from Greek Word Studies (Eph. 1:1-2) saints,
faithful, grace, peace, Father
The Greek word for "saints" is "hagiois" (agiois), which is the dative case of the word "hagios" (agios), the Greek word for "holy" (Strongís Greek #40). The saints are by definition the "holy ones." Holiness is Godís innermost nature and an essential attribute which involves omnipotence, eternity, and glory, and produces a sense of awe. The primary root of "hagiois" is "hag," which may be of Hebrew origin (Strong's Hebrew #2282, 2287), and means a festival, a feast, or a celebration. The word "hagiois" is used in a particular way for Godís chosen people. It implies, on the negative side, the redeemed ones who are being separated from all sorts of sins, especially lust, which characterize the Gentiles. On the positive side, it implies that the redeemed ones are in the position of actually being a feast unto God for His enjoyment. Furthermore, as "saints," our separation unto God results not only in our being a feast for God, but we ourselves enjoy the subjective experience of this feast. We are the very celebration to God, and we are also the celebrating ones, the keepers of the feast, who are enjoying this holy celebration. We, the saved and redeemed ones, have a perfect position before God as a feast to Him. This very position also becomes our experience in which we keep the feast, celebrate the feast, and enjoy the feast.
As New Testament saints we become the manifestation and the living out of this feast by our participation through our subjective experiences. This is similar to the Israelites in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus the children of Israel were separated to have a feast unto Jehovah. Ultimately the Israelites experienced a reconstituting work by enjoying all the riches and provisions from Jehovah, making them a living testimony unto Jehovah and an expression of all His riches. We who are "saints" are not only a feast to God positionally, but through our subjective enjoyment of this feast we become the living reality and manifestation of our position. What a salvation! As those who are the saints, the holy ones of God, we have been given such a marvelous position, with rich experiences, prepared by God for us to enjoy!
"Faithful" in Greek is "pistois" (pistois). The root of this word comes from the word "peitho." "Peitho" means "to bind," as well as "to persuade, that is to induce one by words to believe, to cause belief in a thing" (Thayer, p. 497). Faith is produced in a person who first draws inspiration from something, and then conforms to this inspiration. Faith is both a stimulus and a response. It is first the stimulus to action, and then it is our voluntary commitment which causes us to participate in the action.
The producing of faith requires the divine dispensing. When someone receives the divine dispensing it stimulates an organic reaction which produces a one accord between the believers and the One in whom they believe. The result is obedience, or the execution of an action. In a legal sense, faithfulness can be denoted as a covenant, a contractual relationship producing a binding between two parties. However, with the "faithful" this "binding" must be a matter of life. A person can only be faithful based on what has been inspired and stimulated within him.
"Grace" is "charis" (caris) in Greek, which means "that which delights," "that which causes joy," and "the element that is delightful" (Kittle, IX:373). It is what gives pleasure to the beholder. Itís meaning also includes the connotation of "a gift which produces thanks and restores one into a standing of favor" (Kittle, IX:374). These definitions all point to our experiences of Christ as we behold Him. When we behold Christ we also behold His attributes, His virtues, His government, and His leading hand. We behold all that Christ is in His person, all that He has accomplished in His work, and everything that He is doing today in His operation. Beholding all of these aspects of Christ causes us to have joy, delight, and pleasure. Furthermore, these aspects of Christ become gifts to us in our experience, causing us to be thankful and restoring us to a standing of favor.
John 1:14 speaks of the incarnated Word, Christ Himself, becoming flesh. The apostle John said that this incarnated Word was "full of grace." John further declared that when Jesus Christ came, grace came (John 1:17). This grace can be received and experienced subjectively by us. John 1:16 says, "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." Our receiving of grace is actually our experience of Christ in His attributes and virtues.
Grace can also be experienced in Godís government. As a child, Jesus experienced grace as the government of God upon Him: "And the little child grew and became strong, being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40). Then according to the apostle Paul, everything that led to his conversion was actually a calling through Godís grace (Gal. 1:15). Paul testified that he was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and an insulting person, but he was shown mercy and "the grace of our Lord superabounded" (1 Tim. 1:13-14). According to Paul, it was through grace that: 1) he received His apostleship (Rom 1:5); 2) he became a wise master builder laying the unique foundation, Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11); and 3) he became a minister of the gospel to announce the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:7-8).
The experience of grace as Godís leading hand and operation can be seen in a number of examples from the New Testament. Grace was upon the apostles as they testified of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power (Acts 4:33). Stephen was so full of grace and power that his speaking greatly upset the Jews, leading to his martyrdom. The church in Antioch was produced from the grace experienced by the men of Cyprus, who preached the gospel to both Jews and Greek in that city: "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord" (Acts 11:21). When Barnabas went from Jerusalem to Antioch, he "saw the grace of God" (Acts 11:23). The Lordís operation in grace enabled Paul to labor more abundantly than all the other apostles (1 Cor. 15:10). James, Cephas, and John recognized that this grace given to Paul was the Lordís operation within him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-9).
The root of "charis" is "chara" (cara), which means "joy." This Greek root implies that joy can be for something hoped for in the future; it can be for something in the present; and it can be a pure, "festal" joy (Kittle IX:359). The experience of grace is related to joy. When grace is experienced, joy is expressed. When we experience grace by seeing who Christ is, what He has accomplished for us, and what He is doing today, we are restored to a firm standing before Christ. In this standing we experience joy. We not only enjoy what He is doing presently, but we have a hope for what He will do in the future. Our experience of grace results in a "festal" joy that claims our entire person. A person in grace is not only rich in the dispensing of Christ but is also firm in his standing before Christ. Such a person has a living that is a joyful expression of Christ. Paul speaks of this in Romans 5:2: "Through [our Lord Jesus Christ] also we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast because of the hope of the glory of God." To "boast" here means to have a "triumphant, rejoicing confidence in God" (Rienecker). Because we have access by faith into this grace, we can live a life in which we stand in grace and triumphantly rejoice with confidence in our God.
"Peace" in Greek is "eirene" (eirhnh), which means "security, safety, prosperity, happiness" (Thayer, p. 182), "perfect well-being" (Kittle, p. 208), and "a state of reconciliation with God" (Kittle, p. 209). The root of this word probably comes from "eiro" (eirw), meaning "joined or fastened together" (Strongís Greek #1515). A closely related word is "rheo" (rew), meaning "to flow, to run as water" (Strongís Greek 4482) and also "to stream, to gush (Liddel and Scott, p. 717). These definitions indicate that peace is more than a matter of mental condition. Instead, peace is an issue of the life-union with a living stream, which is Christ Himself.
After His resurrection the first word the Lord spoke to His disciples was, "Peace be to you" (John 20:19). Peace is later defined in the New Testament as just Christ Himself Ė "For He Himself is our peace" (Eph. 2:14). Apart from the enjoyment and experience of the living and resurrected Christ there can be no reality of peace. Peace is more than just a feeling of rest. We as believers should enjoy the living Christ as peace (Rom. 8:6), and should realize that we possess a state of complete reconciliation with God (Col. 1:20). A normal Christian life should be a life that is found in peace (2 Pet. 3:14). Eventually we should be brought into perfect well-being through the process of being reconstituted into Godís image (Kittle, p. 210).
Godís desire is for us to have peace. Through the resurrection of Christ peace has become our positional reality. Today, by being in Christ and through experiencing His organic salvation, peace is becoming our very constitution.
God is not revealed as "our Father" in the Old Testement (Concise Bible Dictionary). One verse in the Old Testament speaks of God as the father of the Israelites: "Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and established thee?" (Deut. 32:6). However, this verse does not indicate a life relationship between God and the Israelites, but rather the actions of God on their behalf. In the New Testament the relationship between God and His people changes. After His resurrection the Lord told Mary that He was going to see His Father, who was also our Father (John 20:17). This shows us that after Christís resurrection the relationship between God and His people is in life. As New Testament believers, God has now become our Father, and we are His sons.
© 2001 T. Chu, The Church in Cleveland