The meaning of grace

The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance, someone said. Maybe it’s better said like this: The correct preaching of grace implies repentance.

Ro 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"  The demonstration of His grace, the act itself, should drive us to respond through repentance.

What is grace? Our most common answer would be unmerited favor, most likely. That’s a good answer, maybe a bit superficial though.

In the ancient world it was more meant as the response to something good someone did for you. Your response was called grace, which is different than how we think of it today. The ancient world looked at grace far differently than we do today.

Sophocles said grace is always giving birth to grace. The phrase “saying grace” is a response in that vein.

Biblical context of grace:

1. Honor-shame culture. An honor culture is a guilt culture. Doing something shameful is detrimental to your family.

2. Patron-client economy. A culture where something good is done by a ruler and they expect something from you in return.

3. System of benefaction and reciprocity.

Goodwill is a demonstration, an action. Also, grace was looked upon as an obligation. The idea is that when you are blessed, you should return that blessing. It was not a term used in the religious world but was a term of reciprocity between humans.

Grace in 2 Corinthians 8-9: Paul persuades them to participate in the “act of grace”:

- Act honorably like the Macedonians 8:1-7

- Act for the glory of God, 8:19; 9:11-13

- Act with divine grace, 8:8-9; 9:15

Grace is not merely receiving free gifts. It is a back and forth, a reciprocity.

To be continued.....

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