Matt. 6:9-13 (Part 3)

ARCHELAUS: The Lord Jesus taught men to pray: “When you pray, say, 'Our Father in heaven;'” and again, “Pray to your Father which is in secret.” The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.194.

ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA: The Father is always the Father. But He is the Father, since the Son is always with Him, on account of whom He is called the Father. Therefore, since the Son is always with Him, the Father is always perfect, being destitute of nothing as regards good; who, not in time, nor after an interval, nor from things which are not, has begotten His only begotten Son.
Epistles on the Arian Heresy and the Deposition of Arius, 6.293

6:10ff ANONYMOUS: Polycarp's pursuers then, along with horsemen, and taking the youth with them, went forth at supper-time on the day of the preparation with their usual weapons, as if going out against a robber.  And being come about evening to the place where he was, they found him lying down in the upper room of a certain little house, from which he might have escaped into another place; but he refused, saying, “The will of God be done.” The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 1.40.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The earthly Church is the image of the heavenly, as we pray also “that the will of God may be done upon the earth as in heaven.” “Putting on, therefore, bowels of mercy, gentleness, humbleness, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if one have a quarrel against any man; as also Christ has forgiven us, so also let us. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are called in one body; and be thankful.”  The Stromata, 2.421.

TERTULLIAN: According to this model, we subjoin, “Your will be done in the heavens and on the earth;” not that there is some power withstanding to prevent God’s will being done, and we pray for Him the successful achievement of His will; but we pray for His will to be done in all. . . . What, moreover, does God will, but that we should walk according to His Discipline?  We make petition, then, that He supply us with the substance of His will, and the capacity to do it, that we may be saved both in the heavens and on earth; because the sum of His will is the salvation of them whom He has adopted.  . . . The Lord also, when He had wished to demonstrate to us, even in His own flesh, the flesh’s infirmity, by the reality of suffering, said, “Father, remove Your cup;” and remembering Himself, added, “not my will, but Your will be done.”  Himself was the Will and the Power of the Father: and yet, for the demonstration of the patience which was due, He gave Himself up to the Father's Will.

“Your kingdom come” has also reference to that whereto “Your will be done” refers—in us, that is. For when does God not reign, in whose hand is the heart of all kings?  But whatever we wish for ourselves we predict for Him, and to Him we attribute what from Him we expect. And so, if the manifestation of the Lord’s kingdom pertains to the will of God and to our anxious expectation, how do some pray for some prolonging of the age, when the kingdom of God, which we pray may arrive, tends to the consummation of the age? Our wish is, that our reign be hastened, not our servitude protracted. Even if it had not been prescribed in the Lord's Prayer that we should ask for the advent of the kingdom, we should, unbidden, have sent forth that cry, hastening toward the realization of our hope. The souls of the martyrs beneath the altar cry in jealousy to the Lord, “How long, Lord, do You not avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?”  for, of course, their avenging is regulated by the end of the age. Nay, Lord, Your kingdom come with all speed,—the prayer of Christians, the confusion of the heathen, the exultation of angels, for the sake of which we suffer, rather, for the sake of which we pray! On Prayer, 3.682-683.

ORIGEN: “Your Kingdom Come.” According to the word of our Lord and Savior, the Kingdom of God does not come observably, nor shall men say, “Lo it is here,” or “Lo is it there,” but the Kingdom of God is within us;  for the utterance is exceedingly near in our mouth and in our heart.  It is therefore plain that he who prays for the coming of the kingdom of God prays with good reason for rising and fruit bearing and perfecting of God's kingdom within him.

For every saint is ruled over by God and obeys the spiritual laws of God, and conducts himself like a well-ordered city; and the Father is present with him, and Christ rules together with the Father in the perfected soul, according to the saying that I mentioned shortly before: “We will come unto him and make abode with him.”  By God's kingdom I understand the blessed condition of the mind and the settled order of wise reflection; by Christ's kingdom the issue of words of salvation to their hearers and the practice of acts of righteousness and the other excellences; for the son of God is word and righteousness. . . .

We are wayfaring toward perfection if we forget the things behind, pressing on toward those before us. The kingdom of God within us will therefore be consummated in us as we advance without ceasing, when, the saying in the Apostle is fulfilled, that Christ, His enemies all made subject to Him, shall deliver the kingdom to God the Father that God may be All in All. For this reason let us pray without ceasing with a disposition made divine by the Word, and say to our Father in heaven: Hallowed Be Your Name: Your Kingdom Come. Of the kingdom of God it is further to be said by way of distinction that as righteousness has no partnership with lawlessness and light no community with darkness and Christ no argument with Belial,69 so a kingdom of sin is incompatible with the Kingdom of God.

If, accordingly we would be ruled over by God, by no means let sin rule in our mortal body nor let us obey its commands when it calls our soul forth to the works of the flesh that are alien to God,  but let us mortify our members that are on earth and bear the fruits of the Spirit that the Lord may walk in us as in a spiritual garden, ruling alone over us with His Christ seated within us on the right of the Spiritual power that we pray to receive, sitting until all His enemies within us become a footstool for His feet and every rule and authority and power be undone from us.

These things may come to pass in the case of each of us, and death the last energy be undone, so that Christ may say within us also, “O death, where is your sting? O grave! Where is your victory?”  Even now, therefore, let our corruptible put on the holiness and incorruptibility that consists in chastity and purity, and our mortal, death undone, wrap itself in the paternal immortality, so that, being ruled over by God, we may even now live amid the blessings of regeneration and resurrection. On Prayer.

ORIGEN: “Your will be done on earth also as in heaven.” After the clause “Your Kingdom come,” Luke has passed over these words in silence and placed the clause “Give us daily our needful bread.”  Let us therefore examine next in succession the words I have placed first as set down in Matthew alone. As suppliants who are still on earth, believing that the will of God is done in heaven among all the household of the heavens, let us pray that the will of God may be done by us also who are on earth in like manner with them, as will come to pass when we do nothing contrary to His will.

And when the will of God as it is in heaven has been accomplished by us also who are on earth, we shall inherit a kingdom of heaven as having, alike with them, worn the image of the Heavenly One, while those who come after us on earth are praying to become in turn like us who have come to be in heaven. . . .

Everyone in the church ought to pray to receive the paternal will in such wise as Christ has done, who came to do the will of His Father and accomplished it completely. For it is possible by being joined to Him to become one spirit with Him and therefore receptive of the will to the end that, as it has been accomplished in heaven, so it may be accomplished on earth also; for he that is joined to the Lord, according to Paul, is one spirit.  . . .

For he that sins, wherever he may be, is earth, and will turn into the like somehow, unless he repents, whereas he that does the will of God and does not disobey the spiritual laws of salvation is heaven. Whether therefore we are still earth because of sin, let us pray that the will of God may extend restoration to us also as it has already reached those who have become or are heaven before us: or if we are already accounted not earth but heaven by God, let our request be that, in like manner with heaven, on earth also, in inferior things I mean, the will of God may be fulfilled unto what I may term earth's heaven-making, so that there shall be no longer earth but all things become heaven. On Prayer. 

ORIGEN: We are taught to say in the Lord's prayer, “Your kingdom come!” as if it has not yet come. And the Lord himself, when he began to preach, does not say: The kingdom of heaven has come, but: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”  The present time, however, I would say seems not so much a time of reigning as of war, since the dominion of death is now broken in part and being gradually destroyed, a dominion which had previously spread itself out to all men. This agrees with the words of Scripture, “For he must reign until he puts every enemy under his feet.”  Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. 

CYPRIAN: There follows in the prayer, “Your kingdom come.” We ask that the kingdom of God may be set forth to us, even as we also ask that His name may be sanctified in us. For when does God not reign, or when does that begin with Him which both always has been, and never ceases to be? We pray that our kingdom, which has been promised us by God, may come, which was acquired by the blood and passion of Christ; that we who first are His subjects in the world, may hereafter reign with Christ when He reigns, as He Himself promises and says, “Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” 

Christ Himself, dearest brethren, however, may be the kingdom of God, whom we day by day desire to come, whose advent we crave to be quickly manifested to us. For since He is Himself the Resurrection, since in Him we rise again, so also the kingdom of God may be understood to be Himself, since in Him we shall reign. But we do well in seeking the kingdom of God, that is, the heavenly kingdom, because there is also an earthly kingdom. But he who has already renounced the world, is moreover greater than its honors and its kingdom. And therefore he who dedicates himself to God and Christ, desires not earthly, but heavenly kingdoms. But there is need of continual prayer and supplication, that we do not fall away from the heavenly kingdom, as the Jews, to whom this promise had first been given, fell away; even as the Lord sets forth and proves: “Many,” He says, “will come from the east and from the west, and will recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness: there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  He shows that the Jews were previously children of the kingdom, so long as they continued also to be children of God; but after the name of Father ceased to be recognized among them, the kingdom also ceased; and therefore we Christians, who in our prayer begin to call God our Father, also pray that God’s kingdom may come to us.

We add, also, and say, “Your will be done, as in heaven so in earth;” not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God, that He may not do what He wills? But since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us; and that it may be done in us we have need of God’s good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God. And further, the Lord, setting forth the infirmity of the humanity which He bore, says, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” and affording an example to His disciples that they should not do their own will, but God’s, He went on to say, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.”  And in another place He says, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”  Now if the Son was obedient to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant be obedient to do his Master’s will! As in his epistle John also exhorts and instructs us to do the will of God, saying, “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of life, which is not of the Father, but of the lust of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever, even as God also abides forever.”  We who desire to abide forever should do the will of God, who is everlasting.

Now that is the will of God which Christ both did and taught. Humility in conversation; steadfastness in faith; modesty in words; justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals; to be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when done; to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart; to love Him in that He is a Father; to fear Him in that He is God; to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, because He did not prefer anything to us; to adhere inseparably to His love; to stand by His cross bravely and faithfully; when there is any contest on behalf of His name and honor, to exhibit in discourse that constancy wherewith we make confession; in torture, that confidence wherewith we do battle; in death, that patience whereby we are crowned;—this is to desire to be fellow-heirs with Christ; this is to do the commandment of God; this is to fulfill the will of the Father. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.450-451.

CYPRIAN: In the Gospel according to John: “I did not come down from heaven to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”  Of this same matter, according to Matthew: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”  Also in the daily prayer: “Your will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Also according to Matthew: “Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father which is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Also according to Luke: “But that servant which knows his Lord’s will, and did not obey His will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”  In the Epistle of John: “But he that does the will of God abides forever, even as He Himself also abides forever.”88 The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.539.

6:11ff EDITOR'S NOTE: The expression “our daily bread” has given ancient translators and commentators difficulty because the Greek word epiousios, here translated “daily,” only occurs here and in Luke 11:3: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” The meaning of the word is sought from its origin. ORIGEN says “our needful bread,” or that which is necessary for existence. Likewise THE DIDACHE says, “our daily (needful) bread” (See above).

HIPPOLYTUS: For this reason we are enjoined to ask what is sufficient for the preservation of the substance of the body: not luxury, but food, which restores what the body loses, and prevents death by hunger; not tables to inflame and drive on to pleasures, nor such things as make the body wax wanton against the soul; but bread, and that, too, not for a great number of years, but what is sufficient for us today.
Fragment on Matthew, 5.194.

TERTULLIAN: But how gracefully has the Divine Wisdom arranged the order of the prayer; so that after things heavenly—that is, after the “Name” of God, the “Will” of God, and the “Kingdom” of God—it should give earthly necessities also room for a petition! For the Lord had additionally issued His edict, “Seek first the kingdom, and then even these shall be added:” albeit we may rather understand, “Give us this day our daily bread,” spiritually. For Christ is our Bread; because Christ is Life, and bread is life. “I am,” He says, “the Bread of Life;”91 and, a little above, “The Bread is the Word of the living God, who came down from the heavens.”  Then we find, too, that His body is reckoned in bread: “This is my body.”  And so, in petitioning for “daily bread,” we ask for perpetuity in Christ, and indivisibility from His body. But, because that word is admissible in a carnal sense too, it cannot be so used without the religious remembrance of spiritual discipline; for (the Lord) commands that bread be prayed for, which is the only food necessary for believers; for “all other things the nations seek after.” The like lesson He both teaches by examples, and repeatedly handles in parables, when He says, “Does a father take away bread from his children, and hand it to dogs?”  and again, “Does a father give his son a stone when he asks for bread?” For He thus shows what it is that sons expect from their father. Nay, even that nocturnal knocker knocked for “bread.”  Moreover, He justly added, “Give us this day,” seeing He had previously said, “Take no careful thought about the morrow, what you are to eat.” To which subject He also adapted the parable of the man who pondered on an enlargement of his barns for his forthcoming fruits, and on seasons of prolonged security; but that very night he dies.  On Prayer, 3.683.

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