Matthew 6:11 Give us this day

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The loaf, the one super-substantia, grant to us for this day,

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse contains one of the most mysterious word in the Bible, translating it, clearly incorrectly, as "daily." The KJV translation reverses the word order of the Greek. This is important in Greek word the most important words appear first in a phrase.  Christ sometimes reverses this order for the sake of humor. This verse's vocabulary is straightforward except for the mystery word that may be the key to the verse. 

The Greek word translated as "give" means "to give" and "to grant. This verb appears in the middle of the sentence rather than at the beginning. It is in a form which is used both for commands and requests in ancient Greek. Its tense indicates something that takes place at a specific time, in this case, "this day."

The Greek word translated as "us" is in a form that makes the indirect object of "give." In English, we say "to us."

The Greek word translated as "this day" is not a noun or any combination of a demonstrative pronoun and a noun. It is an adverb. It means "for the day" or "to the day." This word appears at the very end of the sentence.

The word translated as "daily" is a complete mystery and one of the most interesting words in the Gospels. See this article for a complete historical discussion of this word. "Daily" doesn't word at all being an adjective modifying "bread". This word is used as a noun. We know this because it is introduced by an article, "the". Its use was clearly intentional by Jesus since it appears here and in Luke's shorter version of the Lord's Prayer. It is thought to mean "sufficient for what is coming" base on a possible root word that means "to come on, to approach." However, others maintain in means "supernatural" or "super-essential". The use of the verb "to be" as a noun is problematic itself, since it could mean "substance" or "existence" or "existential" or other such words. "Epi" as a prefix also has a number of meanings from the simple "on", which is how Jesus uses it most frequently to the more abstract "beyond".  This Wiki article offers some insight into the debate about this word, but describes the word as an adjective modifying "bread" when it is used as a noun, with an article, as you can see in the vocabulary. It is separated from the Greek word for "bread" (more accurately "loaf") by the word for "of yours" or "your". I am using St. Jerome's "super-substantial" because it is from the time closest to the time of the Gospels. 

The word translated as "bread" means a loaf of a specific type of bread, but it is translated consistently throughout the NT as "bread." For Christ, of course, the terms is highly symbolic. Among the last mentions is Christ offering bread to his disciples as his flesh. The transformation of seeds, to wheat, to flour, to bread, to flesh, to spirit is one of the overarching themes of the Gospels.Much of John's Chapter Six discusses bread as a symbol for his role in the world John 6:35. See this article for some early thoughts about Christ's use of "bread" in Matthew.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τὸν ἄρτον (noun sg masc acc) "Bread" is from artos, which means specifically a "cake of whole wheat bread," and generally "loaf," and "bread."

ἡμῶν (pron 1st pl gen) "Our" is from hemon, which is the plural possessive (genitive) form of the first personal pronoun.

τὸν ἐπιούσιον (adj sg neut acc) "Daily" is from epiousios, which may mean, "the appropriate", "sufficient for the coming", which first appears in Greek here. It could be an adjective from the verb epiousa, which means "to come on, to approach." It may also be from epi eimi, meaning literally "upon being" or "being upon". Some suggest is means "over being" or "above being" (from another meaning of epi) with the sense of meaning "supernatural" or "super-essential". Discussion about its possible meanings go back to the very early Christian writers. It is not the Greek word "daily", which is a form of the word "day" (see below). 

δὸς (2nd sg aor imperat act) "Give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

ἡμῖν (pron 1st pl masc/fem dat) "Us" is from hemin, which is the first person plural dative pronoun, "to us."

σήμερον: (adv) "This day" is from semeron, which is an adverb that means "for today" and "on this day."


 The use of a rare word meaning "sufficient for what is coming" to describe the bread requested in the prayer. 

The Spoken Version: 

This bread of ours? The one sufficient for now? Give to us today!

Related Verses: 

Feb 28 2017