Ephesians 2:8 Presents Salvation As Completed Not Initiated

2:8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως (Tē gar chariti este sesōsmenoi dia pisteōs), “for by grace you are saved through faith.” Paul resumes the line previewed in v. 5 with the addition of explanatory γάρ (gar), “[F]or by grace you are saved through faith.” The verb is a periphrastic perfect, in which the perfect tense form converts a verb that denotes a telic (“bounded”) action (“save” or “deliver”) into a virtual stative event: “you are saved (or delivered).”335 This presents the salvation as completed and the Christian as enjoying the benefits of that deliverance.336


335. See the introduction on verb tense analysis for brief discussion and general bibliography on Greek verb analysis. See Hoehner (332–33) for use of σῴζω (sōzō) in Paul (cf. Lincoln, 104–5). Romans 5:9–10 is especially interesting in connection with Eph 2:3, 5, 8, where believers are explicitly said to be saved from divine wrath (cf. Matt 19:15 and parallels).

336. It is analogous to “you are healed” (θεραπεύω, therapeuō, of which σῴζω, sōzō; is a synonym sometimes as, e.g., Matt 9:22; Luke 18:42; Acts 4:9), where the healing is completed and the person is in a state of good health (e.g., Luke 8:2; John 5:10; Acts 4:14). In contrast the Greek pres. tense would express the event as continuing and not necessarily completed yet: “you are being saved” (cf. 15:2; 2 Tim 1:9).

S. M. Baugh, Ephesians: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, ed. Wayne H. House, Hall W. Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015), 158.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, and I was learning what the Bible is about, the book of Ephesians became very precious to me because it gave me such wonderful assurance. When I read, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us on Jesus Christ,” I understood that I was as good as in heaven with Christ even now. It was done deal, it is an accomplished fact that will have even more glorious consequences in the future! Eph. 2:6-9

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