11 Fourth Petition. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Tὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον, “give to us today the end-final time bread that will be ours in the future.” The prayer turns to the specific needs of the disciples. Petitions of cosmic scope give way to meeting of personal needs of the disciples.
We leave the petitions dedicated to the Glory of God, and come now to your needs. BUT, in the Greek, there is an extra word. “Give us this day our daily bread” would be the English translation without this extra Greek word.
(Q): What is the meaning of this much-debated word, ἐπιούσιον?
4 main proposals have been suggested.
(1) ἐπιούσιον = ἐπὶ τὴν οὖσαν [from ἐπεῖναι] ἡμέραν, “for the present day.” The petition is for the provision of the disciples’ daily needs for food. [Bread = food.] But this interpretation makes the petition redundant: “Give us our bread for the present day today.” Why are both ἐπιούσιον and daily in the same sentence?
(2) ἐπιούσιον = (a) ἐπί plus οὐσία, “for existence.” This meaning: “give us today the bread necessary for our existence.” Give us, today, only the bread we need to survive. But again, the prayer is not clear. (b) The combination of ἐπί and οὐσία, interpreted are supersubstantialis in the Latin Vulgate. “The bread above the substance” enabled many in the early Church (e.g. Jerome) to see the 4th petition as a reference to the Eucharist.
(3) ἐπιούσιον = ἡ ἐπιοῦσα [from ἐπιέναι] ἡμέρα, for “the following day,” or “the coming day.” Either tomorrow’s ration of food, or today’s ration of bread, prayed for the night before or early the same morning. Asking for tomorrow’s bread today stands in tension with the statement, not to be anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) as to what there will be to eat!).
To pray for bread, for today and tomorrow, makes good sense, but the emphatic word “TODAY” = σήμερον then makes no sense.
(4) ἐπιούσιον is derived from ἐπιέναι, “to come.” Bread for “the coming day” could be interpreted as bread for tomorrow (or the future). The coming day could be the day of the end time-messianic banquet. [The messianic miracle of heavenly manna on “the morrow”.] The petition then reflects an immediate final-time expectation. This is in keeping with the first 3 petitions, and it gives understanding of σήμερον,“today”. The disciples should pray for the final time blessing today, for the bread that brings the final time messianic banquet.
The prayer thus asks for the present realization of the blessing of the end time bread (messianic manna). The prayer is also a prayer for today’s bread. The bread (“food”) we take daily is an anticipation of the messianic-manna banquet. This may be the most significant petition that any disciple can pray.
Eπιούσιον (used only in the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3) is a word, the USE of which was not discovered until the 20th Century. Scholars thought it was a “made-up” word, for it does not appear in the Greek OT, nor in the secular Greek writings. Then an archeological dig showed some ancient Greek writings, and there was ἐπιούσιον. It was part of a woman’s grocery list. (A Winn-Dixie list.) “Sam, don’t forget the ἐπιούσιον, the bread of our necessity!”
Jesus himself is the messianic bread of God from Heaven. (John 6:33). There is a great Welsh hymn called Guide Me, O Thou, Great Jehovah. It used to state: “Feed me, until I want no more!” But the Episcopalian musical revisionists changed that to “Feed me, now and forevermore.” I am not sure that William Williams, the Welsh author of the original words, would have approved of the amendment of his original words, “feed me, until I want no more”.
When the Jews gathered more than one day’s manna in the desert, the 2nd day’s manna stank and was full of maggots. There was one exception. If you gathered a 2-day supply on Friday, Saturday’s manna was wholesome. (Q): WHY? SABBATH. Bear in mind the messianic banquet is the TRUE Sabbath, the true REST! Jesus Christ, the heavenly manna, is always wholesome.