(This is the fifth segment of The Model Prayer series.)
Daily. Interesting word. The word source for daily in this verse has been debated by scholars. The Greek word seems to be a compound word (epiousios), which has perplexed commentators because it occurs nowhere else in either classical or sacred Greek.
In one old manuscript, only Matthew uses the word epiousios. Luke’s account in Luke 11:3 uses the word epiousa for daily. It means following, next, or the ensuing day or night. Some experts say that the same word epiousios is used in both verses in other manuscripts.
According to the separate elements of the word used by Matthew, epi is a primary preposition, which means of time, place, order, over, upon, at, on, towards, upon, etc. Ousia means substance, property (possessions), or goods. Even this, say the experts, is questionable.
The Greek word for bread used in both verses means not just bread but food of any kind, that which is needful and sufficient for our nourishment. In other words, grant us this day our necessary nourishment.
In ancient times, bread held a great deal of significance in the lives of the Israelites and in their worship, being offered at feasts with other sacrifices. Bread was the confirmation of God’s presence. Being called showbread, meaning bread of presence or bread of face, it was placed in the Holy Place of the tabernacle and the temple.
God told Moses to “put the Bread of the Presence on the table before Me continually” (Ex. 25:30 Masoretic Text), as a perpetual symbol of His presence and provision.
Life depended upon the harvests of the grains, which depended upon the rain. As the sustenance of life, bread was, in a sense, also considered sacred, as a gift of God through His benevolence to allow the rain and the harvests. It remained a daily reminder of man’s unbroken dependence upon God for His provision.
The loaf of bread back then was thinner in shape and crisper than ours today, hence the term “breaking bread,” which signified sharing fellowship at a meal. The giving of bread symbolized hospitality, or as it was called, the bread of fellowship.
Breaking bread meant sharing the fellowship of a meal, which bound the participants in strong ties of friendship, as in covenant, and represented a pledge of reconciliation and peace. According to the law, one was expected to give a stranger or traveler water, food, shelter, and protection.
Bread was the best a poor man could give as his duty of hospitality to a guest. As a guest, to decline an offering of bread violated the sacred law of hospitality. In essence, it said to the host that his bread was unfit for use.
Eating with someone and then betraying them was one of the most despicable acts in the ancient world. As well as Obadiah (Ob. 7) and David (Ps. 41:9), think Judas.
And the writer of Hebrews reminds us from the time of Abraham, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Heb. 13:2 NKJV)
As the principal food, bread was called the “stay of bread,” or the support, protector, or sustenance of life. Or, as we would say, the staff of life.
As Jesus came from heaven to give life to the world, He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35a NKJV)
We need not only our daily physical bread but also, and even more so, our daily spiritual Bread, our Staff of Life. Do we refuse the Bread that sustains life that Jesus offers? Do we then convey to Him that His Bread of Life is unfit for us?
The Bread of Life is the Word of Life. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4 NKJV)