What is "the gift of God" which is referred to in Ephesians 2:8-9? Is it faith or is it salvation? For years, I have believed and taught that man's ability to believe the Gospel was a God-given gift. I believed that the Father draws man to His Son to save him (Jn. 6:44), that Jesus, God's Son, provided the means of salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4), and that the Holy Spirit "convinces" man that he is a sinner, that Jesus is righteous, and that judgment awaits those who reject salvation through Him (Jn. 16:7-11). Of course, all those things are still true, but I had interpreted the Holy Spirit's work as being the imparting of the faith necessary to believe. I was wrong.
The key to understanding Ephesians 2:8-9 is to correctly identify the antecedent of the pronoun "that." Does the pronoun "that" refer to faith, or does it refer to salvation? Here is the correct rule that Greek grammar demands be followed: Pronouns agree with their antecedent in gender and number. Their case is determined by their use in their own clause. This rule argues forcefully against the identification of "faith" as the antecedent because "faith" does not agree with the pronoun in gender. The pronoun "that" is NEUTER, and the noun "faith" is FEMININE. If Paul wanted his readers to understand the pronoun as referring to "faith," then there is no reason why he would not have used the feminine form of the demonstrative pronoun. This would have settled it. However, Paul did not use the feminine pronoun.
Why then did Paul use the neuter pronoun? Paul was referring to the idea contained in the main verb, the idea of being SAVED, which is NEUTER in gender. In other words, Paul was saying that it is salvation that is a gift. This interpretation is consistent with the follow verses:
--John 4:10-- (the gift of God is everlasting life; compare verse 14).
--Acts 2:38; 8:20; 10:45; 11:17-- (the gift of God is the Holy Spirit).
--Romans 5:15,17-- (these verses speak of the gift of justification).
--Romans 6:23-- (the gift of God is eternal life).
--2 Corinthians 9:15-- (this verse speaks of God's gift, which is Jesus Christ).
Apart from the misinterpretation of Ephesians 2:8, please note that this word is never used of FAITH.
To be continued, Lord permitting.