Matthew 6:11, Our Daily Bread

Give us this day our daily bread.

//The “Our Father,” or the “Lord’s Prayer,” may be the most memorized of all scripture. Millions repeat this uplifting prayer of Jesus on a daily basis. But do you know what it is you’re praying for as you speak these words?

The story begins back in Exodus. When the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt, they grew hungry, and God fed them with miracle food. Manna. Daily bread from heaven, the “food of angels.” So impressive was this daily bread that Jews began to yearn for the bread of angels again. Many of the rabbis taught that in the age to come, what they called the “Messianic age,” God would again provide bread from heaven. No one would ever go hungry.

One day, Jesus fed a multitude with loaves and fishes, but they weren’t satisfied. They begged for another miracle; they reminded Jesus that their fathers ate manna from heaven. This wish for the Messianic age to be ushered in with “angel food” was alive and well in Jesus’ day.

Now we come to this prayer of Jesus. Give us this day our epiousios bread. The Greek word epiousios is what scholars call a neologism (a “new word”). It occurs for the first time here in the Lord’s Prayer. This makes it very difficult for scholars to determine exactly what was meant.

Some suggest the word means “for the current time.” Others interpret it as “for the coming” day. Still others read it as “for existence.” But if you break the word up into its two main parts, epi means “above,” and ousia means “substance.” Putting them together renders something akin to “supernatural substance.” It is, I believe, a direct reference to the end-of-days anticipation of divine food, the daily provision from God, that we may live forever.

Christians who utter this prayer are begging for the beginning of the era of God’s rule, when all people will live in harmony and all will be filled. This is further made clear by the request, “thy Kingdom come.”

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