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Does Ephesians 2:8 Teach That Faith Is a Gift?

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Is faith a gift from God?

People will claim Paul taught that when he wrote:

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

When Paul writes, “this is not from yourselves,” people claim he’s referring back to “faith,” showing it is the gift of God. And that’s supposed to prove that the unregenerate are not able to believe in Jesus without God giving them the gift of faith first.

Are they right?

No, and here’s the simple reason why.

In Greek, words have grammatical gender. They can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. Here are our key terms in v 8:

  • pisteōs (faith) is feminine
  • touto (this) is neuter.

You’ll notice, then, that “this” and “faith” have different grammatical genders. If Paul had meant that “faith” was the gift, then “this” would have been feminine instead of neuter. Since they disagree, he was making a different point. What point?

In Greek, neuter is often used when a writer is referring to the whole antecedent phrase or clause. That’s what Paul means here. “This” doesn’t refer back to “faith” but to the clause, “For you are saved by grace through faith.” In other words, the whole process of salvation is a gift from God.

You can read all about it in Daniel B. Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pp. 333-35.

Don’t let anyone substitute the good news of salvation by grace with the bad news of salvation by arbitrary predestination.

Send your questions or comments to Shawn.


2 comments on “Does Ephesians 2:8 Teach That Faith Is a Gift?”

  1. Hello, I read the post about how faith is not a gift from God since if it was then God would obviously give the entire human race faith as a gift to be saved. With that being said would you assert that no one can come to faith except by the Holy Spirit drawing in that person, gently nudging them to the cross and convicting them of their sin? So in a way wouldnt it mean that having faith in Christ isnt a power or choice that we alone can make, the Holy Spirit is the one that works in us and gives us the capacity to obey the Gospel and have faith?

    Thank you for your time!

    1. Great question. Yes, there are several aspects to God's drawing people to faith. He is the initiator, putting a plan of salvation into action before anyone asked for one. And I believe the Holy Spirit works in the world, speaking through general revelation, through the laws written on the hearts, and most of all, through sending preachers to bring people to faith.

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