In the lords prayer, the fourth petition says "Give us this day our ἐπιούσιος bread"

Lots of ink has been spilt over the correct translation of ἐπιούσιος and no one really knows for sure what it means. It is commonly translated as "daily" but that's really just a wild guess. Jerome translated it as "supersubstantial" in the Vulgate, and tradition has taken it as a reference to the Eucharist: "Give us this day our supernatural bread".

Recently I've been interested in the Peshitta, and the Aramaic NT primacy theory. As such I'm curious as to how this version of the bible translates that particular part of the Lords Prayer. Because if the Aramaic primacy theory is true, that would solve a lot of angst over what ἐπιούσιος is actually supposed to mean.

So my actual question. What Syriac Aramaic word or words are used in the lords prayer in place of the Greek ἐπιούσιος, and what are the significance of and definitions for those words. (If possible I would love to hear an exhaustive definition for the words that covers all possible meanings and interpretations, rather than just a few one liners. Bonus points for including the aramaic text in your answer along with a transliteration)

  • The Diatessaron of Tatian was a very early (2nd c.) harmony of the Gospels in Syriac. It is actually the oldest available version of the Gospels we have in Syriac. Ephraim (the Syrian) wrote an extensive commentary on the Diatessaron in Syriac that would probably explain how the Syriac word used here was understood by Syriacs. An English translation of his commentary has recently become available in print, but it is not available online.
    – user33515
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 12:52
  • Epi is a preposition meaning on, or for, or over. Ousia means substance, subsistence, or nature (in the sense of that from which things are made of, not in the sense of mother nature). So the most down to earth interpretation of epi-ousios would be for sustenance, and the most mystical would be super-natural (as a reference to the Eucharist).
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:34
  • The Wikipedia page for epiousios now contains the following sentence: "In Syriac epiousios is translated as anemo, meaning lasting or perpetual."
    – terminex9
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 3:06

3 Answers 3


Whoa, that's a tall order. One unfortunately I'm not sure who could fill.

That weird word epiousios, is so unique and hard to figure out because it's a word describing something given once that doesn't run out.

"Give us this day our once for all time bread"

Shona Syriac Matthew 6:11 ܗܒ ܠܢ ܠܚܡܐ ܕܤܘܢܩܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ mutipei nhasi chikafu chedu chemisi yose; Our appointed bread give us to-day

Arabic خبزنا كفافنا اعطنا اليوم. khabazna kafafina aetina alyawma. Give us this day our daily bread.

I'm very certain you're looking for a far deeper study, but this is what I have to offer. God bless.


This word study by Krisan Marotta gives some very helpful insight: Word Study on "Daily" (ἐπιούσιος - epiousios)

The author explains several different perspectives and possible definitions of the word including:

  • Daily (time)
  • Tomorrow (time)
  • Necessity/substance (amount)
  • Supersubstantial (type)

The most helpful to me was this explanation pertaining to the meaning of epiousios being "tomorrow" or "for the future":

Translating this word “for the future” is becoming increasingly popular among modern scholars, leading to several related translations, including: “bread for tomorrow,” “bread for the future,” and “bread for the coming day.” Early supporters of this translation include Cyril of Alexandria and Peter of Laodicea who linked epiousios with the verb epienai, “of tomorrow.”

Kenneth E. Bailey, a professor of theology and linguistics, proposed “give us today the bread that doesn’t run out” as the correct translation, based on the Syriac translation of the gospels. The Syriac versions of the Bible were some of the first translations of the Gospels into another language and date from the 2nd Century. Syriac is also close to Jesus’ own Aramaic. The translator(s) were close in both time and language to Jesus. The Syriac gospel translates epiousios as ameno, meaning: lasting, perpetual, constant, trustworthy, never-ceasing, never-ending, or always.

Critics: “For the future” was rarely considered as proper by early writers, who had far more knowledge of Koiné Greek than modern scholars. Also, an adjectival form of “for tomorrow” exists in ancient Greek which could easily have been used instead.

  • Hi Vik, welcome to the site. This is a great first post, upvoted +1. Please be sure to check out the site tour and thanks for contributing! Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 19:06

Greek: Επι + Ουσια. Epi + Ousia, with 'ousia' (in the religious context) meaning Essence, something deeper than just the Soul.

I will make this really quick and easy, with no much fanfare and theological intellectualisms.

Jesus would always refer to the Father, Your Father, the Father in Heaven, the Father in Secret. While on the cross he told his Holy Mother "Mother this is your son" (referrung to John) and "John, this is your Mother", basically indicating we have both a Devine Father and a Devine Mother. Our Essence is that 'child' that the Father and Mother help us develop, free it from sin, understand the Path that Christ travelled upon (with all its symbolism as we read in the Bible) and once we awaken that Essence, we can 'gain our Soul'.(become awakened beings)

So the 'Bread of the Essence' as its referred to in the Lord's Prayer, could be translated to the practical: "give me what I need today, the strength, the tests, the focus, the perseverance, the concentration, the understanding, the humility, to help feed, to help develop, grow the innermost part of my Being'.

I hope this may make more sense to some who do not speak Greek, those who do not understand Ancient Greek, or who have been mislead by bad interpretations over time. It definitely does not refer to bread, holy bread, or any other bakery product of various degrees of holiness.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your answer. Please take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. Please supply some references to support your assertions.
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 20:27
  • Yes, please take the Tour - Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. Notice that your answer is told in a personal style and includes your opinions and advice. This (and other SE sites) don't work that way. Answers should be factual and impersonal, as if they were entries in a non-religious encyclopedia. It also doesn't answer the question: "… actual question. What Syriac Aramaic word or words are used in the lords prayer …?" Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 23:53

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