March 25, 2017 – Appreciating God’s Gifts

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).

✧✧✧

God is the source of every good gift.

God has given us everything good to enjoy, including rain to make things grow, minerals to make the soil fertile, animals for food and clothing, and energy for industry and transportation. Everything we have is from Him, and we are to be thankful for it all.

Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” Paul added, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude: for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5).

Sadly, unbelievers don’t acknowledge God’s goodness, though they benefit from it every day. They attribute His providential care to luck or fate and His gracious provisions to nature or false gods. They do not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Rom. 1:21).

The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson wrote: “If all be a gift, see the odious ingratitude of men who sin against their giver! God feeds them, and they fight against him; he gives them bread, and they give him affronts. How unworthy is this! Should we not cry shame of him who had a friend always feeding him with money, and yet he should betray and injure him? Thus ungratefully do sinners deal with God; they not only forget his mercies, but abuse them. ‘When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery [Jer. 5:7].’ Oh, how horrid is it to sin against a bountiful God!—to strike the hands that relieve us!” (The Lord’s Prayer [London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972], p. 197).

How sad to see such ingratitude, and yet how thrilling to know that the infinite God cares for us and supplies our every need. Don’t ever take His provisions for granted! Look to Him daily, and receive His gifts with a thankful heart.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Be generous with your praise for God’s abundant blessings.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 1:29–31, noting the variety of foods God created for your enjoyment.[1]


God’s Provision

Give us this day our daily bread. (6:11)

Although it may have been a genuine concern in New Testament times, to many Christians in the western world today, such a request may seem needless and inappropriate. Why should we ask God for what we already have in such abundance? Why, when many of us need to consume less food than we do, ask God to supply our daily bread? What would be a completely understandable request of a Christian in Ethiopia or Cambodia, seems irrelevant on the lips of a well-fed American.

But this part of the Disciples’ Prayer, like every other part, extends beyond the first century to all believers, in every age and in every situation. In this pattern for prayer our Lord gives all the necessary ingredients for praying. We can see five key elements in this request for God’s provision: the substance, the source, the supplication, the seekers, and the schedule.

The Substance

Bread not only represents food but is symbolic of all of our physical needs. John Stott has observed that to Martin Luther, “everything necessary for the preservation of this life is bread, including food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government, and peace” (Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1978], p. 149).

It is marvelous to understand that the God who created the entire universe, who is the God of all space and time and eternity, who is infinitely holy and completely self-sufficient, should care about supplying our physical needs-and should be concerned that we receive enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to rest. God obligates Himself to supply our needs.

This part of the prayer is in the form of a petition, but it is also an affirmation-which is why it is as appropriate for those who are well-fed as for those who have little to eat. Above all it is an affirmation that every good thing we have comes from the gracious hand of God (James 1:17).

The Source

That leads us to the source, who is God. The Father is the one addressed throughout the prayer, the One who is praised and petitioned.

When all our needs are met and all is going well in our lives, we are inclined to think we are carrying our own load. We earn our own money, buy our own food and clothes, pay for our own houses. Yet even the hardest-working person owes all that he earns to God’s provision (see Deut. 8:18). Our life, breath, health, possessions, talents, and opportunities all originate from resources that God has created and made available to man (see Acts 17:24–28). After scientists have made all their observations and calculations, there remains the unexplained element of the design, origin, and operation of the universe. It is unexplained, that is, apart from God, who holds it all together (Heb. 1:2–3).

God provided for man even before He created man. Man was God’s final creation, and after He made and blessed Adam and Eve He said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Gen. 1:29). Since that time God has continued to provide an abundance of food for mankind, in almost unlimited variety.

Yet Paul tells us that “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, … and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:1, 3–5). The Word of God sanctifies it by way of creation, and we sanctify it when we receive it with grateful prayer.

Every physical thing we have comes from God’s provision through the earth. It is therefore the sin of indifference and ingratitude not to daily recognize His gifts in thankful prayer.

Supplication

Supplication is expressed in the word give. That is the heart of the petition, because it recognizes need. Even though God may already have provided it, we ask Him for it in recognition of His past and present provision as well as in trust for His future provision.

The only thing that could make Jesus’ instruction and our petitions valid is the promise of God. We could not expect God to give what He has not promised. We can pray confidently because God has promised abundantly. “Trust in the Lord, and do good,” David counsels us; “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. … Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; … But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:3–4, 10–11).

God does not bind Himself to meet the physical needs of everyone, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37 David is speaking to believers who “trust in the Lord” (v. 3), “delight … in the Lord” (v. 4), “commit [their] way to the Lord” (v. 5), “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (v. 7), “cease from anger,” and “do not fret” (v. 8). He says, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread” (v. 25).

The Seekers

The us of Jesus’ model prayer are those who belong to Him. Speaking to believers, Paul wrote, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11).

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29–30). God irrevocably commits Himself to meet the essential needs of His own.

The greatest cause of famine and its attendant diseases in the world is not poor agricultural practices or poor economic and political policies. Nor is the root problem lack of scientific and technological resources or even overpopulation. Those problems only aggravate the basic problem, which is spiritual. Only some fifteen percent of the arable land in the world is used for agriculture, and that for only half of the year. There is no major area of the world that with proper technology is not capable of supporting its own population and more.

Those parts of the world that have no Christian roots invariably place a low value on human life. The poverty in India, for example, may be laid at the feet of Hinduism, the pagan religion that spawned a host of other religions. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Eerdman’s Handbook to the World’s Religions, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism come from Hinduism. Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, and Taoism do not.

To the Hindu, man is but the incarnation of a soul on its way to moksha, a kind of “final emancipation,” during which trip he goes through countless, perhaps unending, cycles of reincarnation in both animal and human form. He works his way up to higher forms by good deeds and regresses to lower forms by sinning. Poverty, disease, and starvation are therefore seen as divine punishments for which the persons involved must do penance in order to be born into a higher form. To help a person in poverty or sickness is to interfere with his karma and therefore do him spiritual harm. (For a discussion of moksha, or mokṣa, see Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropaedia, VI, p. 972; for a more general discussion, see Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, vol. 8, pp. 888–908. Consult, also, Eerdman’s Handbook to World Religions [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982].)

All animals are considered to be incarnations either of men or deities. Cows are held to be especially sacred because they are incarnated deities-of which Hinduism has some 330 million. Cows not only are not to be eaten but add to the food problem by consuming 20 percent of India’s total food supply. Even rats and mice, which eat 15 percent of the food supply, are not killed because they might be one’s reincarnated relatives.

Just as paganism is the great plague of India, Africa, and many other parts of the world, Christianity has been the blessing of the West. Europe and the United States, though never fully Christian in any biblical sense, have been immeasurably blessed because of the Christian influence on political, social, and economic philosophy and policy. The great concerns for human rights, care for the poor, orphanages, hospitals, prison reform, racial and slave reform, and a host of other concerns did not come from paganism or humanism but from biblical Christianity. On the other hand, the current degraded view of human life reflected in the low view of the family and growing legal and social approval of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are the legacy of humanism and practical atheism.

Without a proper view of God there cannot be a proper view of man. Those who have a right view of God and also a right relationship to Him through Jesus Christ are promised the provision of their heavenly Father. “For this reason,” Jesus says, “I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? … For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 32–33).

God has sometimes provided for His children through miraculous means, but His primary way of provision is through work, for which He has given life, energy, resources, and opportunity. His primary way to care for those who cannot work is through the generosity of those who are able to work. Whether he does so directly or indirectly, God is always the source of our physical well-being. He makes the earth to produce what we need, and He gives us the ability to procure it.

The Schedule

The schedule of God’s provision for His children is daily. The meaning here is simply that of regular, day-by-day supply of our needs. We are to rely on the Lord one day at a time. He may give us vision for work He calls us to do in the future, but His provision for our needs is daily, not weekly, monthly, or yearly. To accept the Lord’s provision for the present day, without concern for our needs or welfare tomorrow, is a testimony of our contentment in His goodness and faithfulness.[2]


What to Pray For

Matthew 6:11

One of the first great lessons that a Christian must learn about prayer is to put God’s interests first. But after that there comes the area of our own interests—our work, families, homes, friends, finances, and other things. These are also important, and not only to us. What about these interests? Are we also to pray about them? The Bible says, “Yes.” Moreover, it teaches us that we are to pray again and again for each one.

In the prayer which we have been studying Jesus taught his disciples to begin to pray for God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will—“Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done”—but having prayed for these things and thus having established a correct set of priorities they were then to pray for human interests also. The last petitions say, “Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” These are requests for physical needs, forgiveness of sins, and spiritual victories. The prayer ends with a new acknowledgement of God’s glory.

These three petitions cover all our physical and spiritual needs. On this point Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has accurately written, “Our whole life is found there in those three petitions, and that is what makes this prayer so utterly amazing. In such a small compass our Lord has covered the whole life of the believer in every respect. Our physical needs, our mental needs and, of course, our spiritual needs are included. The body is remembered, the soul is remembered, the spirit is remembered. And that is the whole of man.”

Our Willing God

The first request deals with our physical needs, for the phrase “our daily bread” includes by implication all the needs of life. It is a prayer for food and clothing, a home, a good job, and many other physical necessities. At the same time it should be evident that it does not encourage us to pray for superfluities. Philippians 4:19 says that God “will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus,” but it does not say that God shall supply all your wants. God gives many of us the obvious luxuries of life, sometimes, so it seems, to our spiritual hurt. But we are nowhere told to ask for these things. We are told to ask only for necessities.

The basis of our asking for life’s necessities is found in God’s avowed purpose to give us what we ask for. A master cares for the needs of his servants. A general meets the needs of his soldiers. A father provides for the needs of his sons. Each is willing. In the same way, our Father cares for those who have become his children through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are saying as some people do, “But how can I know that God is willing to answer my requests for life’s necessities?” the answer is that Jesus taught that God was willing. In fact, he taught it in the next chapter of the Sermon on the Mount in a passage that is actually the best possible commentary on this petition in the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7–11).

This passage says three things about prayer. First, we must be God’s children before we can come to God. Second, as God’s children we are invited and even urged to come. And third, God delights to answer those who do come. When we come to God in prayer through the Lord Jesus Christ and in his Holy Spirit, we do not come as God’s enemies. We come as God’s children and therefore as close members of his family. There are many things that an earthly father would not do for a stranger. There are many more things that he would not do for an enemy. But there is almost nothing that he would not do for one of his beloved sons or daughters. In the same way, we come to a God who is not distant, harsh, stingy, or begrudging in his gifts. We come to a God who is loving, willing, and merciful, and who is anxious to be known and loved by his children. This God urges us to come.

Moreover, he urges us to come regularly and repeatedly, for the prayer says, “Give us today our daily bread.” The idea of regular and repeated prayer is suggested twice (once by the words “today” and once by the adjective “daily”), and anything repeated twice in an abbreviated prayer of only sixty-five words (seventy-two in Greek) is important.

For many years commentators and linguists did not know the exact meaning of the Greek word translated “daily” (epiousios), and even today, there is still some doubt. This was because the word did not occur in either literary or popular Greek, and, therefore, because there was no means to check it, several interpretations seemed possible. Now, however, the word has been found again in a papyrus from upper Egypt which seems to reveal its meaning. The manuscript is part of an account book, and the relevant inscription reads: “½ obol for epious—.” At this point the writing is broken off, but there is little doubt that the last word is the one that occurs in the Lord’s Prayer and that it refers to what we would call a daily ration. Probably the phrase belonged to a shopping list and is therefore a reminder to someone to buy supplies for the coming day.

This meaning is supported by a seemingly parallel inscription in Latin found at Pompeii which contains as part of a list of expenditures the words “five asses for diaria [a term based on the Latin word for day].” Since both of these expressions would seem to be pointing to items that were part of a day’s ration for a person or a group of persons it would be natural to take the word epiousios in this sense. In this case, the fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer would be a request that God grant us daily our daily ration of life’s necessities.

Our Daily Bread

When we see that this prayer is a simple prayer for the things which we have need of every day and that God invites this type of praying, certain great truths emerge from it.

First, it shows that God cares for our bodies. There always have been some in the Christian church who have tried to minimize the body in the belief that only the soul or the spirit is important. Sometimes this type of religion has taken the form of asceticism or celibacy. At other times there has been outright abuse of the body. None of this is biblical, and it is contradicted by the whole tenor of the Bible as well as by explicit teaching. Jesus showed us that. William Barclay notes that Jesus spent “much time healing men’s diseases and satisfying their physical hunger. He was anxious when He thought that the crowd who had followed Him out into the lonely places had a long road home, and no food to eat before they set out upon it. … We can see what God thinks of our human bodies, when we remember that he Himself in Jesus Christ took that body upon Him. It is not simply a soul salvation, it is whole salvation, the salvation of body, mind and spirit, at which Christianity aims.”

Second, this part of the prayer also teaches that if we live as God intends us to live we are to live one day at a time. That is, we are not to be anxious about the unknown future or to fret about it. We are to live in a moment-by-moment dependence upon God.

I am convinced that the meaning of this request must vary slightly from one culture and society to another. Basically, it means that we are not to take thought for tomorrow, but to ask God only for what we need for today. But this has a different meaning in a society in which the needs of the future are met through the family structure and a society in which the needs of the future are met through financial planning and saving. In our society it would be wrong for a father to neglect to save for his children’s education, his own retirement, and old age on the grounds that he should ask only for one day’s ration at a time. In our society part of this day’s ration consists of the money to be laid aside for the next. Consequently, we are not to neglect our families by neglecting insurance policies, pension plans, or saving accounts. To do that would be to misinterpret Christ’s teaching. At the same time, however, we are obviously not to become entirely wrapped up in these things as if our life and our future depended ultimately on them. Instead, we are to wrap ourselves in our confidence in God.

If you are a Christian, have you ever known God to be unfaithful to you? Have you lacked the necessities of life? I know that there are times when God does deprive us of things—sometimes to teach us something and at times merely to bring forth praise to himself. We often are lacking in things we believe to be necessary but which are not. And yet, it is not the rule for God to permit his children to suffer great want. Is God faithful? Of course, he is faithful. Hence, you can trust him both for your todays and your tomorrows.

Spiritual Necessities

We must not leave this request for our daily bread without pointing out that we need spiritual nourishment also. This is the third point. We need to feed spiritually on God.

Have you ever noticed that there is only one other place in the entire Bible where a request to “give us bread” is spoken? It is in the midst of Christ’s sermon on the spiritual bread recorded in John 6. Jesus had said to his hearers, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” They had answered, “From now on give us this bread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:32–35). The Jews were thinking of physical bread, no doubt, just as the woman of Samaria had been thinking of physical water. But Jesus turned them away from these physical things to himself as the One who could satisfy the far greater hunger of the soul.

What does it mean to feed spiritually on the Lord Jesus Christ? It means quite simply that he is the source of all spiritual life and that we will grow spiritually only as we draw close to him and learn about him. Moreover, unless we do this we inevitably will be starved spiritually and feel spiritually hungry.

It is tragic that so many Christians will allow things to intrude between themselves and Jesus and, therefore, go on being hungry. God says that this happened repeatedly during the Old Testament period, for the Bible says that the people of Israel desired “things” instead of him. Consequently, he gave them “things” but sent leanness to their souls (Ps. 106:15). We do the same today. Far too many believers find themselves like those described in one of our hymns—“rich in things, but poor in soul.” Have you known such leanness, such hunger? Perhaps you have filled yourself with all the means of satisfying your physical hunger, and yet you have not looked to God for spiritual feeding. You pray, “Give me my physical bread,” but you have never prayed, “Give me that spiritual bread that comes down from heaven.” All our hungers are useful in themselves, of course. They are right within their bounds. They have been put there by God, who made us. We have a hunger for achievement, for love, for happiness. All these things are good in themselves when they are used as God intends them to be used. But it is tragic that many Christians will satisfy these hungers, or attempt to satisfy them, at the expense of spending much necessary and truly satisfying time with God.

Dispensing His Fragrance

We have seen in John 6 that Jesus is the source and sustainer of life. But we must add to this that Jesus will fill us with abundance of spiritual life only as we give some of what we have received to others. We come to Christ for filling, but we must share some of what we have received if we are to receive more from his hands.

Our lives as Christians are like a bottle of rich perfume. The fragrance is Christ, and we are called to dispense his fragrance in the world. We cannot do it if the bottle is sealed or if the top is left on. But if we dispense it, if we break the seal, we shall find, not only that others will come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ through us, but also that Jesus will constantly refill us to overflowing by the same miraculous power that multiplied the loaves in Galilee or the wine at the feast of Cana.

Perhaps you are one for whom this word is particularly relevant. You have been raised in a church in which you have been amply fed with spiritual things or in a home blessed by Christian parents. You have been taught in the Word, but you have failed to share what you have learned. If so, that must be corrected. You must share your experience of Jesus. Suppose you do not. In that case there will come a moment when you will be full and unable to absorb any more. Then you will go on year after year knowing only the same things, believing only the same things, reliving the same old spiritual lessons, and you will be unable to advance in the Christian faith.

Perhaps God would have you to be a witness right where you are at this moment. Perhaps there is work for you to do that you have thought about but have put off, an opportunity to speak to a new family in the neighborhood and make them welcome, to befriend some poor secretary at work, to start a Bible class in your home, or some other such thing. If God has been leading you to do this, you must respond to his leading, for you will find that only as you share the fragrance of Christ in your life will God fill you again and again. Only then will you inevitably learn more about him.

Praying for Others

All this actually leads us back to the precise wording of the Lord’s Prayer, for the final lesson is that we are always to pray also for others. Have you noticed that each of these last three requests—the requests for life’s necessities, for forgiveness, for deliverance from Satan’s temptations—are not given to us in the singular (“I” or “me”) but in the plural “we,” “us,” and “our”? What does this mean? Simply this: that we are not to pray selfishly; we are to pray collectively for ourselves along with others—“Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

The next time you pray, stop right in the middle of your prayer and think whether you have prayed selfishly. You may not have, but it is likely, for many of us do. If you have, learn that you are to ask God to provide for others (as he has provided for you), to forgive others (as he has forgiven you), to deliver others from temptation (as he has delivered you). In that way you shall intercede for others. You shall be led to give to others. And you shall enter more fully into the mind of Jesus who prayed thus for all his followers.[3]


11 The last petitions explicitly request things for ourselves. The first is “bread,” a term used to cover all food (cf. Pr 30:8; Mk 3:20; Ac 6:1; 2 Th 3:12; Jas 2:15). Many early fathers thought it inappropriate to talk about physical food here and interpreted “bread” as a reference to the Lord’s Supper or to the Word of God. This depended in part on Jerome’s Latin rendering of epiousios (NIV, “daily,” GK 2157) as superstantialem: Give us today our “supersubstantial” bread—a rendering that may have depended in part on the influence of Marius Victorinus (cf. F. F. Bruce, “The Gospel Text of Marius Victorinus,” in Text and Interpretation [ed. Best and Wilson], 70). There is no linguistic justification for this translation. The bread is real food, and it may further suggest all that we need in the physical realm (Luther).

That does not mean that epiousios is easy to translate. The term appears only here and in Luke’s prayer (Lk 11:3); and the two possible extrabiblical references, which could support “daily,” have had grave doubt cast on them by Bruce M. Metzger (“How Many Times Does ἐπιούσιος Occur Outside the Lord’s Prayer?” ExpTim 69 [1957–58]: 52–54). P. Grelot (“La quatrième demande du ‘Pater’ et son arrièreplan sémitique,” NTS 25 [1978–79]: 299–314) has attempted to support the same translation (“daily”) by reconstructing an Aramaic original, but his article deals inadequately with the Greek text, and other Aramaic reconstructions are possible (e.g., Black, Aramaic Approach, 203–7).

The prayer is for our needs, not our greeds. It is for one day at a time (“today”), reflecting the precarious lifestyle of many first-century workers who were paid one day at a time and for whom a few days’ illness could spell tragedy. Many have suggested a derivation from epi tēn ousan [namely, hēmeran] (“for today”) or hē epiousa hēmera (“for the coming day”), referring in the morning to the same day and at night to the next (for hēmera[n], see GK 2465). This meaning is almost certainly right, but it is better supported by deriving the word from the feminine participle epiousa, already well established with the sense of “immediately following” by the time the NT was written. Whatever the etymological problems, this makes sense of Luke 11:3, where “each day” is part of the text: “Give us each day our bread for the coming day.” Equally it makes sense in Matthew, where “today” displaces “each day”: “Give us today our bread for the coming day.” This may sound redundant to Western readers, but it is a precious and urgent petition to those who live from hand to mouth.

Some derive epiousios (“daily”) from the verb epienai, referring not to the future, still less to the food of the messianic banquet (contra Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 100–102), but to the bread that belongs to it, i.e., that is necessary and sufficient for it (cf. R. Ten Kate, “Geef ons heden ons ‘dagelijks’ brood,” Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 32 [1978]: 125–39; with similar conclusions but by a different route, H. Bourgoin, “ʼΕπιούσιος expliqué par la notion de préfixe vide,” Bib 60 [1979]: 91–96; and for literature, BDAG, 376–77; Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 74–75). This has the considerable merit of meshing well with both “today” and “each day” (Matthew and Luke respectively), and in Matthew’s case it may be loosely rendered “Give us today the food we need.” But the derivation is linguistically artificial (cf. Colin Hemer, “ʼΕπιούσιος, JSNT 22 [1984]: 81–94).

The idea of God “giving” the food in no way diminishes responsibility to work (see comments at vv. 25–34) but presupposes not only that Jesus’ disciples live one day at a time (cf. v. 34) but that all good things, even our ability to work and earn our food, come from God’s hand (cf. Dt 8:18; 1 Co 4:7; Jas 1:17). It is a lesson easily forgotten when wealth multiplies and absolute self-sufficiency is portrayed as a virtue.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 97). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 387–391). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Sermon on the Mount: an expositional commentary (pp. 189–194). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 205–206). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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