Ephesians 2:8
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1 b.) Ephesians 2:8-10 (taking up and working out the parenthetical “by grace ye are saved” of Ephesians 2:5) form an instructive link of connection between these Epistles and those of the earlier group, especially the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans. (Comp. Philippians 3:9.) In both there is the same doctrine of “Justification by Faith,” the same denial of the merit of good works, the same connection of good works with the grace of God in us. But what is there anxiously and passionately contended for, is here briefly summarised, and calmly assumed as a thing known and allowed. Even the technical phrases—the word “justification,” and the declaration of the nullity of “the Law”—are no longer used.

(8) By grace are ye saved through faith.—Properly, ye have been saved; ye were saved at first, and continue in a state of salvation. In Ephesians 2:5 this thought is introduced parenthetically, naturally and irresistibly suggested by the declaration of the various steps of regeneration in Christ. St. Paul now returns to it and works it out, before passing on, in Ephesians 2:11, to draw out by “wherefore” the conclusion from Ephesians 2:1-7. Remembering how the Epistles were written from dictation, we may be inclined to see in this passage among others, an insertion made by the Apostle, on a revision of that already written.

The two phrases—“justification by faith” and “salvation by grace”—are popularly identified, and, indeed. are substantially identical in meaning. But the latter properly lays stress on a more advanced stage of the process of redemption in Christ. Thus, in Romans 5:9-10 (“having been justified,” “having been reconciled,” “we shall be saved”), salvation is spoken of as following on the completed act of justification (as the release of a prisoner on his pronounced pardon); and it is described, here and elsewhere, as a continuous process—a state continuing till the final judgment. Hence to lay especial stress on salvation accords better with the whole idea of this Epistle—the continuous indwelling in Christ—than to bring out, as in the Epistle to the Romans, the one complete act of justification for His sake. It is remarkable that the expression of the truth corresponds almost verbally with the words of St. Peter at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:11), “We believe that through the grace of God we shall be (properly, we were) saved,” except that here the original shows that the salvation is looked upon as a completed act, like justification. It is also to be noted that the use of the name “Saviour,” applied both to God and to Christ, belongs entirely to the later Epistles. It is used once in this Epistle (Ephesians 5:23) and once in the Epistle to the Philippians (Ephesians 3:20), but no less than ten times in the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul, and five times in the Second Epistle of St. Peter. The phrase in the text is, as always in this Epistle, theologically exact. Grace is the moving cause of salvation: faith only the instrument by which it is laid hold of.

And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.—This attribution of all to the gift of God seems to cover the whole idea—both the gift of salvation and the gift of faith to accept it. The former part is enforced by the words “not of works,” the latter by the declaration, “we (and all that is in us) are His workmanship.” The word here rendered “gift” is peculiar to this passage; the word employed in Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23, for “free gift” (charisma) having been appropriated (both in the singular and plural) to special “gifts” of grace.

EPHESIANS

SALVATION: GRACE: FAITH

Ephesians 2:8Here are three of the key-words of the New Testament-’grace,’ ‘saved,’ ‘faith.’ Once these terms were strange and new; now they are old and threadbare. Once they were like lava, glowing and cast up from the central depths; but it is a long while since the eruption, and the blocks have got cold, and the corners have been rubbed off them. I am afraid that some people, when they read such a text, will shrug the shoulder of weariness, and think that they are in for a dreary sermon.

But the more familiar a word is, the more likely are common ideas about it to be hazy. We substitute acquaintance with the sound for penetration into the sense. A frond of sea-weed, as long as it is in the ocean, unfolds its delicate films and glows with its subdued colours. Take it out, and it is hard and brown and ugly, and you have to plunge it into the water again before you see its beauty. So with these well-worn Christian terms; you have to put them back, by meditation and thought, especially as to their bearing on yourself, in order to understand their significance and to feel their power. And, although it is very hard, I want to try and do that for a few moments with this grand thought that lies in my text.

I. Here we have the Christian view of man’s deepest need, and God’s greatest gift.

‘Ye have been saved.’ Now, as I have said, ‘saved,’ and ‘salvation,’ and ‘Saviour,’ are all threadbare words. Let us try to grasp the whole throbbing meaning that is in them. Well, to begin with, and in its original and lowest application, this whole set of expressions is applied to physical danger from which it delivers, and physical disease which it heals. So, in the Gospels, for instance, you find ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole’-literally, ‘saved thee’ And you hear one of the Apostles crying, in an excess of terror and collapse of faith, ‘Save! Master! we perish!’ The two notions that are conveyed in our familiar expression ‘safe and sound,’ both lie in the word-deliverance from danger, and healing of disease.

Then, when you lift it up into the loftier region, into which Christianity buoyed it up, the same double meaning attaches to it. The Christian salvation is, on its negative side, a deliverance from something impending-peril-and a healing of something infecting us-the sickness of sin.

It is a deliverance; what from? Take, in the briefest possible language, three sayings of Scripture to answer that question-what am I to be saved from? ‘His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.’ He ‘delivers’-or saves-’us from the wrath to come.’ He ‘saves a soul from death.’ Sin, wrath death, death spiritual as well as physical, these are the dangers which lie in wait; and the enemies which have laid their grip upon us. And from these, as the shepherd drags the kid from the claws of the lion or the bear’s hug, the salvation of the Gospel wrenches and rescues men.

The same general conceptions emerge, if we notice, on the other side-what are the things which the New Testament sets forth as the opposites of its salvation? Take, again, a brief reference to Scripture words: ‘The Son of Man came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’ So the antithesis is between judgment or condemnation on the one hand, and salvation on the other. That suggests thoughts substantially identical with the preceding but still more solemn, as bringing in the prospect a tribunal and a judge. The Gospel then reveals the Mighty Power that lifts itself between us and judgment, the Mighty Power that intervenes to prevent absolute destruction, the Power which saves from sin, from wrath, from death.

Along with them we may take the other thought, that salvation, as the New Testament understands it, is not only the rescue and deliverance of a man from evils conceived to lie round about him, and to threaten his being from without, but that it is his healing from evils which have so wrought themselves into his very being, and infected his whole nature, as that the emblem for them is a sickness unto death for the healing from which this mighty Physician comes. These are the negative sides of this great Christian thought.

But the New Testament salvation is more than a shelter, more than an escape. It not only trammels up evil possibilities, and prevents them from falling upon men’s heads, but it introduces all good. It not only strips off the poisoned robe, but it invests with a royal garb. It is not only negatively the withdrawal from the power, and the setting above the reach, of all evil, in the widest sense of that word, physical and moral, but it is the endowment with every good, in the widest sense of that word, physical and moral, which man is capable of receiving, or God has wealth to bestow. And this positive significance of the Christian salvation, which includes not only pardon, and favour, and purity, and blessedness here in germ, and sure and certain hope of an overwhelming glory hereafter-this is all suggested to us by the fact that in Scripture, more than once, to ‘have everlasting life,’ and to ‘enter into the Kingdom of God,’ are employed as equivalent and alternative expressions for being saved with the salvation of God.

And that leads me to another point-my text, as those of you who have used the Revised Version will observe, is there slightly modified in translation, and reads ‘Ye have been saved,’-a past act, done once, and with abiding present consequences, which are realised progressively in the Christian life, and reach forward into infinitude. So the Scripture sometimes speaks of salvation as past, ‘He saved us by His mercy’: sometimes of it as present and progressive, ‘The Lord added to the Church daily those that were {in process of} being saved’: sometimes of it as future, ‘now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.’ In that future all that is involved in the word will be evolved from it in blessed experience onwards through eternity.

I have said that we should try to make an effort to fathom the depth of meaning in this and other familiar commonplace terms of Scripture. But no effort prior to experience will ever fathom it. There was in the papers some time ago an account of some extraordinary deep-sea soundings that have been made away down in the South Pacific, 29,400 feet and no bottom, and the wire broke. The highest peak of the Himalayas might be put into that abyss, and there would be hundreds of feet between it and the surface. He ‘casts all our sins,’ mountainous as they are, behind His back ‘into the depths of the sea’; and no plummet that man can drop will ever reach its profound abyss. ‘Thy judgments are a great deep,’ and deeper than the judgments is the depth of Thy salvation.

And now, brethren, before I go further, notice the-I was going to say theory, but that is a cold word-the facts of man’s condition and need that underlie this great Christian term of salvation-viz. we are all in deadly peril; we are all sick of a fatal disease. ‘Ah!’ you say, ‘that is Paul.’ Yes! it is Paul. But it is not Paul only; it is Paul’s Master, and, I hope, your Master; for He not only spoke loving, gentle words to and about men, and not only was grace poured into His lips, but there is another side to His utterances. No one ever spoke sadder, sterner words about the real condition of men than Jesus Christ did. Lost sheep, lost coins, prodigal sons, builders of houses on the sand that are destined to be blown down and flooded away, men in danger of an undying worm and unquenchable fire-these are parts of Christ’s representations of the condition of humanity, and these are the conceptions that underlie this great thought of salvation as being man’s deepest need.

It goes far deeper down than any of the superficial constructions of what humanity requires, which are found among non-Christian, social and economical, and intellectual and political reformers. It includes all that is true in the estimate of any of these people, and it supplies all that they aim at. But it goes far beyond them. And as they stand pottering round the patient, and administering-what shall I say? ‘pills for the earthquake,’ as we once heard-it comes and brushes them aside and says, ‘Physicians of no value! here is the thing that is wanted-salvation that comes from God.’

Brother! it is what you need. Do not be led away by the notion that wealth, or culture, or anything less than Christ’s gift to men will meet your necessities. If once we catch a glimpse of what we really are, there will be no words wanted to enforce the priceless value of the salvation that the Gospel offers. It is sure to be an uninteresting word and thing to a man who does not feel himself to be a sinner. It is sure to be of perennial worth to a man who does. Life-belts lie unnoticed on the cabin-shelf above the berth as long as the sun is bright, and the sea calm, and everything goes well; but when the ship gets on the rocks the passengers fight to get them. If you know yourself, you will know that salvation is what you need.

II. Here we have the Christian unfolding of the source of salvation.

‘By grace ye have been saved.’ There is another threadbare word. It is employed in the New Testament with a very considerable width of signification, which we do not need to attend to here. But, in regard of the present context, let me just point out that the main idea conveyed by the word is that of favour, or lovingkindness, or goodwill, especially when directed to inferiors, and most eminently when given to those who do not deserve it, but deserve its opposite. ‘Grace’ is love that stoops and that requites, not according to desert, but bestows upon those who deserve nothing of the kind; so when the Apostle declares that the source of salvation is ‘grace.’ he declares two things. One is that the fountain of all our deliverance from sin, and of our healing of our sicknesses, lies in the deep heart of God, from which it wells up undrawn, unmotived, uncaused by anything except His own infinite lovingkindness. People have often presented the New Testament teaching about salvation as if it implied that God’s love was brought to man because Jesus Christ died, and turned the divine affections. That is not New Testament teaching. Christ’s death is not the cause of God’s love, but God’s love is the cause of Christ’s death. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.’

When we hear in the Old Testament, ‘I am that I am,’ we may apply it to this great subject. For that declaration of the very inmost essence of the divine nature is not merely the declaration, in half metaphysical terms, of a self-substituting, self-determining Being, high above limitation and time and change, but it is a declaration that when He loves He loves freely and unmodified save by the constraint of His own Being. Just as the light, because it is light and must radiate, falls upon dunghills and diamonds, upon black rocks and white snow, upon ice-peaks and fertile fields, so the great fountain of the Divine Grace pours out upon men by reason only of its own continual tendency to communicate its own fulness and blessedness.

There follows from that the other thought, on which the Apostle mainly dwells in our context, that the salvation which we need, and may have, is not won by desert, but is given as a gift. Mark the last words of my text-’that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.’ They have often been misunderstood, as if they referred to the faith which is mentioned just before. But that is a plain misconception of the Apostle’s meaning, and is contradicted by the whole context. It is not faith that is the gift of God, but it is salvation by grace. That is plain if you will read on to the next verse. ‘By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast.’ What is it that is ‘not of works’? Faith? certainly not. Nobody would ever have thought it worth while to say, ‘faith is not of works,’ because nobody would have said that it was. The two clauses necessarily refer to the same thing, and if the latter of them must refer to salvation by grace, so must the former. Thus, the Apostle’s meaning is that we get salvation, not because we work for it but because God gives it as a free gift, for which we have nothing to render, and which we can never deserve.

Now, I am sure that there are some of you who are saying to yourselves, ‘This is that old, threadbare, commonplace preaching again!’ Well! shame on us preachers if we have made a living Gospel into a dead theology. And shame no less on you hearers if by you the words that should be good news that would make the tongue of the dumb sing, and the lame man leap as a hart, have been petrified and fossilised into a mere dogma.

I know far better than you do how absolutely inadequate all my words are, but I want to bring it to you and to lay it not on your heads only but on your hearts, as the good news that we all need, that we have not to buy, that we have not to work to get salvation, but that having got it we have to work thereafter. ‘What shall we do that we might work the works of God?’ A whole series of diverse, long, protracted, painful toils? Christ swept away the question by striking out the ‘s’ at the end of the word, and answered, ‘This is the work’ {not ‘works’} ‘of God,’ the one thing which will open out into all heroism and practical obedience, ‘that ye believe on Him to whom He hath sent.’

III. That leads me to the last point-viz. the Christian requirement of the condition of salvation.

Note the precision of the Apostle’s prepositions: ‘Ye have been saved by grace’; there is the source-’Ye have been saved by grace, through faith’-there is the medium, the instrument, or, if I may so say, the channel; or, to put it into other words, the condition by which the salvation which has its source in the deep heart of God pours its waters into my empty heart. ‘Through faith,’ another threadbare word, which, withal, has been dreadfully darkened by many comments, and has unfortunately been so represented as that people fancy it is some kind of special attitude of mind and heart, which is only brought to bear in reference to Christ’s Gospel. It is a thousand pities, one sometimes thinks, that the word was not translated ‘trust’ instead of ‘faith,’ and then we should have understood that it was not a theological virtue at all, but just the common thing that we all know so well, which is the cement of human society and the blessedness of human affection, and which only needs to be lifted, as a plant that had been running along the ground, and had its tendrils bruised and its fruit marred might be lifted, and twined round the pillar of God’s throne, in order to grow up and bear fruit that shall be found after many days unto praise, and honour, and glory.

Trust; that is the condition. The salvation rises from the heart of God. You cannot touch the stream at its source, but you can tap it away down in its flow. What do you want machinery and pumps for? Put a yard of wooden pipe into the river, and your house will have all the water it needs.

So, dear brethren, here is the condition-it is a condition only, for there is no virtue in the act of trust, but only in that with which we are brought into living union when we do trust. When salvation comes, into my heart by faith it is not my faith but God’s grace that puts salvation there.

Faith is only the condition, ay! but it is the indispensable condition. How many ways are there of getting possession of a gift? One only, I should suppose, and that is, to put out a hand and take it. If salvation is by grace it must be ‘through faith.’ If you will not accept you cannot have. That is the plain meaning of what theologians call justification by faith; that pardon is given on condition of taking it. If you do not take it you cannot have it. And so this is the upshot of the whole-trust, and you have.

Oh, dear friends! open your eyes to see your dangers. Let your conscience tell you of your sickness. Do not try to deliver, or to heal yourselves. Self-reliance and self-help are very good things, but they leave their limitations, and they have no place here. ‘Every man his own Redeemer’ will not work. You can no more extricate yourself from the toils of sin than a man can release himself from the folds of a python. You can no more climb to heaven by your own effort than you can build a railway to the moon. You must sue in forma pauperis, and be content to accept as a boon an unmerited place in your Father’s heart, an undeserved seat at His bountiful table, an unearned share in His wealth, from the hands of your Elder Brother, in whom is all His grace, and who gives salvation to every sinner if he will trust Him. ‘By grace have ye been saved through faith.’2:1-10 Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. When we look upon a corpse, it gives an awful feeling. A never-dying spirit is now fled, and has left nothing but the ruins of a man. But if we viewed things aright, we should be far more affected by the thought of a dead soul, a lost, fallen spirit. A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan. Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men. From Scripture it is clear, that whether men have been most prone to sensual or to spiritual wickedness, all men, being naturally children of disobedience, are also by nature children of wrath. What reason have sinners, then, to seek earnestly for that grace which will make them, of children of wrath, children of God and heirs of glory! God's eternal love or good-will toward his creatures, is the fountain whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy. And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus. Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul. A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul; he lives a life of holiness, being born of God: he lives, being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace. Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above this world, by Christ's grace. The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners heretofore, encourages others in after-time, to hope in his grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out. All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power. It was his purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of his will, and his Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness. None can from Scripture abuse this doctrine, or accuse it of any tendency to evil. All who do so, are without excuse.For by grace are ye saved - By mere favor. It is not by your Own merit; it is not because you have any claim. This is a favorite doctrine with Paul, as it is with all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity; compare the notes at Romans 1:7; Romans 3:24, note.

Through faith - Grace bestowed through faith, or in connection with believing; see the notes at Romans 1:17; Romans 4:16, note.

And that not of yourselves - That is, salvation does not proceed from yourselves. The word rendered "that" - τοῦτο touto - is in the neuter gender, and the word "faith" - πίστις pistis - is in the feminine. The word "that," therefore, does not refer particularly to faith, as being the gift of God, but to "the salvation by grace" of which he had been speaking. This is the interpretation of the passage which is the most obvious, and which is now generally conceded to be the true one; see Bloomfield. Many critics, however, as Doddridge, Beza, Piscator, and Chrysostom, maintain that the word "that" (τοῦτο touto) refers to "faith" (πίστις pistis); and Doddridge maintains that such a use is common in the New Testament. As a matter of grammar this opinion is certainly doubtful, if not untenable; but as a matter of theology it is a question of very little importance.

Whether this passage proves it or not, it is certainly true that faith is the gift of God. It exists in the mind only when the Holy Spirit produces it there, and is, in common with every other Christian excellence, to be traced to his agency on the heart. This opinion, however, does not militate at all with the doctrine that man himself "believes." It is not God that "believes" for him, for that is impossible. It is his own mind that actually believes, or that exercises faith; see the notes at Romans 4:3. In the same manner "repentance" is to be traced to God. It is one of the fruits of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the soul. But the Holy Spirit does not "repent" for us. It is our "own mind" that repents; our own heart that feels; our own eyes that weep - and without this there can he no true repentance. No one can repent for another; and God neither can nor ought to repent; for us. He has done no wrong, and if repentance is ever exercised, therefore, it must be exercised by our own minds. So of faith. God cannot believe for us. "We" must believe, or "we" shall be damned. Still this does not conflict at all with the opinion, that if we exercise faith, the inclination to do it is to be traced to the agency of God on the heart. I would not contend, therefore, about the grammatical construction of this passage, with respect to the point of the theology contained in it; still it accords better with the obvious grammatical construction, and with the design of the passage to understand the word "that" as referring not to "faith" only, but to "salvation by grace." So Calvin understands it, and so it is understood by Storr, Locke, Clarke, Koppe, Grotius, and others.

It is the gift of God - Salvation by grace is his gift. It is not of merit; it is wholly by favor.

8. For—illustrating "the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness." Translate as in Eph 2:5, "Ye are in a saved state."

through faith—the effect of the power of Christ's resurrection (Eph 1:19, 20; Php 3:10) whereby we are "raised together" with Him (Eph 2:6; Col 2:12). Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "through your (literally, 'the') faith." The instrument or mean of salvation on the part of the person saved; Christ alone is the meritorious agent.

and that—namely, the act of believing, or "faith." "Of yourselves" stands in opposition to, "it is the gift of God" (Php 1:29). "That which I have said, 'through faith,' I do not wish to be understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace" [Estius]. "God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes" [Hooker]. The initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal illumination in the soul [Pearson]. Yet "faith" cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, "hearing the word of God" (Ro 10:17), and prayer (Lu 11:13), though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 7).

For by grace, the free favour of God, as Ephesians 2:5, are ye, even ye Ephesians, Gentiles, who had not such promises made to you as the Jews had, Ephesians 2:12,

saved, from first to last, from your calling, Ephesians 2:5, to your glorification, Ephesians 2:6.

Objection. How are believers said to be saved, when they are not yet glorified?

Answer.

1. Because Christ their Head is glorified.

2. Because their salvation, begun in their effectual calling, shall be as certainly accomplished in them as it is begun in them, and perfected in their Head, Christ.

Through faith; by which ye lay hold on the grace offered you in the gospel. Faith is not considered here as a work done by us, but as an instrument or means applying the grace and salvation tendered to us.

And that not of yourselves; not for your own worth, nor by your own strength.

It is the gift of God; that ye are saved is the gift of God, and therefore free and purely by grace.

God is opposed to self: gift relates not merely to faith immediately preceding, but to the whole sentence. For by grace are ye saved,.... This is to be understood, not of temporal salvation, nor of preservation in Christ, nor of providential salvation in order to calling, and much less of being put in a way of salvation, or only in a salvable state; but of spiritual salvation, and that actual; for salvation was not only resolved upon, contrived and secured in the covenant of grace, for the persons here spoken to, but it was actually obtained and wrought out for them by Christ, and was actually applied unto them by the Spirit; and even as to the full enjoyment of it, they had it in faith and hope; and because of the certainty of it, they are said to be already saved; and besides, were representatively possessed of it in Christ their head: those interested in this salvation, are not all mankind, but particular persons; and such who were by nature children of wrath, and sinners of the Gentiles; and it is a salvation from sin, Satan, the law, its curse and condemnation, and from eternal death, and wrath to come; and includes all the blessings of grace and glory; and is entirely owing to free grace: for by grace is not meant the Gospel, nor gifts of grace, nor grace infused; but the free favour of God, to which salvation in all its branches is ascribed; as election, redemption, justification, pardon, adoption, regeneration, and eternal glory: the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "by his grace", and so some copies; and it may refer to the grace of all the three Persons; for men are saved by the grace of the Father, who drew the plan of salvation, appointed men to it, made a covenant with his Son, in which it is provided and secured, and sent him into the world to obtain it; and by the grace of the Son, who engaged as a surety to effect it, assumed human nature, obeyed and suffered in it for that purpose, and has procured it; and by the grace of the Spirit, who makes men sensible of their need of it, brings it near, sets it before them, and applies it to them, and gives them faith and hope in it: hence it follows,

through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; salvation is through faith, not as a cause or condition of salvation, or as what adds anything to the blessing itself; but it is the way, or means, or instrument, which God has appointed, for the receiving and enjoying it, that so it might appear to be all of grace; and this faith is not the produce of man's free will and power, but it is the free gift of God; and therefore salvation through it is consistent with salvation by grace; since that itself is of grace, lies entirely in receiving grace and gives all the glory to the grace of God: the sense of this last clause may be, that salvation is not of ourselves; it is not of our desiring nor of our deserving, nor of our performing, but is of the free grace of God: though faith is elsewhere represented as the gift of God, John 6:65 and it is called the special gift of faith, in the Apocrypha:

"And blessed is the eunuch, which with his hands hath wrought no iniquity, nor imagined wicked things against God: for unto him shall be given the "special gift of faith", and an inheritance in the temple of the Lord more acceptable to his mind.'' (Wisdom 3:14)

----- (I asked the following question from a Greek and Hebrew professor:

"In this verse, to what does the word "that" refer to? Adam Clarke, Wesley & company say that it is neuter plural and "Faith" is feminine hence it cannot refer to faith, (Such an admission would destroy their theological system.) However "Grace" is also feminine as is "Salvation".''

His reply was:

"Here you ask a wonderful theological/exegetical question to which I can only give an opinion, and not a definitive answer. The problem is that there is NO precise referent. Grace is feminine. Faith is feminine. And even Salvation (as a noun) is feminine. Yet it must be one of these three at least, and maybe more than one, or all three in conjunction. Since all three come from God and not from man, the latter might seem the more likely. However, it is a tautology to say salvation and grace are "nor of yourselves," and in that case it certainly looks more like the passage is really pointing out that man cannot even take credit for his own act of faith, but that faith was itself created by God and implanted in us that we might believe (i.e. the normal Calvinistic position). In which regard the whole theological issue of "regeneration preceding faith" comes into play. So, that is basically my opinion, though others obviously disagree strenuously, but from an exegetical standpoint, the other positions have to explain away the matter of the tautology.''

Whether you accept the reply or not, it is sufficient to show that the Greek is not as definitive in this verse as some scholars would have you believe. Editor)

For by {h} grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

(h) So then, grace, that is to say, the gift of God, and faith, stand with one another, to which two it is contrary to be saved by ourselves, or by our works. Therefore, what do those mean who would join together things of such contrary natures?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 2:8. How entirely was I justified in saying: τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ! for, etc. Thus Paul now expresses himself with more detail as to the great truth, of which his heart was so full that it had already, Ephesians 2:5, interrupted the course of his address.

τῇ χάριτι] by the grace. By the article the divine grace just now spoken of is indicated, after it had been meant doubtless by the anarthrous χάριτι, Ephesians 2:5, but designated by it only as regards the category (by grace).

διὰ τῆς πίστεως] for the faith in the atonement made by Christ (Romans 3:25; Romans 3:30, al.) is, as the causa apprehendens of the Messianic salvation, the necessary mediate instrument on the part of man, while the χάρις is the divine motive, the causa efficiens of the bestowal. The emphasis, however, is retained by τῇ χάριτι alone, and διὰ τῆς πίστ. is only the modal definition to σεσωσμ.

καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν κ.τ.λ.] Nothing is here to be treated as parenthesis; neither the whole καὶ τοῦτο down to ἔργων, Ephesians 2:9 (Griesbach, Scholz), nor merely Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον (Lachmann, Harless, de Wette), since neither the construction nor the course of thought is interrupted. καὶ τοῦτο is referred by the Fathers in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 728, Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Estius, Wolf, Bengel, Michaelis, and others, including Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bisping, to the faith (τὸ πιστεύειν), comp. Php 1:29; 2 Corinthians 4:14. In that case καὶ τοῦτοδῶρον would have to be taken parenthetically. But how violent is this taking to pieces of the text, since οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν and οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων present themselves in a manner alike natural and weighty as elements belonging to one flow of the discourse! Rightly, therefore, have Calvin, Calovius, Baumgarten, Semler, Zachariae, Morus, and others, including Rückert, Matthies, Holzhausen, Harless, de Wette, Schenkel, Bleek, referred it to the salvation just designated as regards its specific mode. Paul very earnestly and emphatically enters into more detailed explanations as to what he had just said, τῇ γὰρ χάριτι κ.τ.λ., namely to the effect, that he briefly and forcibly places in the light of the respective contrasts, first, that objective element of the saving deliverance which has taken place (τῇ χάριτι) by οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον, and then the subjective element (διὰ τῆς πίστεως), by οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἵνα μ. τ. καυχ. His thought is: “Through grace you are in possession of salvation by means of faith, and that to the exclusion of your own causation and operative agency.” This latter he expresses with the vivacity and force of contrast thus: “and that (καὶ τοῦτο, see on Romans 3:11) not from you, it is God’s gift; not from works, in order that no one may boast.” The asyndetic juxtaposition takes place with a “propria quadam vi, alacritate, gravitate,” Dissen, Exc. II. ad Pind. p. 273.

οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν] negatives their own personal authorship of the salvation (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 551 f.).

Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον] i.e. Θεοῦ δῶρον τὸ δῶρον, God’s gift is the gift in question (namely, the σεσωσμένον εἶναι). Comp. already Bengel.

οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων] Parallel of οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, hence to be completed by ἐστὲ σεσωσμένοι (not by τὸ δῶρόν ἐστι), not from work-merit does it come that you have the salvation. The ἔργα would exclude the πίστις as the subjective condition of salvation (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:5; Romans 9:32; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2), as ἐξ ὑμῶν would exclude the χάρις as the objective cause of salvation, because it presupposes the ἰδία δικαιοσύνη (Romans 10:3). No doubt ἐξ ἔργων excludes also the χάρις, as does likewise ἐξ ὑμῶν exclude the πίστις; but the two elements opposed to the χάρις and the πίστις are, on occasion of the proposition τῇ γὰρ χάριτιπίστεως, held apart after the manner of a formal parallelism. That, moreover, the notion of the ἔργα is determined not merely by the Jewish law, but—inasmuch as the readers were for the most part Gentile-Christians—also by the natural law (Romans 2:14 f.), is self-evident. The proposition in itself, however, οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, is so essential and universally valid a fundamental proposition of the Pauline Gospel, and certainly so often expressed by the apostle among Jews and Gentiles, that the severe judgment as to its having no meaning, when laid down without reference to the Mosaic law, must appear unfounded (in opposition to de Wette).

ἵνα] design of God in the relation indicated by οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, not ecbatic (Koppe, Flatt, Holzhausen). Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 Corinthians 1:31, and as regards the thing itself, Romans 3:27. Grotius aptly says: “quicquid est in flumine, fonti debetur,” which, however, is not to be limited merely to the prima gratia. See Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 15:10.Ephesians 2:8. τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι: for by grace have ye been saved. More exactly “by the grace,” i.e., by this grace, the grace already mentioned. Grace is the explanation of their own salvation, and how surpassingly rich the grace must be that could effect that!—διὰ τῆς πίστεως: through faith. That is, by faith as the instrument or means. Paul never says διὰ τὴν πίστιν, as if the faith were the ground or procuring cause of the salvation. It is the χάριτι, not the explanatory πίστεως that has the first place in Paul’s thoughts here.—καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἡμῶν: and that not of yourselves. That is, not as proceeding from yourselves or of your own performance. The sentence thus beginning with καὶ τοῦτο (cf. Romans 13:11) is not parenthetical, but an integral part of the statement. But to what does the τοῦτο refer? To the πίστεως say some (Chrys., Theod., Jer., Bez., Beng., Bisp., Moule, etc.). The neut. τοῦτο would not be irreconcilable with that. The formula καὶ τοῦτο indeed might rather favour it, as it often adds to the idea to which it is attached. It may also be granted that a peculiarly suitable idea results—the opportune reminder that even their faith, in which at least they might think there was something of their own, has its origin in God’s grace, not in their own effort. But on the other hand the salvation is the main idea in the preceding statement, and it seems best to understand the καὶ τοῦτο as referring to that salvation in its entire compass, and not merely to the one element in it, its instrumental cause, appended by way of explanation. Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον; it is the gift of God. Or, perhaps, “God’s gift it is”. The salvation is not an achievement but a gift, and a gift from none other than God. This declaration of the free, unmerited, conferred nature of the salvation is made the stronger not only by the contrast with the ἐξ ὑμῶν, but by the dropping of any connecting particle.8. For by grace, &c.] The connexion of thought (“for”) is with the leading truth of Ephesians 2:4-7; the gratuitous “loving-kindness of the Lord” in the salvation of the Church. This, we have just read, will be the great future lesson of that salvation to the intelligent Universe; and this accordingly is re-stated here.

This important ver., and Ephesians 2:9, are rendered lit., For by grace ye have been saved, by means of faith; and that, not of you—God’s is the gift; not of works, that no one should boast. Here the main teaching is clear in itself, and clearer than ever as illustrated by e. g. Romans 3; Philippians 3. The salvation of the soul, and of the Church, is essentially and entirely a matter of sovereign Divine mercy in purpose and accomplishment. It is deliberately meant that no exception or reserve is to be made to that statement. But in detail, the verse presents a problem. Does it distinctly state that “faith” is the “gift of God,” or does it state, more generally, that “gratuitous salvation” is the “gift of God,” leaving it open whether the faith which accepts it is His gift or not? The question is largely occasioned by the construction of the Greek, in which “that” (neuter) does not agree with “faith” (feminine).—Many great expositors, Calvin at the head of them, accordingly take “that” to refer to the main previous idea, and “through faith” to be a separate inserted thought. Alford, who takes this view, states the case for it briefly and well. Nevertheless we recommend the other explanation, and for the following simple reason: the phrase “and that” (lit., “and this”) is familiar in N.T. Greek to introduce an addition of thought, enforcing or heightening what has gone before. See 1 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 6:8; “and that before the unbelievers;” “and that, your brethren;” Php 1:28; Hebrews 11:12, (A.V., “and him, &c.”). But if it here refers only to the general previous idea, gratuitous salvation, it is hard to see what new force of thought it adds to the words “by grace.” If on the other hand it refers to the last special statement, “through faith,” there is a real additional point in the assertion that even the act of believing is a gift of God; for thus precisely the one link in the process where the man might have thought he acted alone, and where therefore, in St Paul’s sense, he might claim to “boast,” is claimed for God. Let the clauses, “and that, not of you; God’s is the gift,” be taken as a parenthesis, and the point of the interpretation will be clear; while the Greek amply admits the arrangement.

That “faith” is a matter of Divine gift is clear from e. g. 2 Corinthians 4:13; Php 1:29. Not that a new faculty of trust is implanted, but gracious manifestations—of the soul’s need and the Saviour’s glory—prevail upon the will to choose to repose trust in the right Object. The “gift” of faith is but one phase of the Divine action which (Php 2:13) “worketh in us to will.” And it may be said to be one aspect of the “gift of repentance” (Acts 5:31; 2 Timothy 2:25), for repentance is no mere preliminary to faith; it is the whole complex “change of mind” which includes faith.

See Bp O’Brien’s Nature and Effects of Faith, Note I.Ephesians 2:8. Τῃχάριτι) τῇ has a relative meaning, in reference to Ephesians 2:5, χάριτι.—γὰρ, for) He does not say, therefore, but for, because he concludes [infers] from the effect to the cause.—διὰ τῆς πίστεως, by faith) which arises from the resurrection of Christ, chap. Ephesians 1:19,[23] [whence it is not at all mentioned in Ephesians 2:5, but for the first time in Ephesians 2:8. See Colossians 2:12.—V. g.] The antithesis is, not of works; an antithesis of the same kind as that between grace and boasting [“lest any man should boast”].—καὶ τοῦτο) and this, namely, believing, or faith, is not of yourselves. The antithesis is: this is the gift of God alone.

[23] Which passage implies, not merely that faith believes in Christ’s resurrection, but that also it is the same Spirit, which raised Jesus, which raises the spiritually dead and creates in them faith. Comp. “the power of the resurrection,” Php 3:10.—ED.Verse 8. - For by grace have ye been saved, through faith. He repeats what he had said parenthetically (ver. 5), in order to open the subject up more fully. On the part of God, salvation is by grace; on the part of man, it is through faith. It does not come to us by an involuntary act, as light falls on our eyes, sounds on our ears, or air enters our lungs. When we are so far enlightened as to understand about it, there must be a personal reception of salvation by us, and that is by faith. Faith at once believes the good news of a free salvation through Christ, and accepts Christ as the Savior. We commit ourselves to him, trust ourselves to him for that salvation of which he is the Author. In the act of thus entrusting ourselves to him for his salvation, we receive the benefit, and are saved. It is not that faith is accepted by God in place of works, but because faith indicates that attitude of men towards Christ in which it pleases God to save them, transferring to him all their guilt, imputing to them all his merit. And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Which of the two things is meant - salvation or faith? The grammatical structure and the analogy of the passage favor the former view, "Your salvation is not of yourselves," though many able men have taken the latter. The apostle is so anxious to bring out the great distinguishing doctrine of grace that he puts it in all lights, affirms it positively, contrasts it with its opposite, and emphasizes it by repetition. It is a gift, not a purchase; a free gift, without money and without price; what would never have been yours, but for the generosity of God. It is very usual in the New Testament thus to represent salvation; cf. our Lord's words to Nicodemus (John 3:16); to the woman of Samaria (John 4:14); St. Paul's "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15); "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23); and 1 John 5:11, "God gave unto us eternal life, and the life is in his Son." This usage confirms the view that it is not merely faith, but the whole work and person of Christ which faith receives, that is meant here as the "gift of God." For by grace, etc.

This may truly be called exceeding riches of grace, for ye are saved by grace. Grace has the article, the grace of God, in Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:7.

And that

Not faith, but the salvation.

Of God

Emphatic. Of God is it the gift.

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