An account of “given-ness” must start with a Giver, and follow a structure of Giver–giving–given. In order for it to be truly gift and not debt, this Giver must be free and complete in himself, not needing anything. Because God is perfect-life in himself, and active love and delight as Father-Son-Spirit, he is under no necessity to create in order to receive praise, love, or companionship. That he has indeed willed to create is a mystery of grace, a radical giving.
This act of giving, includes the giving of existence. God did not merely give form to an already existing substance: the gift is entire, ex nihilo (out of nothing). Because the Giver is personal, not merely causal, the gift of existence includes a grand purpose (for), not bare existence (that). This giving of existence and purpose is entirely an act of love, with the telos of fellowship. Man, an entirely contingent creature (Psalm 104:29), has his being, in all of its aspects, existence and purpose, as a gift from this Giver. He is not needed by God for anything (Acts 17:24–5), but has been granted the unfathomable gift of existence and experience of what is supremely delightful and good—fellowship with the Giver. In order to accomplish this fellowship, the Giver gives himself in revelation, making himself known to man, walking with him in the Garden, speaking words to him, revealing himself and further relating to him through this revelation.
Man’s rebellion is a twisting of this gift—ingratitude with his status as creature, impatience at the timing of the culmination of the gift, unbelief that the gift is good, perhaps even doubt in his own given, contingent being, denial of what, who, rather—has been revealed.
When the Giver gave the gift of existence for fellowship, he had already built deep within the gift an even deeper overcoming of this rejection of given-ness, a more comprehensive giving. He immediately enacted this Gift-Covenant when he banished them from the Garden. His gift of revelation did not cease, but was continually poured out in gracious acts in history, words in the mouths of prophets and holy men, and ultimately in the coming of the Son, “gift upon gift” (John 1:16). This is the perseverance of the Giver, unfailingly carrying out his act of giving. He has not, he will not be dissuaded or hindered from his determination to carry out this giving to its final telos, a perfect and perpetual state of gift, in his presence.
Giver-giving-given: the Giver’s simplicity makes possible the characterization of his entire work under this heading. It could be considered under other heads (“love,” “holiness”) but “gift” is particularly fitting, as it is particularly the glory of his charis (grace) that Paul says is the aim (Eph 1:6).
* This article was first published at Biblioskolex, and has been republished with the author’s permission.