Home > Calvinism, Election, Unconditional Election > The Key to Election is a Preposition? Eph 1:4

The Key to Election is a Preposition? Eph 1:4

KeyAn article about how sinful we are led to this comment:

But also we will see that if it had not been for His “everlasting love” with which He loved us in Christ in Election “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) and “the grace that was given to us in Him before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9), there would be no hope whatsoever for any one of us because of How Sinful We Are.

The article was about how sinful we are. Yet, the above sentence is an obvious statement in favor of the Reformed doctrine of unconditional election. Calvinists seem to use Eph 1:4 a lot to defend personal election. And, fair enough, there it is – “he chose us”. What is there not to understand? However, reading the verse without the prepositional phrase sheds a completely different meaning to the verse.

[For] He chose us [in Him] [before the creation] [of the world] to be holy and blameless [in His sight].

Without the prepositions, then, the fundamental point of Eph 1:4 is that [God] chose us to be holy and blameless. To which, Eph 1:4 appears to have nothing to do with divine election of individuals unto salvation. Rather, this verse seems to be about holiness. This is, I believe, even more readily understood when I look up the word “chose” in my trusty Webster’s dictionary and see different meanings including: “to select freely and after consideration” and “to decide”. The authors of the NIV Bible selected the English word “chose” when translating Eph 1:4 from Greek to English. Perhaps given the constraints of translating from one language to another, “chose” is the best translatable English word. I accept that.

However, using Webster’s common English understandings for the word “chose”, I believe a fair interpretation of this verse is:

God decided that we were to be holy and blameless before He created the world.

How that came about was through the law in the OT and through faith in Christ in the NT. Hence, I would argue that Eph 1:4 is not a verse that Calvinists should use in their defense of unconditional election. The prepositions are the key.

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