Many Christians do not understand the Lord's prayer, and have begun to use the term "Father God" which is nowhere used in the Bible. They pray to this "Father God" and on the side may mention or think of Jesus. But this is a false understanding of God, which comes from a false teaching which divides God into three persons. For there is only one person, and that is Jesus, who is Jehovah in human form. One can immediately see the belief in a tritheistic concept of God when one listens to many uttering a prayer to one person, and somehow on the side mentioning a second person. This comes from a literal but false understanding of the terms "Father" and "Son."
However there is only One Supreme Being, who manifested Himself in human form as Jesus Christ. The invisible God is the Father, the visible God in human form is the Son:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)
Not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. (John 6:46)That the Father is the unseen God, and Jesus is the visible form, is specifically mentioned by Paul:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature (Col 1:15)Another way of looking at it, is the Father and Son are as the soul and body of Jesus Christ. As Jehovah was born into a very limited finite human state, and could be tempted from the body he inherited from Mary, so as Jesus he prays to the Father. The Father is not another person, it is the "higher self" of Jesus. For all of us, our "higher self" is our angelic form. For Jesus, his higher self was the Divine itself, which made Himself known to us through this human form. That the Father is not a distinct separate person from Jesus, Jesus himself declares in the following passage:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:8-10)See how this directly disagrees with the definition of the Trinity as given in traditional churches? For if the Father and Son are distinct persons, how can they dwell inside of each other? It makes no sense. But if the Father resides in the Son as the soul resides in the body, it makes perfect sense. Thus Jesus always references the "will of the Father," for the Father is the will of Jesus. Thus he says it is the Father who does the works through him. This is the teaching of the New Church, which is in agreement with scripture. As such, the New Church is the Most Christian Church. But let's take a deeper look into the Lord's prayer.
ANALYSIS OF THE NAME IN THE LORD'S PRAYER
The Lord's Prayer as given in the gospel of Matthew begins as follows:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Another way of saying this, according to a note in the ESV, changes the order of the words slightly:
Our Father in heaven, let your name be kept holy.Now, if we look at this single phrase more deeply, we can divide it into three parts:
1. The heavenly Father.In other words, the Trinity is spelled out in this phrase. But it is not a Trinity of three persons, it is a Trinity within the One Supreme Being. For what is the name of the Father? His name is Jesus. Thus we have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in this one single phrase. To declare Him holy, means we should acknowledge that everything that is good and true comes from God, not from our self. Only evil and falsehood comes from our selfish ego. The ultimate goal is to God to live in us through love and truth.
2. His name.
That the name of the Father is Jesus, is contrary to the definition of a Trinity of three persons, a later invention which was added later to Christianity, corrupting it. That the disciples understood the name of the Father to be Jesus, can be shown that although Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), throughout the book of Acts they baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, 4:11-12, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16, Rom, 6:3-4, etc). Everything said or done by the disciples was done by the name of Jesus, which is most Holy.
CORRUPTION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The Catholic Church has a habit of adding their own traditions to Christianity, and the Lord's Prayer is no exception. Thus all Catholics are taught to say the phrase "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" before and after the Lord's Prayer. But this is redundant. For the Trinity is in the first line of the Lord's Prayer, and it completely resides in one person, Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah in human form.
By doing this, they have taught the masses to keep their mind on a trinity of three persons, rather than Jesus, praying to a Father God. But prayers cannot be made to the Father direct. All prayers must be made to Jesus, as no man can approach the Father directly:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)Thus those who pray to a "Father God" separate from and bypassing Jesus, are not praying correctly. For they who treat the Father as a distinct person do not know who Jesus is, as Jesus declared to his own disciples. No one can approach the Father except through the Son, just as no one can approach the soul of a person except through their visible body.
That the phrase "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" has been added to the Lord's Prayer by the Catholic Church is plain for everyone to see. But what many people do not know is that all Christians were once baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in the early Christian apostolic Church. This was gradually changed in subsequent centuries, where church authorities began to change this and commanded everyone to be baptized not in the name of Jesus, but using the Trinitarian formula. From HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRINITARIAN MODE OF BAPTISM:
Cyprian, who became the bishop of Carthage in 248 A.D., writes in his Epistle LXX, to Agrippinus concerning rebaptism of heretics, which he defined one group as those who had not been baptized using the trinity formula. Obviously, there must have been a debate continuing to go on in the churches about Jesus name baptism versus the triune baptism for these church leaders to continue to make denunciation of the "heretics". In 255-256 A.D., the Council of Baptism of Heretics was called by Pope Stephen of Rome to address this issue. Obviously, there were believers at this point in church history who continued to use the name of Jesus in baptism. When Pope Stephen of Rome allowed "heretics" to enter into the church without baptism using the trinity formula, even though they had been baptized in the name of Jesus, Cyprian felt so incensed that he wrote a strong letter of rebuke to Stephen about his leaning toward the Oneness. But many historians feel that Stephen did more than lean toward Jesus name baptism, but in fact, considered baptism as valid only when administered in the name of Jesus Christ.Such arguments, to be plain, are stupid. But ignorance prevails in much of religion, and there are even lists of "valid" and "invalid" baptisms. Here is one list from a Catholic diocese, which lists the baptism of the New Church or Swedenborgian as invalid: Valid and Non Valid Baptisms.
What matters most is one's understanding of God as one personal being. If one has a proper understanding of baptism as cleansing of sin through Jesus Christ, God in human form, in acts of repentance, it is spiritually valid. This history is set forth to show how the doctrines of the Christian Church changed gradually over time. In the New Church, a name signifies the quality of a person or thing. For the ritual of baptism is an external ritual, representative of the inner spiritual transformation as testimony to others. God looks at one's heart, not at the external form of the ritual. External rituals that are more true to internal spiritual truths, however, have the advantage of giving better spiritual understanding and communion with the heavenly world.
For those interested in the gradual change from baptism in the name of Jesus to baptism in the name of the Trinitarian formula, there were further gradual developments:
In Canon VII of the Council of Constantinople of 381 A.D., the Catholic church specifically stated that those followers of Sabellius (who was a oneness believer)
..."who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians," were heathens with an invalid baptism.
From these canon denunciations, it is obvious that Jesus name believers were very strongly present in the churches at this point in church history. By the time of the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D., the doctrine of the Trinity had been fully developed and accepted. However, as Pope Pelagius said after the Second Council of Constantinople in 560 A.D. that,
...there are many who say that they baptized in the name of Christ alone and by a single immersion.Eventually the original baptism was forgotten, until the Oneness Pentecostal movement of the 20th century, which was an independent development from the New Church as revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg of the 18th century. As the baptism was gradually changed, so was the Lord's Prayer, to instill a belief centered on a trinity of three persons instead of one focused solely on Jesus Christ.
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE LORD'S PRAYER
The Lord's Prayer is a central pillar of Christianity, and everything of the Christian life is contained within it. It should not be uttered as a series of words without paying attention to the meaning, one should understand the spiritual meaning as well. So let's go through the rest of the lines of the Lord's Prayer:
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.The kingdom of God is the Divine Truth, God's will is the Divine Love. Love and Truth are the two aspects of the Divine, descending from the Father and Son, who each correspond to love and truth that flows into us. The kingdom of God is within us, within our heart, and does not come with visible observation (Luke 17:20-21). While our body is on earth, our internal spiritual self is in heaven. Our actions should correspond to our intentions and beliefs. One should not believe in one way and act another. One should not act superficially without a corresponding true and good intention. When one's intention and actions are one in following God, then God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. There is a constant spiritual influx into our mind from heaven, and the Lord's Prayer helps in opening it.
Give us this day our daily bread.This does not, as many suppose, refer to literal food that we eat, but rather our spiritual food. Spiritual food is good and truth, which we receive from the Word. This Jesus explains in another passage:
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:3-4)Jesus declares that bread is spiritual food:
Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. (John 6:26-27)And Jesus states that He Himself is the bread of life:
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35This is thus related to communion or the Eucharist, in which Jesus declares bread to be His body, and the wine His blood. In the spiritual sense, the bread or food refers to the Divine love, and the wine or water refers to Divine truth. Daily, we should ask Jesus for the spiritual food of love. For the love and good that we do is not from the self, but from the Divine that flows into all life:
He who abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing (John 15:5)
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.A debt here are the debts of charity, of things done or not done according to one's responsibility in life. These are spiritual debts. The removal of a spiritual debt, or sin, is done by repentance. Simply asking for forgiveness does not remove it:
Ah, sinful nation, laden with iniquity; wherefore when ye spread forth your hands, I hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I do not hear. Wash you; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; and then shall your sins be removed and forgiven (Isa 1:4, 15-18).It is said, as we have forgiven our debtors, for the sins in our self are the ones we tend to see in others:
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matt. 7:4-5)Forgive means to "let go." When we let go, it releases us from the spiritual bondage of hatred and revenge. Thus Jesus commands for us to pray for the ones that hate us, for those in hatred are the ones in need of salvation.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27-28)There are three levels of spiritual separation here: those who are in hatred are at the lowest level; those who are in falsehood (signified by cursing) are at the middle level; and those who abuse are at the third level who only commit light acts against another. Jesus is not commanding us to do good to those who are do evil, but rather to pray that they develop understanding of their sin, and repent. For all who commit evil do so under the darkness of ignorance. Remove the ignorance, and they will stop committing the actions that are done out of ignorance. Punish evil not for revenge, but punish it out of good hoping for change in behavior.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.In all spiritual growth, spiritual knowledge leads to temptation, especially when we examine our lives. Temptation is a falsehood, a false idea that precedes evil. Falsehoods must be defended against with the truth, especially the spiritual truths we receive from scripture. In fighting against evil, acknowledge that only Jesus delivers from evil: we must resist evil, but acknowledge that Jesus does it within us. This is how salvation occurs: through repentance, not through mere belief in a religious system. As Jesus fought against all of hell and conquered, so when we ask Him to enter our lives, He helps us to repent and fight against our own evils and sins.
THE DOXOLOGY OF THE LORD'S PRAYER: IS IT ORIGINAL?
The last sentence of the Lord's Prayer is known as the Doxology:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. AmenAlthough present in the gospel of Matthew it is not present in the gospel of Luke. There is a dispute as to whether or not it is original or not. From Doxology of the Lord's Prayer:
The doxology of the prayer is not contained in Luke's version, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew, representative of the Alexandrian text, although it is present in the manuscripts representative of the Byzantine text. Most scholars do not consider it part of the original text of Matthew. New translations generally omit it.Thus Latin Roman Catholics, and some Lutherans, omit it entirely. The analysis above is deceptive: the Alexandrian texts, although earlier in date, offer an inferior text. The Didache is an early Christian treatise, dating to the middle or late first century. This puts the Didache at about the same time that the gospel of Matthew was written. In fact, there is a strong similarily between the two texts. From the Didache:
The first known use of the doxology, in a less lengthy form ("for yours is the power and the glory forever"), as a conclusion for the Lord's Prayer (in a version slightly different from that of Matthew) is in the Didache, 8:2. It has similarities with 1 Chronicles—"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all."
Significant similarities between the Didache and the gospel of Matthew have been found as these writings share words, phrases, and motifs. There is also an increasing reluctance of modern scholars to support the thesis that the Didache used Matthew. This close relationship between these two writings might suggest that both documents were created in the same historical and geographical setting. One argument that suggests a common environment is that the community of both the Didache and the gospel of Matthew was probably composed of Jewish Christians from the beginning. Also, the Two Ways teaching (Did. 1–6) may have served as a pre-baptismal instruction within the community of the Didache and Matthew. Furthermore, the correspondence of the Trinitarian baptismal formula in the Didache and Matthew (Did. 7 and Matt 28:19) as well as the similar shape of the Lord's Prayer (Did. 8 and Matt 6:5–13) appear to reflect the use of similar oral traditions. Finally, both the community of the Didache (Did. 11–13) and Matthew (Matt 7:15–23; 10:5–15, 40–42; 24:11,24) were visited by itinerant apostles and prophets, some of whom were illegitimate.This is a pretty strong case that the Doxology is genuine. Also it offers strong evidence that Matt. 28:19 is genuine - just because the disciples baptized in the name of Jesus does not indicate that it is invalid. Rather, this indicates the disciples' understanding of the Trinity, that it was contained bodily within the person of Jesus (see Col. 2:9). The Trinity as defined in modern Christian churches would not only be foreign to them, they would probably be utterly horrified. For the full text of the Didache, see Early Christian Writings - the Didache.
A COMPARISON OF THE DOXOLOGY WITH THE BOOK OF REVELATION
In addition to the Didache, there is another strong indication that the Doxology of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew in genuine, and this comes from the book of Revelation. Here is the passage, at first it is not apparent but look closely at the last phrase:
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Rev. 1:4-6)Note, the last phrase is very similar to the Doxology. In fact, it becomes more clear when one puts the Lord's Prayer in Matthew right next to this passage from the book of Revelation:
BOOK OF REVELATION
Our Father which art in heaven
Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come
Hallowed (Holy, thus the Holy Spirit)
and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne
be thy name
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
and the prince of the kings of the earth
Give us this day our daily bread
Unto him that loved us
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
and washed us from our sins in his own blood
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The comparison is rather clear, and it is quite surprising to see the same spiritual concepts portrayed in the same order, with slightly different wording. It also confirms that the spiritual meaning of "bread" is "love," specifically the love of Jesus for the entire human race. Those who omit the Doxology in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew do so in error.
So, what is the spiritual meaning of the Doxology? The Lord's kingdom is His Divine truth or His spiritual kingdom in heaven, which becomes manifest when we live by His laws; His power is Divine good which conquered hell; and the glory is the unification of His Divine with His Human, the Divine Human, which Jesus achieved when He was glorified by which He saved and continues to save the entire human race.
BY THE LORD'S PRAYER THERE IS COMMUNION WITH THE LORD
When prayed with an open heart, the Lord's prayer opens us up to communion with the Lord in heaven. Swedenborg was able to see this clearly in his visionary state:
"Whenever I have been reading the Lord's prayer, I have manifestly perceived an elevation toward the Lord, which was like a drawing upward, and then my ideas were opened, and thus communication was effected with some societies in heaven. And I perceived that there was an influx from the Lord into every particular of the prayer, thus into all the particular ideas of my thought, which were from the meaning of the particulars in the prayer. The influx was effected with inexpressible variety, that is, not the same at one time as another; hence also it was made manifest how infinite are the things contained in the prayer, and that the Lord was present in each one." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6476)There are also innumerable spiritual concepts hidden within the Lord's Prayer:
"That innumerable things are contained in the ideas of thought, and that those which are contained in order are from interiors, was also evident to me while I read the Lord's Prayer morning and evening. The ideas of my thought were then always opened toward heaven, and innumerable things flowed in, so that I observed clearly that the ideas of thought from the contents of the Prayer were filled from heaven. And such things were also infused as cannot be uttered, and also could not be comprehended by me, and I was only sensible of the general resulting affection, and what is wonderful, what flowed in was varied from day to day. Hence it was given to know that in the contents of the Prayer there is more than the whole heaven is capable of comprehending; and that with man there is more in it in proportion as his thought is open toward heaven; and on the other hand, there are fewer things in it in proportion as his thought is closed; for with those whose thought is closed, nothing more appears therein than the sense of the letter, or that sense which is nearest the words." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6619)It is important to note the series, or the order, of each idea in the Lord's Prayer:
"In that prayer all things follow in such a series that they constitute as it were a column increasing from summit to base, in the interiors of which are the things which precede in the series. What is first therein is inmost, and what succeeds in order, this adds itself to the inmost successively and thereby increases. What is inmost reigns universally in those things which are round about, that is, in all things and in each thing, for thereby it is the essential of the existence of all." \(Heavenly Arcana, n. 8864)
THE NEW CHURCH IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LORD'S PRAYER
Most other churches, with a trinity of three persons in their head, pray to a Father God, and not to Jesus. In the New Church, the Lord's Prayer is a prayer to the Lord. By "name" is signified the quality by which one is known, and in the New Church, the essential name of God, or His quality, is revealed in His Divine Human:
"Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Take heed of His face, and hear His voice, for He will not bear your transgression; for My name is in the midst of Him. (Exod. xxiii. 20, 21). That by the angel of Jehovah is here meant the Lord as to the Divine Human, may be seen above (n. 6831); and as the Divine Human is the quality of the Divine Itself, therefore it is said that the name of Jehovah is in the midst of Him. In the Lord's Prayer, also, by Our Father . . . in the heavens; hallowed be Thy Name, is meant the Lord as to the Divine Human; and also all in one complex whereby He is to be worshipped." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6687.3)When this became known to me, the shift in mind for me was dramatic: I had been praying the Lord's Prayer in the wrong way, not recognizing who Jesus was. For he is not the "second" person of anything, He is the Only Person. That this is so, Swedenborg explains further in another passage:
"But let us return to the Lord's prayer, where it is said, Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come. You who are here understand by these words the Father in His Divine alone; but I understand Him in His Human, and this also is the Father's Name; for the Lord said, Father, glorify Thy Name; that is, Thy Human; and when this is done the kingdom of God comes; and this prayer was commanded for this end, namely, that God the Father may be approached through His Human. The Lord also said, No one cometh unto the Father but by Me; and by the prophet, Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and His name is God, Mighty, the Father of eternity; and in another place, Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is Thy Name; beside a thousand other places, where the Lord our Saviour is called Jehovah. This is the true explanation of the words of that prayer." (True Christian Religion, n. 112)The New Church is thus the fulfillment of the Lord's Prayer, and of the New Jerusalem foretold in the Apocalypse:
"...the Lord is at this day establishing the New Church, which is meant by the New Jerusalem in the Apocalypse, in which will be the worship of the Lord alone, as in heaven, and that thus every thing will be fulfilled which is contained in the Lord's prayer from beginning to end. We confirmed all from the Word in the Evangelists and in the Prophets, also from the Apocalypse in which that church is treated of from the beginning to the end" (True Christian Religion, n. 113)Thus all who worship Jesus Christ alone, and none other, who acknowledge a Trinity of soul, body and spirit in His person, and pray to Him alone, belong to the New Jerusalem as foretold in the book of Revelation. This is the main teaching that distinguishes the New Church from the others which preceded it.