Despite opposition from traditionalists, Pope Francis has officially approved a change to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13 that replaces "lead us not into temptation" with "do not let us fall into temptation."
The U.S. Catholic reports that the Vatican enacted the change on May 22 following 16 years of research by experts who found a mistake in the current translation "from a theological, pastoral, and stylistic viewpoint."
Pope Francis first signaled support for amending the "lead us not into temptation" part of the Lord's Prayer in 2017, arguing that it portrays God in a false light.
"A father does not lead into temptation, a father helps you to get up immediately," the pope said at the time. "It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.”
"The one who leads you into temptation is Satan," he added. "That's Satan's role."
Pope Francis pointed out that other translations had already been changed to modernize the language. "The French have modified the prayer to 'do not let me fall into temptation,' because it is me who falls, not the Lord who tempts me to then see how I fall," he said.
The Lord's Prayer originates in Matthew 6:9-13. The key verse in question is 13, which, in the NIV translation, reads: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." It is a translation from the Latin Vulgate, which was translated from ancient Greek by Saint Jerome in the late fourth century.
Initially, the proposed change to the Lord’s Prayer received mixed reactions from the wider faith community, with most saying they trusted the pope and the process, the Houston Chronicle reported.
But others expressed concern over the change.
David W. Pao, chair of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, told The Christian Post that the change reflects the idea that "the Aramaic original" of the temptation petition "might have carried a permissive sense."
"This permissive sense is consistent with a similar petition in the Jewish prayer a first century Jew might be familiar with (cf. b. Ber. 60b)," explained Pao.
"Moreover, the petition that follows in the Lord's Prayer ('deliver us from the evil one,' Matthew 6:13b) clearly points to the devil as the one who leads people to sin."
Pao also told CP that the proposed new language "does not represent the best reading of the Greek text nor does it exhaust the meaning of this petition."
"First, this 'permissive' reading is not explicitly expressed in the Greek of Matthew 6:13a, and 'lead us not into temptation' remains the best and most natural rendering of this petition," continued Pao.
"Second, if 'temptation' is understood as 'temptation that leads to sin'' (see Galatians 6:1), then it is important to emphasize that God does not lead people into such 'temptation' (see James 1:13-14). Nevertheless, the underlying Greek word behind 'temptation' can also refer more generally to 'testing,' and the Bible does describe God bringing His people into times of 'testing' (e.g., Deuteronomy 8:2, 16)."
Pao added that "the petition likely assumes the presence (and the coming) of periods of testing, and this petition should then be understood as a call to God for protecting His people from falling into sin in the midst of such testing (Matthew 26:39, 41)."
Philip F. Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, told The New York Times that the pope's criticism of the traditional translation "isn't reasonable."
"Pope Francis has made a habit of saying things that throw people into confusion, and this is one of them," Lawler said. "It just makes you wonder, where does it stop, what's up for grabs. It's cumulative unease."
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord's Prayer As a Manifesto for Revolution, called the changes "deeply problematic."
“I was shocked and appalled,” he told the Seattle Times. “This is the Lord’s Prayer. It is not, and has never been, the pope’s prayer, and we have the very words of Jesus in the New Testament. It is those very words that the pope proposes to change. It is not only deeply problematic, it’s almost breathtaking.”