Epiousios Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.” There are some things we say so often that we don’t stop and realize how odd they sound. Why should God give us THIS DAY our DAILY bread? Isn’t that kind of redundant?

Yes, but that may be because we’re translating it wrong. Epiousios, the Greek word we translate “daily,” was a new word that came into existence as Christianity came to be. In other words, epiousios is early Christianese—a bit of a churchy word that made sense to insiders, but probably needed some explaining to outsiders (like half the things Gen Z says that we millennials don’t understand).

Catholic Scholar Brant Pitre makes a proposal that helps this word make more sense: “If we break up the word into its two main parts and just translate it literally, this is what we find: (1) epi means ‘on, upon, or above,’ and (2) ousia means ‘being, substance, or nature.’ Put these two together and the meaning seems to be: ‘Give us this day our supernatural bread.’”

Such bread, of course, can only be provided for us from God, through Jesus—the bread of life, himself. For a friend of mine who has been going through many struggles, Jesus continues to remind them in visions that he’s protecting them and rooting them down so that they can stand firm even in the storm. Are you praying for the epiousios bread of Jesus to sustain you today? What do you sense he is doing?

*This devotional was created out of the themes of Luke 11:1-13 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Learn more in Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.

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