Charisma a way to understand “Undeserved Kindness”

“For the wages sin pays is death,but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.” ( Romans 6:23)

roman army

This is a series of articles dedicated to Charis(=Grace) a word that the Watchtower chooses to translate as undeserved kindness and in effect removing any meaning from the doctrine of Grace ,one of the central doctrines of the New Testament, and God’s most loving provision that was set in motion after the Mosaic Law came to an end and Jesus gave his life for us.

Ii is important to understand the exact meaning of this word as it is a difficult one and rarely occurs outside the Biblical account ,in fact you could label it as a Pauline word since the word appears mostly in Paul’s Letters. The word with its different variations appears 157 times in the Bible.

In order to fully grasp the meaning of the word let us consider a variation of “CHARIS” ,the word “charisma”.Charisma ,is an ancient Greek word and it means ‘a gift’. It is not used many times outside the New Testament.In one occasion is used in describing property value .In that occurence a man classifies some of his property as one that he acquired  by purchase (=apo agorasias) and the other as ones that he acquired (=apo charismatos), as a gift .

The meaning of “charisma” then is that of a free gift ,something given to a man unmerited and unearned .In the case of God is a gift given to human kind,something that could never be achieved by our own efforts.

The verse quoted at the beginning of this post is a crucial one (Romans 6:23) ,as it gives the essence of the word “charisma”. The contrast presented in this text makes it all clears. The “wages” of sin is death. The word wages or “opsonia” were the money given to the Roman soldier to buy cooked meat and was the regular word used for ‘a soldier’s pay’. Paul basically is saying that  if we had got the pay we earned, it would have been death. So ‘opsonia’ is a military word. In contrast the gift of God is life everlasting and for that another military word is used in the same verse, “charisma”.When a Roman emperor came to the throne ,or on his birthday,he could if he wished give his armies a donativum or charisma,which was a free money donation,a free gift.

They had not earned it as they had with their ‘opsonia’ it was unmerited ‘charisma’ out of the goodness of the emperor’s kindness.

By using this picture from Roman military life Paul is trying to convey the idea that all we have earned out of our strength is ‘opsonia’, death .All that we have though is ‘charisma’, God’s free love.Everything we possess ,everything God promied us is His ‘charisma’ ,a gift.

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One Comment

  1. Fernando
    June 13

    Great explanation and write-up. Thank you.

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