Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | November 19, 2008

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem

That is the Latin of Matt 6, 13. There is often a theological battle over this particular verse in the Pater Noster. Does God lead us to temptation? The obvious answer is of course not, God isn’t the author of anything evil (cf 1 Cor 14, 33). But we must come to an understanding of the term temptation means in the Bible.

In chapter Matt 4, 1-11 we have the temptation of Jesus in the Desert by the Devil.

“Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple, And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.”

The connotation of the word temptation is usually something that is negative.

Looking at the very definition from the dictionary we see that temptation means the act of enticement, allurement or tempting. All of these generally in the Christian understanding are seen as negative.

Whenever the term temptation is being used in the Bible, what we’re referring to is the submission to test loyalty and obedience. To test, to question is perhaps a better way to put the term temptation. This gets into the whole dynamic of what kind of translation should be done, but that’s not the topic of today’s discussion.

The question is for today, what exactly are we praying when we pray “et ne nos inducas in tentationem?”

For years my mind struggled with this issue…God, temptation, what the? that makes no sense.

Let us take a look at the Greek of this very phrase in Matt 6, 13

και μη εισεvεγκηs ημαs ειs πειρασμov αλλ α ρυσαι ημαs απo τoυ πovηρoυ

εισεvεγκηs means to lead into
μη means not ever
ειs means into, unto, towards

This word is very important:
πειρασμov means experiment, trial, test of fidelity, enticement to sin, temptation, test.

Notice how in this word you have BOTH the negative and the positive connotations of the term temptation. Now when St. Jerome was translating the Greek into Latin, he was NOT trying to find the meaning of the words, he was translating the words in the most literal way possible, hence why tentationem was the word chosen for this word. As you can tell the Latin doesn’t bring out the fullness of the Greek term here.

αλλα means but
απo means of separation, departing, fleeing, state of separation by temporal, physical, spiritual, origin of cause.
τoυ means this, that
πovηρoυ means full of labors, annoyance, hardships, peril, bad in physical sense or disease or bad in the ethical sense, evil or wicked.

We are able to pick up that we’re asking God to separate us from the evil, the wrong that we may have some how gotten ourselves into from the Greek text.

So basically what we are asking for when we pray this part of the Pater Noster is this.

1. For God NOT to allow us to be overcome by the test. That is to say God grant us the grace to be victorious in the trial or test. As I mentioned above, one of the translations of the Greek term is test. Which is perhaps better for terms of understanding this text.

2. That good should not allow us to fall, but give us the grace/ strength to not yield to the particular situation.

To better understand these points let us go to the Letter of St. James Chapter 1 the 13th and the 14th verse.

“let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man. But every man is tempted by his own concupiscence, being drawn away and allured. “

These 2 verses help us to interpret Matt 6, 13 when we say “et ne nos inducas in tentationem” That is to say it is NOT God who tempts us, but rather our own desires, concupiscence the tendency of us to sin (thanks a lot Adam and Eve) the scars from original sin is what truly tempts us.

That is to say when temptation is used in the negative aspect as it is here in St. Jame’s letter, we know that it’s of the devil, God is not the author of evil situations. When we see temptation in the positive aspect from God, it is a trial to see how loyal we shall be in times of un-comfort.

It is my hope that now we all better understand what’s going on when we’re praying the et ne nos inducas in tentationem

Pax Tecum


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