Paul Concept of Grace

Two facts about Grace: it is a lovely thing (charis can mean physical beauty – charm) and it always has in it the idea of a gift which is completely free and entirely undeserved (gratis).

A strange teaching to the Jews: rewards and punishments were given out in some sort of accordance with man’s righteousness and sin.

  1. The relationship between God and man was one of debit and credit.
  2. The Law was designed to enable a man to amass and to acquire credit in the sight of God.
  3. Nothing could be more drastically opposed to Paul.

Paul begins and ends ever letter with grace:

  1. To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called [as] saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
  2. [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.] (Romans 16:24)
  3. To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their [Lord] and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2-3)
  4. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. (1 Corinthians 16:23)
  5. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy [our] brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:1-2)
  6. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  7. Paul, an apostle (not [sent] from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, (Galatians 1:1-3)
  8. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. (Galatians 6:18)
  9. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and [who are] faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1)
  10. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with [a love] incorruptible. (Ephesians 6:24)
  11. Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: (Philippians 1:1)
  12. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:23)
  13. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ [who are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (Colossians 1:1-2)
  14. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you. (Colossians 4:18)
  15. Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. (1 Thessalonians 1:1)
  16. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:28)
  17. Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:1-2)
  18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:18)
  19. Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved [brother] and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1:1-3)
  20. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 1:25)

There is no other explanation for the change in Paul other than the grace of God: (persecutor of the church to preacher).

Paul speaks without distinction between the grace of God and the grace of Jesus Christ:

  1. I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (1 Corinthians 1:4)
  2. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness [comes] through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. (Galatians 2:21)
  3. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. (1 Corinthians 16:23)
  4. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:23)
  5. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. (Galatians 6:18)
  6. [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.] (Romans 16:24)

Behind everything is the initiative of God:

  1. I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (1 Corinthians 1:4)
  2. The mind and attitude of Jesus and the mind and attitude of God are the same. They are identical.

The basic idea behind grace is the undeserved generosity of God:

  1. I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (1 Corinthians 1:4)
  2. Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (Ephesians 3:7)
  3. And working together [with Him,] we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– (2 Corinthians 6:1)
  4. Now, brethren, we [wish to] make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, (2 Corinthians 8:1)
  5. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
  6. Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. (Romans 4:4)
  7. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. (Romans 11:6)
  8. To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)
  9. Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly [places], in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:5-9)

There is an inexhaustible abundance in the grace of God:

  1. While they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. (2 Corinthians 9:14)
  2. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (2 Corinthians 9:8)
  3. And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (Romans 5:20)
  4. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:7)
  5. In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

Grace is Paul’s main argument:

  1. To the Romans: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6)
  2. To the Galatians: “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness [comes] through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” (Galatians 2:21)

We are not only saved by grace, but called by grace:

  1. I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; (Galatians 1:6)
  2. In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to [God’s] gracious choice. (Romans 11:5)
  3. But when He who had set me apart, [even] from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased (Galatians 1:15)
  4. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy [our] brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: (2 Corinthians 1:1)
  5. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, (Ephesians 3:8)
  6. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. (1 Corinthians 3:10)
  7. For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)
  8. And recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we [might go] to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. (Galatians 2:9)
  9. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Illuminating parallels to 1 Corinthians:

  1. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
  2. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word [of mouth] or by letter from us. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17)
  3. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It is grace that is responsible for any nobility in life:

  1. For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)
  2. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, [see] that you abound in this gracious work also. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
  3. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

There is an obligation of grace – grace bestowed in vain:

  1. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
  2. And working together [with Him,] we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– (2 Corinthians 6:1)

This material is from William Barclay, the Mind of St. Paul, 1975.

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