Does Ephesians 2:8-9 say that faith is a gift?
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Ephesians: Harold W. Hoehner, AB, THM, THD, PHD, (Director of Doctor of Theology Studies, chairman and professor of NT literature and exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary)
offered this exegesis:
These verses explain "the incomparable riches of His grace" (v. 7), expanding the parenthetical statement in verse 5, It is by grace you have been saved, and adding that the means of this salvation is, through faith. Hence, the basis is grace and the means is faith alone. (cf. Rom. 3:22, 25; Galatians 2:16; 1 Peter 1:5). Faith is not a "work." It does not merit salvation; it is only the means by which one accepts God's free salvation.
Paul elaborated, And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Much debate has centered around the demonstrative pronoun "this" (touto). Though some think it refers back to grace and others to faith, neither of these suggestions is really valid because the demonstrative pronoun is nueter, whereas "grace" and "faith" are feminine. Also, to refer back to either of these words specifically seems to be redundant. Rather, the nueter touto, as is common, refers to the preceding phrase or clause. (In Ephesians 1:15 and 3:1, touto, "this", refers back to the preceding section.) Thus it refers back to the concept of salvation (2: 4-8a), whose basis is grace and means is faith. This salvation does not have its source in man (it is "not from yourselves"), but rather, its source is God's grace for "it is the gift of God."
Verse 9 reinforces this by showing that the means is not by works since its basis is grace (Rom. 3:20, 28; 4:1-5; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5), and its means is faith (Rom 4:5). Therefore, since no person can bring salvation to himself by his own efforts, no one can boast (cf. Rom. 3:27; 1Cor. 1:29). Their boasting can only be in the Lord (1Cor. 1:31).
I wanted to see if this verse truly says that faith is a gift (although I know there are other verses that are used by the Calvinist to say that faith is bestowed on a person who is totally depraved, uninterested in the Lord, and God regenerates him, puts faith in his heart, and then he believes the gospel after having already been regenerated.) ... but I just wanted to see if it was in this verse. This verse causes me to praise God! Salvation is by grace though simple trust in Christ and it is absolutely free! (Free to us, costly to God.) He is so generous!