Grace – In the Old Testament

For those that hold to the “Law of First Mention” as a divinely ordained tool to declare the fundamental aspect of a scriptural concept, here is the first time grace is used in the Bible:

  • “But Noah found grace (“chen”) in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8)

This coupling – “find grace” – is used over and over in the Old Testament. Example:

  • “Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace (“chen”) in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.” (Ruth 2:10-11)

It is also found twice in the New Testament:

  • “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour (“charis”, grace) with God.” (Luke 1:30)


  • Hebrews 4:16. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

So the idea of finding/discovering is important to our understanding grace. The Hebrew word for “find” is מָצ ָא, mâṣâ’, which Strong’s tells us means in part “to attain, i.e. find or acquire”. It immediately conveys the idea of purpose. In the usage with grace, the finder is clearly favored for a specific reason . . . which they have a role in:

  • –> Ruth asks the question of Boaz as to why she “found” grace – his response focuses on her character, her sacrifices. He had a choice as to whether to favor her, just like the other relative with the right of first refusal.


  • –> Noah was similarity favored “for cause” – chosen because he was “a preacher of righteousness”, unlike his godless neighbors.


  • –> In Hebrews we must come – and come boldly – “that” we will be able to find grace. Clear implication is that those that do not come, do not find.

Continue to Grace – Charis with Merit or visit previous in series, Grace – As a “Thing”


  1. July 5, 2016    

    That being said, the word grace was use in the NT referring to the sacrificial death of the Son of God and maybe the reason why grace was not use in the OT but by other terms not related to Jesus death.

    • Moderator Moderator
      July 5, 2016    

      Thank you for your comment. Grace certainly has its fullest expression in the death of the Savior and all that springs from it . . . but as we have pointed out, it is Scripturally – specifically in the NT – used in a broader sense. Example is 1 Peter 2:19: “For this is thankworthy[literal word “grace”, charis], if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” The “man” referred to in this case is the believer.

      And the example we gave in Grace – Etymology and Usage, of the OT quotation from Proverbs 3:34 in 1 Peter 5:5 and James 4:6, satisfies us that the Hebrew “Chen” is the same as the Greek word “Charis”.

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