Grace – Etymology and Usage

Let’s look at the derivation of the Greek and Hebrew words for grace and see what we can learn. The Greek word for grace is “charis” – The following definition is from Strongs Concordance:

χάρις charis; (“chairo”, cheer, to be cheerful); graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)”

Fundamentally it is used as favor, gift. It is a word we find in English as the root of “charisma” and “charismatic”. From this we can see that besides being “a gift” it brings the sense not just of “a favor” but of “a favored one”, someone blessed. The “favor” of grace may be in the giver of grace, or in the recipient, as exhibiting characteristics of being favored.

The Hebrew word translated “grace” in the OT is “chen”. To settle that the OT “chen” is the same thing as NT “charis” we turn to a verse in Proverbs which is quoted several times in the NT:

“Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace (“chen”) unto the lowly.” (Proverbs 3:34)

God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace (“charis”) to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). [Also James 4:6, verbatim]

That satisfies me that we are dealing with the same “grace”.

Strong’s on “chen”:

ןחֵ ḥên; graciousness, i.e. subjective (kindness, favor) or objective (beauty): — favour, grace(- ious), pleasant, precious, (well-)favoured.”

Here we are especially brought to the idea of favoring . . . and of being favored, in a favored state. In this case, when the recipient is in view, this is – again – the idea of being “blessed”.

Continue to Grace – As a “Thing” or visit previous in series, Grace – The Definition

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