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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: The Fifth Clause.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—The Fifth Clause.

But how gracefully has the Divine Wisdom arranged the order of the prayer; so that after things heavenly—that is, after the “Name” of God, the “Will” of God, and the “Kingdom” of God—it should give earthly necessities also room for a petition! For the Lord had 8797 withal issued His edict, “Seek ye first the kingdom, and then even these shall be added:” 8798 albeit we may rather understand, “Give us this day our daily bread,” spiritually. For Christ is our Bread; because Christ is Life, and bread is life. “I am,” saith He, “the Bread of Life;” 8799 and, a little above, “The Bread is the Word of the living God, who came down from the heavens.” 8800 Then we find, too, that His body is reckoned in bread: “This is my body.” 8801 And so, in petitioning for “daily bread,” we ask for perpetuity in Christ, and indivisibility from His body. But, because that word is admissible in a carnal sense too, it cannot be so used without the religious remembrance withal of spiritual Discipline; for (the Lord) commands that bread be prayed for, which is the only food necessary for believers; for “all other things the nations seek after.” 8802 The like lesson He both inculcates by examples, and repeatedly handles in parables, when He says, “Doth a father take away bread from his children, and hand it to dogs?” 8803 and again, “Doth a father give his son a stone when he asks for bread?” 8804 For He thus shows what it is that sons expect from their father. Nay, even that nocturnal knocker knocked for “bread.” 8805 Moreover, He justly added, “Give us this day,” seeing He had previously said, “Take no careful thought about the morrow, what ye are to eat.” 8806 To which subject He also adapted the parable of the man who pondered on an enlargement of his barns for his forthcoming fruits, and on seasons of prolonged security; but that very night he dies. 8807



This is a slight mistake of Tertullian. The words referred to, “Seek ye first,” etc., do not occur till the end of the chapter in which the prayer is found, so that his pluperfect is out of place. [He must have been aware of this: he only gives logical order to the thought which existed in the divine mind. See note 10, p. 682.]


Matt. vi. 33.


John vi. 35.


John vi. 33.


Matt. xxvi. 26.


Matt. vi. 32.


Tertullian seems to refer to Matt. 15:26, Mark 7:27.


Matt. 7:9, Luke 11:11.


Luke xi. 5-9.


Matt. 6:34, Luke 12:29 seem to be referred to; but the same remark applies as in note 10 on the preceding page.


Luke xii. 16-20.

Next: The Sixth Clause.

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