If Zacchaeus was saved when he met Jesus, then wouldn't Zacchaeus be saved by works?

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Luke 19:8-9

Is this saying Zacchaeus was saved from hell because he decided to do good deeds?

I thought we were saved by grace through faith?

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Would it be possible that Zacchaeus was already saved before he met Jesus? Because if not it looks like he gets saved by works.

3 Answers 3


Zacchaeus' good works are after he addresses Jesus as 'Lord'

So step 1. Was encountering Jesus, step 2. Believing in Him as the Christ - which is not explicitly stated, but necessarily occurred prior to step 3. Confessing Him as Lord step 4. Good works.

Summary: Zacchaeus' good works were a consequence of salvation, not a cause of it.

  • How does this fit into the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins, which was told during the meeting with Zacchaeus? In the parable, all the servants believe the nobleman is king, and all would confess him as Master. But some are rewarded and some are chastised, and the reward or chastisement is based on their cooperation in multiplying the king's wealth: the physical manifestation of their intellectual belief.
    – qxn
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 20:02

Jesus said "Today salvation has come to this house", so no, Zaccheus was not saved before he met Jesus.

There are many Scripture passages that indicate that being saved leads to works, but it is not the means to get saved, as the quoted Scripture indicates, lest any man should boast.


As the other answers have stated, genuine faith results in works, but works are not necessary for salvation. This was true of Abraham who, having believed God, offered his son Isaac. It was not his work that saved him, but his saving faith, which prompted works.

James also speaks of this:

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18 NASB

As James asserts later, a faith that produces no works is no faith at all:

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26 NASB

So, the faith of Zacchaeus resulted in works. He seeks Jesus out, calls Him "Lord", then exhibits the fruit of repentance in his acts of righting the wrongs he had committed.

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