on Matthew 6 :11
Give us this day our daily bread - The word επιουσιαν has greatly perplexed critics and commentators. I find upwards of thirty different explanations of it. It is found in no Greek writer before the evangelists, and Origen says expressly, that it was formed by them, αλλ' εοικε πεπλασθαι υπο των ευαγγελιστων. The interpretation of Theophylact, one of the best of the Greek fathers, has ever appeared to me to be the most correct, Αρτος επι τη ουσιᾳ και συστασει ημων αυταρκης, Bread, sufficient for our substance and support, i.e. That quantity of food which is necessary to support our health and strength, by being changed into the substance of our bodies. Its composition is of επι and ουσια, proper or sufficient for support. Mr. Wakefield thinks it probable, that the word was originally written επι ουσιαν, which coalesced by degrees, till they became the επιουσιον of the MSS. There is probably an allusion here to the custom of travelers in the east, who were wont to reserve a part of the food given them the preceding evening to serve for their breakfast or dinner the next day. But as this was not sufficient for the whole day, they were therefore obliged to depend on the providence of God for the additional supply. In Luke 15:12, Luke 15:13, ουσια signifies, what a person has to live on; and nothing can be more natural than to understand the compound επιουσιος, of that additional supply which the traveler needs, to complete the provision necessary for a day's eating, over and above what he had then in his possession. See Harmer.
The word is so very peculiar and expressive, and seems to have been made on purpose by the evangelists, that more than mere bodily nourishment seems to be intended by it. Indeed, many of the primitive fathers understood it as comprehending that daily supply of grace which the soul requires to keep it in health and vigor: He who uses the petition would do well to keep both in view. Observe
1. God is the author and dispenser of all temporal as well as spiritual good.
2. We have merited no kind of good from his hand, and therefore must receive it as a free gift: Give us, etc.
3. We must depend on him daily for support; we are not permitted to ask any thing for to-morrow: give us to-day.
4. That petition of the ancient Jews is excellent: "Lord, the necessities of thy people Israel are many, and their knowledge small, so that they know not how to disclose their necessities: Let it be thy good pleasure to give to every man, what sufficeth for food!" Thus they expressed their dependence, and left it to God to determine what was best and most suitable.
We must ask only that which is essential to our support, God having promised neither luxuries nor superfluities.
on Matthew 6 :11
Give us this day ... - The word "bread," here, denotes doubtless everything necessary to sustain life. See the notes at Matthew 4:4. Compare Deuteronomy 8:3. This petition implies our dependence on God for the supply of our wants. As we are dependent on him one day as much as another, it was evidently the intention of the Saviour that prayer should be offered every day. The petition, moreover, is expressed in the plural number - give us - and it is evidently therefore, intended to be used by more than one, or by some community of people. No community or congregation can meet every day for worship but families. It is therefore evident that this prayer contains a strong implied command for daily family prayer. It can nowhere else be used so as fully to come up to the meaning of the original intention; and nowhere else can it be breathed forth with so much propriety and beauty as from the lips of a father, the venerable priest of his household, and the pleader with God for those rich blessings which a parental bosom desires on his beloved offspring.
on Matthew 6 :11
6:11 Give us - O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of thy free mercy) this day - (for we take no thought for the morrow) our daily bread - All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.