Acts 6:8 -- Stephen full of grace too?

I had always heard that Jesus and Mary were the only two people in the Bible to be called “full of grace.” What about Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people…?”

If I remember what I heard in one of Tim Staples’s tapes, the two are different in the Greek. Mary’s “full of grace” was procalimed by Gabriel as “full of grace from the beginning,” hence the belief in the Immaculate Conception. St. Stephen’s “full of grace” was more “at that moment” and therefore cannot be compared with Mary’s.

Here is one of many links on the subject: catholic-legate.com/qa/kecharitomenae.html

If you include all the people in the Bible said to “full of the Holy Spirit” or “filled with the Holy Spirit,” which is pretty much the same thing as being “full of grace,” since the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29), in addition to Jesus, Mary and Stephen, the list would include…

John the Baptist (Luke 1:15)
Elizabeth (Luke 1:41)
Zechariah (Luke 1:67)
The Eleven Apostles, the women and the brethren of Jesus, about 120 in total. (Acts 2:4)
Paul (Acts 13:9)
Barnabas (Acts 11:24)

Might I refer you to the following thread. Last October I asked the exact same question and got some good answers:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=17851

This thread will also answer why Jahel in the Old Testament is called “blessed among women” or even “blessed above women”.

NB - since the time of that thread I have been confirmed. And followed the advice to read Scott Hahn’s “Hail Holy Queen”.

Blessings

[quote=Todd Easton]If you include all the people in the Bible said to “full of the Holy Spirit” or “filled with the Holy Spirit,” which is pretty much the same thing as being “full of grace,” since the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29), in addition to Jesus, Mary and Stephen, the list would include…

John the Baptist (Luke 1:15)
Elizabeth (Luke 1:41)
Zechariah (Luke 1:67)
The Eleven Apostles, the women and the brethren of Jesus, about 120 in total. (Acts 2:4)
Paul (Acts 13:9)
Barnabas (Acts 11:24)
[/quote]

I don’t think the two can be acquainted. Grace is separate from the Holy Spirit, although the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace. Everyone receives the Holy Spirit through baptism, yet not everyone that is baptized is eventually saved necessarily. Grace however IS what saves a person and abolishes sin.

I’ll just add that, at this point, Stephen was already baptized, and therefore could easily have been as “full of grace” as Mary at that point, though he certainly wasn’t from his birth.

[quote=Dr. Colossus]I’ll just add that, at this point, Stephen was already baptized, and therefore could easily have been as “full of grace” as Mary at that point, though he certainly wasn’t from his birth.
[/quote]

Good point…also

I can’t find which word was used for grace in Stephen’s case…but I have heard plenty say that it is not *kecharitomene, *rather some variation of charitoo which references a distinct point in time, or something of that nature.

Does anyone know the greek in Stephen’s case?

Stephen & Greek:

There are 2 versions of the Greek. Older translations generally have a form of pistis in the Greek - which doesn’t mean grace but faith. Newer translations, with access to more source documents have the following (or very similar) to work from:

stefanoV de plhrhV caritoV kai dunamewV epoiei terata kai shmeia megala en tw law.

the word caritoV is used. This is a noun that means grace. The word [font=Symbol][size=4]plhrhV is also used here, which is from the word that means to fill. It can either be translated as an aorist or a pluperfect tense which are both past tenses. The word pluperfect comes from the latin expression, “more than completed”. If it is an aorist tense, it would be “was graced” and if it is pluperfect it is “had been graced”. The pluperfect is expressing something that was done before something else. In other words what this means is that when Stephen had to defend himself he was filled with grace.[/size][/font]

However, Luke 1:28 reads

kai eiselqwn proV authn eipen, caire, kecaritwmenh, o kurioV meta sou.

The word kecaritwmenh [font=Verdana][size=2]is used here. This is a perfect passive participle. It is also feminine. A participle is a verb that is used to describe the subject. The perfect tense describes an action in present time which has a completed aspect. In this verse it is used as a title and means basically “you who have been graced” or “you who have been filled with grace”. This word is not speaking of just a little grace, it is speaking of an abundance of grace. Although this is a completed action, the effects are still on going in this verse. Mary is still full of grace when the angel says this.[/font][/size]

Many thanks to jimmy - a senior member here. Nearly all of the above is copied straight from a post from him in the thread that I linked to above. I have corrected one word - which he also corrected in his next post.

[quote=michaelgazin]I had always heard that Jesus and Mary were the only two people in the Bible to be called “full of grace.” What about Acts 6:8 “And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people…?”
[/quote]

The Greek uses an adjective for “full”. It refers to the time when Stephen was doing the great wonders and signs.

The Greek uses the perfect passive vocative participle to refer to Mary in Luke 1;28. This means that Mary was directly being addressed. The fact that it is perfect tense, which is present time, means that it is a past action continuing into the present. This means that Mary is still full of Grace. If I were to say “I have filled the glass”, the glass is still full. This is the same type of situation. This passage also says that Mary was filled with grace by God. It is a passive participle meaning that it is something done to her. So, Mary was filled with grace in the past by God, but it continues into the present.

The passage in Greek about Christ from John1;14 uses the adjective “Full” with the noun “grace” and the noun “truth”. It says more along the lines that Christ was full of grace just because who he was, not due to any outside act. It is a property of Christ to be full of grace.

[quote=asteroid]Stephen & Greek:

There are 2 versions of the Greek. Older translations generally have a form of pistis in the Greek - which doesn’t mean grace but faith. Newer translations, with access to more source documents have the following (or very similar) to work from:

stefanoV de plhrhV caritoV kai dunamewV epoiei terata kai shmeia megala en tw law.

the word caritoV is used. This is a noun that means grace. The word [font=Symbol][size=4]plhrhV[/size] is also used here, which is from the word that means to fill. It can either be translated as an aorist or a pluperfect tense which are both past tenses. The word pluperfect comes from the latin expression, “more than completed”. If it is an aorist tense, it would be “was graced” and if it is pluperfect it is “had been graced”. The pluperfect is expressing something that was done before something else. In other words what this means is that when Stephen had to defend himself he was filled with grace.
[/quote]

[/font]

I made a mistake in this part of that post. I corrected it on the other thread. Pluperfect and Aurist do not apply to it because it is a noun, and these terms describe verbs. The following is how I corrected myself on the other thread.

I wanted to correct my post but when I tried it was too late. I made a big mistake plhrhV is not a verb, so what I said does not make sense. I said it was a noun but descripbed it as a pluperfect verb.

[quote] stefanoV de plhrhV caritoV kai dunamewV epoiei terata kai shmeia megala en tw law.

The focus of the verb should be the word epoiei which is a verb that is imperfect tense. This is still a past tense verb so the verse is still talking of an action that is no longer happening, but it is a progressive. It can be translated as, “was doing”. The entire verse can be translated literally as,
"Stephen, but full of grace and strength, was doing miracles and great signs among the people."
This is speaking of something that was being done sometime in the past but is not being done now.
Sorry about the mistake.
[/quote]

here is somewhat how the Greek would be pronounced.

stephanos de playrais charitos kai dunamaos epoiei terata kai saimaya megala en to lao.

The imperfect tense is past time just like the pluperfect.

It is specifically speaking of something in the past. Stephen was full of grace at the time when doing the great works, but it does not say he is still full of Grace. Whereas in the Mary passage it continues into the present.

However, Luke 1:28 reads

kai eiselqwn proV authn eipen, caire, kecaritwmenh, o kurioV meta sou.

The word kecaritwmenh [font=Verdana][size=2]is used here. This is a perfect passive participle. It is also feminine. A participle is a verb that is used to describe the subject. The perfect tense describes an action in present time which has a completed aspect. In this verse it is used as a title and means basically “you who have been graced” or “you who have been filled with grace”. This word is not speaking of just a little grace, it is speaking of an abundance of grace. Although this is a completed action, the effects are still on going in this verse. Mary is still full of grace when the angel says this.[/size][/font]

This is somewhat how the Greek is pronounced.

kai eiselthone pros autain eipen, chaire, kecharitomenay, o kurios meta sou.

In that passage it does say that he is full of grace and power. How i have always reconciled it is this, and it may suit your fancy and it may not, this is very simple, he is filled with both grace and power. Let me draw your attention to an analogy.

Take an alcoholic beverage and see how much alcohol content it is composed of and you shall see how potent the beverage is. Say you have a beverage in a glass and it is full of alcohol and that is all it is filled with. Now take the same glass or container and fill it so that is full of alcohol and something else like flavoring or water. Which one is considered more potent and powerful. Obviously the glass that is entirely composed or filled with alcohol, because it is 100% percent of that and nothing else, while the second example is filled with both alcohol and water, thus 50% alcohol, 50% water.

Now compare this to Mary and Stephen, Mary is completely filled with grace 100%, while Stephen is filled with 50% grace and 50% power, thus making him filled with both grace and truth, and not solely or entirely filled with grace…This is very simple logic, i don’t know how other people see this, but this seems to be a good way for me to understand. Of course there are more specifics, but that is just the very basic.

[quote=michaelgazin]Good point…also

I can’t find which word was used for grace in Stephen’s case…but I have heard plenty say that it is not *kecharitomene, *rather some variation of charitoo which references a distinct point in time, or something of that nature.

Does anyone know the greek in Stephen’s case?
[/quote]

charitos is the noun that is used in the Greek for the Stephen passage. It is a genetive case of charis. You can’t look at the noun as refering to a specific time but if you look at the verb “epoyay”, which is later in the sentence, you can tell time for it. This verb is an imperfect tense verb, which is past time with progressive or repeated aspect. It tells us that the action of the verb is completed in the past, and the effects are left in the past. The charitos is just explaining Stephens condition at the time when he was doing the great works. It does not refer to any time before he did the great works, and it does not refer to any time after he was doing the great works.

kecharitomene is the participle that is refered to in asteroid’s post and in my post above. It continues into the present. It is a vocative case participle, which means that the angel is using it as a title for Mary. Just like I would say “hello asteroid”, the Angel said, “Hail, full of Grace”. “Full of Grace” is like Mary’s name. The full of Grace part is more accurate if you would translate it as “filled with Grace”, because it is a passive participle that specifically means that the action was done to Mary(or as the Angel would say, it was done to “filled with grace”:slight_smile: ). For info about it being perfect tense look at the above posts.

[quote="asteroid, post:8, topic:23074"]
Stephen & Greek:

There are 2 versions of the Greek. Older translations generally have a form of pistis in the Greek - which doesn't mean grace but faith. Newer translations, with access to more source documents have the following (or very similar) to work from:

stefanoV de plhrhV caritoV kai dunamewV epoiei terata kai shmeia megala en tw law.

the word caritoV is used. This is a noun that means grace. The word [font=Symbol][size=4]plhrhV[/size] is also used here, which is from the word that means to fill. It can either be translated as an aorist or a pluperfect tense which are both past tenses. The word pluperfect comes from the latin expression, "more than completed". If it is an aorist tense, it would be "was graced" and if it is pluperfect it is "had been graced". The pluperfect is expressing something that was done before something else. In other words what this means is that when Stephen had to defend himself he was filled with grace.[/font]

However, Luke 1:28 reads

kai eiselqwn proV authn eipen, caire, kecaritwmenh, o kurioV meta sou.

The word kecaritwmenh [font=Verdana][size=2]is used here. This is a perfect passive participle. It is also feminine. A participle is a verb that is used to describe the subject. The perfect tense describes an action in present time which has a completed aspect. In this verse it is used as a title and means basically "you who have been graced" or "you who have been filled with grace". This word is not speaking of just a little grace, it is speaking of an abundance of grace. Although this is a completed action, the effects are still on going in this verse. Mary is still full of grace when the angel says this.[/size][/font]

Many thanks to jimmy - a senior member here. Nearly all of the above is copied straight from a post from him in the thread that I linked to above. I have corrected one word - which he also corrected in his next post.

[/quote]

Feminine in Koine?

Acts 6:8 στεφαν-ος δε πληρ-ης χαριτ-ος και δυναμεω-ς ε-ποι-ει τερατ-α και σημει-α μεγαλ-α εν τω λα-ω

But Stephen of-[a]-full grace/gift/thanks and dynamo did wonders and mega signs in the people.

Clearly the word is “grace” here. It is a noun and not a participle (A verb acting like a noun or adjective): eg: the “jumped” fence.

The word “full” looks also to be genitive, and therefore an adjective, and suggests that the grace and power were in some sense at their maximum – not so much that Stephen was “filled”.

The verb looks like a simple aorist which doesn’t really say when something happened – but often implies past tense. (did). The emphasis is on the relationship of “grace and power” – to “wonders and magnificent signs”

Alternately, using American style, I’d translate:
But Stephen, graceful and powerful, did wonders and magnificent signs in the people.

I might also say, in dynamic translations:

Stephen, fully gifted and empowered, did wonders and great signs among the people.
A fulfilling gift and power within Stephen did wonders and magnificent signs among the people.

The moment of baptism, before sin, would be a good candidate for the state of grace; But the power is an additional feature, and would be associated with Stephen’s holy order.

I think the dilution approach isn’t likely since saying x% grace means (100-x)% power – wouldn’t work with God as he is all powerful, and yet one would not say he isn’t graceful because of that.

Grace implies an exchange – a gift and a thank you. The Father Son, and Spirit definitely grace each other.

I also note that the sentence structure does nothing to deny that grace and power could be transient. Jesus himself grew in grace so even in the extreme case a change is possible; and as an aside that makes Mary’s title even more surprising – for the perfect tense would suggest that a non-changing state of grace is likely.

For most:
A soul is able to grow, gracing and being graced more, as in fulfilling while growing.
The soul is also able to defect by sin – or simply not aspire to more grace during growth – both of which leave a partial emptiness.

Yes, but Mary and Jesus being full of grace means they were perfect
Steven being full of grace means he was still imperfect

the verses make clear that the experssion “full of grace” are completely different.

[quote="Huiou_Theou, post:14, topic:23074"]
For most:
A soul is able to grow, gracing and being graced more, as in fulfilling while growing.
The soul is also able to defect by sin -- or simply not aspire to more grace during growth -- both of which leave a partial emptiness.

[/quote]

Wasn't the translation full of faith used for this very reason? I realize the Douay Bible was the first Translation with Full of Grace in Acts 6:8. But the emphasis pointed out here is also why we have the two translations into English. With full of faith arriving just after the 16 century

Also this isn't to imply the Douay Bible isn't a excellent translated BIble.

Interesting analysis.

I’ve heard this translation as well: “Hail Mary, highly favored” as everyone should strive to be full of grace. But we can’t be “full of grace” all the time because we are sinners and Mary was not a sinner. Would “sinfree” be an acceptable meaning in 2010 English?

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