"For by grace you [all of you] are existing, having been saved, by means of faith, and this is not of yourselves, from God [comes] the gift!"
Many translate the passage simply as "By grace you have been saved." This is called a periphrastic construction where the "you are existing" goes silent. But I believe this is wrong. I believe the way I have translated the verse is the way it would have been quoted or read out loud to an audience. We have here a simple verb: "you are existing" (Present tense) and a Perfect Passive Participle "you have been saved." "By means of faith … that is [it is] a gift of God." is the way it should be read. And many scholars see it this way, as I did, before I knew that some had a difference of approach as to how the verse should be read.
In other words, the gift of God includes the salvation and the faith.
A. Leckie in the Ritchie Commentary series agrees: "This faith was not of themselves: it was of God. Whatever may precede the exercise of faith, this faith is the gift of God."
Albert Barnes adds: "It is certainly true that faith is the gift of God. It exists in the mind only when the Holy Spirit produces it there."
Lenski writes: "We never produce faith ourselves. … The source and origin is not in you; it is wholly and only in God. … The salvation He has given to you. This is a 'gift' pure and simple. Gratuitously, freely bestowed by abounding grace and mercy."
Hendriksen says: "Faith is entirely dependent on God, and so is our complete salvation. … Faith is included in the gift. … I will immediately add that even this faith (or: even this exercise of faith) is not of yourselves but is God's gift. … Faith, as well as everything else in salvation, is God's gift."
The old great Baptist theologian, John Gill, writes: "This faith is not the produce of man's free-will and power, but it is the free gift of God; and therefore salvation through it is of grace. … Faith is elsewhere represented as the gift of God (John 6:65; Phil. 1:29), and it is called the special gift of faith."
2 Thessalonians 2:13 also tells us faith is a gift of God. "Salvation [is by means of] sanctification by the Spirit and by means of faith in the truth." Here, in 2 Thessalonians the Greek word "sozo" (to save) is used six times. God's choosing is the cause of salvation, but the means comes about by the sanctifying work of the Spirit and the verbal proclamation of faith in the truth. … Faith in itself is not self-generated. All humans are said to be dead in sin and children of wrath by nature (Eph. 2:1, 3) and cannot come to salvation without faith that in itself is a gift of God (2:8). … Not only does salvation come by means (en) of the sanctifying work of the Spirit and by means (en) of faith in the truth but through the agency (dia) of the gospel (v. 14)."
Philippians 1:29 says "For to you it has been given (granted) for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Again, belief is something given externally to us from God. Acts 3:16 goes on: "Faith which comes through Him."
2 Peter 1:1 speaks of "Those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ."
Without God's sovereign work we would be both helpless and hopeless!
—Dr. Mal Couch (5/11)