“Where sin increased, grace superabounded, and then some on top of that.” (Romans 5:20b Wuest)
Today we want to look at the Greek word charis translated grace in our Bibles. This is one of the most important words in the New Testament.
Since the New Testament was written in the common Greek language of the first century AD, we will first look at the Greek meaning.
In the ethical terminology of the Greek schools, charis or grace implied a favor freely done, without claim or expectation of return.
“Aristotle [ancient Greek philosopher] lays the whole stress of the word on this very point, that it is conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the givers” (Trench).
In the New Testament the Holy Spirit took the meaning infinitely further. I quote Kenneth Wuest on the use of the word:
“But how this purely classical meaning of the word describes what took place at Calvary. All the human race could expect in view of its sin, was the righteous wrath of a holy God, that and eternal banishment from His glorious presence. But instead, the holy God stepped down from His judgment seat and took upon Himself at Calvary’s Cross, the guilt and penalty of human sin, thus satisfying His justice and making possible the bestowal of His mercy. And this He did, not for those who were His friends, but His bitter enemies, unlovely creatures saturated with sin. Charis in classical Greek referred to a favor conferred freely, with no expectation of return, and finding its only motive in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver. This favor was always done to a friend, never to an enemy. RIGHT HERE CHARIS LEAPS FORWARD AN INFINITE DISTANCE, FOR THE LORD JESUS DIED FOR HIS ENEMIES (Romans 5: 8-10), A THING UNHEARD OF IN THE HUMAN RACE. Surely this was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected and is therefore commendable. This is what John is speaking of in his first epistle (3.1) when he says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God.” The words “what manner of” are from a Greek word which means “what foreign kind of.” That is, the love shown by God at the Cross is foreign to the human race. Man simply does not act that way (Rom. 5:7,8,10). That is why God’s action on the Cross in dying for lost humanity is an action beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected and is therefore commendable. HERE IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST PROOFS OF THE DIVINE SOURCE OF THE BIBLE. The substitutionary atonement never came from the philosophies of man but from the heart of God.”
“Thus, the word charis comes to its highest and most exalted content of meaning in the New Testament. It refers to God’s offer of salvation with all that implies, which salvation was procured at Calvary’s Cross with all the personal sacrifice which that included, offered to one who is His bitter enemy, and who is not only underserving of that salvation but deserves condign [appropriate] punishment for his sins, offered without any expectation of return, but given out of the bounty and free heartedness of the giver. This means that there is no room for good works on the part of the sinner as a means whereby he could earn his salvation, or after salvation, whereby he might retain that salvation. Paul sets grace over against works as things directly in opposition to one another as fas as the means of salvation is concerned (Rom 4:4, 5, 11:6). But Paul is very careful to make plain that good works naturally issue from and are required by grace (Titus 2:11-12). (Ephesians – Kenneth Wuest emphasis mine)
I hope you are blessed by this explanation. I’m still marveling at what God has done for us, totally undeserving humans. God bless you and thank you for your time,
Father God, we praise you for your underserved mercy and grace!!!! Amen.