(1) As he was praying in a certain place.—The facts of the case as here narrated, the common practice of the Jews, and the analogy of the prayers in John 11:41, Matthew 26:39, and, we may add, of the thanksgiving in Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25, all lead to the conclusion that our Lord prayed aloud, and that some, at least, of the disciples heard Him. They listened, unable to follow, or to record what they had heard, and they wished to be able to enter into His spirit and pray as He prayed.
Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.—It seems, at first sight, to follow from this that the disciple who asked this had not been present when the Sermon on the Mount was spoken. It is conceivable, however, that, knowing the pattern prayer which had then been given, he had thought it adapted for the multitude, and not for the special scholars and disciples—too short and simple as compared, on the one hand, with the devotions which John had prescribed to his disciples, as he prescribed also fasting and alms-giving (Matthew 9:14; Luke 3:11), and with the fuller utterances, as of rapt communion with God, of his Master. The prayers of John’s disciples were probably, like those of the Pharisees, offered three times a day, at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours, and after the pattern of the well-known “Eighteen Prayers,” which made up the Jewish manual of private devotion.
(2-4) Our Father which art in heaven.—See Notes on Matthew 6:9-11. The following variations may be noticed. (1) The better MSS. omit “our” and “which art in heaven,” and begin with the simple “Father.” It was, of course, natural enough that it should be, in course of time, adapted by transcribers to the form which was in common use. (2) Many of the best MSS., again, omit the whole clause, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth,” which may have been inserted with the same purpose. (3) St. Luke substitutes “day by day” for “this day,” and so implies that the word ἐπιούσιος (epiousios), translated “daily,” must have some other meaning. (See Excursus II. on Notes to St. Matthew.) (4) St. Luke uses the word “sins” instead of “debts,” as being, perhaps, more adapted to the minds of his Gentile readers, while he retains the primary idea of St. Matthew’s term in the words, “every one that is indebted to us.” The familiar “Forgive us our trespasses,” of the Prayer Book, it may be noted, is not found in the Authorised version at all, and comes to us from Tyndale’s. (5) Many of the better MSS. omit the clause, “But deliver us from evil,” this too, probably, being an addition made for the sake of conformity. (6) St. Luke (all the MSS. here agreeing) omits the final doxology found in some, but not in the best, MSS. of St. Matthew.
The variations in St. Luke are (1) the omission of the explanation of the manner in which the sign of the prophet Jonah was to be fulfilled by the three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; (2) the position of the reference to the queen of the south, as coming between the sign of Jonah and the rising of the men of Nineveh. In other respects the agreement is more than usually complete.
Ye are as graves which appear not.—The comparison, though drawn from the same object, presents a different phase of it. In St. Matthew the contrast is between the whitened surface and the decaying bones within. Here the whitewash is worn out, and there is nothing to distinguish the graves, and men walk over them without knowing what lies below the surface.
Some of them shall they slay and persecute.—Note, as perhaps characteristic of St. Luke, the absence of the specific forms of persecution, “crucifying” and “scourging in the synagogues.”
To provoke him to speak.—The Greek verb has literally the sense of “causing to speak impromptu, without thought,” and is happily enough rendered by the English text.