Saved by Grace

5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, 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 coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in

Ephesians 2:5 (ESV)

The word “gar” is a primary particle in greek that denotes a reason or ground. So it can be rightly translated as “because”..

There are two categories  of grounds:

  1. Causal
  2. Evidence

Both may use the conjunctions “for or because”. I will give an example of the two so that we may be able to determine where Eph2:8-9 belongs to.


I am hungry because/for I haven’t eaten lunch


I am hungry because/for I have butterflies in my stomach..

Now let’s  look at v7. It says:

to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Paul said that God wants to demonstrate his surpassing wealth of grace in kindness towards us..  Paul’s  exhibit A is the Ephesian believers.  So v. 8 is the evidence of God’s  surpassing wealth of grace.

Paul used their salvation by grace as an argument to support his assertion in v. 7

Let’s go now to verse 8

 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Since Paul used this verse to support his assertion that God is kind toward us in spite  of v1-5,  it would not make sense to put the emphasis on something that Ephesian believers can do. The emphasis is on grace not faith. Otherwise it would undermine Paul’s main point.

Here it is said that we are saved by grace through faith.

Both grace and faith can be understood as the cause of our salvation. But we should distinguish between different kinds of causes.

Material cause – the material, or stuff used, ex.  stone used in sculpture

Formal cause – the plan or blueprint

Final cause – the goal or purpose

Instrumental cause – the tools or instrument, ex.  Hammer,  chisel

Efficient cause – the agent or something that actually brought about the effect.. Ex.  Sculptor, force.

the one utilizing the instrument is God, not the stone who is being acted upon. -@enriquetosabio

So where does grace and faith fit in?

Looking at the greek preposition “dia” translated in english “through”, we can already determine that faith is the instrumental cause of our salvation. Because it means channel or means by which something is done. Now that is massively important.  If God is the agent and his act of grace is the efficient cause then the question is, who’s utilizing the instrument? Answer, God.

The next question would be, to whom or what the instrument is being used for? Who or what is being acted upon?  What is the material cause?

According v10

For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus …

Here we see that we are the one being acted upon.  The word “saved” in v8 is in passive voice. We are not active. Something was done unto us.  It means that we are in no way have any contribution to our salvation.  We are all dead according to the preceding verses.  We are the stone that God made into a sculpture, God is the sculptor.. A stone cannot make itself into a beautiful sculpture on its own, let alone use any instrument.

So the one utilizing the instrument is God, not the stone who is being acted upon.
If the stone is the agent and efficient cause,  then we might as well give up logic. Paul’s flow of thought will not be coherent if that’s the case.

Quits Sabio
Founder and President of Reformed Exegetes Society. Serving as an elder and sunday school teacher at Sovereign Mercy Evangelical Church Inc. at Caloocan Metro Manila Philippines. Quits is currently working as a Senior Lead Game Developer at Funguystudio(A Game Development studio at Makati Philippines). He is a musician playing various styles and genres(jazz,blues,classical,rock). A husband to Malou and a father to Amara.
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