The following article is taken from the book, Top Ten Bible Verses in High Definition. To buy click here.
Key: [CAP] = Should be Capitalized, [ML] = Misleading, [OD] = Outdated, [T] = Wrong Tense, [WT] = Wrong Translation, [X] = Not in Greek, [-] = Greek Word not Translated
8 For[OD] by [-] grace[OD] are[T] ye[OD] saved[OD] through faith[OD]; and that[WT] not of[WT] yourselves[WT]: it is the gift[WT] of God:
9 Not of[WT] works[OD], lest[OD] any man[OD] should boast.
8 For[OD] by [-] grace[OD] you have been saved[OD] through faith[OD]. And this is[X] not your[WT] own[X] doing[X]; it[X] is[X] the gift[WT] of God,
9 not a result of[WT] works[OD], so that no one may boast.
8 You see, with the generosity you are people who have been rescued through trust. And this is not from among you. It is the contribution of God,
9 not from actions, so that no one would brag.
For -> You see
Using "for" to start a sentence is outdated. People do not speak that way today. The Greek word for "for" is gar. Gar is explanatory ("you see", "the thing is") and not causal ("because", "since").
by grace -> with the generosity
The KJV and ESV do not translate the definite article ("the") that is in the Greek text. It is referring to a specific generosity (grace), the generosity mentioned in the previous verse, God's generosity that would be displayed to the upcoming spans of time. The words "you see" at the beginning of this verse also hint to this.
"Grace" is outdated. Few know what it is or even have a good definition for it. Two definitions are commonly given for grace: the acronym - God's Riches At Christ's Expense and unmerited favor.
The acronym has given rise to a popular explanation of grace as being what God has given to us through Jesus. One problem with this is that the Bible often uses grace apart from God and Jesus.
Unmerited favor has problems of its own. What is favor? Is it saying that God favors some people over others? Is it saying that God does certain people a favor? If you replace the word "grace" in the Bible with unmerited favor, it does not fit.
Many latch on to the unmerited part of this definition and insist that grace is something that is unmerited, unearned. That is what grace is not. Grace is not merited. Grace is not earned. The definition of grace needs to cross over to what grace is.
The trait of giving unmerited and unearned things to others is called generosity. Grace is generosity.
are ye|you have been -> you are people who have been
"Ye" is outdated. It is the second person plural pronoun referring to more than one person (you). It is no longer distinguished from the singular second person pronoun (you) which refers to one person except in the southern United States where the plural you is "y'all" (you all).
The verb here is actually two verbs in the Greek text: a state of being verb = este ("you are") and a perfect passive participle with a plural subject = sesosmenoi ("people who have been rescued"). "You are people who have been rescued." It is also proper and correct to shorten these into "you have been rescued" (as the ESV does), but it is not correct to shorten it to "are ye" (as the KJV does).
saved -> rescued
"Saved" is outdated and has taken on a different meaning among Christians today. "Saved" used to be a common secular word with a secular meaning. It still has that meaning in a few English instances, for example, "the lifeguard saved the child from drowning" and "the fireman saved the woman from the burning building." But many Christians have changed the meaning of "saved" to a meaning that only refers to spiritual conversion.
The meaning of "save" in the Bible is "rescue". It involves much more than spiritual conversion. God is a rescuer in every way, even in secular areas (like rescuing people from car accidents or from murders). To call God a savior hides this truth. He is a rescuer who rescues.
faith -> trust
"Trust" is a better word. "Faith" has the same meaning as "trust", but "trust" is preferred because "faith" is overused and misused by many.
and that -> and this
There is a Greek word for "that" (ekeinos). It is not in this verse. The word here is toutos ("this").
is -> is
The ESV adds "is" after "and this" which is alright if it is in italics to show that it is not in the Greek text.
not of yourselves|not your own doing -> not from among you
The Greek text says ouk ("not") ek ("from", "from among") umon ("you" plural, "you all"), "not from you" or "not from among you".
In the Greek text "umon" is not reflexive ("yourselves") as in the KJV. "Own doing" (as in the ESV) is not in the Greek text.
it is -> it is
The present state of being verb ("is") is often left out in the Greek language (as it is here). When this happens it should be added in English and put in italics.
gift -> contribution
This Greek word is doron. It is translated as "gift" in most English Bibles, but there is another Greek word that is also translated as "gift": charisma. To keep the translation of these words distinct and different just as the Greek words are, doron should be translated as "contribution" and charisma as "gift".
Not of|not a result of -> not from
The Greek text says ouk ("not") ek ("from"), "not from".
This (along with the point in verse 8) tells where the rescue in verse 8 does not come from. It is not from among you (verse 8) and it is not from work.
works -> actions
Today's English is an obstacle to translating this Greek word (ergon) in the plural. Ergon is work. Its verb (ergo) is "to work". In Greek, ergon (work) is often plural, but in today's English, the word "work" in this sense is not used in the plural. There is no ideal solution for this. One solution is to replace the plural "work" ("works") with "actions" or "actions of work". To continue to use the incorrect "works" gives "works" a different meaning than what it has in the Bible.
lest any man -> so that no one
"Lest" is an outdated word. People do not say things like, "I am hanging up now, lest I get mad."
"Lest" in this verse is actually two words in the Greek text: hina ("so that") ma ("no" or "not"), "so that no".
"Any man" is an outdated way of saying "anyone". The Greek word is tis ("anyone", "someone", "a certain person"). Combined with the negative particle (ma), as it is here in the Greek text, it becomes "no one".
boast -> brag
"Brag" is a newer and more common word than "boast".
Go back to the first verse of this chapter to get the context of this verse. We were bad people, but God loved us (verse 4) and did many things for us.
Verse 7 mentions the superior wealth of His generosity that would be displayed to the upcoming spans of time and verses 8 and 9 explain that generosity.
With the generosity, we are rescued through trusting Jesus. The generosity and the rescue does not come from us. It is the contribution of God.
It is not from actions that we do or work on. It is from God. There is no place for us to brag about ourselves, we are trusting Jesus and He is doing it. Our only bragging is in Jesus and the Father, in what they have done and will do.