Unprincipled Calvinist: At Least Be Honest

If we are going to disagree and assume different positions as to what the Scriptures teach . . . . let’s at least be honest & trustworthy!  That should be true all the time, but surely we ought to be even more precise when it comes to the Gospel!

When someone makes a biblical argument and distorts the very words of a passage of Scripture, they have broken trustworthiness.  If a ministry and/or pastor can ignore the clear teaching of a passage of Scripture, for the sake of maintaining their position, they are no longer to be trusted in how they handle the Word.

“Well, what do you mean when you say ‘clear?'”
Your “clear” or my “clear?”

How about “It is well acknowledged that the passage cannot and does not teach that position!” [4]

There is no dispute as to what the Greek language and grammar allow when it comes to antecedents.  Unlike English grammar, the antecedent is not identified by its positioning, but by its gender.  After taking 6 years of Greek, I know that such is taught, well-acknowledged, and understood!

As is often stated, you are welcome to your opinion, but it is an uninformed opinion if you believe that case endings do not matter in the Greek language, and in many-to-most other languages.

Those who maintain that Ephesians 2:8 teaches that “faith is a gift God grants to some and not others” well understand that the Greek grammar rejects such a translation-interpretation.

The word “that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” cannot have “grace” or “faith” as its antecedent!

To not acknowledge that fact as a Bible teacher or pastor is disingenuous — at best!




#1 – The word “‘that’ not of yourselves” is in the singular neuter case (“touto”)! [1]

No Greek speaker/writer would take a word that is in the neuter case and connect it with a word in the feminine or masculine case.

Nor would any Greek writer use the singular case to speak of something in the plural (“grace” and “faith”).  The writer would have stated . . . “and these not of yourselves.”

If, in Paul’s mind, he was thinking that faith is the gift of God, and if he wanted to convey that meaning, he could have easily used the feminine singular case “haute.” 

However, the Spirit of God, who was guiding Paul, chose not to use that word!  If the Spirit of God had used that word, then that meaning would have been clearly established.  The Spirit of God knows how to add clarity by using the established rules of Greek grammar!

“That” refers back to the whole — “For by grace are you saved, through faith.”  It is the whole salvation experience of rejecting the law and accepting the gift of grace that comes through exercising faith. [4]

Just as the whole salvation experience is “not of works” and refers back to the whole.  We come to Jesus without works, but only by exercising saving faith in His work for us.

Imposing English rules of grammar is not only improper but disingenuous.  In the English language, we determine antecedents by position.  What is the closest word, and that is the antecedent.  That is not how it works in Greek.  In Greek, word endings are vital!  In Greek, word order is often used to place emphasis.

At least be honest and state that . . . .

“The Greek text does not support my “interpretation” of “faith” being the “gift.”

Be honest and state that such a rendering is only your theologically motivated opinion, supported nowhere else in the Scriptures.


#2 – The Scriptures clearly teach that “faith” is not a work!

Faith is not a work, and that is clear because Paul contrasts faith (pistis) against works (ergon) (i.e. Gal 2:16; 3:2-5, 9-14; Rom 3:27-28; 4:1-3; 4:14-5:2; 9:30-32).

Faith is what abandons all previous attempts to work one’s way to reconciliation with God.
Faith rejects the belief that one’s works can justify him/her.
Faith accepts Who Jesus is and the work He has accomplished on Calvary.

Faith is the means by which we accept the free gift of grace — “through faith.”  No one who accepts a gift would claim that accepting a gift is doing something for the gift.  Imagine being given a gift, and then saying that your acceptance of that gift was a work that earned you the gift.

Likewise, there is no reason for glory or boasting in accepting a free gift of salvation.  Paul states that there is only glory if righteousness comes by works of the law (Romans 4:1-5).  But Abraham believed (pisteuo) God and therefore had no reason to glory because (as Paul states!) it was not by works of the law, but by faith.


#3 – The gift is not grace.

The gift of God is our salvation, the forgiveness of sin — “by grace are you saved.”
The gift of salvation was made possible because of His grace, and it is ours by faith, by believing in Who Jesus is and what He has done for us on Calvary, by trusting that He, as God, has graciously provided full payment for our debt.

The salvation experience is the foundation of all that follows.

And “grace” is the reason anyone was or can be saved (“you have been saved”).
And grace comes through faith.
And grace is the contrast to works.


That is illustrated in John 11: 25-26, as Jesus addresses Martha. . . .

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Martha responds (11:27) by saying . . .

“She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

In both the words of Jesus and Martha, there is not a hint that her faith was anything less than her own belief concerning Jesus, and that she had that belief before being asked the question.

Likewise, the question of Jesus clearly states that she could exercise or not exercise a personal belief as to who He was — “Do you believe this?”

AND her plain and clear response was . . . .

“Yes … I believe that thou art the Messiah and the Son of God that should come into the world.”


I understand that there are those who want to make faith the gift of God (which was not even John Calvin’s position!). [2][3] I also understand that there are those who can find no other passage which states that faith is a gift and this is their best attempt.  But as Charles Spurgeon stated . . . .

 My love of consistency with my own doctrinal view is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture.  I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater.


1- Word order is vital to the English language, but it is unlike Greek and most other languages.

Ephesians 2:8

τῇ    γὰρ    χάριτί      ἐστε      σεσῳσμένοι    διὰ       τῆς πίστεως·  καὶ    τοῦτο     οὐκ      ἐξ   ὑμῶν             θεοῦ      τὸ δῶρον·

the    for     by grace    are you        saved      through    the    faith      and      that        not       of     yourselves     of God   the  gift

τῇ    χάριτί   — chairs = grace
the grace — both words are singular and feminine

τῆς πίστεως — pistis = faith
the  faith — both words singular and feminine

τοῦτο – touto = that
that — singular neuter

. . 

2 – “Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.” — John Calvin

3 – Likewise . . . .

God so loved the world, and the world means the world!
He would have all men to be saved, and that means all men.
He is not willing that any should perish, and any means any.


4 – A T. Robertson . . . .

Note: There are only two other places where the Greek words — “kai toutos” = “and that” appear in the same nominative case, in both a singular and plural use.  In I Corinthians 6:6 “and that” refers back to the general subject of “goeth to law.”  In I Corinthians 6: 8 “and that” is in the plural and is plural because it refers back to both “do wrong” and “defraud.”  Paul makes reference to the general subject here, as he does in Ephesians 2:8 when speaking about salvation.  Paul also knew how to use the plural to refer to both doing wrong and defrauding.

5 – I have read the works of two commentary writers who make the claim that the case agreement is “not fatal” and “not irreconcilable”  However, two points in their commentary are noteworthy — #1 – They still maintain that the best understanding is that faith is NOT a gift, and #2 – They do not cite one other instance in the Greek language where such occurs which would make it not fatal!


“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

καὶ  θέλων
and the “willing”

The same word used in Matthew (and many other places). . . . .”Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”

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