Patheos answers the question:

What is Grace in the Bible?

Open Bible

Origins of Grace

The term "grace" appears numerous times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. In the original languages of the Bible, the Hebrew word "chen" and the Greek word "charis" convey the idea of favor, kindness, and goodwill.

In the New Testament, grace becomes especially prominent, emphasizing God's unmerited favor towards humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Biblical Verses on Grace

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
  • Romans 11:6 - "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
  • John 1:16 - "For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."
  • Hebrews 4:16 - "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

The Nature of Grace

Grace, in Christian theology, is usually perceived as the free and unmerited favor of God—even if its receipt (in some traditions) comes through the sacramental life. For Christians, grace is a gift and, thus, it really can't be earned or deserved—even by those who are very faithful in their praxis. Through grace, believers receive salvation, forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life. Grace also empowers believers to live righteously and to serve others.

Grace in the New Covenant

With the coming of Jesus Christ, the New Testament presents grace as the foundation of the New Covenant. Jesus embodies God's grace, offering salvation to all who will accept it—including those whose lives may have been less than perfect. Through Jesus, grace becomes accessible to Christians—in some traditions through nothing more than belief and, in others, through engaging in the sacraments of the Church. While Christianity teaches that Jesus is the source of grace for Christians, many believe He offers His grace to non-Christians as well.

Grace Beyond Salvation

While grace is fundamental to salvation, its influence doesn't end there. Grace also plays a role in the sanctification process, helping believers grow in their faith and become more like Christ. It provides strength in times of weakness and hope in moments of despair.

Christian Perspectives on Grace:


Grace is a divine gift. Catholics differentiate between "sanctifying grace" (a state in which God allows us to participate in His love, life, and plan for the world and the Church) and "actual grace" (the ability God endows us with so that we can live and function, but also the strength He places in us through which we find the ability to live according to His will for our lives). Roman Catholics typically hold that the sacraments are the means by which God’s grace is accessed.

LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints):

Grace is central to LDS theology. While they believe in the necessity of good works, it's understood that salvation is possible only through the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saint Christians also believe that it is God’s grace that allows us to breathe, live, move, think and act. Thus, our very existence is evidence of God’s grace.


Evangelicals emphasize the belief in "grace alone" for salvation. This means that salvation is a gift from God, not something one can earn. Grace, for Evangelicals, is never connected to any act, sacrament, or commandment.

Progressive Christianity:

Progressive Christians often view grace as God's unconditional love for all, emphasizing inclusivity and social justice. They believe grace calls them to action, advocating for the marginalized and oppressed. They traditionally believe God’s grace is equally available to the Christian and non-Christian alike.

Grace in Other Religions:


While not "grace" in the Christian sense, many Pagan traditions emphasize the interconnectedness of all things and the gifts the universe bestows freely upon individuals. These gifts, whether they come from deities, ancestors, or the earth, can be likened to grace, in that they are not something the pagan can achieve for him/herself. They are gifts from whatever source has the power to bestow them.


While one denomination of Korean Buddhist–Won Buddhism–has a doctrine of grace (which they define as “that which comes from recognizing and appreciating the indispensable relationships in our lives”), the concept closest to grace in most Buddhist denominations is probably "Metta" or loving-kindness. It's an unconditional love and goodwill that one cultivates for all beings. Additionally, the blessings and guidance of Bodhisattvas, enlightened beings who help others attain enlightenment, can be seen as a form of grace.


"Kripa" is the Sanskrit term that is often translated as grace. It's the divine favor or blessing from the gods believed to exist, particularly by Bhakti Hindus. Through devotion, these practitioners of Hinduism hold that gods will “short circuit” the consequences of one’s karma and help one get off the “wheel” of reincarnation. Many stories in Hindu scriptures highlight the grace of deities like Lord Krishna, who aids devotees in times of need.

Grace in Islam

In Islam, the concept of grace is deeply intertwined with God's mercy, compassion, and benevolence. While the term "grace" as it's understood in Christian theology might not have a direct equivalent in Islamic texts, the essence of the idea is abundantly present. The Qur'an, Islam's holy book, begins almost every one of its chapters with the phrase "Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim," which translates to "In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful." This invocation serves as a constant reminder of God's boundless grace and mercy towards His creation. Islam’s God (Allah) is said to have 99 names. Among these, the most frequently mentioned are probably "Ar-Rahman" (The Most Gracious) and "Ar-Rahim" (The Most Merciful). These emphasize the centrality of grace in the relationship between God and humanity. Furthermore, the Qur'an often speaks of God's favor and guidance being bestowed upon those who believe and do righteous deeds, which can be seen as a manifestation of His grace. For instance, the Qur'an says: "Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doers of good." (7:56) In Islamic theology, while human beings are accountable for their actions and are encouraged to strive in the path of righteousness, it's understood that it is ultimately by God's grace and mercy that one is guided on the straight path and granted paradise. This balance between personal responsibility and divine grace is a cornerstone of Islamic belief.

9/15/2023 7:06:08 PM