This study focuses on Paul's theological understanding of grace within the framework of benefaction in ancient Mediterranean world. Amidst various forms of asymmetrical reciprocal exchange, which permeated social relationships in these societies, Paul deliberately chose another path. His theological reflections on charis, as well as his leadership and social interactions with his churches, reflect an intentional shift away from reciprocity to charis, as well as from euergetism to selfless service. Paul's theology of charis introduces a fresh understanding of God who freely extends his goodness to all in Christ since all his actions are exclusively motivated by grace, not reciprocity.
Stephan Joubert is Research Fellow, at the Faculteit der Religiewetenschappen, Radboud University, The Netherlands; Extraordinary Professor for Contemporary Ecclesiology at the University of the Free State, South Africa and Extraordinary Professor for Theology at theNorth-West University, South Africa.