Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Friday, February 3, 2023

Salvation by God’s Grace, Not Our Works (Eph 1:10)

If there ever was a question about salvation being by God’s grace and not as a result of something we do, just read Ephesians 1:1–10. Paul is falling over himself to emphasize that salvation is due to what God has done, not what we have done. And yet we are to do good works. What I want to talk about today is the dual use of γάρ.

Despite who we were (Eph 2:1-3), we were saved by God’s grace (2:4–7). Paul starts by pointing out:

  • God’s great love for us
  • God … made us alive
  • by grace you have been saved
  • God raised us up

Then in v 8 he restates his premise, introduced by γάρ, picking up the language of v 5. See the phrasing above. God saved us by his grace “for” (γάρ) salvation is by grace, faith, not works, as a gift from God, not something we do. It’s not really a reason but a restatement of what Paul has been affirming. This would fall under BDAG’s second definition: “marker of clarification, for, you see.

V 9 reiterates salvation is not by our works, and as a result no one can boast (that they deserve to be saved).

But what is confusing grammatically is that v 9 is kind of an interjection (some translations end v 8 with a dash), and v 10 starts a new sentence with the second γάρ. Most translations use “for,” but what does “for” connect to, what exactly does it mean, and does it function the same way as the prior γάρ?

The key is to see v 9 as an interjection for emphasis, and then v 10 as an argument about the gracious nature of our salvation. In this case, γάρ falls under BDAG’s first definition: “marker of cause or reason, for.”

γάρ does not go back to v 9 but to v 8, and it does not perform the same function as the first γάρ.

Rather than our works earning salvation, he are his work. Nonetheless, we were created to do good works. In fact, God has set aside certain good works for each of us to do before the beginning of time, and once saved by grace, we are to pursue those works. Works follows salvation; it does not precede salvation.

This is the balance of justification (by grace) and sanctification (the growth in character and good works). For me, the good work God assigned to me before time is Almost everything in my life was preparing me for this good work.

What good work did God prepare for you, and how does his gracious salvation of you prepare you for the task?