3 Nephi 13:9-13 — LeGrand Baker — The five versions of the Lord’s Prayer

There are two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the New Testament, two more in the Prophet Joseph’s Inspired Version of the New Testament, and still a different version in 3 Nephi. The variations in wording in the New Testament and Inspired Version are easy to see and understand. The version in 3 Nephi is most like the one in Matthew 6, however, between those two the differences are not in the wording but in actual content. What the 3 Nephi version does not say makes it the most interesting of the five.

Below is a short comparison showing the differences between Matthew 6:9-13; JST Matthew 6:10-15; Luke 11:2-4; JST Luke 11:2-4; 3 Nephi 13:9-13.

The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-16 is the version we were taught as children. So lets use it as the base for the comparison.

Matthew 6: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
. JST Matthew 6: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
. Luke 11: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
. JST Luke 11: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
. 3 Nephi 13: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
. JST Matthew 6: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.
. Luke 11: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
. JST Luke 11: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.
. 3 Nephi 13: ………………………… Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:Give us this day our daily bread.
. JST Matthew 6: Give us this day, our daily bread.
. Luke 11: Give us day by day our daily bread.
. JST Luke 11: Give us day by day our daily bread.
. 3 Nephi 13: …………………………………………………

Matthew 6:And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
. JST Matthew 6: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
. Luke 11: And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
. JST Luke 11: And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one who is indebted to us.
. 3 Nephi 13: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6:And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
. JST Matthew 6: And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
. Luke 11: And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
. JST Luke 11: And let us not be led unto temptation; but deliver us from evil;
. 3 Nephi 13: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
. JST Matthew 6: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
. Luke 11: ………………………………………………………………….
. JST Luke 11: for thine is the kingdom and power. Amen.
. 3 Nephi 13: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

The version the Savior taught the Nephites reads:

9 Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
12 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen (3 Nephi 13:14-34).

The omission of the phrase “Thy kingdom come” is easy to account for: The Savior was there with the Nephites; he had just established a new theocracy; so the kingdom had in fact already come.

It is the omission of the other phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread,” that is most intriguing. Because of that omission the focus of the prayer changes from one’s Self to one’s relationship to other people: That is made evident because the ideas that follow the prayer are tied back to it by a series of conjunctions (v.14 “For,” 15 “But,” 16 “Moreover,” 17 “But,” 18 “That”). The conjunctions create a string of ideas that suggest the Savior intended the prayer to be a covenant reiterating or reinforcing the principles of our other individual covenants. That is going to be difficult to explain, but let me try.

The only way we can be “delivered from evil” is if we willingly sacrifice a broken heart and contrite sprit as the Savior instructed the Nephites in 3 Nephi 9:20. Similarly, the only way we can ultimately be a part of his kingdom is if we live the highest laws of that kingdom.

The central theme of the prayer, and the one the Savior immediately focuses on, is the same principle he taught directly following the Beatitudes: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” When I discussed that principle in its earlier context I remembered hearing Nibley say that the law of the gospel is “to forgive and repent.” Now, in this context, it was the first of the prayer’s ideas the Savior explained:

14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

As Latter-day Saints we can easily see the need for personal consecration in the phrase “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever,” but other than that, it is difficult to tie the importance of forgiveness with the next statement which begins “moreover, when ye fast.” In our LDS culture, unless there is a personal and present need to seek help to forgive, fasting and forgiveness seem not that obviously connected. However, the Savior was not talking to Latter-day Saints. He was speaking to a people who were just coming out of the religion and culture of the Law of Moses. So if we are to understand the connection between forgiveness and fasting, we must look there. Isaiah has shown us a clear window into that cultural connection:

1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? (Isaiah 58:1-7).

The principle Isaiah is supporting is the same one that has been formalized by the Latter-day Saints’s “fast Sunday.” It combines a reminder that one must fast with the opportunity to bless other people, and in doing so it also helps one keep one’s own personal covenants.

What the Savior says next to the Nephites continues to suggest the importance of keeping that personal covenant:

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Having so said, reiterating the importance and power of personal covenants, the Savior issued a severe warning to the entire congregation:

22 The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

A careful reading of the Lord’s Prayer in the context in which the Savior taught it to the Nephites shows that it is not about the physical, or even the emotional needs of the one who recites the prayer. Rather, it reads almost like a covenant—an affirmation that one will keep all his other covenants—and it is also a petition to God that he will give one the strength to do so.

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