Lesson #3 Gift of God: Gender

EPHESIANS 2:8- #3 The Channel of Grace.


Ephesians 2:8,9 #3

8For by grace (Gr., charis) you have been saved, through the faith5 —and this not of yourselves, it is the gift (Gr., doron) of God— 9 not by works, so that no one may boast. (Wilbur Pickering’s New Testament).

This aricle includes excerpts from Grace, a Free Ride to Heaven? GRACE IS A GIFT Chapter 9


We have established that “grace” alone does not meet the test of proximity for it to be the antecedent for the “gift” in Ephesians 2:8. Also, it does not meet the test of being in the correct “gender.” “A Greek pronoun like in English must agree with its antecedent in number and gender.i Although the faith” meets the test of proximity, it does not meet the criterion of gender either.


The English language uses “natural gender.” In English there are at least three types of gender. English divides nouns and pronouns into the following genders: (1) masculine (identifies actual sexual gender of male), (2) feminine (identifies sexual gender of female), and (3) neuter (all other applications, except for generic words like teacher, child, human being, they, one, etc.). Pronouns match their antecedents: e.g., in English, “he, him, or his” for masculine; “she or her” for feminine; “it” for neuter.

Likewise, in NT Greek there are basically three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. The major difference with the English is that NT Greek uses what is called “formal” or “grammatical”ii gender. For example, in English we would say, "The girl went into the store and she (not him or it) bought groceries." The pronoun is "she" because the sentence is talking about a “natural” female. The antecedent is “girl.” In Greek it is similar but is precise with its “grammaticalgender for all things. All nouns have a specific gender, but contrary to English, even things (including concrete objects and abstract ideas) can be masculine, feminine, or neuter… For example, ‘the wall’ is masculine, ‘the door’ feminine, and ‘the floor’ neuter.’ iii Each would have its respective pronoun that reflects itsgrammatical” gender. We might compare this to the English nautical practice of referring to a boat or a ship as a “she.”

Example of Gender Identifying a Pronoun’s Antecedent

"And receive...the sword of the spirit which is the word of God"( Ephesians 6:17). “The word ‘sword’ in Greek is feminine gender and the word ‘spirit’ is neuter gender. So it is important in this sentence to find out what is the antecedent of the relative pronoun ‘which’. (i.e. What is the ‘which’ referring back to?) The word ‘which’ in this sentence is neuter, therefore it is referring back to the word ‘spirit’ and not ‘sword.’ Thus this sentence means: ‘And receive...the sword of the spirit which (spirit) is the word of God.’”iv

Grace” and Gender.

The “gift” is neuter gender in Greek and is identified by a demonstrative pronounv "that" (Gr., toutoG3778) which also is neuter gender in the Greek. Its antecedent MUST agree in this gender. However, we find that “grace” is not neuter but feminine. So “grace” cannot by itself be the antecedent.

The Faith” and Gender.

The “Faith” is likewise feminine. Therefore, “the faith” alone is the wrong gender to match and be the antecedent of the “gift of God” in this passage.

Salvation” and Gender.

Someone has declared that the antecedent is the noun “salvation.”vi However, there is no noun “salvation” in the text. Rather, it uses a verb: “are saved.” Verbs do not indicate gender and are not considered antecedents. Remember, even in English, the rule is that “a pronoun takes the place of a noun”vii and not a verb.

The Remaining Alternative.

An “antecedent” is “a word, phrase, or clause that is replaced by a pronoun or other substitute later.”viii The obvious answer is “that” (toutoG3778) refers to all of the initial clause; i.e.,By grace are ye saved through the faith.Many of the instances in the NT where the pronoun "touto" (“that”) is found refer to a previous concept. A few examples:

Verse toutoG3778 antecedent

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the sameG3778 is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4

the same”

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child”

Added yet thisG3778 above all, that he shut up John in prison.” Luke 3:20.


(postcedent) “he shut up John in prison.”

(Jesus commands Simon, 5:5) “And when they had thisG3778 done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.” Luke 5:6


Jesus’ directions to go out and how to catch fish.

She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had said this,G3778 she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is her, and calleth thee” (ASV). John 11:27, 28


Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this,G3778 he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. John 18:38


What is truth?”

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this,G3778 he fell asleep.” Acts 7:60


Lay not this sin to their charge.”

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and thatG3778 of God.” Philippians 1:28


which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation”

let us go on unto perfection;… And thisG3778 will we do, if God permit.” Hebrews 6:1, 3


let us go on unto perfection”

That the gift of God is God's plan of salvation cannot be successfully argued against. Salvation is by the grace of God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the grace of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, JUB).ix The KJV has “gift of God” but the Greek has a form of grace instead of “gift.”

Ephesians 2:8, however, tells us that God’s grace that saves is accessible in or through (dia) "the faith" (the body of faith). That makes sense because Paul preached "obedience to the faith" (Romans 1:5) which he identified as the gospel (1:16). Our faith is not just believing anything, it is to believe what is in the Word of God; i.e., what was preached by the apostles (Romans 10:17). Our faith must come from the hearing of the word of God; so says Paul in the context of grace in Romans (Romans 10:17)!





ivGREEK NOUNS (Shorter Definitions).”

vDemonstrative pronouns are used to replace specific people or things that have been previously mentioned (or are understood from context).”

vi Chapter 4: Pronouns. “Englishman’s Greek.”

viiA pronoun should refer clearly to one,clear,unmistakable noun coming before the pronoun. This noun is called the pronoun’s antecedent.”


ix The Jubilee Bible (from the Scriptures of the Reformation). edited by Russell M. Stendal. Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2010. Translated via Spanish into English and compared to KJV.

Related questions:

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Question:   Can we look for and find grace in God's sight?   Amazing Grace  
Question:   Didn't Jesus say that "believing" was a work?   Jesus: Believing is a Work 
Question:   What is the true definition of "grace"?   Meaning of Grace  
Question:   What difference does a "correct" definition of grace make? Consequences of false definitions"
Question:   What do we know about God's grace?   Facts of Bible 'Grace' 
Question:    Does Ephesians 2:8-10 prove that our salvation is totally a gift from God and we cannot do anything ourselves to be saved? On Gift of God