Ephesians 1:13-14 — a look at some translations

Translation

As I have been preparing the sermon this week on this text, I noticed a couple of translation changes that are worth noting.

Ephesians 1:13–14 (first the Greek text)

13 Εν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ, 14 ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ.

Now to observe five translations and the choice of words/phrases.

NIV9184: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

NIV2011:  13 And 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, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Comparing these, there are some interesting phrasings. Notice that NIV2011 changes the translation of λόγον from “word” (NIV1982) to “message.” Not sure of the reason since the translators do not seem to be consistent in this change; it just seems surprising. On the other hand, NIV2011 retains in vs. 14 “the redemption of those who are God’s possession.”

ESV: 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The ESV translation of τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ (“with the promised Holy Spirit”) rightly shows where the promise is, namely the Holy Spirit. Compare with the NAS and NKJV, which translate the phrase as “with the Holy Spirit of promise,” which suggests something else than the Holy Spirit himself.

At first galnce, it seems unusual that ESV has opted to translate εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως with these words: “until we acquire possession of it.” By doing so, it seems to lose the connection between this verse and the beginning of vs. 7. Even more, redemption (ἀπολύτρωσιν) is about something done in behalf of someone else. That is Paul’s point in vs. 7, our redemption is actually the result of what Christ has done. The ESV seems to suggest that we are the active agent in redemption. Confusing at best, and less than helpful in making the link to that which is indeed the redemption.

NAS95: 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Interestingly, NAS95 has “message of truth” in vs. 13. Further checking in the NT shows that in NAS95, “message” is most often reflecting (logos), but in Acts at least twice it translates ῥήματα (hremata), and in 1 John 3:11 is used for ἀγγελία(angelia). Of these, it seems for NAS, ῥήματα has the most variation in translation (word, thing, fact, charge, matter, statement, etc.).

GW: 13 You heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved you. In him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised. 14 This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.

While translating differently, GW does get the promise attached to the Holy Spirit himself. In vs. 14 it seems to do a decent job of handling “redemption” (“until we are set free”). This also allows the connection to vs. 7.

Nothing super mysterious here, but in studying the text I found the translation differences interesting.

About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
This entry was posted in Biblical studies, New Testament, Translations. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ephesians 1:13-14 — a look at some translations

  1. Thank you so very much. It amazes me the different ways the Holy Spirit prompts others to pray for us during the times we need it the most. Abundant blessings to you today and throughout this week!

    Like

  2. exegete77 says:

    Glad to have you come by, Amy. God’s richest blessings on your ministry through blogging.

    Like

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