by Mike Ratliff
Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· (Ephesians 2:8 NA28)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift; (Ephesians 2:8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In our last two posts I have used audio clips from Biblical expositor and pastor Jim McClarty and Bible scholar and apologist Dr. James White both based on textual exegesis of the Greek text behind Ephesians 2:8. My translation of that passage is above. As I studied the Greek for myself, I read it first then translated it honestly, phrase by phrase in the context of the rest of Ephesians 2. It is obvious that to attempt to make it say something other than how I broke it down above is an attempt to force something onto the text to make it say something that it does not. It is a very simple declarative statement by the Apostle Paul proclaiming to believers from where their salvation came.
Opponents of this teaching will say things like, “there isn’t even a ‘shred of evidence’ from anywhere else in the Bible that faith is a gift from God. This reminds me of those who contend against the deity of Christ saying things like, “Nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus say he is God nor did he command anyone to ever fall down and worship him.” This is an argument from silence and is always weak and is one of the evidences of a “failed argument.”
I am convinced that Ephesians 2:8 does teach that saving faith is a gift from God to those who are dead in trespasses and sins as Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:1. Here is my translation of Ephesians 2:1-10 from the NA28.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked according the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, 7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift; 9 not by works lest any should boast. 10 For we are his masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Saving faith must be a gift from God because those dead in their trespasses and sins are incapable of obeying God or doing anything to please God. Therefore it is necessary for all whom God is going to save to regenerate them first. I will simply list many verses below from the ESV that I believe teach what we are talking about.
 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, (2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV)
 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29 ESV)
 And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, (Acts 18:27 ESV)
[12:1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17 ESV)
 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48 ESV)
 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)
 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)
Is it true, then, that there is not a “shred of evidence” in God’s Word that saving faith is gift from God? These verses clearly establish the claim that faith is, in fact, an undeserved, and unconditional gift from our Lord. What puzzles me is what, then, is the motive for seeking to promote a synergistic view of saving faith. It would have to be that men are seeking to produce some sort of merit in order for God to choose us wouldn’t it? Would this not then change what God’s Word obviously says from him unconditionally electing to rather foreseeing who has faith and then he chooses them upon a condition? Wouldn’t this be totally unbiblical according to Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is god’s gift; not by works lest any should boast.”? The changing of faith from a gift from God to something man does in order to be chosen by God makes salvation a work by man leaving it entirely in his hands, not God’s.
This is more than a doctrinal disagreement. This determines how ministries approach how evangelism is done. It changes how individual Christians share their faith with the lost. My brethren, we have got to get this right. That is why I have spent so much time on this topic.
Soli Deo Gloria!