James R. Harrison argues that the Graeco-Roman benefaction context of ????? ('favour') is the backdrop of Paul's understanding of divine and humane grace. By the first century AD ????? was the leitmotiv of the Hellenistic reciprocity system. It shaped the conventions of giving and receiving throughout the eastern Mediterranean basin.
Before Paul's converts were exposed to the gospel, they would have held various beliefs regarding divine beneficence. The apostle needed to tailor his language of grace as much to the theological concerns of Graeco-Roman culture as to first-century Judaism.
In making benefaction terminology the touchstone of his theology of grace, Paul chose to articulate his understanding of ????? over and against the theological and social beliefs of the Mediterranean city-states and the imperial rulers. While Paul endorses the reciprocity system, he redefines its rationale in the light of the gospel of grace and transforms its social expression in his house-churches.