Deliver Us From Evil????

Adjectives have a theological importance which is sometimes hard to rival. They are able to modify a noun [attributive], assert something about a noun [predicate], or even stand in the place of a noun [substantival]. Often it is difficult to discern which of the above three roles a particular adjective is performing within a given sentence.

Consider the above Greek word – tonhrou: [evil]. It makes an appearance in Matthew 6:13 within what is traditionally considered to be the Lord’s Prayer. The King James Version of the Bible [together with many other modern translations] translates this as ‘but deliver us from evil’. In this instance however the adjective tonhrou:, is preceded by a modifying article, that is [tou] hence tou tonhrou:. This indicates that the adjective is performing substantivally, ie. It should be translated as ‘the evil one’ rather than just ‘evil’. The prayer must then be modified to read ‘but deliver us from the evil one’.

Is this just pedantry gone mad? Does it make any real difference? Surely it makes not a jot of difference doctrinally or theologically? Actually Job believes it makes a world of difference. Our Father in heaven does not always keep his children from danger or the effects of evil, whether self inflicted or not. We are more often than not exposed to the temporal consequences of our sin and the disasters and ugliness of the world. In short, God does not always deliver us from evil as a concept. He does however, deliver us from the evil one. This text then is not teaching that God will provide a ‘bed of roses’ as a lifestyle for His children, but that He will protect us from the evil one, the devil himself.


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