Last Sunday our growth group had Ephesians chapter 1 as our discussion text. I started reading in one of my favorite translations:
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.
Hmm, I felt the literary bump when I read the words “chosen by the will of God.” I wondered, “How would someone be chosen by the will of God?” Is the will the organ of choosing in the English language? How do we normally express in English the meaning of the original Greek here? Wouldn’t we normally say in English, “chosen by God”?
I then checked my wife’s copy of this translation. She uses and prefers the First Edition. Her version has “chosen by God.” OK, good! Yes, that sounds like normal English to me. In English we say that people choose. I don’t think we would ever say or write that anyone was chosen by “the will” of someone.
I then did my usual thing and checked other English versions. Most agree with the Second Edition which I use. Well, actually, they typically have wordings which sound to me even more abnormal than that found in the version I started with:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
How can someone be an apostle by the will of someone? I know what the translators are trying to say but it doesn’t sound right to me. Or am I the one who is out of touch with normal English? (It’s OK if you want to take that as a real question and answer “yes”! If I can be shown evidence that my language intuitions are out of touch with normal English, that would be an important discovery for me. And I would probably work to remedy my problem.)
What do you think? Does including the words “the will” in the translation of Eph. 1:1 add anything to the meaning of the verse, as expressed in English, that simply saying “chosen by God” does not already say?
Of what benefit is a will if you don’t need one? 🙂