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Matthew 6:9-13 KJV

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed is thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Epiousion (ἐπιούσιον) is a word found nowhere else in Scripture. Does this word mean just "daily" as in each day (even though there is another word for "daily" in Koine Greek) or does it mean something far greater as in "super-substantial", that is something spiritual in relation to Christ?

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  • This has been debated since the apostolic fathers and is no closer to agreement. See the extensive article on BDAG.
    – Dottard
    Jan 30 at 9:46
  • It's clearly not "daily", but something special.
    – Joshua B
    Feb 2 at 7:32

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The answer is "no" to "spiritual bread" but also no to simply "daily bread." The Greek word ἐπιούσιον is admittedly unique. The NAB understands it to mean "for tomorrow" and NABRE says "future." This fits with the conclusion of this section of the Sermon:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them... 34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself...

A translation along those lines might read:

Give tomorrow's bread to us each day.

Not that I would propose this to replace the traditional reading but the implication is that God is asked to provide our bread, and we will not worry each day about how to obtain it. We (Jesus' disciples) will do as he instructed, traveling from town to town with neither sack nor money, eating whatever is given to us (Mt. 10, Lk. 10).

Conclusion: This line of the Lord's prayer does not refer to spiritual bread. The Greek word ἐπιούσιον refers to the future, in conformity with Jesus' teaching (given in the same section of the Sermon on the Mount) that his disciples are not to worry about where their next meal is coming from, but are to leave their daily needs to God.

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  • Give us this day our super-substantial bread.
    – Joshua B
    Feb 2 at 7:33
  • The Shem Tob's Hebrew Gospel of Matthew reads תְּמִידִית: perpetual, permanent
    – Betho's
    Feb 2 at 12:25
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It is important to keep in mind, the verses preceding the Lord's Prayer (Mtt 6:3-9):

But When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you .. .....And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray:...

Note that Jesus first refers to almsgiving, which is meant to fulfil the physical requirement of the deprived. Also note that he gives the Lord's Prayer as a Model Prayer by saying:" Pray like this... ".

We also need to keep in mind that the curse given to Adam was that he should earn his bread by the sweat of the brow ( Gen 3:19)! And, we see Jesus referring to the Manna which indeed was a physical food. . He multiplies bread and fish to feed the hungry audience . So, it is absolutely right to believe that Jesus meant physical food by saying ' daily bread' in the Lord's Prayer. But, we are free to pray for spiritual food, by all means (because Jesus only said: "Pray like this.."). 'Time' has already changed the original verse " Deliver us from the Evil One" to " Delivery us from evil" !

< PS: Almost 828 million people go to bed hungry, simply because they fail in getting the daily bread ! Each time a Christian says the Lord's Prayer, he/she is supposed to remember those hungry people .

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  • Man cannot live on physical bread alone. We need the bread of heaven, Jesus' flesh.
    – Joshua B
    May 22 at 21:16
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Epiousion (ἐπιούσιον) is a Koine Greek adjective used in the Lord's Prayer verse "Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον" ('Give us today our epiousion bread'). Because the word is used nowhere else, its meaning is enigmatic - much more significant than the prosaic term "daily".

It is traditionally translated as "daily", but most modern scholars reject that interpretation. The word is also referred to by epiousios, its presumed lemma form.

Since it is a Koine Greek dis legomenon (a word that occurs only twice within a given context) found only in the New Testament passages Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3, its interpretation relies upon morphological analysis and context. The traditional and most common English translation is daily, although most scholars today reject this in part because all other New Testament passages with the translation "daily" include the word hemera (ἡμέρᾱ, 'day').

"Epiousios" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

Taken literally (epi-ousios: "super-essential" or "above substance"), this unique word appears to refer directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the "medicine of immortality," without which we have no life within us.

Thus, both verses should be translated: "Give us this day our supernatural bread."

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