5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
5a "He saved us" simply records the historic fact of his saving work in all who have accepted salvation in Christ. We now possess his salvation, although it is still incomplete, awaiting its consummation at Christ's return.
The basis of this experienced salvation is never due to personal merit but to God's sovereign grace. The negative clause repeats Paul's well-known denial of salvation by works (Ro 4:4-5; Gal 2:16-17; Eph 2:8-9). Our salvation did not arise out of works that we ourselves had performed in righteousness, for as sinners, we were not able to perform any righteous deeds. Positively, God saved us "because of his mercy". In our wretchedness he graciously withheld deserved punishment and freely saved us.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
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10:9 Jesus is Lord. This affirmation, the earliest Christian confession of faith (see also 1Co 12:3 and note), served as the Christian equivalent to the Jewish Shema (see Dt 6:4–9; Jas 2:19 and notes). It was probably used at baptisms. In view of the fact that “Lord” is used over 6,000 times in the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT) to translate the name of Israel’s God (Yahweh), it is clear that Paul, when using this title for Jesus, is affirming that in Jesus the God of Israel was himself present among his people.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
8 Paul again reminds his readers (cf. v.5) that they owe their salvation entirely to the undeserved favor of God. "Grace" is the objective, operative, and instrumental cause of salvation. Paul expands v.5 by adding that the medium that apprehends salvationis "faith", which is also its necessary condition. Faith, however, is not something a person can produce; it is simply a trustful response that is itself evoked by the Holy Spirit.
Lest faith should be in any way misinterpreted as our contributing in any way to our own salvation, Paul immediately adds a rider to explain that nothing is of our own doing; rather, everything is the "gift of God." The entire process of salvation comes from nothing that we have done (cf. Ro 10:17).