Matt. 6:9:13 (Part 1)

6:9ff THE DIDACHE: Thus pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Yours is the power and the glory for ever.” Three times in the day thus pray. 7.379.

IRENAEUS: That God is the Creator of the world is accepted even by those very persons who in many ways speak against Him, and yet acknowledge Him, styling Him the Creator, and an angel, not to mention that all the Scriptures call out to the same effect, and the Lord teaches us of this Father who is in heaven, and no other. Against Heresies, 1.369.

TATIAN: Now pray after this manner: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us the food of today. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgave those that trespassed against us. And do not bring us into temptations, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. The Diatessaron, 9.58.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: And the Lord says in His prayer, “Our Father in heaven.” And the heavens belong to Him, who created the world. It is indisputable, then, that the Lord is the Son of the Creator. The Instructor, 2.228.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “But sanctify the Lord Christ,” he says, “in your hearts.” For so you have in the Lord’s prayer, “Hallowed be Your name.” Fragments, 2.572.

TERTULLIAN: The Father willed that the Son should be regarded as on earth, and Himself in heaven; to which the Son also Himself looked up, and prayed, and made supplication of the Father; to whom also He taught us to raise ourselves, and pray, “Our Father in heaven,” etc.,—although, indeed, He is everywhere present. This heaven the Father willed to be His own throne; while He made the Son to be “a little lower than the angels,”  by sending Him down to the earth, but meaning at the same time to “crown Him with glory and honor,”  even by taking Him back to heaven. Against Praxeas, 3.619.

TERTULLIAN: In the Lord's Prayer is comprised an epitome of the whole Gospel. . . .

The prayer begins with a testimony to God, and with the reward of faith, when we say, “Our Father in the heavens;” for (in so saying), we at once pray to God, and commend faith, whose reward this appellation is. It is written, “To them who believed on Him He gave power to be called sons of God.”  However, our Lord very frequently proclaimed God as a Father to us; more than that, even gave a precept “that we call no one on earth father, but the Father whom we have in the heavens:”  and so, in thus praying, we are likewise obeying the precept. Happy are they who recognize their Father! This is the reproach that is brought against Israel, to which the Spirit attests heaven and earth, saying, “I have begotten sons, and they have not recognized me.” Moreover, in saying “Father,” we also call Him “God.” That appellation is one both of filial duty and of power. Again, in the Father the Son is invoked; “for I,” He says, “and the Father are One.”  . . .

When we say, “Hallowed be Your name,” we pray this; that it may be hallowed in us who are in Him, as well in all others for whom the grace of God is still waiting; that we may obey this precept, too, in “praying for all”,  even for our personal enemies.  And therefore with suspended utterance, not saying, “Hallowed be it in us,” we say,—“in all.” On Prayer, 3.681-682.

HIPPOLYTUS: I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), namely, the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Fragments, 5.228.

ORIGEN: Having thus learned to call these beings “angels” from their employments, we find that because they are divine they are sometimes termed “god” in the sacred Scriptures,  but not so that we are commanded to honor and worship in place of God those who minister to us, and bear to us His blessings. For every prayer, and supplication, and intercession, and thanksgiving, is to be sent up to the Supreme God through the High Priest, who is above all the angels, the living Word and God. And to the Word Himself shall we also pray and make intercessions, and offer thanksgivings and supplications to Him, if we have the capacity of distinguishing between the proper use and abuse of prayer.

For to invoke angels without having obtained a knowledge of their nature greater than is possessed by men, would be contrary to reason. But, conformably to our hypothesis, let this knowledge of them, which is something wonderful and mysterious, be obtained. Then this knowledge, making known to us their nature, and the offices to which they are individually appointed, will not permit us to pray with confidence to any other than to the Supreme God, who is sufficient for all things, and that through our Savior the Son of God. Against Celsus, 4.544- 545.

ORIGEN: Pray to the Word of God (who is able to heal), and still more to His Father. Against Celsus, 4.548.

ORIGEN: Celsus [a pagan critic] forgets that he is addressing Christians, who pray to God alone through Jesus. Against Celsus, 4.653.

ORIGEN: Yet if we offer thanksgiving to men who are saints, how much more should we give thanks to Christ, who has under the Father's will conferred so many benefactions upon us? Yes and intercede with Him as did Stephen when he said, "Lord, set not this sin against them.”  In imitation of the father of the lunatic we shall say, "I request, Lord, have mercy”  either on my son, or myself, or as the case may be. But if we accept prayer in its full meaning, we may not ever pray to any begotten being, not even to Christ himself, but only to the God and Father of All to whom our Savior both prayed himself, as we have already instanced, and teaches us to pray. For when He has heard one say. "Teach you us to pray,” He does not teach men to pray to Himself but to the Father saying, "Our Father in heaven," and so on. For if, as is shown elsewhere, the Son is other than the Father in being and essence, prayer is to be made either to the Son and not the Father or to both or to the Father alone.

That prayer to the Son and not the Father is most out of place and only to be suggested in defiance of manifest truth, one and all will admit. In prayer to both it is plain that we should have to offer our claims in plural form, and in our prayers say, “Grant you both, Bless you both, Supply you both, Save you both,” or the like, which is self-evidently wrong and also incapable of being shown by anyone to stand in the scriptures as spoken by any.

It remains, accordingly, to pray to God alone, the Father of All, not however apart from the High Priest who has been appointed by the Father with swearing of an oath, according to the words He has sworn and shall not repent, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  In thanksgiving to God, therefore, during their prayers, saints acknowledge His favors through Christ Jesus.

Just as the man who is scrupulous about prayer ought not to pray to one who himself prays but to the Father upon whom our Lord Jesus has taught us to call in our prayers, so we are not to offer any prayer to the Father apart from Him. He clearly sets this forth himself when He says, “Verily, verily, I tell you, whatsoever you may ask of my Father He shall give you in my house. Until but now you have not asked aught in my name. Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled.”  On Prayer. 

ORIGEN: “Our Father in Heaven.” It deserves a somewhat careful observation of the so-called Old Testament to discover whether it is possible to find anywhere in it a prayer of one who addresses God as Father. For though I have made examination to the best of my ability, I have up to the present failed to find one. I do not say that God is not spoken of as Father or that accounted believers in God are not called sons of God, but that I have not yet found in prayer that confidence in calling God Father which the Savior has proclaimed.

That God is spoken of as Father and those who have waited on God's word as sons, may be seen in many places, as in Deuteronomy, “You have forsaken God your parent and forgotten God your nourisher,”  and again, “Is He not your Father himself that got you and made you and created you?”  and again, “Sons who have not faith in them.” And in Isaiah, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me;”  and in Malachi, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is my honor? And if I be a master, where is my fear?” So then, even though God is termed Father and their sons who have been begotten by reason of their faith in Him, yet sure and unchangeable sonship is not to be seen in the ancient people.

The very passages I have cited since the subjection of those so-called sons, since according to the apostle "the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”  But the fullness of time is in the sojourn of our Lord Jesus Christ, when they who desire receive adoption as sons, as Paul teaches in the words, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery unto fear, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, wherein we cry 'Abba Father;’”  and as it is in the Gospel according to John, “To as many as received Him He gave authority to become children of God if believers on His name;”  and it is by reason of this Spirit of adoption as sons, we learn in the catholic Epistle of John regarding the begotten of God, that “Everyone that is begotten of God does no sin because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is begotten of God.” 

And yet if we think of the meaning of the words which are written in Luke, “When you pray say: 'Father,’”  . . . we shall hesitate to address this expression to Him unless we have become genuine sons in case, in addition to our other sins, we should also become liable to a charge of impiety. My meaning is as follows. In the first Epistle to Corinthians Paul says, “No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' save in a holy spirit, and no one that speaks in God's spirit says 'cursed be Jesus' calling the same thing a holy spirit and God's spirit.”  What is meant by speaking in a holy spirit of Jesus as Lord is not quite clear, as countless actors and numbers of heterodox people, and at times even demons conquered by the power in the name, utter the expression. 

No one therefore will venture to declare that anyone of these calls Jesus 'Lord' in a holy spirit. For the same reason, indeed, they could not be shown to call Jesus Lord at all, since they alone call Jesus Lord who express it from inward disposition in service to the word of God and in proclaiming no other Lord than Him in all their conduct. And if it be such who say Jesus is Lord, it may be that everyone who sins, in that he curses the divine Word through his transgression, has through his actions called out, “Cursed be Jesus.” 

And accordingly, as the one type of man says “Jesus is Lord,” and the man of opposite disposition “Cursed be Jesus,” “so everyone that has been begotten of God and does not sin”  because he is partaker of God's seed which turns him from all sin, says through his conduct “Our Father in Heaven,” the spirit himself witnessing with their spirit that they are children of God and heirs to Him and joint heirs with Christ, since as suffering with Him they reasonably hope with Him also to be glorified.  But in order that theirs may be no one- sided utterance of the words "Our Father," in addition to their actions they have a heart—a fountain and source of good actions—believing unto righteousness, in harmony with which their mouth makes acknowledgment unto salvation. . . .

Let us, therefore, not think that it is words we are taught to say in any appointed season of prayer. On the contrary, if we understand our former consideration of prayer without ceasing, let our whole life of prayer without ceasing speak the words “Our Father in the Heavens,” having its commonwealth in no wise on earth but in every way in heaven, which is God's throne because of the foundation of the kingdom of God in all who wear the image of the Heavenly One and therefore become heavenly. When the Father of saints is said to be in the heavens, we are not to suppose that He is circumscribed by material form and dwells in heaven. On Prayer.

© OTR 2023