Ephesians 2.8-10

8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως·
[8] For by grace you are saved through faith.

καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν,
This is not because of you,

θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·
rather, a gift from God,

9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων,
[9] not because of works,

ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.
that no one can boast.

10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα,
10] For we are made by God,

κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς
created through Christ Jesus for good works,

οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός,
which God prepared beforehand

ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν.
so that we might walk in them.

The syntax in these three verses is infinitely simpler than much of the letter. We see an independent main clause in eight with several other independent nominal clauses following. This structure is not readily apparent in most translations so I thought I would bring it out since. Notice that the three clauses have extremely similar form. And each of them ends with a ον/ων. While these two ending look different in Greek orthography, historically, they were pronounced exactly the same. you may have noticed that the first of these three clauses has a και but I have not translated it. The following clause is an instance of anacoluthon. The lack of a conjunction would emphasize the contrast between the clauses. This is better done in English by supplying a conjunction, especially, as I did, a less commonly used conjunction.

καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν,
This is not because of you,

θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·
rather, a gift from God,

9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων,
[9] not because of works,

One possible reason for this structure is that it would draw the reader/hearer’s attention. Look at the two complete clauses (i.e. non-elliptical) which frame this verbless rhythmic section:

8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως·
[8] For by grace you are saved through faith

ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.
that no one can boast.

Here are Paul’s two points in Ephesians 2.8-9. You are saved by grace through faith. You cannot boast about it (please don’t think that I’m suggesting that the ἵνα is dependent upon the first clause of verse 8).

The γάρ in verse 10 is functioning to give further reason for our inability to boast as believers. God made us. I think that many might have a problem with my translation here of the next clause, “created through Christ Jesus.” Some people see the phrase as dealing with the concept of “union with Christ,” which I will deal with in a later post so that this structural discussion does not grow too long.

Anyway, as seen in other places and also through out this book, Christ is the mediator between God and man even in Creation. This is also seen very well in 2.13.

So in this verse we have God the Father creating the Ephesians through Christ for good works. These works are also prepared by the Father. This clause is connected by a relative pronoun. Finally, for the purpose that believers (here specifically Paul and the Ephesians) might walk in them. This an idiom for living and behaving.

I take issue with translations that translate this last clause as “to do.” Or something similar to that. I think the idiom transfers to English quite well and does not need to be removed, which is why here, I prefer the HCSB to the TNIV.

Reflections:

Walter Liefeld, in his Ephesians commentary, writes:

When I was a young Christian I acquired a pack of Bible verses to memorize. Among the first were Ephesians 2:8–9. I began quoting them in witnessing, but it took me years to realize that the omission of verse 10 was one reason I was having trouble persuading my morally sensitive friends that salvation is only by grace. The almost inevitable response was that if this is true, Christians can live as they please and still go to heaven. Romans 6:1 deals with this issue as well, but when we quote Ephesians 2:8–9 it should not be necessary to leave the Ephesian context, because verse 10 gives the needed corrective: we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Walter L. Liefeld, vol. 10, Ephesians (IVPNT; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1997), Eph 2:8.

It seems not much has change between his childhood and mine. I learned 2.8-9 outside of verse 10 as well. Recognizing the short somewhat pounding rhythm of Paul’s words in eight and nine helps drive his point home even more. These verses also at the moment are quite sobering. My wife and I are yet to find a church. During the service of one we visited this past Sunday, we as a congregation were informed that according to this pastor, “God can only love you as much as you love him.” But don’t worry, because he also told us, “God is lovable.”

Where is the grace in that church? My soul mourns and I pray for that body of believers. Loving God is our response to his love, his gift of grace to us. He loved us first.

2 thoughts on “Ephesians 2.8-10

  1. Hey Mike,

    Can you clarify the meaning of verse 8? I have heard it taught that faith is God’s gift. I have had minimal Greek, but I can shuffle through a rough translation and to me it looks ambiguous. If that’s true, then biblical consistency tells me the gift is grace. Any insights are appreciated. Thanks,

    -Anthony Delgado

    1. The challenge is the in the phrase:

      καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν,
      This is not because of you,

      The demonstrative τοῦτο is neuter and while we would expect the demonstrative to agree in gender with its antecedent, if you notice: neither χάριτί or πίστεως are neuter. Thus technically, τοῦτο cannot refer to either grace or faith.

      The explanation is then found in the face that neuter demonstrative are also used to refer to an entire event since an event cannot have gender. For that reason we must accept τοῦτο as referring to the entire clause:

      Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως·
      [8] For by grace you are saved through faith.

      On this account, we could paraphrase the entire section as:

      For grace saves you through faith. This salvation is a result of nothing you do. Rather, it is a gift from God–not human effort–which is why no one can boast.

      Salvation caused by grace by means of faith is the gift from God.

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