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Who is the evil one in Matthew 6:13?

the evil one

In Matthew 6:9–13, Jesus gives us an example of how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly called, contains six petitions. Each petition will have the effect of glorifying God and protecting believers from “the evil one” (verse 13). The evil one is Satan, whom Jesus calls “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, ESV). Knowing that Satan is both a murderer and liar, what should believers do? We should pray to God, following the model of the Lord’s Prayer.

When we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9, ESV), we are thereby acknowledging God’s sovereignty and holiness above everything else, including the evil one. This acknowledgment fortifies our spiritual defense against the evil one, who is no match for God. Whenever we call out to our “Abba,” we are simultaneously rejecting the lies, deception, trickery, and corruption of the evil one. Regarding the name of the Lord, Solomon writes, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10, ESV). Let us run to the Lord with full assurance that we will be safe from the evil one.

The plea for God’s kingdom to come is a prayer against the rule and dominion of the evil one on earth (Matthew 6:10). In the present age, the kingdom of God refers to His kingly presence in the hearts and lives of believers: “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20–21, NKJV). The kingdom of God also refers to the reign of Christ in His church: “He put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22–23, ESV). Though God is “Lord over all” (Romans 10:12, ESV), believers must continue to “sanctify the Lord God in [their] hearts” (1 Peter 3:15, NKJV) through love and obedience (John 14:15).

We ought to pray for God to accomplish His will: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, ESV). In doing so, we align ourselves with the will of God instead of falling victim to the evil one. The evil one desires nothing but to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10, ESV). To this end, he tries to push us toward sin and rebellion against God. So, by aligning ourselves with the will of God, we resist the evil one’s attempts to lead us astray.

Prayer for “daily bread” acknowledges our dependence on God for all needs, whether physical or spiritual (Matthew 6:11). In contrast, the evil one tries to lure us toward self-reliance and greed. Self-reliance and greed, however, are not what God wants for us. Instead, He wants us to depend on Him for everything. There is no selfishness in this prayer. As D. A. Carson aptly put it, “The prayer is for our needs, not our greeds” (Matthew: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Zondervan, 1984, p. 171).

Asking for forgiveness and the resolve to forgive others directly opposes the evil one’s strategy of discord, disunity, and division (Matthew 6:12). The evil one thrives in unforgiving and chaotic environments. But through this plea in the Lord’s Prayer, we embody the peace and reconciliation of Christ, who made “peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20, ESV).

Finally, the prayer for deliverance from temptation and evil highlights the reality of spiritual warfare (Matthew 6:13). Jesus’ mention of “the evil one” explicitly marks Satan as our principal adversary. This part of the Lord’s Prayer is a conscious appeal for divine intervention against the evil one’s attempts to ensnare us in sin. Though the devil seeks to tempt us into sin, God always provides a way of escape: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV). Prayer is one way of escape, providing us with the armor and strategy needed to withstand the schemes of the evil one.

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Who is the evil one in Matthew 6:13?
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This page last updated: April 23, 2024