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This Q asked, HOW did Jesus grow in favour?

When I look up the Greek for this word χάριτι (favour), of the 24 occurrences, only ONE renders favour - all the others, 'grace'.

I wondered why this one verse was treated differently to all the others with the same Gr. word.

IOW - why did they choose favour instead of grace in most translations as linked?

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    What is the difference - if one says that Jesus grew in grace with God, that is the same as growing in favor with God. It is simply good English. The noun occurs 157 times in the NT and is sometimes correctly translated, "favor". Acts 2:47, 7:10, 25:9, etc.
    – Dottard
    Nov 11, 2022 at 8:50

4 Answers 4

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Christian translators operate in a culture in which "grace" is usually thought of as unmerited.

Grace is "the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners" (A New English Dictionary, ed. J. A. H. Murray, 5.1:326), or simply "the free and unmerited favour of God" (The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, ed. C. T. Onions, 817).

This sense of the term does not apply to orthodox Christology, in which Jesus was born without sin and never committed personal sins. Because Jesus did not sin, he could not be the beneficiary of unmerited grace. Of course, the theology of grace includes other types of grace. This article lists seven types, and three of these would apply to Jesus: common grace, serving grace, and sustaining grace.

However many types of grace there may be, Jesus would certainly have been the beneficiary of sustaining grace. Nevertheless, because the NT term normally carries the connotation of being unmerited--refering to either sanctification or justification--the translators would tend to avoid it, in order not to imply that Jesus was in need of salvation.

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In Britain, the Monarch has the power to bestow "a grace and favour home" to someone (usually another member of the royal household.) This carries the understanding of the Monarch being gracious towards that person in granting the right to live in a royal property without paying rent. The person so blessed is thus being given a favour due to the gracious decision of the Monarch.

These days, some might have thought Jesus was getting something he didn't merit, which is exactly what repentant sinners receive from God when he freely pardons them - they certainly never deserve pardon, nor can they earn it.

Yet Luke chapter 2 is clearly not referring to that kind of gracious provision of forgiveness. Of note is how the word 'charis' pops up in verse 40, yet many translations say the boy Jesus received 'favour' - not 'grace' (an exception being the K.J.V.). Then, we read in verse 52 that the young lad had 'charis' in the eyes of men and God. Again, this is usually rendered 'favour' (even in the K.J.V.).

One possible reason for such apparent inconsistency is that 'charis' has more than one meaning, but if the translators were worried that readers would jump to the (wrong) conclusion that the boy Jesus was given unmerited pardon from God, they could have elected for 'favour', because there's a certain interchangeability with those two words. The grace of God is always an unmerited favour. As favour is a blessing that the giver is not obliged to show, so grace is a blessing that the giver is not obliged to show. Hence the way the British link the two together in that phrase about "a grace and favour" house bestowed freely by the Monarch. That, however, has nothing to do with Luke 2:52, though it might be linked in the minds of many.

One evangelical booklet I have on the subject of the grace of God gives many biblical examples of people who show faith in God receiving his approval and protection. That is how he shows them his grace. As a prophet said about God, "Them that honour me I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30). And there's a striking similarity with the boy Samuel in that chapter 2, and the boy Jesus in Luke chapter 2.

Of the boy Samuel it is written, "And the child Samuel grew before the Lord" (vs. 21). Further, "And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men" (vs. 26).

This has nothing to do with a child freely being forgiven sins! It has to do with development that pleases God - and also men. It is noticed. It is approved of. That being exactly the case with the child, Jesus, there is no need to worry about whether 'grace', or 'favour' is used in Luke 2:40 and 52. Either will convey God's approval on the child. There's no need for translators to suppose no hint must be given of Jesus needing a free pardon from God! That has nothing to do with the context.

So, to answer your question, "why did they choose favour instead of grace in most translations?", likely because many translators were needlessly thinking of grace being linked to pardon from sin. As 'charis' can also mean 'pleasure' and 'acceptable', there are other ways of viewing the sense of the word in that verse. God was pleased with the development of Jesus; the way he was maturing was totally acceptable to God. Even men felt the same way about the young Jesus.

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Perhaps They look at the old testament to see how that word was translated.

That same word in the Old Testament is chen. The 69 times that word is used in the old testament it to is translated grace and favor as well.

◄ 2580. chen ► Strong's Concordance chen: favor, grace Original Word: חֵן Part of Speech: Noun Masculine Transliteration: chen Phonetic Spelling: (khane) Definition: favor, grace

Something else that is interesting is the same wording was used in regard to Joseph that he too grew in favor and wisdom.

And the patriarchs, having been moved with jealousy, sold Joseph to Egypt, and God was with him, 10and did deliver him out of all his tribulations, and gave him favour and wisdom before Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he did set him — governor over Egypt and all his house. Acts 7:9-10

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In order to grow in wisdom and stature it requires God's empowering presence. For example, God was with Joseph, Daniel, David, Samuel and Jesus.

I had a Bible teacher once teach us this definition of grace...

Grace is His empowering presence to enable me to do what He's called me to do and to be who He's called me to be.

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