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More Considerations on The Gift of God

Brent has selected the winner of the giveaway (and congratulations!), and making use of the opportunity, he inserted some thoughts on Ephesians 2:8 and 9. I thought that I might add some additional ideas along similar lines.

You already likely know the words faith and belief are synonyms, one being a noun form, the other a verb. With that in mind, Mark 16:16 states the following: “He who believes and is immersed will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

A question arises upon reading; will God punish men and women in Hell forever for not believing, when in order to have faith in the first place we must get it from Him through prayer?

Paul wrote “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17, NIV)

Then, is the faith that comes through hearing the word of Christ doled out to us by God or is it built up within as we come to understand what God desires for us?

What follows now are two different renderings of Ephesians two. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (NKJV). And “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God –” (RSV). Please note that the intent of the sentence is changed between the two versions based upon the wording.

The people who assemble texts, those who are not pushing a doctrine or agenda, usually display a high level of scholarship. And as Brent has mentioned previously, “words mean something.” Then let’s see what these two small words (italicized in the two versions of verse 8 listed) mean.

As noted, in older versions the conjunctive demonstrative that appears in the phrase, “and that is not of your own selves, it is the gift of God.” But, in virtually every newer translation and version, the word this appears instead, “…and this is not of your doing; it is the gift of God.” (ESV)

In this consideration Ephesians 2:8 appears to be one of those places where a simple change alters the intent of the passage, even if the wording was never intended to do so, or even if it has meant nothing much to the common reader. The HCSB does the same.

There are only two words that may be translated for the conjunctive demonstrative that out of Greek. Both use the convention for translation as is similarly found in English (or in any other language). We have listed this on the site previously. The demonstrative that refers to items removed while this refers to items near in proximity. By the way, for another of those blinding glimpses of the obvious, this is not the same word as that, either in Greek or English. If they meant the same thing, one could be dispensed with altogether.

But it seems where the older versions clearly identify grace as the gift of God, the newer ones identify faith in its place. Which is correct? The devil is and will always be in the details.

We should remind ourselves that no bit of scripture stands completely alone, and must be balanced along with any other similar passages. And you get to make up your own minds, of course. But as I understand the scriptures, unmerited favor is God’s gift to everyone who will make use of it; and my faith is what allows me to do so.

We must be careful in what we accept or assimilate, whether new or old, in this or in that. All versions need to be carefully studied and scrutinized.