Ephesians 1:4

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Mike Baber
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Ephesians 1:4

Post by Mike Baber » April 2nd, 2012, 2:41 pm

καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ

even as He elected us in him before the constitution of the world [εἶναι ἡμᾶς] holy and unblemished before Him in love.

My question is on the phrase εἶναι ἡμᾶς. ἡμᾶς is 1st person, plural number, accusative case, or "us." εἶναι is the infinitive "to be." Literally, this would translate as "us to be." I am thinking Paul is trying to convey the thought of, "...for us to be." Is this so? Can someone share any thoughts on this type of construction?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Ephesians 1:4

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 2nd, 2012, 4:34 pm

Yes, ἡμᾶς is the accusative subject of the infinitive εἶναι, and "for us to be" or even "that we should be" are perfectly fine translations for it. I think your rendering is perfectly OK.

The most interesting thing about the Greek construction to me is the prolepsis and resumption of the pronoun ἡμᾶς. The first token of ἡμᾶς is proleptic, that is, syntactically, it should be the subject of the subordinate infinitive but it is raised into the main clause to become a syntactic object of ἐξελέξατο. The second token of ἡμᾶς is repeated, apparently because of the heaviness of the two intervening prepositional phrases. What this analysis suggests is that a perfectly fine English translation can drop either one of the "us"s from the translations.

I'm a little concerned about the implication that anything less than a word-for-word translation is not a literal translation. I feel that if the Greek is grammatical so must its English translation, in order to be a translation. In this context, the English infinitival clause has an explicit subject and requires the word "for" to signal it. The version without "for" is ungrammatical in English and does not even qualify as a translation much less a literal one.
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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Mike Baber
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Re: Ephesians 1:4

Post by Mike Baber » April 2nd, 2012, 5:11 pm

Thank you for your very insightful thoughts Mr. Carlson.

I personally don't think that translations must be literal. I understand the thoughts of many on here whom say it is more preferable to understand what the author is attempting to convey in thought, rather than what the words literally translate into in English. Of course, I agree.

However, for the purpose of study, I am trying to stay as literal as possible only because it assists me in my exegesis. That's all. Of course, I don't mind polishing the translation a bit, because, that also helps in exegesis.

Back to the Greek. Your insight was very helpful. I'll try to stay away from the theology side of the following textual critique where I once again welcome your critique.

Going back to v. 3:
εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ

We see ἡμᾶς initially in v. 3:
ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ("the God and Father...who blessed us...")

Next, in v. 4:
καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ("just as He elected us")

Hmm...do you think the latter ἡμᾶς in v. 4 could also be linked to ἐξελέξατο, and thus, there are two thoughts linked to that one verb?

For example,

ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἐξελέξατο ("the God and Father elected..."):

1. ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ("us in him before the constitution of the world")
2. εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ ("us to be holy and unblemished before H/him in love")

Do you think that's possible?
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Mike Baber
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Re: Ephesians 1:4

Post by Mike Baber » April 2nd, 2012, 6:13 pm

In Ephesians 1:12, Paul uses the construction εις το ειναι ημας, but in 1:4, he only uses ειναι ημας. Is there an explanation for this? Is it a distinction without a difference in meaning?
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Ephesians 1:4

Post by Stephen Carlson » April 2nd, 2012, 8:17 pm

Mike Baber wrote:Hmm...do you think the latter ἡμᾶς in v. 4 could also be linked to ἐξελέξατο, and thus, there are two thoughts linked to that one verb?

For example,

ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἐξελέξατο ("the God and Father elected..."):

1. ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου ("us in him before the constitution of the world")
2. εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ ("us to be holy and unblemished before H/him in love")

Do you think that's possible?
If there are two separate thoughts, then there would have to be two distinct purposes for the election, ἐξελέξατο: 1. election for ____ (salvation? because we're so used to saying "election" absolutely as a technical term to mean election for salvation) and 2. for us to be holy and unblemished.

I'm not sure the two-thought proposal works because (a) there is already an explicit purpose (to be holy and unblemished), and (b) what's the evidence that Paul (or even his school) used ἐκλέγομαι absolutely as a technical term for election unto salvation?
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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David Lim
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Re: Ephesians 1:4

Post by David Lim » April 3rd, 2012, 9:55 am

Mike Baber wrote:In Ephesians 1:12, Paul uses the construction εις το ειναι ημας, but in 1:4, he only uses ειναι ημας. Is there an explanation for this? Is it a distinction without a difference in meaning?
Eph 1:12 is an example of a special construction where "ειναι ημας ..." functions something like an indirect statement, and so "εις το ειναι ημας ..." is essentially equivalent to "ινα ωμεν ..." in my opinion. I also take Eph 1:4 to be similar, so unlike Stephen I take the first "ημας" to be indeed the direct object of "εξελεξατο" and "ειναι ημας ..." to be an indirect statement expressing purpose.
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