Grace is not defined in the Bible. The activity and life of grace wasn't created by those who added their input to the pages we now consider The Bible. I would first like to look at the English word and then at the Greek word in another post.

The reason I want to talk about this word is that I am referencing what it means when it is written in the Bible. Currently, when people read the word grace, they:

  • Can't figure out what that word means in the sentence because it doesn't fit according to the Christian definition of the word.
  • Think grace means, "God's unmerited favor."
  • Think grace means salvation.
  • Think grace is the word to use to speak of a feeling of peace, or when good things happen.
  • Think grace is the prayer that is spoken before or after a meal.
  • To be lenient, "It was out of grace that God does not punish us."

When the King James Bible was translated in 1611, they chose to use the word "grace" as a translation for the Greek word, "charis" and for variations of that Greek word.

The word, grace, originated from French in the late 12th century and was eventually used by the English. The first written record of the word in English was in 1579.

The current English variations of the word are:

  • Grace as a verb. This is used like, "grace us with your presence." The meaning of that statement is a request for someone to show us their favor by being present at a certain time. This is a modern day use of the word, grace, to mean favor.
  • To suggest being well balanced, or well able to perform some physical feat. This would be, "She was a graceful dancer."
  • To say a prayer of thanks to God for providing the food.
  • To be lenient, "It was out of grace that he did not punish the child."
  • To be a person who shows kindness to visitors, "They were gracious hosts."
  • A Greek goddess.

Some of our English variations come from the English translation of Latin origin. In Latin, the word is "gratis". The English is really a transliteration, but we have English definitions for them because we use them when we speak.

  • Gratify - To show favor to someone or to please them.
  • Gratitude - To show thanks to someone who gratified you.
  • Gratuity - A gift or reward given without obligation in response to someone providing gratification.

We use the Greek form in one respect as it applies to Christian church  ritual. The Communion or the Lord's Supper, is also referred to as the Eucharist. Eucharist is a transliteration of eukharistos. A transliteration is not a translation. To transliterate is to convert letter for letter from one language to another. It doesn't provide an equivalent meaning in the known language.

  • Grace is one translation of the word, charis.
  • Charisma is a transliteration of charisma (Greek). But, we happen to have a English meaning for charisma because it is used by English speaking people. It is the characteristic of a person who has personal  influence on a person or group of people. It translates as a gift of grace.
  • Eucharist is a transliteration of the word, eukharistos because it doesn't tell us the meaning of the word. It only represents the letters and the sound of the word for us to use. eukharistos is translated, "grateful".

 The following words or terms refer to grace because of their origin and help define grace itself as it is used in modern English.

  • Grace.
  • Gratuity.
  • Thanks.
  • Thanksgiving.
  • Favor.
  • Favorite.
  • Charisma.
  • Charismatic.
  • Kindness.
  • Gift given without obligation.
  • To satisfy someone.
  • Having received a other-worldly gift.

Favor is an important part of this study on grace, particularly as it applies to God having favor towards humans. That is the essence of the Christian use of the word, "grace". It is not a wrong usage, but to use it exclusively this way is to narrow our understanding of what grace really means to all of us.

There is an old practice or custom that has changed in our times that would help us understand a part of what grace is about. This is the use of the word, "obligate", or "oblige".

  • obliging - Happy and ready to do favors for others.
  • obligate - To cause to be grateful by doing favors.
  • obliged - To have received a favor and is now looking to return the favor.
 It may seem funny to look at the English ideology of grace as it applies in our recently modern language. To oblige someone is not that old of a use. These days, it has a slight variation. If you have obligated someone, you have constrained them by contract or a business deal to fulfill some action. That is an example of how these words have changed recently even though we continue to use the same words from the 17th century.

To obligate someone  used to mean that you had done them a favor and now they feel that they should do you a favor in return.
Now, to obligate someone, means that you are forcing some action from someone by contract or other legal means.

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