A study on the concept of Grace.
The concept of grace is commonly understood to be the key concept “behind” or “underlying” salvation. This is very heavily promoted within Calvinist-Reformed circles. These theologians have shifted from “preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ” to preaching “the doctrines of grace”, defending their shift by equating “grace=salvation”. If this is true, then the evidence of the NT should fully support this fact, and since “the four gospels” are the clearest and most detailed presentation of salvation and of the Saviour, we should see the abundance of this grace doctrine abundant and overflowing in the Gospels. A simple word study in theWord will either support their assertions, or cause questions about their interpretations.
In TW, open a Bible, KJV version, and a Bible Search window.
Type “grace” in the Bible search box, and enter. “Grace” occurs 122x in the KJV. Let’s restrict those to different parts of the NT and study them.
“grace” in the Gospels
What we notice here is that if “grace=salvation”, or grace is the best and most common representative word in the Bible for salvation, then why is it so scarcely used in the Gospels? Matthew, and Mark doesn’t even have it once, and Luke only once? This doesn’t check.
“grace” in Paul’s Epistles
Here we see a high number of hits in Romans, 2 Corinthians and Ephesians. But, is it logical that Philemon would use the word “grace” more than twice as many times Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined together?
“grace” in the General Epistles
Here we see more of the same. Jude’s scant few verses uses the word the same as all four gospels combined.
Getting into the Greek
It is at points like this that I want to see what is happening here. I want to know what the Greek word for “grace” is, and I want to study it on that level.
To do this in TW we will go back to our basic study, KJV version in the Bible window, and “grace” in the Bible search window, and enter to do the search.
At this point, you need to click on the plus before “Luke” in the Bible Search results window, and then click on Luke 2:40. Now click in the KJV Bible window, and press Control+S, and this will give you the Strong’s numbers. Now hover the mouse on the strong’s number G5485 after the word “grace” in Luke 2:40. This should give you the pop-up for Mickelson-Strong’s Dictionary, and it should look like this…
Troubleshooting: My Strongs Numbers don’t show up.
What we see now is the Strong’s definition of “charis” (grace). First of all, notice that Strong’s Mickelson has graciousness, not salvation as the base or most common definition of the word. Also “gratitude” is another meaning of the word. The second meaning is perhaps what Calvinist-Reformed people hold to, but even so, we don’t see a super-abundance of occurrences in the Gospels like what we would think it should be.
Searching for charis G5485
Now that we have found out what our original Greek word’s Strong’s number is, we have a handle on being able to slice and dice the Bible and study very specifically this concept in Greek.
First, we will just do a simple Bible Search (KJV version, NT range). This is just like what we did when we searched for the English word “grace”, but now we will search for G5485. Note that this will not work unless the Strong’s numbers are showing in the Bible window.
The results are 147 hits in the NT (above was 122x on the English word “grace”). Luke has 8 hits instead of 1. So what we have is some different things happening between on the translation side of things, even though this still doesn’t explain the great lack of use of the word/concept “grace” in presenting us the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But now let’s go even more specific on the studying side. Up til now, most Bible programs are very similar to theWord in doing a search on the words in the Bible. Perhaps many will even allow you to search on the Strong’s numbers. But few will allow you to do what we are going to do next.
Searching on “grace” but not charis G5485
In the Bible search box, type
NOT G5485 TR grace
This search only gives us James 1:11 where the word “grace” occurs in our English Bibles, but the underlying Greek word is not G5485 charis
Searching on “G5485″ but not translated “grace”
In the Bible search box, type
G5485 TR NOT grace
What this will give us is all the places where the Greek G5485 occurs in the NT, but the resulting translation is not “grace”. There are 26 times this happens. Click on the icons above the results to open the tree and then show the verses. (See How to search the Bible for more help on how to do that if you don’t know).
I will leave the theological ramifications for you to decide, but this is how you use theWord for digging deep into the Word of God, going into the Greek and Hebrew even if you don’t have skills or profound learning in those languages.
Filed under: Word Study