Is Faith a Gift in Eph.2?

Pastor Matt here with another Bible question and another blog…


Recently I was asked:

“Our home group is still reading together the blog you recently posted on 2 Samuel 12 regarding changing God’s mind. It is excellent! Thanks! I have another question. I know that faith comes from God, but Ephesians 2:8&9 which says “ for by grace you have been save through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”. The word that doesn’t seem to refer directly to faith but the salvation we receive by faith. This salvation is a gift of God and not a result of our works. I frequently hear you and Tony referring to that the faith is a gift of God in this verse and not the salvation?  It may be true that faith is a gift of God, but this verse doesn’t exactly say that? There must be other verses that one can use to say that faith is a gift of God in the Bible? Am I wrong?”


Here's my response….


Hey beloved DRC Community Group! Thanks for reaching out with another Bible question and thanks for giving me permission to turn this into a blog post so others can benefit, especially if there are others wondering the same thing. After you read through the explanation make sure to check out the endnotes because they have beneficial supplemental material. Now, on to the question(s)…

For starters, yes there are other places in the Bible that one could go to that unpack the wondrous and gracious biblical teaching that faith is a gift from God. That said, I would insist that Ephesians 2:8-9 is among them in showing us that faith is indeed a gift from God to us. Hence, I would say that those who deny Ephesians 2 teaches us that faith is a gift would be mistaken.  Further, on a pastoral note I want to say that this mistake—especially if other verses that teach this theological concept of faith as God’s gift to us are also mistook or worse denied—is a grievous error worth cautioning, for it can lead into great soteriological problems in one’s understanding of their salvation, worship, and Christian life.

Before considering soteriology (the study of salvation) and implications from it for our worship/life, we need to do exegesis. We need to read the sacred text carefully and then build our theology from it and connect it to other carefully studied sections of Scripture that speak of our salvation, so that we understand not only the verses in context but also the bigger picture of what the triune God has done for His people in saving them and in our response as we worship Him and live for Him. Okay, so then before digging into the text, let’s start by simply reading and looking at the verses in question:

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NASB)

“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Having freshly read these verses, look closely at the phrase “it is the gift of God.” Here the question is raised, that is, what is the “it is” in reference to? Well, this is where it can get tricky for Bible readers who cannot read the original manuscripts written in Koine Greek, which is what is used to translate from for our English Bibles. To be clear, English speakers/readers do not have to learn dead languages to understand the Bible, because we have really good English options that get at the original meaning of the text: however, in some minor and small areas (like this question in Ephesians 2) it does really help to have the ability to read Koine Greek, but have no fear this is why churches have pastors who study this stuff so they can “equip the saints” (Eph. 4:12) and that’s why I am writing this blog-post. Okay, so in the case of this “it is” we have in our English Bibles, it is worth noting upfront that there is no “it is” in the original text.

Translators add “it is” to the verse (Eph. 2:8) in English translations, for sake of reading in our language. This is a common phenomenon when translating from one language to another, that is, you have to add filler words when translating so it doesn’t break grammar rules in the translated language and is understandable. This is one of the things that I love about the NASB English translation, because when it comes to supplying filler words that are not word-for-word translations from the original they italicize the English words so the reader knows. I find this very helpful, especially for those who cannot work with the original manuscripts themselves or are in churches that do not have pastors who can. All of that said, for the English reader who is unaware of this, the question is still a legitimate one, namely what is the “it is” in reference to.

In terms of linguistic options for the referent of “it is,” there are two possibilities and hence two basic camps on the matter. First, there are those who think the “it is” refers to salvation itself rather broadly speaking as the gift. Second, others contend that the “it is” concerns faith itself specifically which is the catalyst of salvation through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit via the preaching of the gospel. So then, is the “it is” about one’s salvation (getting saved) or is it about God giving the unbeliever faith as a gift which then God uses to save him/her?[1] I personally am convinced of the latter position, which goes back in church history to such intellectual giants as Augustine and more, continuing today among Greek scholars and theologians.[2] On this point, the great intellectual and church leader Dr. Abraham Kuyper (1837 –1920) observed:

Nearly all the church fathers and almost all the theologians eminent for Greek scholarship judged that the words “it is the gift of God” refer to faith.

  1. This was the exegesis, according to the ancient tradition, of the churches in which St. Paul had labored.
  2. Of those that spoke the Greek language and were familiar with the peculiar Greek construction.
  3. Of the Latin church fathers, who maintained close contact with the Greek world.
  4. Of such scholars as Erasmus, Grotius, and others, who as philologists were without peers; and in them all the more remarkable, since personally they favored the exposition that faith is the work of man.
  5. Of Beza, Zanchius, Piscator, Voetius, Heidegger, and even of Wolf, Bengel, Estius, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius, etc., who to the present day maintain the original tradition.

… But recent discoveries [here Kuyper is going after liberal European academics teaching in universities and undermining core doctrines of the Reformation] may have upset this ancient exegesis. If the modern expositors of Utrecht, Gröningen, and Leyden, who make a hobby of this modern exegesis, will therefore show us this recent discovery, we will give them an attentive hearing. But they fail to do this. On the contrary, they say: “The matter is settled, and so plain that even a tyro in Greek can see it.” And by saying this, they judge themselves. For brains incomparably superior, such as Erasmus and Hugo Grotius, knew so much of Greek that they were at least acquainted with the Greek rudiments. And we may venture to say that all the Greek scholarship now lodged in the brains of our exegetes at the universities just named would not half fill the cup which Erasmus and Grotius together filled to the brim. Wherefore we confidently maintain the traditional exegesis. …Undoubtedly every man has a right to his own opinion and to reject the traditional exegesis. Moreover, in Phil. i. 23, it is distinctly stated that faith is gift of God. But we protest against the shallowness and artlessness of men who in their ignorance pose as scholars, and make it appear as tho even a tyro in Greek, if he be only an honest man, could not support the opposite opinion for a moment. For this is inexcusable in one who presumes to pronounce judgment upon another who knows what he is talking about… It is of vital interest that the exercise of faith and the faculty of faith be no longer confounded, and that it be acknowledged the latter may be present without the former. Otherwise there will be a complete deviation from the line of the Scripture, which is also that of the Reformed churches. It will make salvation dependent upon the exercise of faith, i.e., upon the act of accepting Christ and all His benefits; and since this act is an act, not of God, but of man, we imperceptibly lose our way in the waters of Arminianism.

Hence everything depends upon the correct understanding of Ephes. ii. 8. For faith is not the act of believing, but the mere possession of faith, even of faith in the germ. He that possesses that germ or faculty of faith, and who at God’s time will also exercise faith, is saved, saved by grace, for to him was imparted the gift of God.[3]

Sorry for the long quote above and hopefully it did not lose you. The simple point is that the understanding of ‘faith as the gift’ that God gives to us as found in Ephesians 2:8 is one that has been held throughout the history of the church and by the greatest scholars in the Greek, including those like Erasmus and Grotius (as Kuyper noted in the above quote) whose philosophy and theology were dead set against the idea itself of such a divine gift, preferring the understandings of Arminianism and the Counter Reformation (Remonstrants) concerning the freedom of the human will and man’s ability to choose God for him/herself. Anyway, the point at hand is that understanding ‘faith as the gift’ that comes from God is a historic view and it is often denied not because of the Greek, but rather because of theological/philosophical bias and/or presuppositions related to one’s views about who saved them (God alone as a divine monergistic work, or man, or some kind of synergistic thing where humans meet God half-way) and further how God saved them (monergistically by His doing in giving us faith or through man’s doing in mustering up his own faith within himself, perhaps even with some synergistic help from God to those humans that have enough of their own faith).

Okay, let’s get back to the Greek text ourselves and return to this “it is” that we add to our English text. So, the options again are that it refers to ‘faith as the gift’ or to salvation broadly speaking. Concerning these two options, let me say that I don’t see ‘faith as the gift itself’ as incompatible with the other position, barring that one does not use it to deny monergism nor to sneak in synergistic doctrines about humans initiating their faith. It seems to me that faith being a gift and God saving a sinner are NOT mutually exclusive notions, rather they are wonderful blessings that God graciously gives to those He chooses to save, which according to Ephesians was a choice God made “before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4).[4] In other words, the “it is” can be saying God gave us a gift of faith which He uses to save us—speaking broadly to our salvation as well—by His grace through the gospel of Jesus our Savior.[5] This makes perfect sense to me and more importantly it is supported by the original language and exegesis of the verses.[6]

All of that said, allow me to get into the linguistics of these verses to provide some more exegesis and explanation in support of the historic understanding that Ephesians 2 is teaching faith is a gift from God to the unbeliever.[7] Okay, so, as noted above, there is not an “it is” in the original text. That said our supplying of it (“it is”) in English is warranted because the “it is” is contained in the meaning of the original language. This raises the question of where in the original do we find support for adding “it is”? Well, there is a demonstrative pronoun in original Greek τοῦτο that is used in verse 8, which is translated in the NASB (also KJV and NKJV) as “that” but can also be rendered as “this” (which ESV, NET, CSV, NIV, NRSV).[8] In translation, the “it is” is rightly added to our English because of this “this/that” here in this word τοῦτο. So then, we are told that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith and that/this [is] not of yourselves [it is] the gift of God.” Notice the brackets in that last sentence I supplied which show what we insert in translation so the text is readable in our language, otherwise it would not be a proper sentence. In fact, let me show you what it would read like by translating the text word-for-word into English so you can see what I am talking about.

Keep Ephesians 2:8 in front of you in English noting its readability and now let me give you a word-for-word treatment of the verse and do keep in mind that word order in Koine Greek does not operate the way it does in English words or phrases (i.e., subject + verb + object). That said, there are 15 words in the Greek which I will translate below from the Greek order into 15 English words or phrases and notice I will use dashes [-] when I translate one Greek word that requires several words in English as a phrase to get the original meaning. Okay, here we go:

“The for grace ya’ll-are ones-having-been-saved through the faith and this not out of-ya’ll of-God the gift.”

As you can see from this word-for-word literal translation it is simply not how we talk in English. In fact, this translation could further confuse our original question because it makes the gift sound like it is God Himself as opposed to faith, grace, or salvation (which by the way, I do believe God is the greatest gift of our salvation, that is, being reconciled to the Father, being in union with Christ, and being indwelt by the Spirit—what an amazing gift!). Now, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the language talk here, just keep following my line of reasoning as I promise to land the plane with a clear rationale for the historic understanding of seeing faith as the gift we receive from God and hopefully to show you its significance for our worship and life. Bear with me however for just a little more language stuff.

Okay, so I shared with you about τοῦτο, specifically that it means “this/that.” Well, the nearest noun to this “this” is faith, so in the original it seems best to connect the “this” to “faith” making it the “it is.” Those who do not like the idea of faith as a gift object to this because the word faith (πίστεως) which is a noun is in the feminine form. By the way, this is another thing we miss as English readers because we do not gender our language like the ancients and even modern languages like Spanish. Anyway, so the objection is that “faith” is feminine so it cannot be connected to τοῦτο (this/that) because it is not feminine. If this is the case, then “grace” would also be ruled out as a referent because it too is feminine. Therefore—according to the objector—it is best not to read the “it is” in reference to faith or grace as a gift from God because the genders don’t match and hence—according to this position—it is best to read the gift as salvation broadly in general. While this is certainly possible, it is not necessary and hence the historic view for faith as the gift still stands up. There simply is not a good argument against the Greek text saying faith is a gift from God.

Concerning the above objection about gender, Greek scholars are right to reply that it is unnecessary to demand the genders match in the Greek all of the time. As Kuyper has noted, “Very common is the use of a neuter demonstrative pronoun to indicate an antecedent substantive of masculine or of feminine gender when the idea conveyed by that substantive is referred to in a general sense” (Kuyper, A., Sr., De Gemeene Gratie).[9] We can see this in the New Testament. For example, in Philippians 1:28 we see τοῦτο in neuter form attaching to “salvation” (σωτηρίας) in the feminine (“…σωτηρίας[fem.] ...τοῦτο[neut.]...”). Additionally, another answer to this gender argument against faith as the gift is to pose that Paul is referring not to the noun faith but to the activity of faith within the one God saves as His gift, as MacArthur argues, “Some have objected to this interpretation, saying that faith (pistis) is feminine, while that (touto) is neuter. That poses no problem, however, as long as it is understood that that does not refer precisely to the noun faith but to the act of believing.”[10]

While possible, we need not make this MacArthur move from the noun of faith to its activity, because as I have already shown the gender match objection does not stand to scrutiny. That said, MacArthur’s emphasis on the act of believing is not mutually exclusive to the noun faith, so these can work together in harmony with the text. In other words, this could be a both-and (faith and faithing, or belief and believing) as opposed to an either-or. In any case, MacArthur is spot-on in saying, “Our response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves [but is] the gift of God. Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources. In the first place we do not have adequate power or resources. More than that, God would not want us to rely on them even if we had them. Otherwise salvation would be in part by our own works, and we would have some ground to boast in ourselves. Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from God’s giving it.”[11] Amen!

Notice in this last quote from MacArthur how he moves from exegesis to theology. Likewise, at this point in the blog we should to. Once a text is read in context and the language issues have been examined, we always want to move to theology and for help with this I will take you to the great theologian Dr. Charles Hodge. “What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation or faith?”[12] asked Dr. Hodge. In response, he wrote about the two options covered in this blog, namely “They may relate to faith or to have been saved,”[13] and then he persuasively moves to textually and theological contends for the faith-gift option. Here is his biblical reasoning:

“The reasons in favor of the former interpretation are:

  1. It fits the purpose of the passage best. The apostle’s aim is to show the free nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, “You are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves—it is the gift of God.”
  2. The other interpretation makes a tautology in the passage. To say, “You are saved by faith, not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God, it is not of works” is saying the same thing over and over again without making any progress. Whereas to say, “You are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God), not of works” is not repetitious; the clause in parentheses, instead of being redundant, has a part to play and greatly increases the force of the passage.[14]
  3. According to this interpretation, the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved: “You are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.” The middle clause of the verse is therefore a parenthesis and does not refer to the main idea (you … saved), but to the subordinate one (through faith), and aims to show how salvation is entirely of grace, since even faith, by which we understand the offered mercy, is the gift of God.
  4. The analogy of Scripture favors this view of the passage, in that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God (1 Corinthians 1:26–31; Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 2:12).”[15]

Hodge handles Ephesians 2:8 very well and his move at the end in point 4 correlating the verse with other passages to build a theology of faith is excellent.

The key theological gem in all of this is for us to see as Westcott and Schulhof have noted “this saving energy of faith is not of yourselves: it is a gift, and the gift is GOD’S.”[16] This is huge for our worship of God as we are humbled by Ephesians 2 in seeing that our faith is a gift. This is what Jesus taught us that salvation is not something we birthed, but rather that we have been born again by the Spirit (John 3:3) who washes us and gives us what we otherwise would not have, that is, repentance and faith (Titus 3:5-6). Faith and repentance (two sides of one coin) are given or granted to us by God (2 Tim.2:21). This humbles our worship and gives us every reason to sing loud and joyfully when we gather. Look at what God has done! Not only did God give us Himself in Jesus and provide for us the gospel, He also gave us the gift of faith so that we would believe it (the gospel) and Him (the triune God). If faith is not included in God’s gift to sinners, no one would ever be saved because as the author Ephesians tells us in Romans (citing Psalm 14 and 53), “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11). Faith then cannot be something we come to understand on own while we are seeking God and then if we really make ourselves believe God then He will in turn save us. If faith is our doing, then salvation loses its rightful designation as gift, and instead it would something we earned or a kind of reward we obtained.

Concerning Ephesians 2 there are those deny the historic view of faith being this gift from God and they reduce it to something man musters himself within. They see faith as something dead sinners (“you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” Eph 2:1) need to will within themselves to do. Never mind that dead people don’t will things nor make decisions, but this simply is not what Ephesians 2 can allow for. The chapter starts by telling us we are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1) and then moves to say “But God” (v.4), going on to describe what He has done for His people by His grace. Even if one denies faith as the gift of God, verse 8 still insists that it is “not of yourselves.” Therefore, the faith in discussion in verse 8 cannot be something that comes from within dead human souls.

Even though the Bible is clear on faith coming from God for our salvation, men will insist otherwise with this humanist, Arminian, and/or synergistic claim that faith is not a gift and instead it is something we must do within ourselves. For example, in his commentary on Ephesians the late theologian James Smith Candlish (1835–1897) wrote, “Faith indeed is required on our part, for God will not save us against our will.”[17] This flies in the face of what Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (Jn.15:16). You see salvation is not accomplished by the willing of humans, rather it is by the will of God. Because of this, salvation is a gift and thus by definition undeserved. If God required us to make ourselves trust Him or have faith before He would save us, then it would not be a gift. In spite of this clear biblical teaching, there are scholars who persist in missing the gift of Ephesians 2. For example, the great A.T. Robertson who wrote in his Ephesians commentary, “’Grace’ is God’s part, ‘faith’ ours. And that (και τουτο [kai touto]). Neuter, not feminine ταυτη [tautē], and so refers not to πιστις [pistis] (feminine) or to χαρις [charis] (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part.”[18]

My heart breaks seeing scholars like Robertson talk about “our part” in salvation as though God couldn’t save us by His own power, grace, and love. In reply to Robertson, Hendriksen and Kistemaker wrote, “Without any hesitancy I answer, Robertson, to whom the entire world of New Testament scholarship is heavily indebted, does not express himself felicitously in this instance. This is true first because in a context in which the apostle places such tremendous stress on the fact that from start to finish man owes his salvation to God, to him alone, it would have been very strange, indeed, for him to say, “Grace is God’s part, faith ours.”[19] Yes, strange indeed. It’s like the unbiblical adage that “God helps those who help themselves.” In this case, men who help themselves to faith will be helped by God, but this is not what the gospel of the New Testament teaches, not to mention the election of Israel in the Old Testament and the long record of undeserving and undesiring people that God saved in the past.

The Bible is very clear that faith is a gift from God. And experientially the biblical worshipper can feel the foreignness of their faith, that is, it’s not something we generated within ourselves—it’s foreign. It was something placed in us by God. On this note, it is worth sharing the experience of one of my favorite pastors from the past, J.C. Ryle (1816 –1900), who God saved by using the very verse we have been studying—Ephesians 2:8. If you haven’t heard of Ryle, he was an evangelical Anglican minister in Liverpool, England, who was mightily used by the Lord evangelize the lost and shepherd believers in the faith. As a young man Ryle was lost and then one day he stumbled into a church where an unknown person from the church was reading Ephesians 2. Den Rogers recounts,

In the autumn of 1837, while a student at Oxford, Ryle attended a Sunday morning worship service at a nearby parish church. The second lesson of the morning was taken from Ephesians 2. When the lector reached verse 8, he slowed down and made some unusual and emphatic pauses. He read: “For by grace – are ye saved – through faith – and that, not of yourselves – it is the gift of God.” The Word went home to his heart. Later in life Ryle could remember neither the name of the church nor the name of the reader, nor anything about the sermon preached that morning, but he never forgot that morning’s reading of Ephesians 2:8. It converted him. It became the theme of his ministry. It was so central to his life and work that he had it inscribed on his gravestone. You can see it today in the churchyard of All Saints, Childwall, in Liverpool.[20]

There is great theological danger in thinking faith is something we do, as opposed to a gift, or speaking of the “part” of dead sinners in the salvation that brings them life. E.K. Simpson comments:

Those who dispute this reading of the passage maintain that Paul is stressing the truth that salvation is the Lord’s handiwork. That is assuredly a main plank in the Gospel platform; but he has clenched that point already and is now driving home a cognate truth, namely that salvation is altogether of grace, not of works; for even the copula interlinking the believer with his Redeemer has been welded in heaven. Faith per se excludes all self-congratulation; for, as the sister-epistle reminds us (Col. 2:12), it is not a self-elicited volteface [that means an about-face], springing from some nisus of the will resolving, “I will believe”, but “of the operation of God”. We do not box the compass for ourselves. The soul’s lever is not reversed by a convulsive effort. If we breathe, it is because life has been breathed into us; if we exercise the hearing of faith it is because our ears have been unstopped. We are born from above. Spiritual life is not of the nature of a subsidy supplementing dogged exertion or ruthless self-flagellation, but a largess from the overflowing well-spring of divine compassion, lavished on a set of spiritual incapables.[21]

As it relates to our worship and daily lives, the reality of our faith coming directly from God as a gift helps to grow in our dependency and reliance of God. As we realize that our faith is alien to us we are drawn to greater awareness of our need for God and His gospel to empower us in repentance and faith. These rich doctrines of God’s grace call us to be like that man who came to Jesus and fell to his knees weeping, and saying, “help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). God is able and powerful to not only give us faith/belief, but also to mature us and grow in greater faith in Christ by the Spirit. Philippians 1:29 makes it clear that faith is alien to us in explaining, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” You see, God grants the faith to begin with and grows the believer in it with such power that even suffering will not derail our faith. All the credit, glory, praise, and thanks belong to God. This is wonderful news to those who have burned by religion and ritual, trying to do more and more in order to get faith and earn the favor of God. There is a foreign faith given freely by Jesus to the undeserving and undesiring that changes us deep within. My hope is that this short study on Ephesians 2 and the doctrine of faith as a gift will draw our church in greater joy and faithful witness of “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2).



[1] There is even a third option, but it is quite rare, that is, those who think the “it is” is in reference to grace, not to salvation or the gift of faith. As Barth observed, “Barth states, “The neuter pronoun ‘this’ may refer to one of three things: the ‘grace,’ the verb ‘saved,’ the noun ‘faith’” (Barth, Markus. Ephesians: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on Chapters 1–3 [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974], 225).

[2] Augustine, Enchiridion 31; On the Predestination of the Saints 12[2]

[3] Kuyper, Work of the Holy Spirit, 407-411. See

[4] Among those who think that the “it is” refers to salvation, there are some who agree with my position above that it can also include faith as a gift too. For example, Dr. F.F. Bruce writes, “It is probably best to understand “and this” as referring to salvation as a whole, not excluding the faith by which it is received” (F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984], 290). On this point of the compatibility of these two options, Dr. Sproul writes, “Although Greek scholars argue about which of these is the preferred rendition of the Greek text, theologically it really doesn’t matter. In both ways of reading that sentence, we have to come to the conclusion that faith is a gift of God” (R. C. Sproul, The Purpose of God: Ephesians [Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1994], 55).

[5] Something to note here about τοῦτο and my earlier comment that all views can be included. Greek scholar Dr. Daniel Wallace observes, "The neuter of οὗτος is routinely used to refer to a phrase or clause. In such cases, the thing referred to is not a specific noun or substantive" (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 333). In other words, the “this/that” is in reference to "the concept of a grace-by-faith salvation" (335). See also, Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 342–343.

[6] On this note, S. M. Baugh explains how τοῦτο can refer to salvation broadly and also the gift of faith and grace: “In Greek, events as a whole are treated as neuter singular things with neuter articles (e.g., το πιστευειν, “believing”), neuter relative pronouns (e.g., Eph. 5:5), or neuter demonstrative pronouns as in v. 8b (also, for example: 6:1; 1 Cor 6:6, 8; Phil 1:22, 28; Col 3:20; 1 Thess 5:18 and 1 Tim 2:1–3). Hence the antecedent of τοῦτο [“this”] is the whole event; “being saved by grace through faith.” One implication of this proper understanding of τοῦτο (“this”) is that all the components of the event are also referenced as originating not from human capacity or exertion but as God’s gift. This means that even the believer’s act of believing comes from God, as is said more explicitly by Paul elsewhere: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him (τὸ εἰς αὐτὸν πιστεύειν) but also suffer for his sake” (Phil 1:29)” (S. M. Baugh, Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Lexham Press, 2016), pp. 160-161).

[7] For a more thorough survey of the grammatical issues and history of interpretation, see Matt Olliffe, “Is Faith God's Gift? (10)  (Ephesians 2:8-9): The Grammatical Issues“

[8] See William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 740.

[9] This quote is from Hendriksen and Kistemaker who also note that, “The quotation is from the work of Kühnhert, Ausführliche Grammatik der Griech. sprache (Hanover, 1870), Vol. II, p. 54” (William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Ephesians, vol. 7, New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001], 289).

[10] John F. MacArthur Jr., Ephesians (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), 61.

[11] Ibid, 60–61.

[12] Charles Hodge, Ephesians, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 78.

[13] Ibid

[14] This argument of saying the same over and over was used also by the great Dr. A. Kuyper who wrote, “Dr. A. Kuyper states, “If the text read, ‘For by grace you have been saved, not of yourselves, it is the work of God,’ it would make some sense. But first to say, ‘By grace you have been saved,’ and then, as if it were something new, to add, ‘and this having been saved is not of yourselves,’ this does not run smoothly but jerks and jolts.… And while with that interpretation everything proceeds by fits and starts and becomes lame and redundant, all is excellent and meaningful when you follow the ancient interpreters of Jesus’ church” (quoted in Hendriksen and Kistemaker, 122–123).

[15] Charles Hodge, Ephesians, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 78–79.

[16] Brooke Foss Westcott and John Maurice Schulhof, eds., Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda, Classic Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909), 32.

[17] James S. Candlish, The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians with Introduction and Notes (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1895), 58.

[18] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Eph 2:8.

[19] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Ephesians, vol. 7, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 121.

[20] Ben Rogers, “Why Every Seminary Student Should Read J. C. Ryle,” SBTS Blog,

[21] E. K. Simpson, The Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1957), 55.