Ephesians 1:4-5 – Whose love are we talking about? Our love or God’s love?

In Ephesians 1:4-5, whose love is the writer of Ephesians talking about — the love in God’s child or the love of God? Notice that εν αγαπη (en agape) in the Greek NT is located at the end of v.4; however, en agape could also be placed at the start of a new sentence in v.5, which would render a different meaning in the text. “Love” is stuck in the middle between v.4 and v.5. The various translations also take positions right down the middle. The NRSV, NASB, NKJV, NJB and REB locate love (en agape) at the end of v.4 so that love is understood as an attribute within the child of God. Love modifies holiness and blamelessness. Whereas, the ESV, RSV, TNIV, NAB, GNT and HCSB locates love (en agape) at the beginning of v.5; so then, love is understood as an attribute of God’s own character (i.e., “in love [God] predestined us”). As a result, these translations are understood as two differing ideas. It can be a major difference, not a minor one and it completely changes how the passage is understood by the reader. (Note, NLT also locates love in v.4 but love modifies the word “chosen” so it’s meaning is understood almost the same as TNIV and ESV). [This post has been edited.]
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Ephesians 1:4-5:

4 καθως εξελεξατο ημας εν αυτω προ καταβολης κοσμου ειναι ημας αγιους και αμωμους κατενωπιον αυτου εν αγαπη

5 προορισας ημας εις υιοθεσιαν δια ιησου χριστου εις αυτον κατα την ευδοκιαν του θεληματος αυτου (Greek New Testament, Nestle-Aland 27th edition)

…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (ESV)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—(TNIV)

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (NLT)

just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, (NRSV)

Before the foundation of the world he chose us in Christ to be his people, to be without blemish in his sight, to be full of love; and he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ. This was his will and pleasure (REB)

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

2 thoughts on “Ephesians 1:4-5 – Whose love are we talking about? Our love or God’s love?”

  1. Kevin, just a note (I couldn't see an email address to contact you offline). When I click on my blog link it doesn't work. I think it is because there is a repeat of the sequence http://

    Rich

    Like

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