Sunday, April 01, 2012

What is Not of Works?

I've been having a number of conversations about whether "faith" is the, or a, gift of God. It can be debated that if one reads Eph 2:8 in English that it seems to be saying that faith is the gift of God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
While I am settled on what I have come to understand, I sympathize with people with various other views. After some strong discussion with a dear Brother at the House Church my wife and I gather at,  and also after discussion with Brother Stephen here at the OMW blog I purchased a Greek Grammar by Daniel Wallace. His discussion of Ephesians 2 was most helpful to me, and pushed me on my own views. You can find more about that in the article Wallace on Ephesians 2:8-9.

The discussion came up again today at our assembly and as my wife and I drove home the verses were flowing through my mind. My mind kept returning to the fact that Paul didn't write in verses, and his sentence didn't end in what we now call Verse 8. It actually ends in Verse 9.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
I sympathize with people who struggle with what the "gift" is in this passage, really I do. However if I asked you the following question what would your answer be?

What is not of works in Eph 2? 

Is there any debate on this subject? Salvation is not of works is clearly Paul's point. He is not saying that Grace is not of Works, for Paul contrasts grace and works continually. He expects his audience to know that grace, or unmerited favor, cannot be of works. He refutes legalism, and "faith+" religions over and over again by showing that works negate grace. Is he saying that faith is not of works? Does that even make sense? No more sense then pointing out that grace is not of works.

At the end of verse 8 Paul says that "it is" the gift of God, and continues the thought into Verse 9 "it is" not of works. While I believe that the Greek shows that it cannot be that faith is the gift of God, while understanding there are other seemingly valid views, even in the English this passage shows that Paul is saying that Salvation is the gift of God, and that it is not of works. Just like we read in Rom 6:23.

When we answer the question "What is not of works in Eph 2?" we also get the answer to the question of what is the gift of God. The gift and what is not of works are one and the same singular concept of Salvation that is by grace and accessed through faith.

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