What does the 'this in Ephesians 2:8 refer to - grace or faith or both?
A friend asked what Ephesians 2:8 meant when read in the Greek - being a language teacher she understood the 'this' should have a matching antecedent - so which was the 'this' referring to; was it "grace" or "faith" or perhaps both? The verse in question reads this way, from various versions
(Darby) For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift:
(ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
(NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God
(NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
(Greek) τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον
My favourite Greek teacher (I was taught by his methods and used his text books), Bill Mounce, wrote the piece below. Daniel Wallace, another Greek scholar, indicates this is perhaps the most debated Greek phrase in the NT (there are a couple in 1 John that are also hotly debated) – so you are not alone in finding the meaning a little difficult. Wallace indicates the interpretation could be: (1) “grace” is the antecedent – that is salvation is by grace alone, (2) faith is the antecedent – that is, salvation is by faith alone, (3) grace & faith are antecedents, in that salvation is grace-by-faith or (4) it has no antecedent. Saliently Wallace points out essentially the meaning is within the context of the whole Bible, not just a technical examination of the Greek.
However, the English appears to translate it truthfully. In the following, Bill Mounce gives the technical side, then provides an explanation using Bible truths. I hope you find it useful.
The following is from: https://www.teknia.com/blog/antecedents-and-faith-eph-2-8-9
Antecedents and Faith (Eph 2:8-9)
Submitted by Bill Mounce on Sun, 2011-10-02
Website of Teknia - shown below accessed 8 March 2014.