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Matthew 6:11



The Greek word "ἐπιούσιος" (epiousios) is considered a hapax legomenon, which means it was coined by the NT authors. Specifically, it is found in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11 ("τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον") and Luke 11:3 ("τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν").

The precise meaning of "ἐπιούσιος" has been the subject of much scholarly debate, being as it were a fundamental part of the "Lord's Prayer" but it is commonly translated as "daily" or "necessary for existence." Since it does not appear in any other known ancient Greek texts, its exact interpretation relies heavily on the context in which it is used in these passages.

Two possibilities are available: 

Connection to οὐσία:

  • Some scholars, following Origen and Jerome, derive the word from "οὐσία" (essence or substance), translating it as "bread for sustenance" or "essential bread." This view, however, is complicated by the rare use of "οὐσία" in this sense outside philosophical contexts.

Connection to the Future Day:

  • Many scholars, including Grotius and Lightfoot, argue that "ἐπιούσιος" comes from "ἐπιών" (the coming day), thus meaning "bread for the coming day," or "food for tomorrow." This interpretation fits the context of daily reliance on God for sustenance.

Aramaic and Hebrew Equivalents:

  • Jerome mentioned that in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, "ἐπιούσιος" was rendered as "מְחַר" (machar), meaning "of the morrow" or "crastinus" (tomorrow's). This suggests that Jesus may have originally used an Aramaic expression meaning "for tomorrow."