FOURTH PETITION: GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD (1st “WE” PETITION)
A. Shift to the “We” Petitions
- With the close of the last phrase, the prayer begins to shift from “Thou” to “We” (first person). The disciple, first, prioritizes in prayer the sweeping purposes of God in redemptive history, and then responds with his own personal involvement in that drama.
B. Interpreting “Daily Bread”
One of the reasons there is difficulty concerning this is because there is very little to no evidence in Greek literature for the meaning of the word translated (NASB) “daily” (epiousios).
C. Interpretive Options
- ‘necessary or needful for existence’ (bread for the day i.e. what is needful, sustenance)
- ‘for the coming day’ – where the ‘coming day’ is either:
- tomorrow (a prayer in the evening for the following day)
- today (a prayer in the morning for the day at hand)
- the future or coming Day (the coming Day of the Lord; eschatological)
D. Background Passages
4Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (Ex 16:4)
24He rained down manna upon them to eat And gave them food from heaven. 25Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance. (Ps 78:24–25)
E. Bread for the Day – what is needful
7Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: 8Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food (Heb. ‘leḥem’ ‘bread’) that is my portion (cf. Dt. 8:3), 9That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. (Pr 30:7–9)
- Some interpret “daily bread” as that which is needful for existence. This can follow the background context of manna as the provision of Israel in the wilderness. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, this petition is seen connected to verses 8, and 25-34.
F. Eschatological Bread
- Jewish Backgrounds 
3 And it shall come to pass when all is accomplished that was to come to pass in those parts, that the Messiah shall then begin to be revealed… 6 And those who have hungered shall rejoice: moreover, also, they shall behold marvels every day…. 8 And it shall come to pass at that self-same time that the treasury of manna shall again descend from on high, and they will eat of it in those years, because these are they who have come to the consummation of time. (2 Baruch 29:3-8)
As the first redeemer [Moses] caused manna to descend, as it is stated, “Because I shall cause to rain bread from heaven for you” [Exod. 16:4], so will the latter redeemer [the Messiah] cause manna to descend. 
You will not find it [manna] in this age, but you shall find it in the age to come. 
It [the manna] has been prepared for the righteous in the age to come. Everyone who believes is worthy and eats of it. 
- There is debate over whether this petition could also carry forth a primarily eschatological interpretation. There is evidence to connect the interpretation of “bread” to manna and “the bread of life;” a symbol of paradise and fulfillment of the age of salvation. Some, rooting this in its Jewish context, connect it to the Messianic banquet, when Jesus will eat and drink with His disciples.
21“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (Lk 6:21)
15When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Lk 14:15)
29and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Lk 22:29–30)
11“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (Mt 8:11)
17‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna (Ex. 16:32-36 ), and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’ (Re 2:17)
“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; (Re 7:16)
We notice that the bread of the kingdom is promised to the Christians; therefore they could petition for it as “our bread.” The request for it “today” expresses the urgency of the eschatological yearning of the persecuted and impoverished Christians.” And their prayer is phrased in terms of the Einmaligkeit [German: ‘onceness’ or ‘uniqueness’] of the aorist: Give us this once and final time.
- Sadly, within this eschatological interpretation, some scholars wrongly interpret the phrase in a way consistent with realized eschatology: to pray for the manifestation of consummation today. (Ex. Wright, “It is the food of inaugurated eschatology, the food that is needed because the kingdom has already broken in and because it is not yet consummated.” )  In asserting these ideas, those of this persuasion take liberty to redefine the entire framework of the Law and Prophets, as if such a firm foundation upon which the righteous built their hope was a malleable reality that can be stretched over a spiritualized partial-fulfillment framework. Rightly has it been said of this edifice: a “hermeneutical castle built upon exegetical quicksand.” 
Those who favor the eschatological interpretation of this petition prefer the second derivation of epiousios, which makes the petition a request for the bread of tomorrow, the bread of the future. We may agree that the Christian community was marked with poverty; but we believe that in this need the Christians yearned, not for the bread of this world, but for God’s final intervention and for that bread which would be given at the heavenly table. In the Gospels, God’s supplying men with food is frequently in terms of an eschatological banquet…
The natural translation “Our bread, the Coming bread, give us to-day” makes sense of the fourth petition and, in fact, exactly the sense which is required to fit in with the remaining petitions. Like these it asks for one of the blessings of the Coming Kingdom of God; in this case, the food of the Kingdom. Bread stands for food in general, as the Hebrew word לֶ֫חֶם constantly does. The petition therefore means: The future food which is destined for us, that is to say, the food of the Kingdom of God, give us even to-day. In other words: Let Thy Kingdom immediately come, in which we shall eat the food of the Messianic feast. It is only when taken in this way that [“today”]…which closes the petition acquires a sense appropriate in itself, doing justice to its emphatic position at the end of the sentence. It forms an antithesis to the futurity of the bread, and asks for it to be given, “even to-day.” Never could “to-day” stand for “daily.” 
The conception of the Messianic feast finds a place also in the Lord’s Prayer, for in the fourth petition the correct translation refers not to daily bread but to the Messianic feast. In the Prayer which Jesus teaches the believers, what He causes them to ask for is, under various forms, nothing else than the content of the Kingdom- the hallowing of God’s name, the rule of His will upon earth, forgiveness of sins – with the addition of a petition for deliverance from “Temptation,” that is to say, from the pre-Messianic Tribulation. Is it suitable in the sequence of ideas that they should ask God at the same time for daily bread? This petition, coming in the midst of the others, seems entirely to break the connection. Moreover, it contradicts the immediately following direction of Jesus that the believers should take no thought for eating and drinking and the maintenance of life generally, but reject such thoughts as heathenish (Mt. 6:25-24), being convinced that God knows and will supply all their needs, without their asking (Mt. 6:8 and v. 22). Leaving all else to take care of itself, they are to concern themselves about nothing but the Kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33). That means that their prayers also should be directed only to these things. In order that they may not, like the heathen, ask for unnecessary things, Jesus teaches them this prayer for the Kingdom of God and its blessings (Mt. 6:7-9). How then is it conceivable that, amid these petitions for the one thing needful, He should bring in one which gives expression to the forbidden anxiety about earthly needs? 
ἐπιούσιος [epiousios]means ‘for the following day’ in the sense of ‘today’ (as in a morning prayer). For in Exod 16 the manna is given in the morning for the day to come. But does this not then exclude the eschatological interpretation, which requires us to think of the ‘great tomorrow’? Not necessarily. Bread was equated with manna (Exod 16:4, 8, 12, 15, 22, 32; Ps 77:25 LXX; 105:40; LAB 10:7; Jn 6:25–34), and in Jewish texts the final redemption will see the manna return: 2 Bar. 29:8; Sib. Or. frag. 3, 49; 7:149; Mek. on Exod. 16:25; (cf. Sib. Or. 3:746 (with Exod. 16:31); LAB 19:10; Rev 2:17). Note also Lk 14:15: ‘Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God’. So one could easily think, especially in view of the eschatological orientation of the three preceding petitions and the circumstance that in Jesus’ ministry table fellowship was an anticipation of the eschatological banquet (note Mt 8:11; Lk 22:28–30), that the material bread which God gives today transparently symbolizes and foreshadows and causes one to desire the spiritual, eschatological bread, which will bring lasting satisfaction. (One might also just possibly think in particular of the gathering of manna for the sabbath (Exod 16:22–30), for the sabbath came to be a symbol of the new age: Heb 4:1–10; Barn. 15).
 Keil and Delitzsch however, point out that the “bread” here does not carry a measured out subsistence idea, but rather seen more as a completed entirety given by God: “Accordingly, לֶחֶם חֻקִּי does not mean the bread appropriately measured out for me (like ἄρτος ἐπιούσιος, that which is required for οὐσία, subsistence), but the bread appropriate for me, determined for me according to the divine plan.” [Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 452.]
 List from Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel according to John, The Anchor Bible 29–29A (New York: Doubleday, 1966, 1970), 1:265–66
 Robert Henry Charles, ed., Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 497–498.
 Midrash Rabbah on Eccl. 1:9.
 Mekilta on Exod. 16:25.
 Midrash Tanchuma, Beshallach 21:66.
 “Manna is “hidden” in the sense that it is reserved only for those who enter into the age to come…(2) Manna is “hidden” because it was placed in a jar that was set before the Lord (Exod 16:32–36) and will one day again be made available to the righteous by the Messiah (a view also found in Samaritan eschatology). There was a legend in Judaism that Jeremiah hid the ark to keep it from being carried off to Babylon (2 Macc 2:4–6; Eupolemus frag. 4 [Eusebius Praep. evang. 9.39.5; Holladay, FHJA 1:134]; Alexander Polyhistor [FrGrHist, 723, F 5]; Ginzberg, Legends 6:19 nn. 111–12), and the manna was hidden along with it. (3) The heavenly manna referred to in the OT will be restored in heaven through eternal life. The meaning of this metaphor, however, is clear; victorious Christians will be rewarded with eternal life in which intimate fellowship with God will be enjoyed. [David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 189.]
 Raymond E. Brown, “The Pater Noster As An Eschatological Prayer” in Theological Studies, (May 1961) 197
 N.T. Wright, The Lord’s Prayer as a Paradigm of Christian Prayer, published in Into God’s Presence: Prayer in the New Testament, ed. R.L. Longenecker. 2001, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 132-54.
 Another example, Jeremias: “Only when one has perceived that the petition asks for bread in the fullest sense, for the bread of life, does the antithesis between “for tomorrow” and “today” gain its full significance. This word “today,” which stands at the end of the petition, gets the real stress. In a world enslaved under Satan, in a world where God is remote, in a world of hunger and thirst, the disciples of Jesus dare to utter this word “today”—even now, even here, already on this day, give us the bread of life. Jesus grants to them, as the children of God, the privilege of stretching forth their hands to grasp the glory of the consummation, to fetch it down, to “believe it down,” to pray it down—right into their poor lives, even now, even here, today.” [K. C. Hanson, “Editor’s Foreword,” in Jesus and the Message of the New Testament, ed. K. C. Hanson, Fortress Classics in Biblical Studies (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002), 56.]
 Clayton Sullivan, Rethinking Realized Eschatology (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1988), 65
 Raymond E. Brown, “The Pater Noster As An Eschatological Prayer” in Theological Studies, (May 1961) 197
 Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle translated by William Montgomery (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1955), 240
 Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle translated by William Montgomery (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1955), 239
 W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 609.