Gratitude

Looking from the Jewish cemetery up the hill toward the Mt. of Olives.

GRATITUDE (εὐχαριστία, G2374, [1] thankfulness, gratitude; [2] the rendering of thanks, thanksgiving; [3] Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, 1 Cor 10:16). The condition or quality of being grateful; an emotion or sentiment of thankfulness. A warm sense of appreciation for a kindness received; accompanied by a feeling of good will toward the benefactor, and a desire to repay the favor.


Eucharistía has been employed since the time of Hippocrates (5th-4th cent. b.c.) and Menander (4th cent. b.c.). It is found in both Philo and Josephus. It is common in the inscrs., but there is perhaps only one known example in the papyri, viz., in a letter to a Gymnastic Club by the Emperor Claudius: he expresses gratification for games which were performed in his honor. In profane Gr. eucharistía never occurs in the sense of “thanks” or “giving of thanks”; in Biblical Gr. this usage is confined always to a religious sense. Origen equates εὐχαριστία, G2374, with εὐχαριτία, “the mark of fine training.”

No motif more adequately recalls the nature of Biblical faith than “gratitude” (or thanksgiving). With three insignificant exceptions (Luke 17:9; Acts 24:3; Rom 16:4) thanks invariably is rendered unto God. It appears only within the context of the covenant relationship. Moreover, it is always prompted by a concrete act of the covenant God in human affairs.


Thanksgiving was prominent in Israel’s cultic worship. Festival processions en route to Zion filled the air “with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving” (Ps 42:4). Their entrance into the Temple was with thanksgiving (95:2; 100:4); the service itself contained melodies of gratitude (147:7). All the tribes ascended to Jerusalem “to give thanks to the name of the Lord” (122:4).

Israel thanked Jehovah because He ever remained faithful to His covenant with His people (100:4). God’s faithfulness was manifested in many ways as He protected the Jewish nation from external foes (7:17).





Gratitude ought to be accompanied by (1) intercession for others (1 Tim 2:1; 2 Tim 1:3; Philem 4), (2) prayer (Neh 11:17; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2), and (3) praise (Ps 92:1; Heb 13:15).



The Dead Sea scroll of Thanksgiving Psalms or Hodayoth (1QH) contains c. thirty-five fragmentary or complete hymns in which the author renders thanks for acts of God’s kindness. Most of these psalms begin with the expression, “I thank thee, O Lord.” Their style is reminiscent of the Heb. Psalter.

Bibliography

J. Smith and R. Lee, Handfuls On Purpose, VI (1947), 70; J. Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (1949), II. viii. 16; III. xx. 28; W. G. Scroggie, The Psalms, IV (1951), 251; M. Luther, Lectures On Galatians, Vol. XXVI in Works (c1963), 43, 138, 283, 376f.; H. H. Rowly, A Companion to the Bible (1963), 132; W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, II (1964), 271, 299, 372; G. Von Rad, Old Testament Theology, I (1967), 224-226.