Saturday, September 1, 2012


My Protestant friend argues to me that Acts 6:8 says Stephen was "full of grace". How is that any different than Mary?Abraham on Mary’s Immaculate Conception

by c.pio

Well, that’s a common argument made by members of Do-it-yourself-religion. Like your opponents, an unknown protestant apologist named Gerry Soliman once said in his article: [I]n Acts 6:8 of the Douay Rheims version, Stephen was full of grace. So was Stephen immaculately conceived?

[Luke 1:28] And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women

[Acts 6:8] And Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great wonders and signs among the people.

If you live during inscripturation period, surely your answer is a BIG NO!

Both Gospel of Luke and the book Acts of the Apostles were written in Greek, not in modern English as always portrait by Bible-only groups. Now:

Language can never adequately translate another language with the same feeling, emphasis, rhyme, idiom, etc. Due to these and other factors inherent in language, doing a word-for-word translation is not really that meaningful. This would only be a valid kind of exercise if there were two languages that corresponded so close in structure that the only difference in the two was their vocabulary. Then there would also be the requirement that each word in one language had one and only one word that exactly corresponded to it in the other language. There are no two languages that correspond to each other in grammar, rules of syntax, semantic structure, etc., especially not modern English and Koine (Biblical) Greek. []

Acts 6:8 plērēs charitos

We must then, go back to the original Greek texts and let see if both verses use the same word “full of grace”.

[Luke 1:28] Kai eiselthon pros auten eipen, "Caire, kecharitomene!, ho Kurios meta sou."

[Acts 6:8]  Stephanos de plērēs charitos kai dynameōs epoiei terata kai sēmeia megala en tō laō

Are they the same? Obviously, not.

"Pleres charistos" [Acts 6:8]

"Kecharitomene" [Luke 1:28]

The word “grace” came from the Greek word charis

The word used in Acts 6:8 referring to Stephen is a different word from the one referring to Mary.

Here, Stephen is described as "pleres charitos" literally "filled up with grace" meaning at that moment, he was full of grace.

But the term used to Mary is "Kecharitomene" perfect passive participle of "charitoo" [charitoo (verb) comes from the same Greek root of “charis” - which means “grace” and charitoó means to fill or endow with grace] or in other words: "Hail, one who has always been full of grace"

To make it more clearer, "kecharitomene" is the perfect passive participle tense of the verb meaning "to fill with grace," Because it is in the perfect participle tense, it means that Mary was already filled with grace and there is no room for sin in her before the Annunciation, the implication being that she was the immaculate!

No other character in the bible was called kecharitomene except for Mary. The Angel Gabriel is not speaking his own words, rather he is delivering God’s message to her.

Luke 1: 28 "Hail, (kecharitomene: one who has always been full of grace), the Lord is with you. Blessed you among women."

So in Luke 1:28, Mary has always been and remains full of grace, and Stephen gets filled with grace only from a certain point in time [Acts 6:8] 

Ephesians 1:6: echaritosen

Some may oppose the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception using Ephesians 1:6, they attempted to argue that the use of the verb "charitoo" in Luke 1:28 is the same verb (action word) used in Ephesians 1:6 for all Christians although in different form.

Luke 1:28 uses a special conjugated form of "charitoo." It uses "kecharitomene," while Ephesians 1:6 uses "echaritosen," which is a different form of the verb "charitoo." Echaritosen means "he graced (bestowed grace.) Echaritosen signifies a momentary action, an action brought to pass. (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament, p.166.),


Kecharitomene, the perfect passive participle, shows a completeness with a with permanent result. Kecharitomene denotes continuance of a completed action (H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968 ) 108-109, sec 1852:b)  (Blass and DeBrunner p.175.)  

Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Sinless at the moment of her existence

Perfect tense

John 19:30 "It is finished.": the word “is”, the work of the redemption is complete and forever enduring.

Perfect Participle Tense

Luke 1:42 "… Blessed is the fruit of your womb.": the word “blessed”, Jesus is perfectly and endlessly blessed by God the Father.

At what point in her life is Mary made without sin?

Luke 1:42 "Blessed are you among women…” : the word “blessed”, Mary is perfectly and endlessly blessed by God.

Therefore, Luke 1:28 points to Mary being without sin at the moment of her conception!


  1. Cornelius James KrissilasSeptember 2, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is a matter of Faith revealed by God by the Holy Spirit through Christ's Church and officially pronounced and declared as an Article of Faith by the Vicar of Christ's Church on Earth and Peter's Successor the Pope.ALL THOSE BORN OF GOD ACCEPT IT AND REJOICE IN IT!!Alleluia.Amen!

  2. Ruby Lisboa Parmelee

    This is a wonderful cite. Very informative and good for learning and defending our Faith.

  3. John Guest

    The source greatly explains the difference between 'full of grace' in Acts 6 and Luke 1 by the Greek translation; showing the uniqueness of the holy immacule Mother.

  4. Kervin Jimenez

    WoW!! :)

  5. Roy Lubrico Bautista

    it is awesome ,,may i request the FEstival??? or Feast?

  6. Excellent explanation !
    My Mother Mary was surely immaculately conceived ... no doubt about it
    Hail Mary ... Full of Grace ... Amin

  7. Thank you for a thoughtful piece and for illustrating the interpretive framework for the RC doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary. You point out the difference between Luke's language and that of the gospel. But respectfully, the variation of words in biblical Greek itself doesn't necessarily prove your point, any more than does your appeal to the perfect passive. It is quite possible to read and understand the wording and grammar of Luke 1:28 without understanding her immaculate conception. The real point here is your effort to use a thoughtful grammatical lesson to advance a presupposition that is NOT exegetically an absolute at best. You write: "
    To make it more clearer, "kecharitomene" is the perfect passive participle tense of the verb meaning "to fill with grace," Because it is in the perfect participle tense, it means that Mary was already filled with grace and there is no room for sin in her before the Annunciation, the implication being that she was the immaculate!"

    But this is a presupposition. The most consistent biblical understanding of this text is that Mary, born in trespasses and sins, like all the fallen children of Adam, was the recipient of divine, sovereign grace--God had acted to save Mary in order to prepare her to be the mother of God incarnate, our blessed Savior Jesus. Your reading assumes that completion or fullness of grace means Mary was born without sin, but is this not a presupposition? Certainly this does not flow in consistency with apostolic teaching--a case in point that while so many Protestants are indeed do-it-yourselfers, RC theology subordinates hermeneutics to traditions that sometimes are more about what the church (I.e., Rome) teaches rather than what the scriptures actually permit. Mary is Christokos and every believer ought to reverence and honor her memory. But Mary knew she was a sinner from birth and proclaimed a God her Savior in the Magnificat, and numbered herself among the redeemed of the church because her son, God's One and Only Son, died for her sins as well. We agree that the reference to Stephen bespeaks a man in a specific crisis being endowed with grace needed for witness (martyrdom). But we must lovingly differ as to the theological framework assumed by immaculate conception of Mary doctrine in regard to St. Luke's record. Mary indeed enjoyed a unique role in redemption history, but her being full of grace is itself significant of her redemption by grace through faith being completely wrought by God in advance of her being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. She was not born without sin; she was saved from sin's guilt and judgment sin by grace in order to be used of God most high. We celebrate Mary, not for being unlike us, but for exemplifying divine grace--the unmerited favor of a holy and righteous God extended to us in Christ Jesus. Blessed be His name! Best regards.

  8. PS friend, I meant to write "Theotokos"' but unfortunately erred in writing "christokos". Please note lest I be accused of reviving an ancient heresy rather than extending a a Protestant one ;)

  9. Roy Lubrick Bautista, if you are asking about the feast in which we celebrate Mary's Immaculate conception it is on December 8,she was conceived in her mother Anne's womb. & At that time Mary was made sinless by God - NOT of her own doing a special grace for her special place in God's plan for our salvation


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