RE: Eph. 2:8

From: S. M. Baugh (
Date: Fri Mar 21 1997 - 11:08:57 EST

William Dicks wrote:
>I'm busy reading through Ephesians. I am not a Greek expert. I
>finished Greek at college in 1986. I did well but since leaving
>college I haven't kept up my Greek. However, in Eph. 2:8 it tells us
>about the gift of God. Does it refer to salvation(I think so) or to
>the faith mentioned?

Hi William,

I think there are two options both hanging on how you interpret TOUTO:

(1) TOUTO points to and agrees in its parsing with DWRON (both neuter
nom. sing.). It is like a postcedent (rather than an antecedent) with
relative pronouns. Paraphrase: "and this (gift) is not from you, it is a
gift from God" (QEOU as a genitive of source). Now the question is,
"What gift?" Some people may take the gift as PISTEWS merely because it
is closest. [See Phil. 1:29 for an unambiguous statement that
faith--PISTEUEIN--is a divine gift.] However, it may also be that the
whole event in Eph. 2:8a is the gift: 'salvation by grace through faith'
is God's gift. Now we go to option #2.

(2) In Greek, predications (statements) are viewed grammatically as
neuter singualar "things." This is evident when a hOTI clause (or an
infinitive clause) is used as the subject in a predicate statement with
an adjective as the corresponding predicate; the adjective is neuter
singular. For instance, Gal. 3:11 has a OTI ("that") clause as the
subject and neut. sing. DHLON ("clear" "evident") as predicate: "*That*
no one is justified by the law before God (is) *clear*." (DHLON is used
quite often in Greek writers in this expression.)

So then, TOUTO may point not to DWRON but to the statement of 2:8a which
is grammatically conceived as neuter singular. Hence we end up with the
same interpretation possible under #1; Paraphrase: "For by grace you
have been saved through faith--and this grace-faith-salvation did not
originate from you, it comes as a gift from God." While it is possible
to view the verb ("you have been saved") as technically the neuter
singular "thing," it still is qualified in this context by grace and
faith and so can not be abstracted out from these elements.

Interpretation #2 is my preference, even though #1 is plausible.

Yours cariti (by grace!),

S. M. Baugh
New Testament
Westminster Theological Seminary
1725 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027

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