What is “that”?

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

JP: Interesting article on Ephesians 2:8-9.

What is “that”?


Some say that the gift is “faith” while others say it is “grace” and still others say it is “salvation.” What may be a point of dispute from the reading of the English translations becomes settled when looking into the original Greek text.

Putting it in terms we can hopefully all understand, the Greek word for “that” is transliterated into English as touto and is in a neuter form. The way to determine what it refers to is to look for the other neuter in the immediate context. That’s how the issue would normally be resolved, except that in this particular case, there isn’t one. “Grace” is feminine; “have been saved” is masculine, and “faith” is also in a feminine form. In this case then, what the “that” refers to is all in the preceding clause. The grace, the salvation and the faith – all of these things – is the gift of God.

Paul is making it clear that nothing in our salvation has its origin in man. Salvation, grace and faith – all of this is the gift of God. Because of this, human boasting is not merely discouraged, or kept to a minimum, it is completely eliminated. The grace by which we are saved and the faith that is the mechanism through which we receive it – yes, even this faith – is the gift of God (see also Phil. 1:29).

With Scripture alone as our firm foundation we affirm that justification is by grace alone, received through faith alone, because of Christ alone, all to the glory of God alone.

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