The Hidden Righteousness of the Kingdom
Prayer: Part 3 (Matt. 6:6-15)


"Our Father who art in heaven:
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from Evil.
For if you forgive men their transgressions,
Your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
Neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."


Before we examine what it means to "hallow" the name of our Father, we first need to understand the significance of the word "name." Too many of us have the same attitude towards a name that Shakespeare displayed in Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." Call a rose whatever you want; however, it won't affect its sweet scent.

Whereas there is truth in what Shakespeare wrote, the Bible takes a much different view towards a name. The name actually represents and embodies the person it is refers to; the person and the name of that person are integrally linked. For example, God's name in Ex. 3 is YHWH which means "I Am." It refers to Him as being the eternally existing one. (Jokingly, Frederick Buechner, mentored by C.S. Lewis, wrote: "In the book of Exodus, God tells Moses that his name is Yahweh, and God hasn't had a peaceful moment since.") The name "Jesus" literally means "Salvation." As a result, when God's name is hallowed, He Himself is being hallowed.

Now what does "hallowed" mean? We normally see this word translated as "sanctified," which means, "set apart." In what way is God set apart? He is from heaven; we are of the earth. According to Isaiah 55:8-9: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

Now normally we think that Is. 55:8-9 means that since God's ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts, we can't understand them. It is almost like He is a cool cucumber floating about in the ether about whom we little or no knowledge. That is NOT what Isaiah is saying. Look at the context, especially verse 7 to which Isaiah links verses 8 and 9: "Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways . . ." In other words, be thankful that God is not like us, that He is different from us in the way we act. If somebody sinned against us, we would blot them from the face of the earth. What human being in his right mind would want either you or me for a son if he knew everything there was to know about us? Few if any! Yet God is different, so different in fact that He wants us for His sons and daughters in spite of who we are, in spite of what we have done and will do. Now THAT is a hallowed, separate, sanctified, set apart God!


What does it mean to "hallow" or "sanctify" God's name?

  1. By living in such a way that our Father is glorified through us. According to Rev. 3:12, God's name is written on whom?

    WE bear the family name. This probably hearkens back to the day when a person's family name really meant something. Today, families mean so little to people that I think many cannot relate to what I am about to write. It used to be that dads would sit down with their sons and remind them that when they went out on dates or went partying with their friends, that they should remember not to harm the family name. "Remember, you are not just a 'Carey'; you are a 'Ford' too. Your actions will reflect not simply on you but also on the family name." There are so few dads around these days or so few dads around their biological children that you don't hear this as much today.

    The story goes that when a young soldier in the army of Alexander the Great was discovered to be a coward, Alexander approached him and asked him his name. When the soldier replied that his name was Alexander, the Great replied: "Either change your name or change your character." According to the Great the young soldier's actions reflected badly on Alexander because they shared the same name.

    That idea is probably operating here: you bear the family name; therefore, your actions will reflect on our heavenly Father. According to Paul, what was happening to God's name because of the sins of the Jewish people (Rom. 2:24)?

    In this instance, we are exalting or sanctifying God's name.

  2. "This is an appeal to God to act in vindication of his name. The relationship between name and person is much closer in Hebraic thought than for us today. The name of God is virtually indistinguishable from the person of God. Thus God is called upon to vindicate himself. In a Jewish context, this petition refers to God acting in fulfillment of the promises to Israel, and thus to the silencing of the taunts of her enemies. In short, God's name will only be properly honored when he brings his kingdom and accomplishes his will on earth." The first three petitions of the prayer are basically asking God to do the same thing: bring His kingdom/will upon the earth (WBC:148).

    In this second instance, God is sanctifying His name.

  3. "The logical subject of sanctifying is God alone and not man. This may be seen by comparison with the petitions which follow. God's name is as little hallowed by men as His kingdom comes or His will is done. His name is His person, which is holy in itself and is to be revealed in its holiness. The revelations take place . . . in the last judgment and historically in, though not by, believers" (TDNT 1:111 by Procksch). For example, according to Paul where is God going to be glorified on the day when Christ returns (2 Thess. 1:10)?

    By glorifying Himself there, God is demonstrating to the world that He is indeed different, or set apart from every other kind of god the world has created. In fact, in The Screwtape Letters, the senior demon (Wormwood) occasionally mentions the astonishment of hell that God is actually seriously concerned about mere, petty, mortal, weak humans: The man "saw not only Them [angels]; he saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him" (end of chapter 31).

AND NOW FROM BONHOEFFER: From the Chapter Entitled The Hiddenness of Prayer

"'Hallowed be thy name.' God's name of Father, as it has been revealed to the disciples in Jesus Christ, shall be kept holy among them. In this name the whole content of the gospel is embraced. May God protect His holy gospel from being obscured and profaned by ____________ ________________ and __________________ of ______________."


Thy Kingdom Come

What does it mean for God's kingdom to come? The coming of God's kingdom "refers to the [end-time] rule of God expected and longed for by the Jewish people. It involves the [fulfillment] of God's purposes in history, the fulfillment of the prophetic pictures of future bliss" (WBC:148). Although many Jews today believe that God has yet to bring about His kingdom upon the earth, Christianity teaches that this kingdom has been inaugurated already by the coming and ministry of Jesus.

What do we mean when we say that God's kingdom has been inaugurated? Think about our president and his inauguration. At the inauguration, the president has begun his "reign," his presidency. But is it complete? Has he accomplished everything at that point in time? No, but he has launched it. If he has enough political power, he will be able to implement his entire agenda. With the coming of Christ, God's kingdom has been inaugurated; God's agenda is in the beginning stages of being implemented. Unlike our presidents, though, who tend to be weak politically, God is powerful enough to make sure that His entire agenda is going to be implemented. It's not a matter of "if"; it is only a matter of "when."

"The gospel is itself, above all, the announcement that God's promised rule has now begun in and through the work of Jesus the Messiah (see 3:2; 4:17, 23), so the disciples are thus encouraged to pray that what has begun in the ministry of Jesus, what they have now begun to participate in, may be experienced in all fullness (cf. the prayer Marana tha, 'our Lord come,' in 1 Cor. 16:22; cf. Rev 22:20)" (WBC:148).

Note that the kingdom of Jesus is also the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus is more like the Viceroy in God's kingdom, that is, Jesus represents His Father when He rules over the kingdom of God. As the perfect Son, He perfectly implements His Father's agenda over His kingdom" [TNDT 581]

"Negatively, [this kingdom] is opposed to everything present and earthly, to everything here and now. It is thus absolutely miraculous. Hence we cannot understand it as a summum bonum to which man strives and gradually approximates."

This is extremely important. You have a whole system of thought (socialism) which basically claims that it can bring the kingdom of God upon the earth by human effort. If we give the socialists enough money, they will be able to bring paradise upon the earth. When that fails, they then inform us that they just need more money and more time in power. Dan Brown characterized Christianity as "so dark the con of man"; however, there has never been a con more promoted and more accepted than socialism. It will fail because it relies totally upon human effort and endeavors to achieve goals only God can meet.

According to Schmidt, "To try to bring in the kingdom of God is human presumption, self-righteous Pharisaism and refined Zealotism. From this standpoint, the supremely hard thing required of man is the patience by which alone may be achieved readiness for the act of God. . . . The parables of the kingdom are spoken to drive home this point. The man who does not display a patient openness for God is like a man who sows, and then like an impatient and curious child--the seed grows he knows not how--he cannot allow it to germinate and grow of itself (the parable of the seed which grows of itself, Mk . 4:26-29). A pure miracle takes place before our eyes when without an co-operation of our own, and beyond all our understanding, the fruit-bearing head develops out of the tiny seed. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven carry the same lesson. The purpose of all these parables is to make it plan that the order in God's kingdom is different from all human order, and that this kingdom is incalculably and overwhelmingly present within the signs in which it lies enclosed in the activity of Jesus."

"This is not the question whether or how we men may have the kingdom of God as a disposition in our hearts, or whether we may represent it as a fellowship of those thus minded. The question is whether we belong to it or not.

From this standpoint, the kingdom of God is a cosmic catastrophe depicted in certain events which constitute the eschatological drama of Jewish apocalyptic. Jesus is at one with those of His Jewish contemporaries whose hope is not set on a visionary political kingdom but who look for the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven (Da. 7:13). . . .

Jesus was also more reserved in another respect. Even where national and political hopes were not to the fore, but salvation was expected for the whole world in the last time, His contemporaries still thought it important that there should be a place of privilege for Israel. Israel was to arise with new glory, and the scattered tribes, and indeed the Gentiles, were to stream towards the new Jerusalem. Jesus shares this hope. He gives to His disciples, the twelve, as representatives of the twelve tribes of the people of God, the holy people, judicial and administrative office in the reign of God (Mt. 19:28). But like the Baptist Jesus also emphasises the negative fact that the Jew as such has no particular claim before God. In the day of judgment he can and will be ashamed in face of the Gentiles. The role of the Jew is viewed as it was later by Paul (R. 2: the rejection of Israel; R. 9-11: the salvation of Israel). This concern for Israel is not directed against Rome (TDNT 1:581, 584-587 by Schmidt).

Thy Will Be Done

"This petition is essentially synonymous with the preceding petition (cf. its omission in Luke 11:2). The accomplishment of God's will on earth obviously means the overturning of the present evil order and thus a regeneration of the earth as we know it." The words "on earth AS in heaven" "may be understood as a petition for the will of God to be done both in heaven and on earth. All of reality must finally come under his rule."

Thy Will be Done "implies an ultimate and basic attitude on the part of the one who prays. It agrees exactly with the petition of the Son in Gethsemane, Mt. 26:42 ["Not My will but Thine be done]. If this expresses particularly willing submission in suffering, the presupposition in the Lord's Prayer is the basic attitude [we are to submit even though it might mean suffering]. According to Mk. 3:35; Mt. 12:50 this attitude is necessarily demanded of the followers of Jesus because Jesus Himself is wholly rooted and lives in the divine will" (WBC:148). See also "Lk. 2:42, where Jesus negates His own will in Gethsemane" (TDNT 3:55, 59 by Schrenk).

Now the first 3 petitions in the Lord's Prayer [hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done] seem to zero in on what GOD does: God is to hallow His name, bring about His kingdom, and implement His will upon the earth. HOWEVER, these 3 petitions definitely imply that we too are to be involved in these activities by our lives. WE are to hallow God's name; WE are to be the instruments God uses to bring about His kingdom and to implement His will. We cannot do these things in our own strength and power; however, God DOES use instruments to make real His agenda on earth. (See WBC:148-149).

AND NOW FROM BONHOEFFER: From the Chapter Entitled The Hiddenness of Prayer

"'Thy kingdom come.' In Jesus Christ his followers have witnessed the kingdom of God breaking in on earth. They have seen Satan ____________ and the powers of the world, sin and death _____________. The kingdom of God is still exposed to ________________ and ____________. The little flock has a share in that tribulation. . . .

'Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth.' In fellowship with Jesus his followers have surrendered their own ________ completely to God's, and so they pray that God's will may be done throughout the world."

Bonhoeffer's statement here is all the more powerful because it is written by someone who surrendered his will to God's even though it resulted in his being imprisoned, tortured, and finally executed.

"No creature on earth shall ________ him. But the _____________ ___________ is still alive even in the followers of Christ, it still seeks to cut them off from fellowship with him; and that is why they must also pray that the will of God may prevail more and more in their hearts every day and break down all defiance. In the end the whole world must bow before that will, worshipping and giving thanks in joy and tribulation. Heaven and earth shall be subject to God. . . . Furthermore, God uses their prayers to _______________ the coming of the End." (For confirmation of this last sentence, see 2 Pet. 3:12).