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Words from the Greek New Testament

Grace: the gift of God

Charis: The gift of God

When a person takes a look for the first time at the menagerie of gods and deities making up the religions of the world, they are often surprised at two things. Firstly, how much alike the deities of one religion are to the deities of every other religion, and secondly, just how much like us these gods seem to be.

They are jealous, suspicious, vengeful, capricious, envious and unreasonable; traits which are suspiciously all too human!

By comparison, the God of the Bible is unorthodox and unique, revealing that He has little or nothing in common with this menagerie. Instead of being vengeful and capricious, He's unchanging, and full of moral integrity and justice. He's absolutely nothing like what we are like.

The writers of the New Testament, who knew all about the Greek and Roman gods (along with many others), focused their attention on this facet of God's nature by deliberately selecting and using a certain Greek word: Charis. This word, which is usually translated Grace, conveys the outlandish ideas of graciousness, favour, gifting and liberality; not at all what we would normally expect from a being of absolute power and unlimited authority.

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