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The Gift of God.
A note on the meaning of "Doron" in Eph. 2: 8.
pp. 38, 39
At the time of writing (November 1950), the preparation of the series on Ephesians
has reached article No.44, and a very simple computation will show that at the present
rate of publication, article No.44 will not see the light of day for another six years. We
therefore feel that one item could be extracted from that article with profit and presented
here, owing to the problem that it deals with and the wondrous grace that it reveals.
By some, Eph. 2: 8 has been taken to teach that faith is the gift of God. This leads
at last to the hyper-Calvinistic position that none but the elect can believe, and to the
awful conception of Divine Justice that a man will be held responsible for not believing,
although unable to believe unless God grant the ability! This extreme doctrine arises out
of two misconceptions, one of grammar, the other of meaning. The word "that" in the
expression "And that not of yourselves it is the gift of God", is the Greek touto and is
neuter. It cannot therefore refer to faith, which in the Greek is tes pisteos, and is
feminine. "That" must therefore refer to something other than faith, and the continuation
of the argument in verse nine shows that the "Grace-by-faith-salvation" considered as a
whole is in view.
The word "gift" is the Greek doron, one of many variants of the root do (cf.
donation, &100:) meaning a gift. This particular word is used in Matt. 2: 11; 5: 23, 24 and
elsewhere as of gifts and offerings brought by men to God. In Mark 7: 11 it is
"corban", and the LXX employs doron thirty-seven times in the one book Leviticus to
translate the Hebrew qarab (corban), as for example in Lev. 1: 2, 3, 10, 14, 15.
Eph. 2: 8 provides the most astounding evidence of the character of this dispensation of
grace, for it presents the unique conception of God bringing an oblation, an offering to
man, a situation without parallel! Let us bow in adoration at such a "gift". It would be
impossible to teach that "faith" is the oblation or sacrificial offering brought by God--
such an idea defies explanation, it is gloriously true to teach that this "Grace-by-faith-
salvation" cannot possibly originate from ourselves, for it is the love gift of God.
We believe that some of our readers who have expressed concern about the translation
of Eph. 2: 8 will appreciate the following extract:
"In the opening paragraph we spoke of the future of these studies and as another
two months have passed and further work has been done we bring our report up to date.
Feeling that it would be well-pleasing to the Lord and in entire harmony with the
stewardship entrusted, we have, during the last year, put aside all work that could
reasonably wait, and have pressed on with these articles on Ephesians, and have the joy
of knowing that the whole of the doctrinal section has now been reviewed, and with
the sixty-eighth article we have reached the close of the great central prayer in
Eph. 3: 14-21. We shall have to leave the exposition of the practical section to our
successor, but we feel that whenever the great revelation of grace and glory that is found