Emmanuel O. Obiorah
Jos, Plateau State
27th March, 2013
The word ‘Grace’ is not a new word to most religious circles. Among Christians, such adjectives like amazing, extravagant, divine and awesome have been used to qualify the word grace with each depicting its importance to the Christian faith. Our concern in this work is to describe and analyze this word- Grace for a better, richer and more fulfilling understanding of its meaning. We hope that this would be of immense blessing as we consider this word which made us what we are today- Christians. Definition of the word
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for Grace is Chen (חֵן). Strong’s Concordance defined this word as "favor, grace or charm…the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition". Chen was translated as "grace" thirty –eight times in the King James translation. It was also translated "favour" twenty-six times, twice as "gracious", once as "pleasant", and once as "precious". The Greek word charis (χάρις) was used for Grace in the New Testament. Strong's Concordance defined charis as; "the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object." Another Greek word that is related to charis is charisma (khar'-is-mah- gracious gift) both of which originated from the Greek word chairo (to rejoice, be glad, delighted) (Olowe 2011a). According to Olowe (2011b), Grace can be simply defined as an unmerited gift of God to assist and to equip man. This means that Grace comes in form of assistance, potential or resource. It is “a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own, the gift of divine grace, the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue”. The economy of divine grace is that through it “the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold on by faith”. Grace or gifts (as it is sometimes referred to) also denotes extraordinary powers that distinguish certain Christians by enabling them to serve the church of Christ. Grace motivates Christians to exercise all the Christian virtues “the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit” (Olowe 2011b). The Catholics on the other hand defined Grace (gratia, Charis) generally as “supernatural gift of God to intellectual creatures (men, angels) for their eternal salvation, whether the latter be furthered and attained through salutary acts or a state of holiness” (Knight 2012). Having considered the various definitions, this writer believes that Grace is a divine enablement or favourable disposition towards an undeserving person to do or become what such a person would not have been or done without such enablement. Genre of the word: Grace
Grace is a theological term which is present in and among many religious groups other than Christianity. However, there are significant differences between the ways these other religions use the word grace. Even within Christianity, there are differing conceptions of grace. Infact the differences in the view of Grace including the so-called controversies of grace which space may not allow us to discuss in this work made Bill Gothard describe grace as "the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, and modern liberalism from conservatism"(Olowe 2011a). One of the differences in the views of the concept of Grace is that while the Protestants believe that special grace can only be received through the Spirit of God, the Catholic doctrine teaches that God uses the sacraments to facilitate the reception of this grace (Knight 2012). Protestants on the other hand generally held the view that even without the sacraments; divine grace has been imparted by God to humanity. Theological discussion of the word- Grace
Gift and Grace are sometimes used interchangeably because...