FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
EPHESIANS 2:8- #3 The Channel of Grace.
GIFT OF GOD, GENDER, AND ANTECEDENTS
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 “grammatical” gender 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 its “grammatical” 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
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)!
iv “GREEK NOUNS (Shorter Definitions).” http://www.ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/nouns1.htm.
v “Demonstrative pronouns are used to replace specific people or things that have been previously mentioned (or are understood from context).” http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/demonstrative_pronoun.htm
vi Chapter 4: Pronouns. “Englishman’s Greek.” http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/egreek/egreek04.htm.
vii “A pronoun should refer clearly to one,clear,unmistakable noun coming before the pronoun. This noun is called the pronoun’s antecedent.” https://webapps.towson.edu/ows/proref.htm
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.