Heidelberg 128: The Doxology

medieval-castleWe might first associate the word doxology with the song often sung at the close of public worship services but it is, in fact, two Greek words (δόξᾰ + λογία), which was taken over into medieval Latin and thence into English in the mid-17th century. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as a “liturgical formula of praise to God,” which is partly true. In fact, however, before the church took to writing doxologies, God himself gave us doxologies in his Word. The 150 Psalms (or the Psalter) are composed of five books. At the end of each book there is a doxology (see Psalms 41, 72, 89, 106, 149–150).

The Lord’s Prayer as we typically recite it ends with a doxology, a formula of praise to God. As I noted under questions 118–119, that not in the oldest biblical manuscripts of Matthew 6:9–13. Bruce Metzger explained “the ascription at the close of the Lord’s prayer” occurs in Late copies of the Gospels. The a version of the it occurs in the Didache (early 2nd century) cap. 9 but, in the form in which we know it, the earliest text in which it occurs is from the 5th century (400s AD). Most of the texts in which it occurs are from the 9th century AD. The ascription (i.e., the doxology), Metzger wrote, is absent from “early and important representatives of the Alexandrian (א B)m the Western (D and most of the Old Latin) and other (f1 types of text, as well as early Patristic commentaries on the Lord’s Prayer (those to Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian) suggests that an ascription usually in a threefold form, was composed (perhaps on the basis of 1 Chr 29:11–13) in order to adapt the Prayer for liturgical use in the early church. Still later scribes added “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”1

As Metzger suggested, when we say, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.” we are using words drawn from 1 Chronicles 29:11–13:

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. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name (ESV).

It is perfectly appropriate to end our payer with God’s Word but we should not be alarmed if, in a worship service, a congregation should happen to pray the prayer as it is found in the oldest copies of e.g., Matthew 6.

Concerning this teaching of this doxology we confess:

128. How do you close this Prayer?

“For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever,” that is: All this we ask of you, because as our King, having power over all things, You are willing and able to give us all good; and that thereby not we, but your Holy Name may be glorified for ever (Heidelberg Catechism).

In 1 Chronicles 29:10, King David, as he so often promised to do in the Psalms, began by blessing Yahweh before the congregation. To the covenant God Yahweh belongs the glory, the power, and the victory of his enemies. He is head over all things. The kingdom belongs to him. He has defeated his enemies. He lifts up to glory and he casts down as he pleases.

Ursinus, the primary author of the catechism and its first commentator) paraphrased this part of the doxology thus:

Therefore, you, O God, since you are our king, more powerful than all enemies, having all things in your power, both good and evil—evil, so that you are able to restrain and repress them; good, so that there is no blessing so great that you cannot give, if it be agreeable to our nature; since we are your subjects, be present with us by your power and save us, seeing you have a love for your subjects and can preserve and defend them.

This doxology is quite fitting for Christians to pray. Yahweh has become incarnate (“and the Word became flesh” John 1:14). He has kept his covenant that he made with Adam after the fall, to crush the head of the serpent. He has kept his covenant he made with Noah, to deliver his people through the judgment flood. He has kept his covenant with Abraham to give him a heavenly city (Heb 11:10), sons without number (Romans 4), and to be his God and the God of his offspring (Galatians 3&ndah;4). Paul explains,

 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom 10:11–13; ESV).

Jesus the Lord was crucified. He was dead. He was buried but he did stay that way. He was raised on the third day. His tomb is empty. He has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, in glory. He is ruling all things by the Word of his power (Heb 1:3). As a good king he is looking after his people as a good shepherd tends to his sheep. “…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…” (2 Pet 2:9; ESV).

This was the confession of the apostolic church:

He was manifested in the flesh, 
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory (1 Tim 3:6; ESV).

Through Christ, the Spirit helping us, we glorify the Father—we praise the One, holy Triune God—for his gracious, sovereign salvation given freely, through faith alone to all his people, all those whom the Father gave to the Son in all eternity (John 17; Ps 110). We praise him for his deliverance from the Evil One and for his kind providence and preservation of us in all times and places. Consider that, at the moment our Lord Jesus was arrested, virtually no one was willing to identify himself publicly with Jesus, not even Peter, who renounced Jesus three times. In the early 2nd century and in the mid-3rd century pagan civil authorities tortured Christians. In the sixteenth century Romanist authorities arrested us, cut out our tongues (so we could no longer sing God’s Word) and set us on fire simply for acknowledging Christ alone as the head of his church. Despite all the fury of the Evil One here we are yet. The Greco-Roman pantheon is recognized for what it was: foolish idolatry but crucified Messiah reigns. His is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

Here are all the posts on the Heidelberg Catechism.


1. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft/United Bible Societies, 1993), 13–14.

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!