A Point I Never Noticed in the Lord’s Prayer

I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer throughout my life both verbatim and, more often, as a template. I’ve also sung it many times in a great men’s quartet arrangement of the Malotte setting.

But I never noticed a simple point about the first line that numbers of commentators are bringing out as I study the passage for a Bible Truths revision: “Our Father which art in heaven” juxtaposes two ways of looking at God.

We address God intimately as Father, but we immediately recognize his infinite greatness with the addition in heaven.
—Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 144.

In well over half the references to “your Father” in the discourse “in heaven” or “heavenly” is added. It not only underlines the metaphorical nature of the concept, but also prescribes the disciple’s attitude to God: he is on the one hand all-powerful and therefore completely to be trusted but on the other hand to be approached with the reverence which the following clauses of the prayer will express.
—R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 245.

The phrase “in heaven” balances…intimacy with an affirmation of God’s sovereignty and majesty.
—Craig Blomberg, Matthew, NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 119.

A subtle point, perhaps, but Jesus was often subtle. I am a natural-born son, born of the Spirit to the God whom I call Father (John 3:6-8). But I am also the subject of a King who sits in the heavens and does whatever He pleases (Ps 115:3).

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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