Praising the King of Heaven: The Controversial Doxology


“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

This powerful doxology finishes off the Lord’s Prayer with a shout of praise—a triumphant declaration that God is King forever and ever. At the end of a prayer that is all about human agents establishing the kingdom on earth through their trust and reliance on God, there couldn’t be a more appropriate close.

Careful readers of the Old Testament may also find the doxology familiar. It didn’t originate in the New Testament, and its origin makes it that much more meaningful.

First, though, let’s take a little sideways detour through history.

A Question of Accuracy

There’s a bit of controversy around the end of the Lord’s Prayer, for one reason: these are the only words in the prayer that it’s possible Jesus didn’t say. In most Bible versions, you’ll find them either missing, bracketed, or footnoted to that effect.

The reason there’s a question is that in the oldest manuscripts we have for the gospel of Matthew, this benediction isn’t there. In later manuscripts, it is.

There are several possible explanations for the discrepancy. One of those certainly is that Jesus said the words, but the particular old manuscripts we have didn’t include them for whatever reason, while others did, in a straight line all the way to the Bibles we have now.

(“Newer” manuscripts are handwritten copies of “older” manuscripts that wore out and fell apart from use, so they constitute a sort of paper trail. And scribes did their best to copy accurately.)

But the general consensus is that Jesus didn’t say the words; rather, they were added by a scribe in the margins as praise to God, and as more scribes copied the manuscript out by hand, eventually the margin note got incorporated into the text itself.

There are a few places where this happens in the Bible, though not usually so extensively. Something a scribe may have added—a “gloss,” or an explanation or clarification—eventually got added into the body of the text.

(In no case does this create a significant change of doctrine or meaning. Charges that “we can’t know what the Bible originally said” because there are so many discrepancies in the manuscripts are totally misleading, because they ignore the nature of the differences.

In the highest percentage of cases, these are things like one manuscript saying “Jesus” where another says “Christ.” Every change of any import for meaning is marked in nearly every major translation, with alternate translations given in the footnotes. You can trust what your Bible says.

Those interested in this topic might want to check out the free training available at I love the series called “Why We Trust Our Bible” and highly recommend it.)

But whether Jesus said these words at this time or he didn’t, they are Scripture, and they’re extremely appropriate as a benediction to the Lord’s Prayer.

If a scribe added them, he chose his words of praise very deliberately.

The words are in fact a direct quote from 1 Chronicles 29:11-13, and they were given in the context of the kingdom of God coming to earth.

The Kingdom of the High King

“For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory” is an abridged version of the prayer in 1 Chronicles. The full doxology reads:

Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.

The one who spoke these words was David, and he did so at a time when his son Solomon was about to take the throne. David understood his role perhaps better than any other Israelite king (including Solomon) ever did. He knew that God himself had been Israel’s king and that his own appointment to the throne came straight from God.

Though he may not have known it early on, by the end of his life he understood that the kingdom he ruled was “the kingdom of God” and that he ruled it not as ultimate potentate but as a lesser king under the King of Heaven. He understood that he was a shepherd of Israel, stewarding the sheep on behalf of the One whose subjects and possessions they were truly were.

David understood that his throne was a throne of the kingdom of God and that his line was destined to sit on that throne forever—into eternity and in the heavenly realm. This was fulfilled in Jesus, a physical descendant of David many generations later.

David’s prayer acknowledges God as good, as the One who blesses, provides for, protects, and prospers his people. It includes lines that would make many Christians uncomfortable, leaning too much toward “prosperity gospel” or “worldly,” physical blessings. Yet the Bible presents the kingdom of God as manifesting itself in just these ways.

From Genesis on, the kingdom is about human flourishing in right relationship with God. We can’t cut God out of culture, economy, wealth, government, art, and everything else that makes up human life and expression without losing some of the Bible’s vision. Contrary to popular perception, Jesus didn’t do so. He came to plant his kingdom in seed form, and he fully expected it to grow into a full harvest—affecting every part of human life and society.

The import of Jesus’s kingdom being “not of this world” (John 18:36) wasn’t that it wouldn’t affect this world. It was that because its power and authority didn’t come from this world, it wouldn’t operate in a top-down, violent, empire-building way. Instead, it would grow from the inside out, changing hearts first and society second.

That is in fact how the kingdom does grow. Whenever Christians have turned to militaristic means of “enforcing” the kingdom of God, we have instead opened doors to the enemy and undermined our own mission. Hundreds of years later we’re still trying to pick up these pieces. When Christians focus on the preaching of truth, the practice of love, and the work of inside-out transformational discipleship, whole nations are blessed and changed. But I digress.

The Best Possible Benediction

The Lord’s Prayer is a kingdom prayer from beginning to end. It acknowledges God as holy High King. It acknowledges our own part in bringing the kingdom, the dominion we were given on earth and our need to unite our will to God’s will. It specifically connects the “doing” of God’s will with our needs, our forgiveness, and our deliverance.

And finally, here, it turns everything back to God and acknowledges him as Ruler, Savior, Originator, Strength … King.

“For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory” is the best possible benediction. Because these things are true, the Lord’s Prayer will be answered in every detail.

Heaven will invade earth. The kingdom will fully come.

That is why we pray.

(This is Part 68 in a series on the Gospel of Matthew, which you can access here. Unless otherwise marked, quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)



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2 responses to “Praising the King of Heaven: The Controversial Doxology”

  1. Christina Weigand Avatar

    As a Catholic I learned the prayer without the doxology, but that is not to say that we don’t say it. During the mass the doxology is separated from the Lord’s prayer by some lines of praise from the priest, and after he has said those lines we respond with For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory now and forever.

    1. Rachel Thomson Avatar
      Rachel Thomson

      Thanks for that insight, Christina! I like that way of doing it :).

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