Definitions The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the adjective ‘just’ as ‘acting or done in accord with what is morally right and proper, deserved, right in amount etc.’ The noun ‘justice’ is defined as ‘just conduct, fairness, exercise of authority in maintenance of right, due allocation of reward of virtue and punishment of vice’. Even magistrates are given the title; ‘Justice of the Peace’, and ‘Mr Justice’ so-and-so.
The English Imperial Dictionary, Webster, and others, give as one definition of Justice, "vindictive retribution;" and define "vindictive" to be "revengeful, given to revenge." Bellamy takes up the point with a manifest relish: "Vindictive justice is a glorious and amiable perfection of Deity. The ejection of the sinning angels out heaven down to eternal darkness and despair, turning our first parents out of paradise, and dooming them and all their race to death, and the final sentence to be passed on apostate angels and apostate men, at the day of judgment, are all perfect in beauty. The divine character, as exhibited to view in these facts, is altogether glorious; for it is a glorious thing in God thus to punish sin according to its desert. Therefore, It can be owing to nothing but criminal blindness, to the spirit of a rebel, of an enemy, in any of Gods subjects, that the glory of his character, as thus exhibited, does not shine into their hearts. .... And, therefore, no sooner is a sinner renewed by the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, but he begins to see the beauty of vindictive justice. The. law, as a ministration of death, now begins to appear glorious ; for now he begins to see things as they be. For now his eyes are opened. .... And vindictive justice being a glorious and amiable perfection, it was a glorious and amiable thing in God to bruise Christ, and put his soul to grief, who had espoused our cause, and appeared as our representative."—Essay on the Nature and Glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, &c. By Joseph Bellamy, D,D., pp. 127 - 130. Edit. 1795.]
The Bible says that God is just, but it is His character that defines what being just really is. He does not conform to some outside criteria. Being just brings moral equity to everyone. When there are evil acts, justice demands there be a penalty. Since God is perfect and has never done evil, no penalty would ever be necessary; however, because of His love, God paid the penalty for our evil deeds by going to the cross Himself. His justice needed to be satisfied, but He took care of it for all who will believe in Jesus.
The frequency of justice is sometimes missed by the reader due to a failure to realize that the wide range of the Hebrew word mishpat (O.T.) particularly in passages that deal with the material and social necessities of life
Theologically speaking the cardinal virtue justice is explained as rendering to people their due.Heribert Jone, Moral Theology, The Newman Press 1956, #112
Justice has two major aspectsIt is the standard by which penalties areassigned for breaking the obligations ofthe society.
Justice is the standard by which theadvantages of social life are handed out,including material goods, rights ofparticipation, opportunities, and liberties. Itis the standard for both punishment andbenefits and thus can be spoken of as aplumb line. “I shall use justice as a plumb-line, and righteousness as a plummet”Isaiah 28:17, REB
Often people think of justice in the Bible only in the first sense as Gods wrath on evil This aspect of justice indeed is present, such as the judgment mentioned in John 3:19. Often more vivid words like “wrath” are used to describe punitive justice (Rom. 1:18).
Justice in the Bible very frequently also deals with benefits Cultures differ widely in determining the basis by which the benefits are to be justly distributed. For some it is by birth and nobility. For others the basis is might or ability or merit. Or it might simply be whatever is the law or whatever has been established by contracts.
The Bible takes another possibility Benefits are distributed according to need. Justice then is very close to love and grace. God “executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and… loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing” (Deut. 10:18, NRSV; compare Hosea 10:12; Is. 30:18).
Various needy groups are the recipients of justice. These groups include widows, orphans, resident aliens (also called “sojourners” or “strangers”), wage earners, the poor, and prisoners, slaves, and the sick.Job 29:12-17; Psalms 146:7-9; Mal. 3:5
Voltaire, the sarcastic atheist said: “God created man in His image and man paid Him back the same!” No person has been misunderstood, misrepresented and his true image refashioned in the history mankind as God has been!
The perfect account and description of God can only be found in the words spoken by Jesus Christ alone, for He is God Incarnate. All other human words, even if “inspired,” still carry some element of our human reflection and projection of our own attributes, and of course language, on God.
JUSTICE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used for JUSTICE is “Tzedek” which in Arabic (a close Semitic language) would best be translated “SEDEK” that is: Faithfulness and honesty, keeping one’s promise and word of honor and fulfilling it, to do the right thing.
Justice is Care for the Vulnerable The Hebrew word for “justice,” mishpat. Ooccurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people equitably. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. Anyone who does the same wrong should be given the same penalty.
But mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights. Deut. 18 directs that the priests of the tabernacle should be supported by a certain percentage of the people’s income. This support is described as “the priests’ mishpat,” which means their due or their right. Mishpat, then, is giving people what they are due, whether punishment or protection or care.
This is why, if you look at every place the word is used in the O. T., several classes of persons continually come up. Over and over again, mishpat describes taking up the care and cause of widows, orphans, immigrants and the poor—those who have been called “the quartet of the vulnerable.”
In premodern, agrarian societies, these four groups had no social power. They lived at subsistence level and were only days from starvation if there was any famine, invasion or even minor social unrest. Today, this quartet would be expanded to include the refugee, the migrant worker, the homeless and many single parents and elderly people.
The mishpat, or justness, of a society, according to the Bible, is evaluated by how it treats these groups. Any neglect shown to the needs of the members of this quartet is not called merely a lack of mercy or charity but a violation of justice, of mishpat. God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to “do justice.”
Justice, in most modern languages, has the legal connotation of a “punishment due”. Righteousness is a better word, as it brings out the meaning of “doing what is right,” which is closer to the meaning of the Hebrew word "Tzedek." Can you see how God could be badly misrepresented, just from one word language-to- language translation?!!!
No attribute of the Divine character has led to so much vague thinking and reasoning as that of Justice. And perhaps in its human definitions and applications, it would be difficult to find a word more generally misunderstood and misapplied. Lexicographers give to it meanings, judicial authorities stale its duties and demands, and theologians assign to it principles and aims, than which nothing could be farther from its nature and office. Retribution, in the sense of retaliation, of so much pain, for so much wrong, vindictive punishment, evil for evil, are elements entering largely into the popular, the judicial, and the theological thought on this subject.
The word justification refers to the process or state of becoming righteous. The word justification is used three times in the Romans. The word group is defined in the following manner: dike (root word of the group, meaning right or just), dikaios (meaning righteously or justly), dikaiosune (meaning righteousness or justice), dikaiosis (meaning “the act of pronouncing righteous” or acquittal), dikaioma (meaning an ordinance, a sentence of acquittal or condemnation, a righteous deed), dikaio (meaning “to show to be righteous” or “to declare righteous”), and dikastase (meaning “to judge” or “a judge”). It appears that the word group, when taken as a whole, can convey both a sense of righteousness and justice (as a legal declaration).
In Romans 5:16, when Paul says, “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto [dikaioma] justification,” the Eastern Christian and patristic scholar would be completely comfortable with justification defined as a “righteousness mercifully imparted by God that restores man to a state that was originally intended.” As the fall of Adam condemned the cosmos, and therefore mankind, to a world of sin and corruption, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is able to “make righteous” that creation which previously existed in a fallen state subjected to death.
God’s justice is not something to fear or to counter-pose to God’s mercy We could see God’s justice as God’s initiative to liberate human beings from bondage to the powers of sin. Rom.1:16-17
Paul emphasizes that God initiates the needed liberation—strictly out of God’s mercy. Just as God “put forward” Moses and freed the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, Paul asserts that God “put forward” Jesus to free Jew and Gentile alike from enslavement to the power of sin.
God is not the recipient of this act but the doer of it. In no, according to Paul’s argument,does the liberation come from God’s own retributive justice. Rather, the liberation comes as a gift that amerciful God gives as an expression of God’s restorative justice.
God puts Jesus forward as a “sacrifice of atonement” Rom.3:25 (Greek: hilasterion) God is responsible for this saving action, the One who offers the Sacrifice (not the one who receives it).
Jesus’ self-sacrifice reveals God’s saving justice (that is, God’s mercy) that is available to everyone (Jew first and also Gentile) with eyes to see and responsive hearts.
The “atonement” (at-one-ment, reconciliation) is not a sacrifice to God, that satisfies God’sneediness (that God is not needy for sacrifices has been established back with Psalm 50) The “atonement” illumines the truth that humanity has suppressed (Rom. 1:18), truth that helps (or allows) sinners to see God’s welcoming mercy clearly. This illumination makes “one-ment” with God possible - not from God’s side (God has always welcomed sinners) but from the human side (when we see accurately we will be freed from our fearfulness toward God that leads to ingratitude and trusting in idols instead of God).
The “sacrifice of atonement” is given “by Jesus’ blood” Rom.3:25 What does “blood” signify here? Does God after all need a blood-sacrifice to satisfy God’s anger or honor or retributive justice or sense of “evenness”? Hardly. Since God never did need or even desire such a sacrifice, it is impossible to imagine that Paul has such a sacrifice in mind here.
The Old Testament makes it clear that God does not need offerings - God is not “hungry” (see Psalm 50:1-15 and various anti-sacrificial references in the prophets). Rather, the need for offerings rests on the human side. Offerings are necessary to concretize for the human imagination the reality of God’s mercy and the expectations God has for life lived in light of that mercy.
Jesus himself made it clear that God desires works of mercy not ritual sacrifices that take the place of such works (see His quotes of Hosea in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, “I desire mercy not sacrifice” and His actions of by-passing the sacrificial temple system with His direct offer of forgiveness).
Paul has also made it clear in Rom. 1–3 that God’s justice expresses God’s merciful will for salvation, not God’s retributive inclination to punish. Paul does mention God’s wrath, but as we have suggested above, we best see this “wrath” as itself an expression of God’s forbearing love that allows human beings to choose to worship created things and become like them.
God “did this” (i.e., “put forward Jesus”), Rom.3:25, to show God’s justice. Our sense of what Paul means here, of how “putting forward Jesus” expresses God’s justice, will be determined by how we define “justice” in this broader Romans passage. Notice that in Rom.1:16-17, Paul links the revelation of God’s justice directly with the bringing of salvation. Here in Rom.3:21-24, Paul links the disclosure of God’s justice directly with sinners being justified (made whole, saved) by God’s grace.
Clearly, the revelation of God’s justice in Jesus has to do with God’s healing and restorative work. So, God “put forward Jesus” out of love in order to heal—not out of rigid holiness that requires a violent sacrifice in order to satisfy God’s honor or turn away God’s anger. Jesus’ work expresses restorative justice, not retributive justice. This “showing of God’s justice” leads to the direct consequence of reconciliation between former human enemies (Jew and Gentile) and between human and divine enemies (see Rom. 5:1-10).
Jesus’ own faithfulness had at itsheart the welcome of sinners and theforgiveness of sins apart from temple sacrifice or rigorous adherence toPharisaic oral laws. In this welcome, Jesus embodied God’s “divine forbearance.”
By “putting forward Jesus,” God proves that God is “just” (Rom.3:26). “Justice” here has to do with making things right, restoring relationships, creating wholeness—not with punitive, retributive justice. Jesus’ own faithfulness in his life model what God’s justice is like. As a “just” God, God heals and makes whole(“justifies”) those people who share in Jesus’ faithfulness (Rom.3:26)—that is, those who trust in and identify with Jesus’ own faithfulness, making His way their way.
Paul concludes that God justifies (makes whole) in only one way (Rom.3:30). God justifies on the ground of faithfulness. This is true for circumcised and uncircumcised alike (a point emphasized in Paul’s discussion of Abraham’s justification in chapter four).
The emphasis on one method for justification reiterates what Paul wrote earlier: Justification is offered by God’s justice apart from the law but attested to by the law and prophets (Rom.3:21). Justification has to do with faithfulness (Jesus’ and his followers’), not with ethnic identity, relation to the Empire, a punitive sacrifice, or doctrinal belief.
Justification and salvation are abouta living relationship with God that is manifested in love of neighbor. Paul makes this affirmation perfectlyclear in Rom.13:8-10 where he again presents himself as summarizing Torah.
For those who do recognize the revelation of God’s saving justice in Jesus for what it is, the only need is simply to trust that that revelation is true. Such trust leads to salvation. If it isauthentic, it also leads to the believer participating in Jesus’ way.
The “justice of God” that stands at the center of Paul’s theology of salvation clearly from start to finish is restorative justice, not retributive justice. God seeks to help humanity see God’s true nature, creation’s true nature, as merciful. God breaks through idolatry’s blinding dynamics in the witness of Jesus - seeking to convey to any with eyes to see and ears to hear that God’s welcome remains unconditional for all who turn toward it.
Paul adds no new spin to the Bible’s salvation story. He reiterates what the call of Abraham, the exodus, the gift of Torah, the sustenance of thecommunity in exile, and the message of Jesus have all (in harmony with one another) expressed: God ismerciful and offers empowerment for just living for all who embrace thatmercy and let it transform their lives.
Men have failed to live up to the standard of righteousness laid down by the Law (Romans 3:9-20). God is just in condemning all men to death, for all men without exception have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All men are worthy of death because the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God is just in condemning the unrighteous.
But God is also just in saving sinners. As Paul puts it, He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). How can this be? God is just because His righteous anger has been satisfied. Justice was done on the cross of Calvary. God did not reduce the charges against men; He did not change the standard of righteousness. God poured out the full measure of His righteous wrath upon His Son on the cross of Calvary. In Him, justice was meted out. All of those who trust in Him by faith are justified. Their sins are forgiven because Jesus paid the full price; He suffered the full measure of God’s wrath in their place. And for those who reject the goodness and mercy of God at Calvary, they must pay the penalty for their sins because they would not accept the payment Jesus made in their place.
The cross of Calvary accomplished a just salvation, for all who will receive it. But we also know that only those whom God has chosen - the “elect” - will repent and trust in the death of Christ on their behalf. This raises another question related to divine justice. After clearly teaching the doctrine of divine election, Paul asks how election squares with the justice of God, and then gives us the answer: Romans 9:6-24
Conclusion If sin is the manifestation of our unrighteousness and we can be saved only through a righteousness not our own —the righteousness of Christ—then the ultimate sin is self-righteousness. Jesus did not reject sinners who came to Him for mercy and salvation; He rejected those who were too righteous (in their own eyes) to need grace. Jesus came to save sinners and not to save those righteous in their own eyes. No one is too lost to save; there are only those too good to save. In the Gospels, those who thought themselves most righteous were the ones condemned by our Lord as wicked and unrighteous.
If we are among those who have acknowledged our sin and trusted in the righteousness of Christ for our salvation, the righteousness of God is one of the great and comforting truths we should embrace. The justice of God means that when He establishes His kingdom on earth, it will be a kingdom characterized by justice. He will judge men in righteousness, and He will reign in righteousness. We need not fret over the wicked of our day who seem to be getting away with sin. If we love righteousness, we most certainly dare not envy the wicked, whose day of judgment awaits them (see Psalm 37; 73). Their day of judgment is rapidly coming upon them, and justice will prevail.
If we realize that true righteousness is not to be judged according to external, legalistic standards and that judgment belongs to God, we dare not occupy ourselves in judging others (Mat.7:1). We should also realize that judgment begins at the house of God, and thus we should be quick to judge ourselves and to avoid those sins which are an offense to the righteousness of God (see 1 Pet.4:17; 1 Cor. 11:31).
The doctrine of the righteousness of God means that we, as the children of God (if you are a Christian), should seek to imitate our heavenly Father (5:48). We should not seek to find revenge against those who sin against us, but leave vengeance to God (Rom.12:17-21). Rather than seeking to get even, let us suffer the injustice of men, even as our Lord Jesus, that God might even bring our enemies to repentance and salvation (Mat.5:43-44; 1 Peter 2:18-25). And let us pray, as our Lord instructed us, that the day when righteousness reigns may come:“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (Mat. 6:10)
Grace is one of the most fundamental words of Christianity It is a word used on a regular basis by Christians, but do most Christians have a clear and complete understanding of what “grace” means? Any diligent student studying a subject in college would not remotely expect to thoroughly understand that subject without a proper understanding of the fundamental words of the subject. Are we to expect a Christian to be less diligent in understanding the fundamental words of Christianity?
The only definition of grace that most people know is “unmerited pardon”.
Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary, second edition, in defining “pardon” as a noun, lists the word “forgiveness” as the only synonym. “ Unmerited” is listed without a definition, along with hundreds of other words with the prefix of un . The prefix un is defined as: not, lack of, the opposite of. However, the word “merited” is listed separately and is defined by the single word “deserved”. So, “unmerited” obviously would have to mean “undeserved”. Then “unmerited pardon” would obviously mean “undeserved forgiveness”. Is this a proper definition of grace?
The Apostle Paul ended all of his letters with thefollowing or similar expression; “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (The word “grace” found in the N.T. is always translated from the Greek word karis designated by Strong’s Concordance, reference #5485.) Does it make sense for Paul to be continually saying to converted Christians, “May the ‘unmerited pardon’ of Christ be with you”? There are many benefits available to Christians from Christ! Why would Paul consistently express the same desire that Christians be blessed with only one of the many benefits available to them from Christ?
Grace has a far greater scope of meaning than just“unmerited pardon”
Divine Grace in Scriptures A good scripture that translates the Greek word ’karis’ as ’favor’ instead of ‘Grace’ is found in Luke 1:30. This scripture tells about Mary, the woman that was to become the mother of Christ; “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’” Does the definition of grace as “unmerited pardon” explain the honor Mary received by being chosen of God to become the mother of Christ?
Luke 2:40 tells of the young Jesus: “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” 2 Corinthians tells us that Christ never sinned. Since Christ did not sin, why would God’s “unmerited pardon” be upon Him? And how would “unmerited pardon” cause Jesus to grow strong in spirit?
John 1:14 gives the following description of Christ; “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,and we beheld His glory, the glory asof the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth ”.John 1:17 further states; “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Christ who was full of grace and truth, fullydemonstrated this grace and truth in how Helived and in everything He taught and ineverything He did. John 17:17 records Christ’sdefinition of truth as He is praying to God theFather; “Sanctify them by Your truth . Your wordis truth .”Since truth is defined with such a wide scope ofmeaning as encompassing all of God’s word,should we not expect grace , which ismentioned first and directly associatedwith truth to have a far more powerful meaningthan “unmerited pardon”?
Let’s review some additionalscriptures for a more complete definition of grace
But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2Pet 3:18) How does a person grow in “unmerited pardon”? And is “unmerited pardon” the only thing besides knowledge that Christ has to offer for Christians to grow in? …of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power (Eph 3:7). Would “unmerited pardon” alone demonstrate the effectual working of God’s power and make the Apostle Paul a powerful minister? Romans 12:6 to 21 lists the gifts and attributes granted Christians by the grace of God given to them: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith.” The rest of this chapter lists over 20 gifts granted to Christians by God’s grace ! Ephesians 4:7–16 also lists several of these gifts of grace. These gifts of grace include not only offices of authority, but all of the character traits of God. None of the gifts of grace listed in these two chapters have the exclusive meaning of “unmerited pardon”.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace (2Thes 2:16). The hope of all Christians culminates in the main and final hope which in the resurrection and eternal life (Acts 2:25– 27; 3:6; 24:15; 26:6; Rom 8:21–22; 1Thes 2:19; 5:8; Titus 1:2; 2:13; 3:7; Heb 3:6; 6:11; 1Pet 1:3–4; 1Jn 3:1–3). Clearly, providing everlasting consolation and good hope encompasses far more than “unmerited pardon”. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Cor 9:8). This scripture clearly states that God’s grace is available to supply all our needs and to help us do every good work. Also, at the very least, this scripture also strongly implies that every good work is grace.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1Pet 1:13). This scripture tells us that we are to look forward in hope to the gift of grace we shall receive at the return of Christ. What else is this but the resurrection of true Christians?! Peter speaks of Christian husbands and their wives: “…being heirs together of the grace of life ” (1Pet 3:7). The Bible tells us that what true Christian heirs should expect to inherit is eternal life ! (Matt 19:29; 10:17; Luke 10:25; 18:18.) Does “unmerited pardon” of itself grant us eternal life? But may the God of all grace , who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect , establish, strengthen, and settle you (1Pet 5:10). …so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:21). How can “unmerited pardon” by itself perfect a Christian’s character and personality and establish God’s eternal glory in him? Does grace as defined by the term “unmerited pardon” reign over all aspects of a Christian’s life unto eternal life?
Acts 15:11 states: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.” Also in Titus 2:11 we read: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” “Unmerited pardon” involves only one of many facets of the salvation-giving power of the life of Christ. “Unmerited pardon” of itself savesabsolutely no one ! Some of the most powerful and definitive scriptures on grace are found in Ephesians: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God , not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship , created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8– 10). These scriptures plainly state that we are not saved by our works but by God’s workmanship through Christ, which is Their works of grace . Are we to believe that God and Christ’s workmanship in regards to true Christians only involves “unmerited pardon”? …receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls . Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you (1Pet 1:9–10)
Was “unmerited pardon” what the prophets were diligently searching and prophesying about? Is “unmerited pardon” the ultimate result that a Christian expects from his faith? These verses clearly and unmistakably state that the final product of God and Christ’s grace is the completed process of salvation, the resurrection to eternal life. In Acts 20:24 the apostle Paul uses the term “the gospel of the grace of God”. In the next verse he connects this gospel with “preaching the kingdom of God”. Acts 20:24 has a companion scripture: I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ , to a different gospel , which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:6–7).
Notice that the grace of Christ is directly equated to the gospel of Christ . In over two dozen N.T. Scriptures the word “gospel” is used without any other description. In other places it is described as the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of God. There are several less common descriptions of the gospel, including “the everlasting gospel” as recorded in Rev. 14:6 . Heb. 4:2 states: “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them [Old Testament Israelites]…”. These scriptures declare that the gospel of the Old and New Testaments is the same and is an everlasting gospel. It has always existed and will be around as long as God exists. Eph. 1:13 describes the gospel in yet another manner; “the word of truth, gospel of your salvation”. Regardless of how the “gospel” is described, it is timeless, it involves all of God’s perfect Word of truth and all aspects of salvation which is fully implemented, nurtured, and brought to full fruition by God and Christ’s grace .
Now let us review one more set of scriptures concerning grace There are several poignant scriptures concerning Christ that are intimately and powerfully connected to the function of grace. Here are two: …who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered . And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:7–9)
Heb 4:15–16 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace , that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Let us review the office Christ holds at the present time 1 Peter 1:20 states that Christ was foreordained to be our Savior before the foundation of the world. Christ, as a spirit being, was trained in heaven directly and intimately by God the Father in all the requirements of living like God. Christ explains this training: Then Jesus said to them, “…I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things…” (John 8:28). …the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner (John 5:19). I speak what I have seen with My Father… (John 8:38).
Christ, after His divine training, humbled Himself and as a human being went through an intensive and extensive training process, overcoming all manner of temptations, being perfected by His severe sufferings. He is now a perfect High Priest, a perfect Mediator and a perfect Author of our salvation and sits in intimate and constant contact at the right hand of God the Father at the throne of grace . This scripture expresses the power of the throne of grace : Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 14:12). The Scriptures we have reviewed so far on grace even when assessed on an individual basis, show that grace involves far more than “unmerited pardon”. These same scriptures collectively profoundly state that God’s grace is intimately and constantly and powerfully involve d in all facets of salvation, including establishing His righteous character in those He has chosen.
Characteristics of Grace Grace is a free will gift, not something that is coerced (Matt 10:8). Grace always remains within the parameters of God’s law. God’s grace always expresses love (John 3:16, Heb 2:9). God’s Grace demonstrates His truth (John 1:17). God’s grace encourages and empowers a true Christian to do righteous works of grace (2Cor 9:8). God’s grace promotes abundant living (John 10:10). Thanks and praise, whether given to God or man, is a form of grace (Heb 13:15). Sometimes the blessings of grace are obvious, at other times they are extremely hard to comprehend. Sometimes the blessings of grace are received immediately; at other times they are a long time in coming. God’s grace establishes His righteous character in true Christians. Gods and Christ’s grace provide for all aspects of salvation.Eph 2:8–10
What Grace Is Not Grace is never something given out of fear . Grace is not a license to sin . The Apostle Paul makes this statement in Romans 6:1-2: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Grace is not a license to vegetate by believing that all that is necessary is to have faith in Christ and let Him do all the work . In Phil. 2:12 the Apostle Paul writing to converted Christians says: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling .” Christ also tells us in Luke 13:24: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate…” Grace is not selfish , but is given without expecting something in return. Christ’s instruction on this matter is found in Mat. 6:2: “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” The granting of God or Christ’s grace to an individual is not a guarantee that an individual will be in the first resurrection and the kingdom of God. Heb. 12:15 gives this instruction (which is in part quoted from Deut. 29:18): “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God ; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Christians and Grace Some people think of grace only as something that God and Christ give and Christians receive. Are Christians expected to be only on the receiving end of grace, or are they also expected or even required to show grace? Let us review what the scriptures say on this subject.
Besides grace and favor, the Greek word karis is also sometimes translated as thank, thanks, or thankworthy, as well as liberality, gift, benefit, pleasure, joy, and acceptable. None of these English words translated from the Greek word karis remotely have the exclusive meaning of “unmerited pardon”.
Let us now review the word “thank ” and its derivatives translated from the Greek word karis In 1 Timothy 1:12 the Apostle Paul says: “and I thank Christ Jesus, the Lord…” In 2 Timothy 1:3 the Apostle Paul also states: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers…” The Scriptures also speak of giving thanks to God or Christ (Rom 6:17; 1Cor 15:57; 2Cor 2:14; 2Cor 8:16; 9:15; 1Tim 1:12; 2Tim 1:3). Other scriptures speak of giving thanks to or receiving thanks from our fellow mankind (Luke 6:32, 33, 34; 17:9; 1Pet 2:19).
In some countries, even today, the expression “say grace” is still used for saying a prayer or giving thanks before a meal. Heb. 13:15 gives the explanation of how proper prayer to God constitutes “saying grace”: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Proper prayer of thanksgiving and/or praise is one aspect of grace and is a freewill offering to God and/or Christ. It is interesting to note that even today the Spanish word gracias, meaning grace, is the common word used to express thanks in Spanish.
‘Grace’ defined It is commonly believed that the word "grace" is derived from the Greek term karis, which appears over 100 times in the New Testament. It does, and yet it also does not. "Grace," as it appears in the New Testament, is not directly derived from karis. The key word is "directly."
The International Standard BibleEncyclopaedia states that in classical Greek karis had three basic uses: A charming quality that wins favour
A quality of benevolence thatgives favour to inferiors
A response of thankfulness forthe favour given
The theological definitionof grace from The Merriman-Webster Dictionary, brief and to the point:"The unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification."
This meaning covers literally scores of different applications in both Old and New Testaments. Key to this definition is "unmerited," meaning that grace, the divine assistance, is in no way earned. In terms of our spiritual well-being, this is vital to understand.
A dictionary will state that the English word "grace" is directly derived from the Latin term gratia, which means "pleasing, thanks, or praise." Many people say "grace" before a meal, an action that relates to Latin gratia. They are giving thanks for what is given, and by doing so, they are praising God for His providence, which pleases Him because they are acknowledging Him in their lives. It is a right thing to do.
Let us read several scriptures showing that Christians are responsible for grace: Let your speech always be with grace , seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (Col 4:6). Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col 3:16). Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29). Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace , by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Heb 12:28). But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also (2Cor 8:7).
A close scrutiny of the last scripture and its surrounding verses will show that proper demonstration of faith, utterance, knowledge, diligence, and love are expressions of grace. Another different concept of grace is found here: And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem (1Cor 16:3, KJV). The word “liberality” is translated from the Greek word karis, and is translated as “gift” in other Bible versions. The apostle Paul was instructing the Christians in Corinth to set aside physical goods that were to be taken to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. This free will offering of physical goods is called karis in Greek and is an example of grace .
“So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made abeginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part” 2 Cor 8:6 This scripture is saying that the teaching, preaching, and ministering of Titus were a form of grace. God’s and Christ’s grace demonstrates their righteous character while directing and empowering true Christians to grow in that same righteous character. Gods and Christ’s grace is empowered by their spirit and is the guiding force in implementing God’s truth and character, as well as all of the functions which bring about complete salvation. In regards to man giving grace, grace is a free will gift given for an unselfish, righteous purpose; whether to God or fellow mankind. Grace can be given in the form of physical goods, physical service, verbal expressions of kindness, spiritual service (healing, casting out demons, inspired preaching and teaching) or any demonstration or expression of Godly character.
Some people think grace is only a New Testament phenomenon. Is there any proofthat grace was involved in the Old Testament? The Greek word karis (Strong’s #5485) which is most often translated “grace”, is also translated “favor” in the following scriptures: Luke 1:30, 2:52, Acts 2:47, 7:10, and 7:46. Acts 7:9–10 gives a good example of grace in the Old Testament; “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor [karis #5485] and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.” The original story is found in Genesis 41:40–44.
Reference Book Definition of Grace Now that we have thoroughly reviewed the meaning of grace from the Bible, how do these definitions compare to the definitions found in major reference books? Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary, second edition, has the following definitions of grace : the free unmerited love and favor of God divine influence acting in man to restrain him from sin spiritual instructions, improvement and edification There are also several English words that are based on the same Latin root word as grace. These relatively common English words help to further illustrate the meaning of grace. Five of these words are grateful, gratify, gratis, gratuity and gratitude. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament has these definitions of the Greek wordkaris (Strong’s #5485) which is most often translated as “grace” in the New Testament: to grant forgiveness, to pardon good-will, loving, kindness, favor the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian Virtues sustaining and aiding the efforts of the men who labor for the cause of Christ the salvation offered to Christians is calledkaris in Greek, a gift of divine grace (1Pet 1:10–13) the aggregate of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians the gifts of knowledge and utterance conferred upon Christians.
Words Related to Karis One of the ways to establish a better understanding of the meaning of a word is to review all of the related “family” of words. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament is a good source for definitions of these words related to the Greek word karis. The first related word we will review is karizomai(Strong’s #5483). Thayer’s has the following definitions for this word: to do a favor to, gratify to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent to grant forgiveness, to pardon to give graciously, give freely, bestow Thayer’s has these definitions for the second related word, karisma (#5486): the gift of divine grace the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue the sum of the powers requisite for the discharge of the office of an evangelist divine gift of extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the Church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in the souls by the Holy Spirit This Greek word is always found translated “gift” or “gifts” in the New Testament. The Greek wordkarisma is still in the English language, but it is spelled with ch instead of k .
Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary , second edition, has the following definitions for charisma : a gift to favor, gratify, grace an extraordinary power as of working miracles or speaking many tongues, etc., said to be possessed by some of the early Christians Thayer’s has the following definitions for karitoo(Strong’s #5487), which is the third word related tokaris: to make graceful, i.e. charming, lovely, agreeable to pursue with grace, compass with favor, to honor with blessings This Greek word is only found twice in the New Testament. The first use of the word is found in Luke 1:28, where the angel tells Mary she has been “highly favored” (karitoo, #5487) in being selected to be the mother of Jesus. Most of the definitions of karis and the family of related words from Thayer’s are also verified by scripture references. We now have a fuller understanding of the Greek word karis. In all cases, karis and its family of related words are connected to giving with the concept of freely andkindness .
Hebrew Words Expressing Grace Acts 7:9–10, 45–46 which used the word “favor” translated from the Greek word karis to describe the special blessings of grace granted Joseph and David. The Hebrew word equivalent to the Greek word karis used to express this grace given to Joseph and David is the noun ghehn (Strong’s #2580). Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testamenthas this definition of ghehn: grace, favor, good will grace, i.e. gracefulness, beauty supplication, prayer A related word to ghehn is the adjective ghan- noon (Strong’s #2587). Gesenius defines this word as “gracious, merciful, benignment”. It is interesting to note that ghan-noon is only found in connection with God in the Old Testament. This word apparently not only means “grace”, but “grace in its fullness and perfection”. Gesenius has these definitions of the next related word to ghehn, which is the verb ghahnan(Strong’s #2603): to be favorably inclined, to favor to give someone anything graciously to be compassionate, to lament to receive favor, to be favored to intreat, to be favored As with Thayer’s, Gesenius has scripture references to verify its definitions of ghehn and its related words. We now have made a thorough review of grace as used in the scriptures as well as how it is defined in reference books.
Summary A proper understanding of grace clearly establishes that it has a profoundly broader meaning than “unmerited pardon”.“Unmerited pardon” confuses and almost totally destroys the meaning of one of the most foundational and powerful words of the Bible!
Many of the scriptures on grace, even on an individual basis, plainly state that God’s grace involves much more than “unmerited pardon”. These same scriptures, on a collective basis, profoundly state that God and Christ’s grace is intimately and constantly involved in establishing Their righteous character in Christians and in providing for all facets of their salvation. This divine grace is abundantly and readily available to be provided to true Christians by God the Father with His supreme power and perfect, loving character, and by Christ, the divinely trained heir with all of His perfected human experiences and with the backing of all the angelic host of heaven.
Grace is not just a product of the New Testament era; it is thoroughly demonstrated in the Old Testament also. God is, always has been, and always will be a God of grace. Grace is the expression of God and Christ’s personality and character and is demonstrated in how they think, how they live, and everything they do! God and Christ’s grace is also demonstrated by the many andwidely varied activities they do on behalf of Christians to develop them into true sons of God.
Sometimes the fruits of grace are received immediately. At other times, like in the case of the resurrection, it is a long time in coming. At other times, grace is very difficult to understand and may include fiery trials to help develop a person so he is prepared to receive God’s blessings properly. A person needs to receive and utilize the grace of God and Jesus Christ in order to become and remain a true Christian. One of the main requirements of every Christian is to demonstrate grace in how they live. People demonstrate grace when they reflect God’s character and do unselfish, godly works of righteousness. God even expects unconverted people to show grace. If a society is utterly void of grace, God is strongly motivated to destroy that society. A good example of this is the destruction Sodom and Gomorrah and the world at the time of the Noachian flood.
True grace is an expression of godliness. The antithesis or complete opposite of grace is ungodliness. Grace and truth define who God and Christ are! God’s word, which is truth, is a description of everything God believes. Everything God and Christ do demonstrates how to apply that truth and is grace. Christians are told to grow in grace and in knowledge (knowledge of God’s word which equals truth). So Christians are to grow in everything God believes and everything God does. Grace and truth are the two foundational pillars of God and Christ. Grace and truth are the two foundational pillars of the Bible. Grace and truth should be the two foundational pillars that all true Christians are developing in their lives!
From beginning to end, our salvation is by means of divine benevolence, gifting by God. In no way is grace given because God is obligated, compelled, forced, or duty bound to us to do so. He gives grace freely, not by constraint. All He truly owes us is the death we have earned through sin (Romans 6:23). He gives grace because that is the way He is; it is His character. He gives it because of what He is working out in His purpose, not because He owes us for what we think we have earned or for what our pride is demanding in the mistaken belief that we are entitled to what we desire.
Mercy and grace are often confused. While the terms have similar meanings, are often misunderstood or under- appreciated. Grace and mercy are not the same.
Strongs Number: 1656 Original Word eleoß Transliterated Word Eleos
Eleos is found 27 times in the NAS: Matthew 3x; Luke 6x: Romans 3x:Galatians; Ephesians; 1 Timothy; 2 Ti mothy 3x; Titus; Hebrews; James 2x;1 Peter; 2 John; Jude 2x. Eleos is translated as compassion, 2 times and mercy, 25.
In contrast eleos is used over 170 times in the OT (Septuagint) with 91 of those uses being in the psalms where it most often translates the Hebrew word for "lovingkindness " (2617) (hesed ) a very prominent word in the OT (used some 248 times) which is defined as not merely an attitude or an emotion but an emotion that leads to an activity beneficial to the recipient. It differs somewhat from the NT meaning of eleos in that hesed is a beneficent action performed, in the context of a deep and enduring commitment between two persons or parties (especially a Covenant), by one who is able to render assistance to the needy party who in the circumstances is unable to help him or herself.
In Classical Greek eleos was used as a technical term for the end of the speech for the defence, in which the accused tried to awaken the compassion of the judges. (Colin Brown. New International Dictionary of NT Theology.)
Mercy and Grace are really sisters Theyre not identical twins but they are very close sisters, nonetheless. They are almost constantly found together and if one is encountered by herself, the other is not far away. Lets look at their meanings.
Lets look at the meaning Mercy is defined by Websters Dictionary as:1) Compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject; clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity;2) A blessing regarded as an act of divine favor or compassion;3) Relief of distress; compassion shown to victims of misfortune.
The Hebrew word most often translated "mercy" in the Old Testament is Strongs #7356. racham , and is defined by Strongs Hebrew Dictionary as compassion; by extension, it is the womb (as cherishing the foetus); by implication, it is a maiden. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines racham as: to love, to love deeply, to have mercy, to be compassionate, to have tender affection, to have compassion. It is from #7358. rechem , which is defined by the New American Standard Dictionary as: the womb.
Another word translated as "mercy" is Strongs #2603 chanan and is defined by Strongs Hebrew Dictionary as: to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; or to implore (that is, to move to favor by petition). It is defined by the New American Standard Dictionary as: to show favor or to be gracious.
Another word sometimes translated "mercy" but more often "lovingkindness" is Strongs #2617: chesed , which is defined as goodness or kindness. It is from #2616: chasad , to be good or kind.
In the New Testament, there are two words most often translated "mercy." The first is Strongs #1656: eleos , mercy, pity, or compassion. It is used as a noun and is the thing, itself. The other word has its source in eleos and is Strongs #1653: eleew , to have pity or mercy on, to show mercy. It is used as a verb and is the act of having or showing mercy.
According to Ungers Bible Dictionary, "mercy" is defined as: "a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill- deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief."
To summarize the difference: MERCY is God not punishing man as his sins deserve, and Grace is God blessing man despite the fact that he does not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.
According to the Bible, we have all sinned (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8). As a result of that sin, we alldeserve death (Rom. 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:12-15). With that in mind, every day we live is an act of Gods mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be, right now, condemned for eternity. In Psalm 51:1-2, David cries out, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." A plea to God for mercy is asking Him to withhold the judgment we deserve and instead grant to us the forgiveness we in no way have earned.
We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe usanything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Eph. 2:5). Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by Gods mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Rom. 3:24).
Common grace refers to the sovereign grace which God bestows on all of mankind regardless of their spiritual standing before Him, while Saving grace is that special dispensation of grace whereby God sovereignly bestows unmerited divine assistance upon His elect for their regeneration and sanctification.
Mercy and grace are best illustrated in the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive mercy from God and we are delivered from judgment. Instead of judgment, we receive by grace salvation, forgiveness of sins, abundant life (John 10:10), and an eternity in Heaven, the most wonderful place imaginable (Revelation 21-22). Because of the mercy and grace of God, our response should be to fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving. Heb. 4:16 declares, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Gods mercy is a monumental theme in Scripture, the English word appearing some 341 times in the Bible The four Hebrew and three Greek words associated with this term appear a total of 454 times and are also translated as "kindness," "lovingkindness," "goodness," "favor," "compassion," and "pity."
Of the 66 books of the Bible, only 16 do not use one of these words for mercy. Even though "mercy" is an important concept, it is somewhat difficult to prescribe a definition, especially since "grace" is occasionally closely coupled with it.
However similar they may appear tobe, these words are not synonyms "Grace" is most often associated with the sovereign dispensing of totally undeserved favor, and is specifically connected to salvation. "Mercy" is more often connected to the withholding of judgment: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13).
Psalm 136 repeats the theme "for His mercy endureth forever," each of the 26 verses listing incomparable aspects of Gods kindness to us.
1 Timothy 1:12-13; NIV“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hasgiven me strength, that he considered mefaithful, appointing me to hisservice. Even though I was once ablasphemer and a persecutor and aviolent man, I was shown mercy because Iacted in ignorance and unbelief”
From this Scripture (including many others), we can gather that mercy is not getting what you do deserve . It is an act of being spared from judgment. When we hear, “thank you Lord for mercy” this is the same as saying, “thank you Lord for not giving me what I deserve, for withholding judgment and punishment from me.”
God gives us mercy Not because we deserve it but because of His compassion towards us. “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning…”Lam. 3:22-23
Mercy is what grace offers The grace of God comes to us in our poor sinful condition and offers us the mercy of God when we deserve His wrath. So grace comes to us giving us mercy. I admit it is somewhat semantical, and the terms are virtually interchangeable. There is a subtle difference in the two words. Mercy has meaning more synonymous with compassion. For some verses on mercy see, Psalm 119:156, Jer. 31:20, Rom. 9:15, Mat. 18:33.
One needs to distinguish between grace and mercy Grace is shown to the undeserving, while mercy is compassion to the miserable. Grace is God’s solution to man’s sin. Mercy is God’s solution to man’s misery. Grace covers the sin, while mercy removes the pain. Grace forgives, while mercy restores. Grace gives us what we don’t deserve while mercy withholds what we do deserve.
Grace is getting what we do not deserve. Justice is getting what we do deserve. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve
"Mercy is Gods favour that holds back from us what wedeserve. Grace is Gods favour that gives us what we do not deserve." Rolfe Barnard
“Mercy includes also the idea ofcompassion, and implies a desire toremove the evils which excitecompassion. It thus denotes not onlymercy to the guilty, but pity for thesuffering, and help to the needy.” (Broadus, J. Sermon on the Mount)
Mercy includes three elements:1. ”I see the need” — that’s recognition.2. “I am moved by the need” — that’s motivation. 3. “I move to meet the need” — that’s action. Having a feeling of sorrow over someones bad situation I now want to try to do something about it.
Mercy is more than a feeling, but not less than that. Mercy begins with simple recognition that someone is hurting around you. But mere seeing or feeling isn’t mercy. Mercy moves from feeling to action. It is active compassion for those in need or distress.