So when I received a request to teach a series on the topic in my Sunday school class, I jumped at the chance, even though I’d never taught it as a topic before.
But when I agreed to take on a study of grace in our Sunday school class, I didn’t realize what a huge task I was taking on. Not far into my study and thinking on the topic, I realized that a complete study would involve the whole Bible, as well as its application in every area of our lives. As I don’t have enough years left in my life for that, I decided I need to break the topic down into small bites.
So I begin with some word studies and definitions. First, we need to have a working definition; I believe a simple synonym will do in most cases.
Grace is “favor.” We could replace nearly all references to grace in our Bibles with this simple word. As a matter of fact, many translations seem to use the words interchangeably. Some would add to the definition the adjective “unmerited,” but isn’t that idea already included in the word? Aren’t all favors unmerited?
The Old Testament is full of this word, even in what we might term a “secular” or non-religious usage.
Jacob, for instance, sends a message to his brother Esau hoping “…that I may find favor in your eyes” (Genesis 32:5). “Joseph found favor in the eyes” of Potiphar (Genesis 39:4). These are common expressions and all use the word “favor,” which is the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated “grace.”
For starters I’d like to look at the biblical words – Greek and Hebrew – that are usually translated “grace.”
First, the Greek words used in the New Testament:
· Charis (pronounced khah’-ris) is found 156 times, usually translated “grace,” “favor” or occasionally “thanks.”
· Charizomai (pronouned khah-ridz’-oh-my) is found 22 times, usually translated “grant,” “give freely,” “forgive.”
· Charitoo (pronounced khah-ri-tah’-oh) is found twice, usually translated “bestow favor,” “favor highly.”
The Hebrew words used in the Old Testament:
· Chen (pronounced khane) is found 67 times, usually translated “grace,” “favor.”
· Channun (pronounced khah-noon’) is found 13 times, usually translated “gracious”
· Chanan (pronounced khah-non’) is found 80 times, usually translated “be gracious,” sometimes “beseech” (request grace).
So there are at least 340 references to grace in the Bible besides other similar words, such as “mercy,” “compassion.”
I plan on rambling through this study in the near future. There are many thoughts still rushing through my mind.