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"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (2:8-10).
Saved by Grace Alone
“By grace you have been saved” (v. 8a). “Although it could be translated ‘you have been saved’ (ASV, RSV, NASB, TEV, JB, NIV, NJB, NRSV), the translation ‘you are saved’ (AV, NEB) better conveys the continuing results of being saved. In other words, God, by his grace, initially saves, but by that same grace he keeps believers safe or saved from God’s wrath and from sin’s grip of death from which they are delivered” (Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, p. 333).
Salvation is by grace from start to finish.
Salvation is received by grace and kept by grace. It’s a “gift.” It’s not dependent on human effort. And God will not ask for his gift to be returned. “If [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom. 11:6). Salvation from God is always undeserved. You don’t deserve to receive it, and you don’t deserve to keep it.
Not Saved by Works
Salvation “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (vv. 8b-9).
Faith + Works ≠ Salvation
Faith – Works = Salvation
The word “this” probably refers to salvation by grace (not “faith”). It is “not [our] own doing” and it is “not a result of works.” “Faith itself cannot be a meritorious work; it is the response which receives what has already been done for us in Christ” (Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, p. 174).
Because salvation is “the gift of God,” those who receive it cannot “boast.” “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).
Does this mean that works are unimportant? No!
But Saved for Works
Why is salvation “not a result of works”? “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (v. 10). Salvation is not earned by God works, but it should result in good works.
Faith ≠ Salvation – Works
Faith = Salvation + Works
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:7; cf. Gal. 6:15). We now have the Spirit who gives us the desire to do good works (unlike the “flesh,” v. 3). “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for they are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal. 5:16-17; cf. Rom. 7:18-20). Having the desire to please God is an evidence of salvation.
“God prepared beforehand” works for each one of us to do (cf. 1:4). “It is not doing a work for God but God doing a work in and through the believer” (Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, p. 349).
We are to “walk” in good works. In other words, we are to have a lifestyle characterized by good works. There is a contrast between this “walk” and our former “walk” (vv. 1-3). Our new “walk” is the subject of chapters 4-6 (cf. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15).
God can take the little we can do and use it to accomplish more than we can imagine.
What works has God “prepared” for you?