In Ephesians 5:5 (NET), Paul says that:

For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

This seems to mean that salvation depends on actions and is not just by faith alone.

How does this relate with Paul saying earlier in Ephesians 2:8-9(NET):

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

How do these two reconcile?


  • Ephesians 2 passage is saying the gospel, the grace of Christ, is not your work. It doesn't mean the passage is negating the whole law or responsibility from the believers. The gospel commands works, it only finished Moses law works, not the moral law. Moral law cannot be finished. It is the most misunderstood verse. There are already similar topics like this, see the list of related ques. Search well before posting the topic.
    – Michael16
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 17:38
  • The answer to your question is in Eph 2:10: - For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life. and in Phil 2:13 - For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 21:02

1 Answer 1


This seems to mean that salvation depends on actions and is not just by faith alone.

No. It's the other way around: One's actions depend upon one's faith.

Faith brings repentance, which brings a change of attitude, which brings a change of behaviour.

Immoral people obviously don't truly have faith, otherwise they would repent of their attitude and so no longer be immoral.

This is part of the disagreement that Paul and James appear to have, caused by people's misunderstanding of Paul's statements.

  • Paul correctly states that works can't earn salvation.

knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
— Galatians 2:16

  • People misinterpret Paul as meaning that works don't matter.

  • James corrects this misunderstanding by saying that works are a sign of one's faith.

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
— James 2:22,24,26

  • People misinterpret James as saying that Paul was wrong.
  • Scripture references to illustrate your points will improve your answer.
    – David D
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 21:05
  • @DavidD, Right. Thanks. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 22:09

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