Verse of the Day

Friday, February 10, 2012

Faith is the Gift of God

Acts 18:27 is the verse the Lord used many years ago to convince me that faith is a gift of God's grace.
"And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:"
If the structure of the last phrase in Acts 18:27 is compared to Eph. 2:8 it should be seen as a "game changer" for any who would deny that faith is the gift of God.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
If it is insisted that it is the "salvation" and not the "faith" that is the "gift of God" there, just as it is "by grace", that insistence is silenced by the phrasing of Acts 18:27. That simply will not work in Acts 18:27, and should give sufficient pause to rethink the conclusions usually drawn from Eph. 2:8 on this subject. I would add 2 Pet. 1:1, "
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:".
On this verse I would direct attention to the treatment of the Greek verb "lanchano" ("to obtain") by Hermann Hanse (1910-1942):

"Even where there is no casting of lots, the attainment is not by one's own effort or a as a result of one's own exertions, but is like ripe fruit falling into one's lap. This is always to be kept in mind." (IV:1)

"In this sentence the point of lanchanein is that faith has come to them from God with no co-operation on their part. That faith is the work, not of man, but of God or Christ, is not stated with equal clarity in all parts of the NT, but it must be constantly borne in mind. It can be seen plainly in Ac. 13:48....God does not merely give to both Jews and Gentiles the possibility of faith; He effects faith in them. Eph. 2:8 makes it especially plain that all is of grace and that human merit is completely ruled out....Faith is not the presupposition of the grace of God. As a divine gift, it is the epitome and demonstration of the grace of God. "Those who have attained to faith" points finally, then, to predestination as a free act of divine grace. Here one is at the very frontiers of theological utterance. All is of grace, and yet God is righteous." (IV:2)

Source: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967; from Theologishces Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament, Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, n.d.), IV:1-2., s.v. "lanchano".

In a footnote following the first sentence cited from pg. 2 Hanse includes as supporting documentation Bengel (Gnomon of the New Testament), C. Bigg (ICC commentary), and J. B. Mayor (The Epistle of Jude, 1907)

Hanse made reference to Acts 13:48 which should "seal the deal":
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
Note: Hanse died at a very young age (32) presumably during WWII in Germany. Little else is known about him, but considering where he lived and when, it may be safe to assume that he had "no axe to grind" when it came to Calvinist and Arminian controversies. That should make the strength of his treatment of this verb all the more worthy of consideration by objective students.

Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. "Jack" Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

Faith is the Gift of God
by John T. Jeffery

Copyright 2012 by John T. Jeffery.
All rights reserved.
The use of excerpts or reproduction of this material is prohibited
without written permission from the author.

Contact the author at:

722 South Main Ave.
Scranton, PA 18504
Home phone:  (570) 342-5787

No comments: