Word Study: GRACE
What is “Grace” as used in Scripture? In the New Testament, the Greek word is “charis”. It is translated the vast majority of the time as “grace”. However, it is also translated into these English words: favor, thanks, pleasure, liberality, benefit, and acceptable. Of these additional words, only “favor” is used two times to describe something about the Lord, Luke 1:30 and Acts 7:46. In all the others instances, the Lord is not the subject.
Therefore, nearly all of the uses of “charis” as “grace” are used to describe something about the Lord’s attributes.
There have been many different attempts to define “grace”. Some of the most popular are: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense; Great Redemption At Christ’s Expense; Unmerited favor; and a variety of others. The difficulty with these is that they do not fit in clearly when substituted for the word “grace” when it is used.
It is my belief that there is a biblical definition, found in Romans 2:4, “…the Goodness of God…” Now, the “goodness of God” covers a lot of ground, has great breadth and depth. However, I am convinced that it is a good definition and fits the majority of the verses where “grace” is used.
The source of Grace is the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:14-18, :”And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ESV
Examples of using “The Goodness of God”
I. 2 Peter 3:18, : “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” ESV
Here we are commanded to “grow” in grace. If Grace meant “unmerited favor”, this would be difficult to understand. However, if we consider, “grow in the goodness of God”, this seems a much better explanation. Throughout the New Testament we are told to become followers of Christ, imitate Him, and that we are to be partakers of His nature (compare 2 Peter 1:4). We will never become equal with God in any of His attributes, but we can “grow”in the goodness that He is.
II. Ephesians 2:8-10, : “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. “ ESV
Salvation is a free gift and is made available by “the goodness of God”. This also implies that salvation is something that God gives of Himself, not something that is outside of Himself. It is a gift, but is eternal in nature, just as He is eternal.
III. Titus 2:11-14, : “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” ESV
In this passage, the goodness of God has appeared to all mankind, bringing salvation, and teaching those who have received salvation how to live. Compare John 1:9-13.
IV. 2 Corinthians 12:9,10, : “ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ESV
This is a familiar passage, often claimed, and rightly so, by all who are in need of strength in difficulties. Here, it is “the goodness of God” that is sufficient and is never ending.
V. 1 Corinthians 15:10, : “10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” ESV
The Apostle Paul is speaking about his service in the Lord, and says that it is “God’s goodness” that gives him the motivation and power to do anything that he does. This would also be true for anyone who is serving the Lord Jesus.
These are only a few examples. Many others could be cited. I encourage you to look at other verses and passages, always remembering to keep them in their given context, and see if this definition fits.
While this is not a conclusive or exhaustive study of the word “grace”, it is meant to stimulate further study and consideration. In no way does this study attempt to downplay the studies of others or their definitions. It is simply another way to look at this particular word.