The term “grace” is often used by church going people; but what does it mean?  What is the meaning of the word?

In every day speech, we today use the word in a variety of ways: (1) we may speak of God’s grace; (2) Then, we speak of saying grace for our meal; (3) Followed by our observing how gracefully an athlete performed in a sporting event.

Even so, the ancients used the term in a multitude of ways.  Kittel’s says that the word was used of secular Greeks to mean, “…what delights.  It may be a state causing or accompanying joy… In Plato it has the meanings, ‘good pleasure,’ ‘good will,’ ‘favor,’ ‘pleasure,’ ‘what pleases,’ and ‘thanks.’  In Hellenism Charis becomes a fixed term for ‘favor’ shown by rulers … In recipients, Charis denotes ‘thanks’” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, page 1301).

How does the Bible use the term?  The original term is translated by the KJV into the following words: acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, grace(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).  Vine’s says that the word includes the idea of “that which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight… on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, loving kindness… on the part of the receiver a sense of the favor bestowed,  a feeling of gratitude” (Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 277).  Perschbacher says, “Pleasing show, charm, beauty, gracefulness, a pleasing circumstance, … a beneficial opportunity, a charitable act, generous gift” (The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, page 436).  Thayer lists a variety of ways the word is used including “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight… goodwill, loving kindness, used of the kindness of a master toward his inferiors or servants, and so especially of God toward man… thanks (for the benefits, services, favors)…” …  (Greek-English Lexicon of New Testament, page 666).  Arndt-Gingrich adds, “graciousnes, attractiveness, favor, grace, gracious care or help, goodwill … also by metonymy that which brings someone God’s favor… thanks, gratitude.”  (A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Edition, page 877-888).  Scanning the New Testament one finds that the original word is used of: (1) God’s opportunity for salvation extended to man (Titus 2:11; Titus 3:5-7); (2) favor (Luke 1:30; 2:52; Acts 2:47); (3) Kindness (Col. 4:6); (4) Behavior on which God chooses to bestow favor (1 Peter 2:19-20).

The Biblical concept of saving grace is this: (1) There is a “true grace” according to 1 Peter 5:12.  The implied teaching is that there is also false concepts of God’s grace.  But what is the “true grace?”  (2) True grace is from God (1 Peter 5:10).  (3) It is necessary for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).  (4) It is available to all (Titus 2:11).  (5) God’s grace includes Christ’s dying of our sins according to Hebrews 2:9.  (6) It has at least some conditions for reception (1 Peter 5:5).  (7) True Biblical grace does not exclude obedient faith (Genesis 6:8 cf. Hebrews 11:6-7).  (8) We today have access to this grace “in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).  Yet baptism is the way into Christ Jesus (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27).  (9) Baptism is clearly connected, therefore, with God’s grace (Titus 3:7; cf. Titus 3:5).  (10) It is possible to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4; Revelation 3:16).  (11) True grace teaches us to change our lives (Titus 2:11-12).  (12) While God’s grace may be the basis of our salvation. We are not saved by grace alone, without a response of faith (Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9).

My wishes for you: “Grace be with you, Mercy and Peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ (2 John 3).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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