Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

grace, the English translation of a Greek word meaning concretely ‘that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune.’ Grace in classical Greek applied to art, persons, speech, or athletics, as well as to the good fortune, kindness, and power bestowed by the gods upon divine men, moving them to miraculous deeds.

Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint - The lxx [Septuagint, Greek Old Testament] employs this word to translate the Hebrew root meaning ‘favor.’ Thus, Noah found favor before the Lord (Gen. 6:8); Jacob sought favor in the eyes of Esau (Gen. 32:5). Similarly, those showing favor do gracious deeds. For example, showing kindness to the poor (Prov. 14:31) or generosity to all living (Ecclus. 7:33) was an act of grace. Likewise, the Psalms speak confidently of God’s graciousness in hearing prayers, healing (6:2; 41:4), rescuing the oppressed (9:13), giving the Law (119:29), forgiving sin, rescuing the weak, and the like.

Even where the vocabulary of grace is absent, God’s actions are suffused with grace. God loved Israel in spite of its puny numbers (Deut. 7:6-9) and rescued the community from the howling wilderness, encircling it with care (Deut. 32:10). God kept covenant with Israel even when the covenant was violated by the people (Ezek. 16:8) and brought the captives home from Babylon (Isa. 49:14-18). Promises abound in the ot that flow from God’s graciousness.

Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha - In the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, grace was synonymous with divine mercy on the elect (Wisd. of Sol. 3:9). For deliverance from the flood, Noah prayed: ‘For Thy grace has been great towards me, And great has been Thy mercy to my soul’ (Jubilees 10:3).

Qumran community - The Qumran community used ‘covenant loyalty’ synonymously with grace: ‘Behold you have begun to show covenant loyalty to your servant. You are gracious to me with your mercies’ (Thanksgiving Hymn 16:8-9). Even while relying on God’s grace, the community strictly hued to the Law with no sense of contradiction. The way of grace and the demand of the Law were integral to the one path to salvation.

New Testament - Except for its emphasis on Jesus, the nt [New Testament] understanding of grace resembles that just surveyed. In Luke and Acts, power from the divine realm infuses god-like men, moving them to perform miraculous deeds. The divine grace rests on the infant Jesus (Luke 2:40), who subsequently grows in grace (2:52), speaks gracious words (4:22), and, like a divine man, passes unharmed through a hostile mob (4:30). Followers of Jesus, such as Stephen, full of ‘grace,’ do signs and wonders (Acts 6:8; cf. 14:3). Likewise, Paul assumes that recipients of God’s grace will perform deeds of grace. The gracious gift he received is apostleship (Rom. 1:5; 12:6-8); the range of gifts (‘graces’) others receive runs from esoteric, ecstatic speech to mundane, administrative skills, but all are deemed important (1 Cor. 12:4-31).

Elsewhere, grace connotes God’s favor shown sinners through Jesus Christ. Historically condemned as ‘sinners,’ Gentiles gain entrance to the messianic community through the ‘gift’ (Rom. 3:24) or ‘free gift’ (Rom. 5:15) of grace (Gal. 2:17-21; Rom. 4:16). While Paul forbade no Jewish Christian to observe the Law, Christ revalued the Law. Although he disassociated grace and Law observance for Gentiles (Galatians), Paul, like the Qumraners, expected obedience to accompany the life of grace. Repeatedly, Paul cautioned against using grace as a license to sin, lest believers ‘accept the grace of God in vain’ (2 Cor. 6:1).

Paul also used grace to mean ‘thanks to God’ (Rom. 6:17; 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:57), a thank offering, or an acknowledgment of God’s good gifts. In the opening of his Letters, Paul offers the traditional Greek greeting, ‘grace’ (coupled with the Hebrew ‘peace’ wish), expressing delight at touching the addressee’s world. The letters characteristically close with a petition for divine favor, ‘grace,’ on the recipients.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

Edited by W.E. Vine (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981)

This is an excellent book to add to your library. Due to its consolidation of corresponding Hebrew and Greek terms under one heading, and its use of the Strong's number system, this is a very useful book. The paperback edition is conveniently small (6"x4"x1.5"), and its list price is only $10 (US). It is available at Border's Books at or Christian Book Distributors at


1. CHARIS (Strong's # 5485) has various uses,

To be in favour with is to find grace with, e.g., Acts 2:47; hence it appears in this sense at the beginning and the end of several Epistles, where the writer desires grace from God for the readers, e.g., Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; in this respect it is connected with the imperative mood of the word chairo, to rejoice, a mode of greeting among Greeks, e.g., Acts 15:23; Jas. 1:1 (marg.); 2 John 10, 11, R.V., “greeting” (A.V., “God speed”).

The fact that grace is received both from God the Father, 2 Cor. 1:12, and from Christ, Gal. 1:6; Rom. 5:15 (where both are mentioned), is a testimony to the Deity of Christ. See also 2 Thess. 1:12, where the phrase “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” is to be taken with each of the preceding clauses, “in you,” “and ye in Him.”

In Jas. 4:6, “But He giveth more grace” (Greek, ‘a greater grace,’ R.V., marg.), the statement is to be taken in connection with the preceding verse, which contains two remonstrating, rhetorical questions, “Think ye that the Scripture speaketh in vain?” and “Doth the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) which He made to dwell in us long unto envying?” (see the R.V.). The implied answer to each is ‘it cannot be so.’ Accordingly, if those who are acting so flagrantly, as if it were so, will listen to the Scripture instead of letting it speak in vain, and will act so that the Holy Spirit may have His way within, God will give even ‘a greater grace,’ namely, all that follows from humbleness and from turning away from the world.

Note: The corresponding verb charitooµ, to endue with Divine favour or grace, is used in Luke 1:28, “highly favoured” (marg., “endued with grace”) and Eph. 1:6, A.V., “hath made … accepted;” R.V., “freely bestowed” (marg., “endued.”).

2. EUPREPEIA (Strong's # 2143), comeliness, goodly appearance, is said of the outward appearance of the flower of the grass, Jas. 1:11.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume

Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add this book to your library. It is available at Border's Books at or Christian Book Distributors at

charis, charizomai, charitoo, acharistos - in the New Testament

The noun charis does not occur in Matthew, Mark, or 1 and 3 John, in John it occurs only in 1:14ff., and in 1 Thessalonians and Philemon only in salutations. charizomai is found only in Luke and Paul, and charitoo only in Lk. 1:28 and Eph. 1:6. The preposition chaŒrin is not very common in the NT (in contrast to the Koine). The OT hen offers little guidance, and hesed points us to eleos rather than charis.

1. Luke.

2. Paul.

3. Colossians, Ephesians, the Pastorals, Hebrews, I and 2 Peter, and James.

4. John.

For links to some other Bible-related webpages, browse

To contact the website administrator, email