Ephesians 1:4-5 reads in the Common English Bible: “4God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God's presence before the creation of the world. 5God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan...”
In the ESV, the sentence begins in 1:4: “In love 5he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will...”
The NASB is similar, as is the NIV.
The NET Bible reads: “4For he lovingly chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight. 5He did this by predestining us to the adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will - ...”
The KJV reads: “4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestined us...”
How does “love” get placed in the center of verse 5 in the CEB, the end of verse 4 in the ESV, NASB and NIV and at the beginning of verse 4 in the NET Bible?
In the Greek, the prepositional phrase, “in love,” actually appears at the end of verse 4. In Greek, the ending of “love” would indicate which word it modifies as it would have to have the same ending. The problem is, there are three words (or phrases) it could modify. There are no periods in this Greek text so “in love” could modify words that came before it (in verse 4) or words that come after it (in verse 5).
It could modify “chose.” It would seem the NET Bible has picked this possibility: “For he lovingly chose us...” In this case, love is the motivation for our election (being chosen).
It could modify the phrase “holy and unblemished.” This is the KJV reading. The NIV includes a footnote, “Or sight in love. He” so it does allow for “...holy and blameless in his sight in love.” In this case, it would seem that our holiness is closely connected to love.
It could also modify the predestining in verse 5. The ESV, NASB and NIV have taken this possibility. This reading is similar in meaning to that of love modifying “chose” as it gives the motivation for God's act of predestination.
I hope you see the difficulty of determining a precise translation of Ephesians 1:4-5. This, again, is why it is a good idea to consult several translations when studying the Bible.
I am taking part in a blog tour of the Common English Bible. I'll be blogging more about this Bible as the days go by.
You can see the blogs of others taking part of this tour here: http://CommonEnglishBible.com/CEB/blogtour
I received a complimentary copy of the CEB from its publisher for the purpose of this blog tour.