Post 4 discussed the fundamental principle that Scripture displays unity, harmony, ad consistency. See ARTICLE XVII of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics. ARTICLE XVII means that one passage of Scripture will not contradict itself over the issue of whether water baptism is essential to salvation. Passages that clearly teach salvation by faith and not by works significantly impact any exegesis of the passages commonly cited in support of baptismal regeneration.
Posts 7 through 12 look at two passages that clearly teach salvation is by faith and not by works. The first passage is Ephesians 2:8–9 (NASB95), which reads:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works [ergon], so that no one may boast.
The second passage is Titus 3:4–7 (NASB95), which reads:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds [ergon] which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
In Ephesians 2:9, the NASB95 translates the Greek noun ergon as “works.” In Titus 3:5, the NASB95 translates the Greek noun ergon as “deeds.”
As a predicate to my exegesis of Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:4-7, Post 7 looks at the definitions of ergon. Post 8 considers if water baptism falls within the scope of ergon in the context of comprising “works” or “deeds.”
According to the BDAG lexicon, ergon means “that which displays itself in activity of any kind, deed, action … deed, accomplishment … of the deeds of humans, exhibiting a consistent moral character, referred to collectively as τὰ ἔργα.” See Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 390). University of Chicago Press. Louw et al. define ergon as, “42.42 ἔργονb, ου n: that which one normally does—‘work, task.” See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 514). United Bible Societies.
Exemplary definitions from The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (2013) by F. Montanari include action, deed, act. work, activity, labor, and task. See p. 815 of Brill.
The “Little Kittel” theological dictionary teaches that ergon includes works of righteousness:
Paul’s doctrine of the unrighteousness of all human works does not rest merely on the Hellenistic disparagement of work, for it applies even to works that Jewish piety views favorably, e.g., cultic works, or works in fulfilment of the law which form the basis of moral achievement and which may be performed even without the written law, such as the works of Abraham (Jn. 8:39), or works of the law that is written on the heart either in the future age (Jer. 31:33) or in the case of the Gentiles (Rom. 2:15).
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (p. 253). W.B. Eerdmans.
In reference to Ephesians 2:9, one translation handbook reads:
“Not from works” is a restatement of the phrase in verse 8 “and this (is) not from you.” TEV has restructured this passage in such a way that these two phrases have been combined: It is not the result of your own efforts.
Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (p. 47). United Bible Societies. Emphasis added.
Another commentator comments on Ephesians 2:9:
Ver. 9 takes up the negative side again: not of works, οὐκἐξἔργων, used by Paul repeatedly (Rom. 3:20; 4:2; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; 3:2; 5:4; Tit. 3:5). Without the article, because in this respect there are no saving, meritorious works; it is God who rescues, and He is determined thereto by no works or virtues of men.
Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Braune, K., & Riddle, M. B. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures (p. 80). Logos Bible Software. Emphasis added.
In reference to Titus 3:5, one commentator points out that even righteous works do not save:
5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done (οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων τῶν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν). Lit. not by works, those namely in righteousness, which we did. The thought is entirely Pauline.
Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 4, pp. 348–349). Charles Scribner’s Sons.
In summary, it is biblical to say that any human physical activity falls within the scope of the Greek noun ergon.
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my book The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
… please (1) read through “God’s Plan of Salvation” so you can understand what God did for you through His only unique Son, Jesus Christ, and (2), from the bottom of your heart, pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” meaning every word. If you do, you will be reconciled to God – saved – through Jesus Christ.
God’s Plan of Salvation
In the beginning, God, who is holy, created the entire universe. As a part of His creative actions, He made humans in His image to know Him. For a while, everything was right between God and our ancestors, Adam and Eve. But Adam sinned, and his sin was passed down to all of humankind whereby we became separated from God. Nothing we could do on our own could bridge that separation so that without God’s intervention, hell would be our eternal destination.
Fortunately for us, in His great love and mercy God provided humankind with the only means of salvation, which is through Jesus Christ who is God’s only unique Son. While retaining His deity, God the Son became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law Himself and taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever repent and trust in Him for their salvation. Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and trust alone in what Christ did to save us.
If we repent of our sins and completely trust in Christ alone that He died for our sins and rose to life from the dead, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.
Scripture References: Genesis 1:1, 27, 31; Habakkuk 1:13; Genesis 2:7, 18, 21-25; Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24; Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:19-20, 23; 5:17-19; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 4:10; John 3:16-18; Mark 1:15; Romans 1:4; 4:25; John 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3.
Lord, Jesus Christ, the only unique Son of God, thank You for Your free gift of eternal life. I know I’m a sinner who cannot save myself no matter what I do, and I deserve to spend eternity in hell. But, I know that because You loved me so much, You voluntarily died on the cross for me taking my sins upon Yourself, and You physically bodily rose from the grave showing that Your sacrificial death was sufficient payment to give me eternal life in Heaven. I now repent of my sins and trust alone in what You did for my eternal salvation. Please take control of my life as I now receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You so much for saving me. I am now Yours forever! (Scripture references: John 1:1-4, 11-14; John 3:16; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:21-26; Isaiah 53:4-6; Mark 1:15; Acts 16:31; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; John 10:27-29).
Upon your salvation, you must find a spiritually solid Bible-believing church that (1) teaches that the sixty-six books of the Bible are the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God, (2) believes in the doctrine of the Trinity, which means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and each Person is fully God, and (3) teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by works (e.g., water baptism by immersion).
ONE CAUTIONARY POINT. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that once you become a Christian, your life will become easy. Most likely, it will become more difficult. God’s blessing of salvation and life’s difficulties are not mutually exclusive. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NLT). Always keep in mind that you have an eternal home in heaven waiting for you per John 14:2–4 (NLT):
2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
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