|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:9-15 Christ saw it needful to show his disciples what must commonly be the matter and method of their prayer. Not that we are tied up to the use of this only, or of this always; yet, without doubt, it is very good to use it. It has much in a little; and it is used acceptably no further than it is used with understanding, and without being needlessly repeated. The petitions are six; the first three relate more expressly to God and his honour, the last three to our own concerns, both temporal and spiritual. This prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and that all other things shall be added. After the things of God's glory, kingdom, and will, we pray for the needful supports and comforts of this present life. Every word here has a lesson in it. We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance: and we ask only for bread; not for what we do not need. We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread of others, nor the bread of deceit, Pr 20:17; nor the bread of idleness, Pr 31:27, but the bread honestly gotten. We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us constantly to depend upon Divine Providence. We beg of God to give it us; not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread. We pray, Give it to us. This teaches us a compassion for the poor. Also that we ought to pray with our families. We pray that God would give it us this day; which teaches us to renew the desires of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed. As the day comes we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without food, as without prayer. We are taught to hate and dread sin while we hope for mercy, to distrust ourselves, to rely on the providence and grace of God to keep us from it, to be prepared to resist the tempter, and not to become tempters of others. Here is a promise, If you forgive, your heavenly Father will also forgive. We must forgive, as we hope to be forgiven. Those who desire to find mercy with God, must show mercy to their brethren. Christ came into the world as the great Peace-maker, not only to reconcile us to God, but one to another.
Verse 11. - Give us this day our daily bread τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον Here begin the petitions for our personal needs. The first is for earthly food, the means of maintaining our earthly life. For "in order to serve God it is first of all necessary that we live" (Godet, on Luke). Give us. The order in the Greek emphasizes not God's grace in giving, but the thing asked for. This day. Parallel passage: Luke 11:3, "day by day (τὸ καθ ἡμέραν)." The thought suggested there, of continuance in the supply, is seen also in the verb (δίδου). Daily (ἐπιούσιον); and so Luke (compare especially the classical appendix in Bishop Lightfoot's 'Revision,' etc., pp. 195, etc., and Chase, loc. cit.). It will be sufficient to do little more than indicate the chief lines of proposed derivations and interpretations of this ἅπαξ λεγόμενον.
(1) Ἐπὶ οὐσία
(a) physical, "for subsistence," sufficient or necessary to sustain us;"
(b) spiritual, "for our essential being" (cf. Jerome's rendering with a literalism that recalls the rabbis, super-substantially.
(2) Ἐπὶ εἰμί "to be," "bread which is ready at hand or suffices" (similarly Delitzsch, in Thayer, s.v.). The chief and fatal objection to both
(2) is that the form would be ἐπούσιος (cf. especially Lightfoot. loc. cit., p. 201).
(3) Ἐπι εϊμι, "to come;"
(a) with direct reference to "bread" - our "successive," "continual," "ever-coming" bread (so the Old Syriac, and partly the Egyptian versions), that which comes as each supply is required; the prayer then meaning, "Our bread as it is needed give us to-day" (so apparently Dr. Taylor, 'Sayings,' etc., p. 140); (b) derived mediately from ἐπιοῦσα σξ. ἡμέρα (cf. Acts 16:11; 20:15; 21:18), "bread for the coming day," i.e. the same day, if the prayer be said in the morning; the next day if it be said in the evening (so Bishop Lightfoot). Between (3) (a) and (3) (b) it is very difficult to decide. Against (a) is the fact that it is hard to say why the common form ejpi>onta would not have served; against (b), while the use of the word is perfectly consistent with casting all care upon God for to-morrow (Matthew 6:34), there still remains the fact that there is some tautology in saying, "Our bread for the coming day give us to-day," or even the formula in the parallel passage in Luke, "Our bread for the coming day give us day by day." On the whole, perhaps (3) (a) presents the least difficulties. Bread. It is very doubtful if to use this petition of spiritual food is anything more than a legitimate application (made, indeed, as early as the 'Didache,' § 10.) of words which in themselves refer only to material food (see further Chase, loc. cit.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Give us this day our daily bread. The Arabic version reads it, "our bread for tomorrow"; and Jerom says, that in the Hebrew Gospel, used by the Nazarenes, he found the word which signifies "tomorrow": but this reading and sense seem to be contradicted by Christ, Matthew 6:34 were it not that it may be observed, that this signifies the whole subsequent time of life, and so furnishes us with a very commodious sense of this petition; which is, that God would give us, "day by day", as Luke expresses it, Luke 11:3 that is, every day of our lives, to the end thereof, a proper supply of food: or the meaning of it is, that God would give us, for the present time, such food as we stand in need of; is suitable to us, to our nature and constitution, state and condition, and is sufficient and convenient for us: to which agrees the petition of the (u) Jews:
"The necessities of thy people are great, and their knowledge short; let it be thy good will and pleasure, O Lord, our God, that thou wouldst give to everyone , "what is sufficient for his sustenance", and to every one's body what it wants.''
"Says R. Jose (w), all the children of faith seek "every day" , "to ask their food" of the Lord, and to pray a prayer for it.''
By "bread" is meant all the necessaries of life, and for the support of it: it is called "our's"; not that we have a right unto it, much less deserve it, but to distinguish it from that of beasts; and because it is what we need, and cannot do without; what is appointed for us by providence, is our's by gift, and possessed by labour. It is said to be "daily" bread, and to be asked for "day by day"; which suggests the uncertainty of life; strikes at all anxious and immoderate cares for the morrow; is designed to restrain from covetousness, and to keep up the duty of prayer, and constant dependence on God; whom we must every day ask to "give" us our daily bread: for he is the sole author of all our mercies; which are all his free gifts; we deserve nothing at his hands: wherefore we ought to be thankful for what we have, without murmuring at his providences, or envying at what he bestows on others. All kind of food, everything that is eatable, is with the Jews called "bread" (x).
(u) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 29. 2.((w) Zohar in Exod. fol. 26. 2.((x) Jarchi in Job, vi. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11. Give us this day our daily bread—The compound word here rendered "daily" occurs nowhere else, either in classical or sacred Greek, and so must be interpreted by the analogy of its component parts. But on this critics are divided. To those who would understand it to mean, "Give us this day the bread of to-morrow"—as if the sense thus slid into that of Luke "Give us day by day" (Lu 11:2, (as Bengel, Meyer, &c.) it may be answered that the sense thus brought out is scarcely intelligible, if not something less; that the expression "bread of to-morrow" is not at all the same as bread "from day to day," and that, so understood, it would seem to contradict Mt 6:34. The great majority of the best critics (taking the word to be compounded of ousia, "substance," or "being") understand by it the "staff of life," the bread of subsistence, and so the sense will be, "Give us this day the bread which this day's necessities require." In this case, the rendering of our authorized version (after the Vulgate, Luther and some of the best modern critics)—"our daily bread"—is, in sense, accurate enough. (See Pr 30:8). Among commentators, there was early shown an inclination to understand this as a prayer for the heavenly bread, or spiritual nourishment; and in this they have been followed by many superior expositors, even down to our own times. But as this is quite unnatural, so it deprives the Christian of one of the sweetest of his privileges—to cast his bodily wants in this short prayer, by one simple petition, upon his heavenly Father. No doubt the spiritual mind will, from "the meat that perisheth," naturally rise in thought to "that meat which endureth to everlasting life." But let it be enough that the petition about bodily wants irresistibly suggests a higher petition; and let us not rob ourselves—out of a morbid spirituality—of our one petition in this prayer for that bodily provision which the immediate sequel of this discourse shows that our heavenly Father has so much at heart. In limiting our petitions, however, to provision for the day, what a spirit of childlike dependence does the Lord both demand and beget!
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