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Luke 1:30

"And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God'". ESV [you have found/heures-indicative, active. My emphasis].

Why would the angel say to Mary that she has done something ['you have found'] when it is the the angel who is bringing the message from God?

Luke 1:26

"Gabriel was sent from God."

Being selected to be the mother of the Messiah is God's choice. So why not a passive in Luke 1:30 as in e.g.

Matthew 1:18

"...before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit". ESV. [ she was found/heurethe-indicative, passive].

In Luke 1:30 is not Mary the passive recipient of the angel's message?

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  • The English idiom, to 'find' does not necessarily mean someone actually looked for or sought after something. I strongly suspect that the Greek word heurisko is similar. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 12, 2022 at 12:58
  • I think the wording is carefully phrased: finding favor is distinct from earning or working for it. Still, it implies a participatory role on the part of those who have found or who are bestowed God's favor, to whom have been ascribed such attributes as humility (Prov 3:34), steadfast love and faithfulness (Prov 3:3-4), and righteousness (Gen 6:8-9, Ps 5:12, Ps 84:11).
    – Nhi
    Dec 14, 2022 at 2:41
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    @Nhi Thanks for your comment. It is surely the root and stem of a good answer. [In my view].
    – C. Stroud
    Dec 14, 2022 at 11:56
  • Misunderstanding of basic idiom.
    – Michael16
    Dec 16, 2022 at 13:57

4 Answers 4

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From C. Stroud’s answer:

Exodus 33:13 is circular in that favor comes twice. Moses has discovered God blessing him [1st favor], so, Moses asks God to show him God's ways and to know God Himself, that he be in the way of further amazing discoveries, [2nd time].

Exodus 33:13 "Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight".

In Luke 1:28-30 KJV, favor also appears twice.

v28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

v30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. – KJV (emphasis added)

Comparing v28 and v30, there is a notable difference in the grammatical construction of the words translated as favoured (v28) and favour (v30). Specifically, the participles in v28 that are translated as “favoured” and “blessed” are in the middle/passive voice, indicating that God’s grace and blessing were freely bestowed upon Mary and that she was the passive recipient. On the other hand, the word translated as “hast found” in v30 is in the active voice, indicating a participatory role on her part.

Despite this difference, the verses are not that far apart in meaning. Syntactically, the word “hast found” is in the active voice; semantically, however, the concept of finding has a rather passive connotation: finding something is distinct from earning or even searching for it. On the other hand, while the words “favoured” and “blessed” are in the middle/passive voice, they are in the perfect tense. The NT Greek perfect tense implies that though an action may be in the past, there is an ongoing effect in the present.

from ntgreek.org

Since the perfect tense is used less frequently than other tenses, it is exegetically more significant. When it does occur, there is usually a definite and deliberate reason it was chosen by the writer. The emphasis may be on the culmination of the action's progress or on the resulting state of affairs brought about by the action.

In Lk 1:28 while the resulting state of affairs is unstated, it is implied in the perfect tense of “favoured.” My understanding is that God’s grace had produced its intended effect in Mary, that she had not received it in vain (cf 2 Cor 6:1). There is a circular flow of grace here as there is in Ex 33:13. God bestowed his grace on Mary, and by cooperating with His grace, she found favor with God. It is all God’s, but Mary was, as she herself put it, His handmaid.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word - Lk 1:38

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  • 1
    +1. Lovely poem by Mary Oliver.
    – C. Stroud
    Dec 16, 2022 at 14:06
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Exodus 3:3

"And Moses said, 'I will turn aside to see this great sight..'". ESV.

Person looks amongst many Christmas presents and finds one with their name on it. Their enjoyment is enhanced by discovering it, by their involvement. Later on they muse that the greater gift was the faith to look; the security to believe that someone would care enough to put something in their way. "I will", Moses has a strong sense of his own involvement.

Exodus 33:9

"..and the LORD would speak with Moses".

Exodus 33:13

"Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight".

Exodus 33:13 is circular in that favor comes twice. Moses has discovered God blessing him [1st favor], so, Moses asks God to show him God's ways and to know God Himself, that he be in the way of further amazing discoveries, [2nd time].

Luke 1:30 "you have found". Mary finds God's favor in that it comes to her as a complete surprise. But when we discover a surprise "we discover", we are involved, we feel surprise.

Mary found a surprise and the angel encouraged her to believe it was sent in God's love with words to the effect of- "Mary, what you are discovering is God's favor/grace [not His anger, so don't be afraid]".

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  • "The gift has been given." Your answer reminds me of this line in Mary Oliver's poem The Gift.
    – Nhi
    Dec 16, 2022 at 13:50
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"Favour" is actually CHARIS, the word frequehtly translated as "grace". She was not specifically looking for the message, but she was looking for God and his approval. The message comes out of what she found.

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To "find favor" (Greek: χάρις in Luke 1:30) with God is a distinctly Hebrew expression that means that God (or a superior lord) looks upon the person favorably and has no suggestion of the person seeking or necessarily doing anything to earn the favor. [The concept is the genesis of the NT theological concept of Grace as unmerited favor (Eph 2:8-10, Rom 5:15, 20, 6:14, 15, 11:5, 6, etc).] For example:

  • 1 Sam 25:8 - Ask your young men, and they will tell you. So let my young men find favor with you, for we have come on the day of a feast. Please give whatever you can afford to your servants and to your son David.’ ”
  • Prov 3:4 - Then you will find favor and high regard in the sight of God and man.
  • 2 Sam 15:25 - Then the king said to Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and let me see both it and His dwelling place again.
  • 1 Sam 1:18 - “May your maidservant find favor with you,” said Hannah. Then she went on her way, and she began eating again, and her face was no longer downcast.
  • Ruth 2:13 - “My lord,” she said, “may I continue to find favor in your eyes, for you have comforted and spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your servant girls.”
  • Ex 33:13 - Now if indeed I have found favor in Your sight, please let me know Your ways, that I may know You and find favor in Your sight. Remember that this nation is Your people.”
  • 2 Sam 16:4 - So the king said to Ziba, “All that belongs to Mephibosheth is now yours!” “I humbly bow before you,” said Ziba. “May I find favor in your eyes, my lord the king!”

This is extremely common. Thus, when Mary "found favor" with God (Luke 1:30), this is an act of God and not Mary - Mary is the recipient and not the initiator. This is an example of God's sovereign choice to select Mary as the earthly mother of Messiah.

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