Greek question related to Ephesians 2:8

Discussion in 'Languages' started by Edm, Jun 14, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    I know nothing about Greek and was in a debate with a person on the issue of faith being a gift Ephesians 2:8. His reply was:

    Ephesians 2:8, when you look at the Greek genitives, doesn't say that faith is a gift as the Calvinists do. The word "gift" is in the neuter, yet "grace" and "faith" is in the feminine, with "saved" in the masculine. For Paul to be communicating that faith is the gift, both words must be in the same genitive.

    What the gift really is in that verse is the entire statement of "saved by grace through faith" - that is the gift, not that God picks some out for salvation while denying it to the rest so they go to hell. He wishes for all men to be saved, but not all men will believe and receive the free gift. Also, in the majority of uses of "faith", the Greek word is in the active voice, meaning it is sourced with the believer and is not bestowed on them as would be the case in the passive voice.

    Then he goes on to say:
    The irony of your statement is that the same rules are applied by Calvinists to Matthew 16:18, where the Greek genitives indicate that Peter is not what Christ will build his church on, but the statement that "you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" - but when it refutes Calvinism, the rule doesn't apply.

    I know that there are many verses besides Ephesians that we can rely on, I also don't agree his argument about Matthew 16:18 .

    However, what is the Greek translation and rules that apply there?

    Thank you.
  2. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think you're understanding the arminian argument correctly. The issue is whether "this" from "this is not of yourselves" refers to the "faith" from the "saved by grace through faith." And the argument is that since the gender of the pronoun "this" (which can change) doesn't match "grace" (which cannot), therefore "this" cannot refer to "grace."
  3. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you. Please help me to understand what you just said. I admit that some things are over my head and need to be broken down to the smallest concepts.
  4. SlaveofChrist

    SlaveofChrist Puritan Board Freshman

    The neuter pronoun "this" may refer to the one of three things: the "grace", the verb "saved" the noun "faith". Some think it refers to "faith" or "grace" because it is the closest in context, but a Greek grammar problem makes this not very possible. The fact that the feminine nouns "faith" or "grace" do not match the neuter pronoun "this". Pronouns in Greek should agree with the the nouns they modify. Therefore "this" cannot refer to "faith" or grace" exclusively. Some want "this" to refer back to the verb "saved" but again the antecedent would be a masculine participle. Since the word "this" is neuter we have to conclude that "this" refers back to the whole process of salvation that Paul just described. The process of being saved by grace through faith is ALL a gift from God. THIS whole package deal is not our own doing so as to eliminate human pride and boasting. Therefore grace is a gift from God, being saved is a gift from God, and faith is a gift from God. All of these parts fall under the neuter pronoun "this".
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • List
  5. SlaveofChrist

    SlaveofChrist Puritan Board Freshman

    I was just talking to my brother about this verse yesterday, so it is very fresh in my mind.
  6. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you.
  7. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Recommend: if someone you're interacting with goes into an area that you are not competent to engage, then step back. I also don't think you should take some advice you get here, and try to use it like a new weapon. It may be that your opposite doesn't have any greater skill than you in the original (his comments certainly do not indicate great familiarity). But you shouldn't represent (nor should he) as if you had it.

    Now, for his comments and your questions:

    Matthew has summed up the basic issues of the syntax. Paul's use of the neuter indicates his comprehensive regard for the gift. It is ALL the business of salvation, and that would include (not exclude) the faculty of saving faith. In a single word the apostle envelops all the prior expressions (regardless of linguistic gender): "this."

    The commentator gets this correct, but draws quite a bland conclusion. He doesn't regard all the individual elements within the gift as necessarily "gift." Kind of like, if I came over to the girl's house to take her on a date, carrying a little gift from the store, and swiped a few daisies from her flower bed, rang the doorbell. And she answers, and I present myself for the date, with the things in my hand all together like a "package" gift. Yea, the flowers too, even though they were there on her walkway.

    Except, faith is also a true gift, and not something God picks up on our walkway. See Php.1:29, "to you it has been granted (gifted)... to believe in him." Its all a gift, and nothing original with us.

    Of course, faith that we exercise is what we do. In that sense it is "sourced" in us. That's no answer to the question of where the capacity for such faith comes from in the first place. Is it a common ability, the power of every person on earth?
    Jn.8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

    Jn14:17 even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him:

    1Cor.2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.​

    Spiritual comprehension is not a natural possession. If it was, then by a proper exercise of it under the presentation of the truth some man would be a believer. And the unbeliever would be him that used not his instrument aright.

    Not only would the believer have something to boast about (contrary to Rom.4:2); it also flies in the face of 1Cor.4:7, "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"

    Paul regards the least thing of spiritual value as a gift from God, and nothing to boast about.

    As for Mt.16:18, since we aren't obviating rules of grammar in Eph.2:8-9, we can hardly be said to be switching our commitment in the latter.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Edifying Edifying x 1
    • List
  8. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your in-depth reply and advice. I have ended the conversation actually before I posted this. My reply was that I knew nothing of Greek and really thought that he was pulling from websites also and by doing that neither one of us would solve any of these questions. I said that if he was fact fluent in Greek and I was not I would be a fool to try to debate this and so I would not continue the conversation
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Here is how John Gill handled this question.
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  10. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    I think a better case can be made by looking at the structure of vv. 8-9
    Saved by grace through faith:
    (a) this is not from yourselves
    (b) it is a gift from God
    (a) not from works
    (b) lest anyone boasts.

    I think the structure indicates in the 'a' phrases that "this" refers to faith being distinct from "works" where the 'b' phrases focus on the grace component removing boasting.

    So I take "this" back to "faith" not for grammar reasons (though some have tried) but for syntactical and structural reasons.
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    The Apostle Paul would then be stating to us that the entire salvation package would be the gift of God towards to us now to be saved in Christ Jesus.
  12. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    No. I was saying that "this" specifically refers to "faith" based on the structural and syntactical argument. It is pretty clear when you see the parallel words and phrases in the Greek.
  13. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Would not Paul be saying then here that both the faith that we exercise towards Jesus and the resultant salvation are the gifts to us from God? We do not have inherit faith in us apart from God to believe unto jests?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  14. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    My point is only that I believe "this" does in fact go back to "faith" based on structural and syntactical reasons. That is all. So what is not of yourselves? Faith!
  15. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Faith is a gift from God unto us, in order to be able to receive Jesus and be redeemed.
  16. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    Does this debate have anything to do with Jess Morrell?
  17. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Who is that?
  18. Edm

    Edm Puritan Board Freshman

    My debate didnt. It was on another board.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page