S. M. Baugh on “Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude”: Part 3 — Gratitude

If you do a search in the ESV for the word “grateful” you only get three hits in the whole Bible, two of which produce the word “ungrateful” (Luke 6:35; 2 Tim. 3:2), leaving only one place where the word “grateful” is used in the English text: Heb. 12:28 (to which we will return later). The results are even less promising for the term “gratitude.” For some reason 2 Sam. 7:18 shows up even though “gratitude” is not in the text; and in Acts 24:3 an accuser opens his case against Paul by expressing the nation’s gratitude to the governor Felix. In all this we have only one biblical verse to start with in English. If we were restricted to English, I would next survey other translations, but we will dive down a little deeper.

It seems worthwhile to look again at “gratitude” in Acts 24:3 and see if this word shows up elsewhere and is simply not translated this way in the ESV in these other passages. It turns out that the Greek word used in Acts 24:3 for “gratitude” occurs in 13 other places in the New Testament (NT) with the meaning of “thanks” or “the giving of or expression of thanks,” “thanksgiving.” The word is eucharistia which is where we get English “eucharist.” When you think about it, “gratitude” is something mental or internal. And in the Reformed 3Gs schema, it denotes our motive for doing good works as a response to the removal of our guilt by God in Christ, all of grace (e.g., Eph. 2:8-10).

“Thanks” or “thanksgiving” in contrast is not a motive but something we do, say, or express (e.g., 1 Cor. 14:16; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1). We give thanks to God in song or in prayer or by being generous to others. So we want to see whether the Greek word in Acts 24:3 has the meaning “gratitude” in other places in the NT.

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S. M. Baugh | ““Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude”: Part 3 — Gratitude” | July 26, 2023


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