Posts 9 and 10 analyze 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, so that no one may boast.

In Post 9, I look at the relevant background of Ephesians and begin to observe the text.


There is no apparent occasion that prompted Paul to write Ephesians.  Therefore, it makes sense that there is no consensus among commentators about the purpose of Ephesians.  Carson and Moo write:

… there is a solemnity about the letter and an absence of specifics that show it is devoted to a general articulation of what is profitable for believers.  … We can say that it is an important statement of the gospel that may well have been greatly needed in more than one first-century situation.

An Introduction to the New Testament, Carson & Moo, (1992, 2005) Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI at pp. 490-491.  Emphasis added.

The Life Application Bible Commentary – Ephesians (1996), Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, IL teaches at page xixi, that Paul wrote to strengthen the church by calling believers to sound doctrine and holy living.  Sound doctrine includes the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a sermon entitled “Introduction to Ephesians” [link: ], John MacArthur emphasized how grace saturates Ephesians when he said:

The word “grace” is used 12 times, and the word “grace” means God’s unmerited, undeserved kindness and favor. Grace is behind all of this lavishness that God pours out. So, the word “grace” is used 12 times. … And the key to everything is because we are in Christ that all the fullness of the riches of the inheritance of the glory of His grace is ours.

One commentary strongly emphasizes grace as necessary for salvation:

3. God’s Sovereign Grace  … The stress in Ephesians on God as the initiator of salvation combined with the portrayal of humanity as dead in sins and helpless to achieve salvation assures us not only that on the human side we need grace in order to be saved, but also that, on the divine side, God chose grace as the means by which he would save us.

Liefeld, W. L. (1997). Ephesians (Vol. 10). InterVarsity Press.

In summary, throughout much of Ephesians, there is an emphasis on the necessity of God’s grace for the salvation of human beings.  The opening lyrics of Julia H. Johnson’s song “Grace, Grace, God’s Grace” (1910) resonate:

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.


Ephesians 2:8-9 falls within a larger text block, i.e., Ephesians 2:1-10.  The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Ephesians reads at page 20:

The next section (2:1-10) deals further with the meaning of redemption, life for those dead in sin, salvation by grace, a re-creation of human lives for the glory of God and as a demonstration of his great love.

I’ll briefly consider verses 1-10.

In verses 1-3, Paul points out that at one time his audience was lost:

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

These verses do not paint a pretty picture of a lost person’s spiritual condition. For example, the note for verse 1 in The MacArthur Study Bible reads at page 1804:

A sobering reminder of the sinfulness and lostness from which believers have been redeemed.  … [unregenerate sinners] are not dead because of the sinful acts that have been committed, but because of their sinful nature (cf. Matt. 12:35; 15:18, 19).

Every lost person is beyond redemption on their own initiative.  Without divine intervention, a lost person is hopelessly lost and on the highway to hell.  But the following verses show there is hope through Jesus Christ!

In verses 4-7, Paul told his audience they were the beneficiaries of God’s mercy, love, and grace:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Three amazing actions He performed on every believer prove “His great love with which He loved us.”  God “made … alive together with [syzōopoieō]” Christ, “raised … up with [synegeirō]” Christ, and “seated … with [synkathizō]” Christ in the heavenly places.  The grammar of these three verbs reflects that the action took place in the past and was done by God.  There is no hint that a believer carried out any work, i.e., physical activity, to be syzōopoieō, synegeirō, or synkathizō with Christ.

Verse 5 paves the way for verses 8-9 when it reads, “by grace you have been saved [sōzō].”  The expression “have been saved” means that God saved a believer in the past such that they remain saved in the present.  No evidence points to the notion that a believer contributed through physical action to their salvation.

Verses 8-9 read: 

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, so that no one may boast.

These verses, which explain verses 4-7, will be the subject of more detailed analysis in Post 10.

Verse 10 reads:

10 For we are His workmanship [poiēma], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Paul taught his audience that they were new creations due to God’s work alone.  The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries – Ephesians at page 85, reflects that salvation is from God and not by humans:

The noun used (poiēma) is from a different root to the “works” (ergon) of the previous verse, and is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Romans 1:20, where it is used of the “works” of God’s first creation.  Humanity was his making at the first, and now, because that work of his was spoilt by sin, there is a new divine act of creation.  For “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”  ( 2 Cor. 5:17; see also Eph. 4:24; Gal. 6:15; Col. 3:10).

God, and God alone, “fixed” Adam’s failure so that all human beings have the opportunity for eternal life. 

In summary, verses 1-3 show us mankind’s hopeless condition, but verses 4-10 show us that through God’s actions alone, He offers us salvation by which He makes a believer a brand new creation.

In Post 10, I’ll look at Ephesians 2:8-9 in more detail.


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: ).  At Amazon the book link is .  I also have a website in which I am updating the content in the book.  The link to my website for the book is .


… 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.

 “Sinner’s Prayer”

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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