Friday, July 6, 2012

God’s Election of What? The Decoder Ring to Unlocking Election in Ephesians 1:4-5

The election passage in Ephesians is critical to understanding and formulating an appropriate view of election. As I have prepared this treatment I have done so over weeks and months and was astonished by a few things. My hope is to bring the reader, not necessarily to a point of agreement with me (though this is "a" hope) but to a place of escape from the trap of the common ARC (Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist) view of this passage which bases its formulation, in part, on failing to ask the appropriate questions and if asked, answering them inappropriately. As well I hope to encourage you to examine and accept the weight of the grammatical/exegetical indicators, if only to cross-examine yourself and/or those who assert the ARC interpretation.

So to make it simple I am going to examine the passage with the needed questions and tackle them one at a time. I hope this will help with the ease of reading, even for the most basic student of the Word of God, though it will get very specific or technical at one point, most of it is easily followed.

The questions which need asked and answered (answers which the text provides) are your decoder ring for a proper examination of the text.

1. What was being chosen by God?
2. When was the choice made by God?
3. Where and when is the human elected by God?
4. Can Yoda and sentence structure (sentence diagram) show us anything? Yes!
5. Who are the “us” to whom Paul refers that God chose.
6. How does the panoramic context of “in him/Christ” inform us?

Here is Ephesians 1:4-5
4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
*This treatment will be with verse 4.

1. First, ask yourself, what was being chosen by God?

This cannot be any more critical to comprehending this passage.  Was God choosing those who would be in Christ or that in Christ we would be holy and blameless?

Many students of Scripture have been trained to run over this portion with the kind of speed which does not permit asking this vital question and making appropriate observations because they have been taught to look at it one way. It is so important to note what is and is not there, in the text.

Dr. Thomas Constable in his Notes on Ephesians (2012 Edition) makes this classic error. He is no exegetical novice, but I am afraid as a committed Calvinist of some sort, he was led about too easily by its doctrine in approaching this passage. Here is what he states about the passage (bold mine):

God has ordained that all the elect should be under Christ's authority. Some interpreters have concluded that God chose Jesus and that all who believe in Him become elect by their faith.29 However this verse states that God chose "us" to be in Christ.

Right now I am about to blow the doors off of what Dr. Constable said, at the very end. He stated, “God chose us to be in Christ”. No, that is not what the passage says. That is an incorrect grammatical rendering of the passage and one, I suspect, is based on Calvinist instinct and not paying close attention to what is and is not there.

It states:
 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless
Look where the "to be" is. It is not where Dr. Constable puts it. God chose us to be holy and blameless, it does not say he chose us to be in Christ, that we would be in Christ or who would be in Christ. 

It is true that “in Christ” is where we are made holy and blameless and it is true that God chose “in Christ” as where we would be made holy and blameless, but it does not say “God chose us to be in Christ” nor “God chose who would be in Christ” or even that God determined "we would be in Christ". Now clearly some of us are "in Christ", many before us and many after us, but none of that is in the text and we are dealing with what the text contains and says, not what we wish to make it mean or put in it in order to make it fit our theology.

It is very important that you stay with me because when we get to the sentence structure you will understand that the phrase, “he chose us” has as its object “to be holy and blameless” and not “in Christ” or even “to be in Christ”. Neither of those are grammatically correct. I will give you a crude example of how you may view this and then we can move onward.

Ex: I have a Sunday school room and before arriving that Sunday I take with me enough candy for every single person who can possibly show up in that room. It then may be said by those who arrived and received candy that day, “He chose us, in the class, before the class ever began, to receive candy”.  I made the choice that whosoever (sound familiar?) came to the class, they would received the candy. The “us” is not predetermined. What was chosen before hand was that those “in the class” would receive candy.  They became the "us" and refer to themselves as the "us", not because I chose who the us would be, individually and before hand, but because I chose that "in the class" they would receive candy. They or us are determined by whether or not they came "in the class".

Now how they "came in the class" is another discussion altogether. That is to say, I am not suggesting that the analogy go any further. Coming to be "in Christ" does indeed involve divine drawing but this drawing and enlightenment in no way suggests or requires the view that God chooses who will and will not be "in Christ".

*The choice God made was that “in Christ” (that is anyone who comes to be “in Christ”) would be made holy and blameless. In other words, this is a reference to the plan of salvation for all mankind made by the Godhead.

2. Secondly, we must consider when was the choice was made that the case would be that "in Christ" we would be made "holy and blameless"?

The passage is rather clear, God made the choice “before the foundation of the world”  that “in Christ” we would be made “holy and blameless” (again, the plan of salvation, as you can see).

To the ARC student, election is claimed to be God choosing who would (and would not for hyper-Calvinists) be saved and decreeing it so, at this point. It is an unchangeable and eternal fixture in their mind. So being interested in investigating this claim I did the appropriate Greek digging in which I assumed that the exegesis would back this up. You see, in the Greek there are verb tenses like in the English, past, present and future but there is also the aorist and what is called the perfect tense (a special kind of past tense, a really important kind).

The perfect tense is a verb tense which refers to an action taken in the past with permanent and unalterable results and we are to view this action, along with its results, as permanent or final. Sounds a lot like Calvinism’s view of election where God made, once and for all time,  a list of whom he would save, in eternity past.

Only one small problem.

εξελεξατο – (verb – 3rd person singular aorist middle indicative) is the word translated chosen. It comes from two Greek words, ek or  ex, which means from or out of and legō which means “to say or speak” or as here, “to call”. Together they mean, “to call out of or out from”.

But what stands out and stands against claims that “in eternity past God chose who would  be saved” is the tense of this verb which is aorist as opposed to what would be expected here, the perfect tense. But the perfect tense is not used to refer to this alleged eternity past choice as to who would be saved, this once and for all not to be repeated choice, rather it is the little ole' aorist, indicative.

The aorist indicative, in and of itself, is used in a consummative way here. It is considered somewhat timeless apart from a specific use,  its emphasis is not on so much on time but on the nature of the action in relationship to its participants and its immediate or subsequent action. Here it has in view the entire process of the Divine Triumvirate of contemplating, deciding and bringing into existence the plan of God for humanity, namely that “in Christ” would be - and is - the means by which the Godhead chose or elected (and subsequently accomplished) to justify, sanctify and glorify mankind. Christ is the focus here.

Now one might complain that this is an argument from silence but it is not, at all. It is a scientific argument. That is, based on the consistent use of the perfect tense in the Greek reserved for such occasions, we find it missing. What we should expect to find, we do not.

While this is not a show-stopper, it does not bode well for the ARC student, even while granting that verb tenses in the Greek can, at times, have what appear to be both unusual and contradictory uses. However, here, as the Calvinist insists that election is about God choosing who would (and would not for hyper-Calvinists) be saved, we must expect to find the perfect tense to under gird this assertion and we do not. The Calvinist is at a distinct disadvantage, here.

3. Thirdly, ask yourself, where does the election of God for the individual human occur, that is in what location is it made?  

I want you to take a look at the expression “in him” in the passage, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless”.

Keep in mind what I am emphasizing here:

The choice by God made in eternity past was not “who would be in him” but that "in him" we would be made “holy and blameless”, which has been well established. However, we are not made "holy and blameless" until we are in Christ. Hence two points in time of occurrence or action are in view. 

1. Eternity past when God chose that it was "in Christ" humans would be made holy and blameless.
2. Present time when humans believe in Christ, thus come to be "in Christ" and are then made holy and blameless in which they become part of the "God chose us in be holy and blameless".

“In him” is a prepositional phrase. Prepositions generally give us either location or direction, now and then both. Here, ἐν αὐτῷ (in him-Christ) gives us the location of where God make us “holy and blameless”, therefore it gives us the time or "the when" as well.

So, even though God made the choice that it was "in Christ" humans would be made "holy and blameless" (thus becoming the "us" or "we") in eternity past, we must ask ourselves when is this choice made toward us, personally? We can do this by asking a question or two and do so while remembering that we must abide by the grammar and its consequences/implications which were chosen by God in inspiring Holy Writ.

Question: “If a person is outside of Christ, did God choose for that person to be holy and blameless?”

No. Obviously not.What God chose is for them to be condemned outside of Christ but as well, that if they will "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" they will then be "in Christ" where God has made clear he has chosen to make them "holy and blameless".

Only “in Christ” (the location of where we must be in order to be made “holy and blameless”) is where God's election for us, personally, occurs and where God makes someone “holy and blameless”.

Question: Then if this is the case, why are people saying God chose specific people to be holy and blameless who are outside of Christ? Doesn’t that contradict what the grammar demands?

Yes, but that doesn’t matter to some. They have a theology to support.

Think very carefully about where you are made “holy and blameless” and where this choice for you by God occurs? It occurs “in Christ”.   

So how, then does this immediately inform us? It informs us that until you are “in Christ” no choice has been made for you, personally, (εξελεξατο) to be made “holy and blameless”. It does not say, “outside of Christ” you were elected to be made “holy and blameless” and when you get finally get “in Christ” you will receive this specific and personal election which God predetermined that you would enter. None of that is anywhere in the passage.  Rather that, only when you are “in Christ” has a choice been made for you and so it requires you to be “in Christ”, first, before the choice of election occurs and from which you are made “holy and blameless”.

4. Can Yoda and sentence structure (sentence diagram) show us anything? 

Sentence structure is important, bringing with it the grammatical consequences of verbs, nouns, direct objects and so on. Yoda, from Star Wars, is popular for restructuring sentences without compromising the grammatical integrity (sometimes) known as OVS (Object, Verb, Subject)  instead of the very common SVO (Subject, Verb Object). And there are many variations of this, of course but here is the most basic and obvious.

Ex: SVO, I love you
       OVS, You, love I.

The meaning is not compromised while the word order is changed and this will help you understand the sentence structure you are about to encounter and why it should be understood, as it is.

(Original NIV)
4a For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

(Word Order Changed with Grammatical Integrity the Same)
4b. For he chose us, to be holy and blameless in his sight, in Christ, before the foundation of the world
What choice was made? Clearly the choice does not articulate “who” would be in Christ, rather the choice was that “in Christ” is where one becomes holy and blameless (justified).

But let me illustrate this with this portion of Ephesians diagrammed so you may know what the object of “he chose us” is. That is, we may know the objective of the choice, whether it was “who would be in Christ” (not even in the passage) or that he chose us “to be holy and blameless” in Christ through diagramming the sentence.

Below is my diagram of the passage in English (but based on the Greek) and two Greek sentence diagrams which you can find online. What you will discover is that the object of εξελεξατο (he chose) ημας (us) is not “who would be in Christ” or “to be in Christ” but ειναι (to be) ημας (us/we) αγιους (holy) και (and)  αμωμους (blameless), "to be holy and blameless".

This is the sentence structure plain and simple.

Mine Above  (Above)  (Above)

God, according to this, did not choose us “to be in Christ” nor did he choose “who would be in Christ”, none of the sentence or its properties supports this. It only supports, “He chose us…to be holy and blameless”.

Question: So where does the prepositional phrase come in? Just as we already covered, it gives us the location of where God chose to make us holy and blameless and where it occurs, for us, personally. And the sentence diagram shows us this, it is a prepositional phrase, not an object of the verb.

5. Who are the “us” to whom Paul refers? This will help, as well, in examining and determining the object(s) of God’s choice. Is the “us” everyone who has believed up to the point of Paul's writing the letter, all who will believe, or this unspecified but exclusive group God allegedly has chosen to save.

I am far more inclined that Paul has in view those “in Christ” without emphasis on quantity since he knows that the "us" will enlarge each time someone is brought into the body of Christ.

First, because of what has already been covered. That this passage is about the plan of God with respect to salvation and not individuals being elected and secondly, as I will cover in a moment, the rest of the passage which speaks about all we have “in him” or “in Christ”. He is speaking to believers. While it is potentially true for anyone, it remains untrue for them until they are “in him” or “in Christ”, hence the “us” Paul speaks of are believers.

But to the assertion the “us” refers to the secret elect as Calvinists define it. If you hold to this view, your biggest problem is with very beginning of the passage where Paul begins in Ephesians 1:3:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Those outside of Christ, whether they be the elect you believe God chose to save but are not  yet save (or anyone else) these people are are still outside of Christ and Paul is speaking only to those who are “in Christ” since no one outside of Christ has been blessed with “every spiritual blessing”. You are forced to change the meaning of the pronoun "us" from those "in Christ" which has already been so definitely established in this passage, to (and magically only in verse 4) now include a group "outside of Christ" but elect and who will eventually be saved. Do you see just what Calvinisms is forcing upon who the "us" are?

But to the panorama and your final consideration.

6. “In Christ or “in him” the panoramic context of Ephesians itself arrests the foreign ARC (Augustinaian/Reformed/Calvinist) interpretation.

You must consider the following. It should impact you, if nothing else, by way of context.

1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

(Those outside of Christ have this? Really? The "us" are those in Christ, it can only be that,  which demands the exclusion of this yet saved but allegedly elect body of those still outside of Christ. It makes no reasonable sense any other way. In other words it simply cannot include some "outside of Christ" yet, allegedly elected to salvation group because they are not "in Christ.)

1:4For he chose us (in him)…to be holy and blameless

(And so Paul continues to speak to the "us" which we just understood cannot be those outside of Christ, which includes the  yet saved but allegedly specially elected to salvation group that ARCers assert the Bible teaches.)

1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood

(Who has redemption? Paul is talking to those who have it, not those who do not including this alleged yet believing special elect. But more importantly the "we" are the "us", those "in Christ".)

1:9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

(In Christ is where the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure is found, and who again, is “in Christ" and understands the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure? Right, believers are the ones not some unspecified secret society of special elected yet not saved people.)

1:13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

(When were you included “in Christ”? When are you “chosen”? Ah yes, when you heard the message and believed, not before but afterward.)

2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

Remember the “us” to whom Paul is speaking? Are you now going to insist the “us” includes this yet saved but secretly limited number of people elected or chosen to be saved along with those already saved or are you going to yield to the obvious, that God, through Paul, is talking only about those “in Christ”? That is,  unless you really believe this elect yet unsaved group have been raised up with Christ and seated with him in heavenly realms. Maybe you do but if so you have reached the level of absurdity and gross hersey.

You cannot have it both ways. The “us” are believers in Christ only, not potential ones, though when they get “in Christ” they will get this too. So in Ephesians 1:4 where Paul says:
4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
The context and repeated use can only refer to believers or those “in Christ”. So for ARCers who assert the "us" refers to the yet saved elect, who are still outside of Christ, this means this passage cannot apply to them as we have seen, repeatedly, the "us" refers only to those "in Christ" in this panoramic context.  This deconstructs the ARCer interpretation with a final blow.

Conclusion: In Him/In Christ

Paul repeatedly uses this expression in Ephesians and it is key to understanding what he is talking about.  It is all about what occurs “in Christ”. Paul writes the entire context about what we receive “in Christ”. Hence, it is rightfully and robustly theologically, contextually and exegetically argued that election is not a choice the Godhead made in eternity past as to who would and would not be saved, rather the choice which was made was about what humanity would receive “in Christ” which begins with our salvation and its accompanied “holiness and blamelessness” but spreads out further to the many spiritual assets and privileges Paul covers as being gained “in Christ”. So when you become “in Christ”, which is when you get saved, that is the time you become the “elect” because you have received (and will continue to receive) what God elected you to have “in Christ”. Here is your decoder ring.


Anonymous said...

This looks interesting. Have put it on my schedule for first thing in the morning.

Scott Larrison said...

Thank you so much for this post and sharing your research with "us"! As a fellow believer, I have wrestled with several Calvinists and disagree with their interpretation of Scripture. Beliefs such as God predestines some for damnation with no chance for salvation, His love for only the elect, Jesus dying only for the sins of the elect and the notion that regeneration precedes faith are heretical doctrines indeed. I look forward to reading other postings in your blog. God bless you!

Alex Guggenheim said...


Thanks for the note. Calvinism is fundamentally a rationalistically based theology, not an exegetical one. That is, instead of exegesis resulting in interpretation and then interpretation resulting in propositions and doctrine, Calvinism uses rationalism to make conclusions and then exegesis is manipulated to support it. I appreciate your visit and will be tackling more of the topic in the future.


Kevl said...

Hi Alex,

I enjoyed this article a great deal. You wrote in a comment:

Calvinism uses rationalism to make conclusions and then exegesis is manipulated to support it.

This is my conclusion as well. I've often stated that the Calvinist has a very specific view of who they expect God to be, and they have a theology that "must be" which is then forced on the Scriptures at all costs.

I respect and esteem some Calvinist teachers, but more and more I'm just finding I don't need to spend much time with them because they have an agenda above knowing the Truth.

Thanks for the article!

Zach van der Meer said...


Truly, this was an excellent analysis of scripture. I appreciate you turning me onto your blog. Fascinating, and expertly explained.

I would strongly encourage you to make yourself known to Paul Dohse at He is a thorn in the side to many of our modern day mystic reformed despots, and has some excellent insight into the false Calvinist gospel which combines justification and sanctification into one "objective gospel outside of us". This is, of course, nothing more than Augustinian pre-Christ gnosticism, but his arguments for unraveling the current false teacher's thinking is excellent. I think you would be a great resource for him in this regard. (I haven't read more of your site, yet...but this is my assumption at this point based on what I've seen so far.)

In addition, I would also encourage you to ponder this point, and one that I have tried to make on my own blog and via my own perspective on "reason" based Christianity; that is, fusing proper LOGICAL and consistent metaphysics into Christian understanding of the doctrines we hold.

At any rate, this question has yet to be answered: How is it possible for God, who is, by definition, outside of time, able to predestine, foreknow, or elect anything? By definition, it is impossible to ascribe ANY ATTRIBUTE (place, name, action, will, thought, force, etc.) to that which does not exist. Thus, if God "foreknows", how is that reconciled outside of the abstract construct of "time"? What I mean is, God cannot foreknow, but simply "know", because there is no future with God (He is the I AM, not I was or will be) anything He declares IS already. Thus, all ideas of "pre" or "fore", can only be rationally explained via the reference of man's temporal existence. Thus, "FOREknowledge", PREordinating" is a doctrine that is unique to MAN'S understanding of his reality. Since there is no "when" to God's actions outside of man's particular frame of reference, it is impossible to argue that God determined ANYTHING before it was brought to pass by CREATION'S own actions. The point being that since you cannot reconcile the meaning of "when" to GOD'S existential reality, we must reassess exactly what we mean by "God preordained", and I would argue, we cannot logically conclude a certain specific "moment" or "when" to God's actions. From God's frame of reference, He cannot do anything before or after anything, and his knowledge is also not bound by a linear "arrow of time".

The point of this is to say that God's foreknowledge has nothing to do with the free volition of man. Man is free (and MUST) do and choose and act on his own behalf, and he is not constrained in his will by the idea that God knows (read: DETERMINES) the "future". there is no future for God to know UNTIL it is brought to pass by the willful actions of man.

Alex Guggenheim said...


Thanks for the healthy interaction here. I am familiar with Paul and we have emailed a few times. I believe he is on my blogroll as well.

I am giving great thought to your comments. I appreciate them immensely.


Lydia said...

This is excellent! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I will be sharing it with many others.


Alex Guggenheim said...

Much appreciated Lydia. I believe the sentence structure, alone, without any examination of the Greek properties of each word, shuts the door on the assertion this passage is communicating that God chose who would be in Christ. But beyond that, of course, the grammatical properties and the panoramic text simply make the argument, here anyway, that God chose who would (and would not be for some) in Christ completely unsustainable. Teaching this material, face to face, is even more rewarding.


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes yes!!! Bless you! Well done sir! Even a calvinist could understand this.

Tim said...

I was just reading through your post ... years later :)

So here are a few thoughts:
1) When an infinitive is used as a complement to support a direct object, you are supposed to add a "for". As in ... "mom wants me to make my bed". Mom does not "want me", she "wants me to ...". However the proper sentence would then be "Mom wants FOR me to make my bed". When emphasizing the complement action you use the word "for".

2) The NIV is not the best word by word translation tool. They do drift a bit from the original in a number of locations as it is more a word-phrase translation style. In this case it is very close, but it did drop the second personal pronoun "us", thus allowing a connected infinitive possibility (which is an interpretive decision), and again they did not add the "for" as stated in point 1.The second "us" creates a greater possibility of a second clause than a supporting complement thus removing the entire argument of this paper.

summary ... we dropped a second pronoun to force a complement role, then went with a colloquial english rather than proper english rule by going for complement without the word "for". Hmmmm ... I think that does not work.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

So you would prefer "He chose for us to be holy and unblameable" based on the infinitive used as a complement in supporting a direct object, which is fine. The principle remains.

I am aware of the dynamic of the NIV translation but as you stated, in this case it is very close which is why I chose it.

Even with a second clause, if one permits this interpretively, it does not change the limits of the first which are brought out by the subsequent text which is "in Christ" (as is used in this text as the location of receiving these blessings). Unbelievers are not in Christ and no complementary construct can legitimately force the text to be read as God deciding who would be in Christ, rather that "in Christ" is where all of this occurs.

Thank you for visiting and taking the time with these nuances.


Tim said...

Thanks for replying AG. My response ...

1) I would only prefer "He chose FOR us to be holy" if that is what the original Greek had stated. It does not. The making of one clause out of two is not staying true to the Greek. I would prefer the ESV over the NIV translation here. "He chose us in Him, that we should be holy ...". This clearly separates the two clauses as the Greek does, and thereby separates the choosing from the purpose in the sentence.Which by the way negates the main point being articulated in the paper.

2)the "in Him" phrase. You have a sentence diagram above and state "this is the sentence diagram plain and simple". Please note where you placed the "in Him". You have it modifying the verb "chose" not the pronoun "us". I fully agree with that. But that makes the prepositional phrase adverbial not adjectival. It is not modifying the receiver but rather the actor and his action. This is not what you are saying in your response. You are trying to make it modify the recipient ("us in Him"). That is not your diagram above. The "in Him" phrase modifies the subject and verb ("Father chose"), not the direct object "us".
4) If the prepositional phrase is adverbial, you could then use your rearrange techniques shown in the paper ... "In Him, He chose us before the foundations of the world". This best answers, "how or where did God do this choosing?" He did it in connection with the Son and Spirit. "In Christ", and "sealed by the Spirit". This is a powerful statement of God's full work in the trinity.

In short, we can not add wording (like "for") when it is not in the Greek just to make it read the way we want. The NIV is never a good translation for word by word study. Now we are to the "in Him" clause. Since the prepositional phrase is adverbial, it modifies the Father and His action, not the people receiving the action.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

First, in your initial comment I read it as you arguing for the insertion of the word "for" but apparently I misread you.

So to the main portion. To separate the first clause from the second with the view this "thereby separates the choosing from the purpose of the sentence" might be easy to write but logically is not very sensible from the writers particularly with the use of the infinitive, "to be". If there ever was a connector there it is. To explain this as separate from the purpose, to me, is a stretch and gives the hint of a theological agenda.

The main issue appears to be the "in him" and the "us" in the first clause. The argument lies with its mechanics. What does it mean "He chose us in him,"? Heck, let's put a period here and not even a comma to completely separate it (I am not saying your are asking for this but doing it as an exercise to make a point). You are still left with conjecture or some other theological material which I suggest you use the text in which "He chose us in him, is imbedded for clues.

Thus, the use of the locative "in him" or "in Christ", I argue, again, is quite thematic of the whole text, if not the entire epistle which is continuously used with "us" in reference to those who are believers, not some secret number of humans chosen to believe and "to be" in Christ (again, the misplace infinitive which doesn't even go here used by so many Calvinists, leading to so much confusion). So, even if one separates the entire first clause as you assert, the "us" and the "in him", if we are to accept the context of its use repeatedly, has in view believers, not some yet to believe and unrevealed secret divine number of people.

Final note. I see your point about the modifier however, none of this adjustment abates the point that "who" would believe is not being asserted or as Constable asserted, However this verse states that God chose "us" to be in Christ.. Even your exegesis would defeat this core argument of the majority, if not all, Calvinists who err in their use of the "to be" infinitive. That is amazingly sloppy by them, btw. But "In him he chose us" is a strong translation theologically and I agree but again, it does not subvert the larger argument.

Thanks again,


Tim said...

I appreciate all your time ... I will just leave it at this summary...

1) It is best to render this portion of Paul's sentence as two clauses not one, since that is what the Greek has when it uses a second pronoun: "He chose us, us to be holy and blameless" (literally)
2) This separates the first pronoun "us" from "to be holy" so that the verb "chose" must now be of a people, "us". Period. After that clause, the sentence reveals that there is purpose to that action, but the purpose is not the direct object of the choosing (people are). This is a HUGE implication, which I believe negates the paper.
3) If "in Him" is adverbial, it then best reads "In Him, He chose us before the foundation of the world, us to be holy and blameless".
4) That literal translation requires everyone to set down there philosophical or theological rendering and just ponder. "Chose" is past, aorist indicative. Time is "before foundations". The direct object of that choosing is "us", a bunch of individuals (literally being Paul and saints at Ephesus as the antecedent to the pronoun)
5) With this understanding, the Father did not choose a method, or a purpose, but a people (Paul and saints at Ephesus). One can argue how or where He chose, but He did choose people. That is all I am trying to say. I only desire to talk grammar here, not theology.

What we do next tips our hand to our theological bent. These above 5 points seem to have been made and agreed to. I will just leave it at that. I only hope to have helped collaborate on the grammatical analysis of the TWO clauses ... God bless as you dig deep.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...


A bit delayed but you are welcome and thank you on my part, as well. The double or redundant use of the "us", while producing two clauses, at best, does only that. As well, the first clause does not inform us anything about God determining who, specifically, would be in Christ but that we were chosen. Okay, we were chosen and so the rest of the text exist to explain what that means, before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in Christ. But back to the "us". The use of "us" which precedes the passage in question, the "us's" in question and the subsequent "us's" in the sorrounding text all refer to believers who are in Christ, not a group of non believers who are all recipients off all the blessings Paul identifies, which is impossible Biblically speaking.