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Christian Biblical Studies
‘THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH’
All Scripture references are to the King James (Authorised) Version
Q: Matt. 6: 10: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’. What does this mean?
A: This text belongs to what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, the whole of which is related in vs. 9-13. (A parallel account is found in Luke 11: 2-4.)
As a whole, it is a model of effective prayer (‘after this manner’; v. 9). The phrasing is more exemplary than prescriptive — that is, the entire prayer need not be repeated word-for-word, although there is nothing wrong with doing that. Many have learned this beautiful prayer by rote in school assemblies or at Sunday church services, usually in the majestic language of the Authorised version.
There are several inferences one can draw from it:
1. That Jesus was not God, for He addresses the Heavenly Father as separate from Himself and as being more holy than Himself (v. 9, ‘Our Father which art in heaven . . . hallowed be thy name . . .’). Since Jesus is not called ‘Heavenly Father’ in the Scriptures and is never addressed as such by the disciples, His instructions to them to use this term directs them away from Him and towards the one true Father. See Matt. 6: 1, 4, 6, 8 (‘thy father’, ‘your father’). Jesus says of Himself that He was ‘sent’ by the Father; that the ‘Father is greater than I’; that certain things were known only by the Father (who alone is omniscient). See John 6: 39, 40, 57; 14: 28; Matt. 24: 36.
2. That unlike humanity, all the denizens of heaven do obey God’s will (v. 10, ‘. . . as it is in heaven’).
3. That the kingdom to come will be God’s kingdom (‘thy kingdom’).
4. That the will to be done on earth is God’s will, for Jesus never asked that His own will be done. See Luke 22: 42, the account of Jesus in Gethsemane — ‘. . . not my will, but thine be done’.
5. That the universal doing of God’s will on the earth was still future.
6. The fact that Jesus Himself made this prayer, looking to the future, is not merely wishful thinking on His part, but a guarantee that the time will come when God’s will is done throughout the earth.
7. That before God’s will is universal on earth, God’s kingdom must be set up in the earth. It will not evolve out of existing institutions, but will be created from whole cloth, imposed from above, and for the everlasting benefit of the human family.
Not the ancient theocratic nation of Israel, nor the old papal empire, nor the grouping of nations once known as Christendom (a portmanteau word for ‘Christ’s Kingdom’), nor any earthly power have met or ever will meet the requirements of this prayer. The answer to it awaits only the Millennial reign of Christ who will represent Jehovah in that day (Zech. 14: 9): ‘And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one LORD, and his name one.’
Christ will shower blessings on mankind, enforce righteous regulations and governance, and lead willing humanity from their condition of sin and death into eternal salvation — the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom. 8: 20-22). See also, Psa. 2: 6-12 (said of Christ); Isa. 28: 16, 17 (said of Christ).
This glorious event is what Christians anticipate whenever we pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’.
January 2015. All natural author rights asserted, but feel free to reproduce this article. Please acknowledge the source.