The Digital Age Approach: Online Tools for Bible Study

Psalm 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”



The Bible affirms that it is understandable, and there are valuable free resources to aid in this comprehension. One excellent and free online source is We’ll use this site to review cross-reference verses and various commentaries which delve into the meaning and significance of Ephesians 2:8.


The Verse

Eph 2:8 (ESV) “For (t) by grace you have been saved (u) through faith. And this is (v) not your own doing; (w) it is the gift of God…”

Notice that the subscripts (t), (u), etc., refer to cross-reference verses, noted at the bottom of the commentaries, which provide intra-biblical support and explanation.


The Commentaries

The following is a sampling of the commentaries available on Note that each commentator takes a different approach to explaining the various biblical verses; some are very comprehensive, while others are direct and to the point. You can easily select one or more that meets your needs.



And that not of yourselves; even the act of faith through which salvation is bestowed, is not of yourselves. Thus not only the favor, but even the willingness to receive the favor, is the gift of God.


For by grace are ye saved—not by mere favour. It is not by your own merit; it is not because you have any claim. This is a favourite doctrine with Paul, as it is with all who sincerely love the Lord Jesus. Rom 1:7, 3:24.

Through faith. Grace bestowed through faith, or in connexion with believing. Rom 1:17; Rom 4:17.

And that not of yourselves. That is, salvation does not proceed from yourselves. The word rendered that–τουτο–is in the neuter gender, and the word faith–πιστις –is in the feminine. The word “that,” therefore, does not refer particularly to faith, as being the gift of God, but to the salvation by grace of which he had been speaking. This is the interpretation of the passage which is the most obvious, and which is now generally conceded to be the true one. See Bloomfield. Many critics, however, as Doddridge, Beza, Piscator, and Chrysostom, maintain that the word “that” τουτο refers to “faith,” (πιστις;) and Doddridge maintains that such a use is common in the New Testament. As a matter of grammar, this opinion is certainly doubtful, if not untenable, but as a matter of theology, it is a question of very little importance. Whether this passage proves it or not, it is certainly true that faith is the gift of God. It exists in the mind only when the Holy Ghost produces it there, and is, in common with every other Christian excellence, to be traced to his agency on the heart. This opinion, however, does not militate at all with the doctrine that man himself believes. It is not God that believes for him, for that is impossible. It is his own mind that actually believes, or that exercises faith. Rom 4:3. In the same manner repentance is to be traced to God. It is one of the fruits of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the soul. But the Holy Ghost does not repent for us. It is our own mind that repents; our own heart that feels; our own eyes that weep–and without this there can be no true repentance. No one can repent for another; and God neither can nor ought to repent for us. He has done no wrong, and if repentance is ever exercised, therefore, it must be exercised by our own minds. So of faith. God cannot believe for us. We must believe, or we shall be damned. Still this does not conflict at all with the opinion, that if we exercise faith, the inclination to do it is to be traced to the agency of God on the heart. I would not contend, therefore, about the grammatical construction of this passage, with respect to the point of the theology contained in it; still it accords better with the obvious grammatical construction, and with the design of the passage to understand the word “that” as referring not to faith only, but to salvation by grace. So Calvin understands it, and so it is understood by Storr, Locke, Clarke, Koppe, Grotius, and others.

It is the gift of God. Salvation by grace is his gift. It is not of merit; it is wholly by favour.

(e) “are ye saved” 2Ti 1:9 (f) “and that not” Rom 4:16 (g) “of yourselves” Jn 6:44,65


In these words our apostle informs the Ephesians, and in them all succeeding Christians, that their complete salvation, from the first to the last, from the lowest to the highest step, depends upon God’s free favour and grace in Christ, and not upon any merit or desert in ourselves; works having no meritorious or casual influence upon our salvation, (for they are not causes, but effects, of that grace by which we are saved,) to the intent that all boasting may be excluded, and that all the saints’ glorying may be in God, and not in themselves.

Note here, 1. That believers are saved already, in some sense; not only because they have salvation begun in their new birth here, but they have already a right and title to, yea, a pledge and an earnest of, complete salvation; believers are saved here.

Note, 2. That the believers’ salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.

Note 3. That faith, by and through which they are said to be saved, is not of themselves, it is the gift of God; faith is the gift of God as well as Jesus Christ, and the one as necessary as the other; for as the only way to heaven is by Christ, so the only way to Christ is by faith; as sin has put a vanity into the creature, so unbelief puts a vanity in Christ, that he should profit us nothing. Wrestle we then with God in prayer for a believing heart.


For by grace are ye saved, through faith – As ye are now brought into a state of salvation, your sins being all blotted out, and you made partakers of the Holy Spirit; and, having a hope full of immortality, you must not attribute this to any works or merit of yours; for when this Gospel reached you, you were all found dead in trespasses and dead in sins; therefore it was God’s free mercy to you, manifested through Christ, in whom ye were commanded to believe; and, having believed by the power of the Holy Spirit, ye received, and were sealed by, the Holy Spirit of promise; so that this salvation is in no sense of yourselves, but is the free gift of God; and not of any kind of works; so that no man can boast as having wrought out his own salvation, or even contributed anything towards it. By grace are, ye saved, through faith in Christ. This is a true doctrine, and continues to be essential to the salvation of man to the end of the world.

But whether are we to understand, faith or salvation as being the gift of God? This question is answered by the Greek text. “By this grace ye are saved through faith; and This (τουτο, this salvation) not of you; it is the gift of God, not of works: so that no one can boast.” “The relative τουτο, this, which is in the neuter gender, cannot stand for πιστις, faith, which is the feminine; but it has the whole sentence that goes before for its antecedent.” But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God? Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man’s own. God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him: the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for himself: nor does he believe necessarily, or impulsively when he has that power; the power to believe may be present long before it is exercised, else, why the solemn warnings with which we meet every where in the word of God, and threatenings against those who do not believe? Is not this a proof that such persons have the power but do not use it? They believe not, and therefore are not established. This, therefore, is the true state of the case: God gives the power, man uses the power thus given, and brings glory to God: without the power no man can believe; with it, any man may.


Through faith—the effect of the power of Christ’s resurrection (Eph 1:19, 20; Php 3:10) whereby we are “raised together” with Him (Eph 2:6; Col 2:12). Some of the oldest manuscripts read, “through your (literally, ‘the’) faith.” The instrument or means of salvation on the part of the person saved; Christ alone is the meritorious agent.        and that—namely, the act of believing, or “faith.” “Of yourselves” stands in opposition to, “it is the gift of God” (Php 1:29). “That which I have said, ‘through faith,’ I do not wish to be understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace” [ESTIUS]. “God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes” [HOOKER]. The initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal illumination in the soul [PEARSON]. Yet “faith” cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, “hearing the word of God” (Ro 10:17), and prayer (Lu 11:13), though the blessing is wholly of God (1Co 3:6, 7).


By grace, you are saved through faith. Grace confers the glorious gift without any respect to human worthiness. Faith, with an empty hand and without any pretense to the personal desert, receives the heavenly blessing. And this is not of yourselves. This refers to the whole preceding clause. That ye are saved through faith is the gift of God.


The Cross References

(t) Eph 2:5

(u) 1 Pet. 1:5, Rom. 4:16

(v) 2 Cor. 3:5

(w) John 4:10, Heb. 6:4



It is neither difficult nor cost-prohibitive to understand what the Bible teaches and apply it to your life. In Acts 17:11, Luke compliments the Bereans, stating, “Now these Jews were more noble…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  I would encourage you to use this free resource to understand what God is saying to you.

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