the doxology from the Lord’s Prayer in their Communion prayers:
After everyone prays, “deliver us from evil,” the priest prays alone:
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Then the people resume praying: “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.”
I should think that all Christians could say, “Amen,” to that compromise.
But some folks get really worked up about whether Jesus said the doxology or the early Christians were moved by the Holy Spirit to add it later.
Does it really matter? Either way, Jesus has His eternal kingdom, power, and glory – and we will share in it. We rejoice that Jesus is King over all, and especially that He is our King – which is what we are celebrating on this Christ the King Sunday.
So what does the doxology add to the Lord’s Prayer?
Calvin argued that it was audacious for us to make requests of God – especially for forgiveness and deliverance from the Evil One – and he said that the doxology explains the reason why and how we can be so bold in making such requests: it is because the kingdom, power, and glory belong to God and can never be taken away from Him.
What Calvin is saying is that we are not coming to a mere human whom we have offended to ask for blessings and forgiveness. No, we are coming to God, who has a kingdom which He has chosen to include us in, who has the power to grant these requests, and who is glorious in His righteousness, faithfulness, love, and mercy – and nothing can change that. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:
[Nothing] can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Since God gave us this prayer through His Son, Jesus, and since His kingdom, power, and glory are eternal and unchanging, then two-thousand years later we still can boldly approach His throne of grace by praying this prayer.
St. John Chrysostom – who lived in the second half of the fourth century – wrote in his homily on the Lord’s Prayer that the doxology encourages us and raises our spirits by reminding us of the King who is over us. He is more powerful than temptation or the Evil One. In his words:
Does it not then follow, that if His be the kingdom, we should fear no
one, since there can be none to withstand, and divide the empire with him? Thus He not only frees you from the dangers that are approaching you, but can make you also glorious and illustrious.
All of that is to say that God is not only reigning over all, and is powerful enough to keep us in His kingdom, but can also make us glorious with Him.
As Paul wrote in II Corinthians 3:
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Or in Romans 8:
… we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
On this day, we celebrate Jesus’ Kingship over all creation. Hear how the One who taught us to pray is depicted in Revelation 19 – as the Redemption Story is reaching its conclusion:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
So the doxology at the end of the Lord’s Prayer is a declaration of victory – Jesus’ victory over sin and death, which He gladly shares with us. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:
…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The kingdom is here, because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.
He has been given power over all things.
And God the Father has glorified Him for His redeeming work.
So – as citizens of His kingdom – let us live in His power and proclaim His glory. Amen.