A familiar text for many.
My question is this, what's the "this" referring to in "...this is not from yourselves..." ?
Paul says that "this" is the gift of God. And that "this" is not from works.
So what's the "this" ?
Some argue "grace". Grace is not from oneself and it is a gift from God; it is not from works. This is true logically, but not grammatically. In Greek, the noun and the term that modifies it must agree in gender. In this verse, "grace" is feminine and "this" is neuter.
Some argue "faith". And here is where the 'wheels' fly off. Because some argue that faith is from oneself; we are told to place our faith in Christ, to have faith and live by faith. Others, that faith is not possible without the power of God working first. After all, man is desperately wicked, dead and an enemy of God.
Without solving that dilemma here, I offer this, "faith" in this text is also feminine. What?
There is no neuter noun in this text for "this" to modify.
Bill Mounce, noted Greek scholar says this, "It is the entire salvific process that is God's gracious gift and is not part of our own doing. It is a gift." ( http://www.koinoniablog.net )
"This" refers to "grace" and "faith" and more! God's gracious acts toward mankind are all undeserved. He is God and worthy of glory!
J. I. Packer describes grace this way:
What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven. ‘(God) hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). [ www.bible.org ]