Eph 2:12 NLT - In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded (ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι) from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

Eph 2:12 MGNT - ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ

Eph 4:18 NLT - Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far (ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι) from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.

Eph 4:18 MGNT - ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν

Col 1:21 NLT - This includes you who were once far away from (ἀπηλλοτριωμένους) God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.

Col 1:21 MGNT - καὶ ὑμᾶς ποτε ὄντας ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς

I notice that the same word is used in the LXX for several disparate Hebrew words:

LXX usages of ἀπαλλοτριόω

This may be seen as a little circular, but I'm a little put off by the Calvinist caricature (I don't know if Calvin would actually say this) of "total depravity", that children are not innocent but rather "vipers in diapers" and Paul's usage likewise concerns me and I'm hoping that this might less offensive if these various usages cause a less baby-vilifying to come to the fore.

The wicked are estranged (ἀπαλλοτριόω) from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3

BDAG has this:

ἀπαλλοτριόω fut. ἀπαλλοτριώσω LXX; 1 aor. ἀπηλλοτρίωσα. Pass.: aor. ἀπηλλοτριώθην; pf. ptc. ἀπηλλοτριωμένος LXX (Hippocr., Pla. et al.; ins [e.g. IMagnSip 19, 5f: A.D. 154/55; ISmyrnaMcCabe .0421, 5]; pap, LXX, TestJob; TestBenj 10:10; ApcMos) estrange, alienate τινά τινος (s. ἀλλότριος; SIG 495, 164 [III B.C.]; Sir 11:34; Jos., Ant. 4, 3) γαμετὰς ἀνδρῶν wives from their husbands 1 Cl 6:3. ἡμᾶς τοῦ καλῶς ἔχοντος us from what is right 14:2.—Pass. (Polyb. 1, 79, 6; Ezk 14:5, 7; 3 Macc 1:3; TestBenj 10:10; Herm. Wr. 13, 1 τ. κόσμου) ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ estranged from the life of God Eph 4:18. τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραήλ excluded from the corporate life of Israel 2:12. W. ἐχθρός Col 1:21. New Docs 3, 62.—DELG s.v. ἄλλος. M-M. TW.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 96). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Are you suggesting that BDAG has it wrong? (Calvin had it wrong often! and I would disagree with his extreme and inflammatory language.) So what do you actually ask?
    – Dottard
    Aug 1, 2020 at 2:29
  • I am only beginning to investigate this. With a word that has such a broad semantic range and that has been traditionally used to say that the wicked, even as infants are rebelling against God, it seems like a good idea to investigate.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 1, 2020 at 2:56
  • OK. But why choose the word ἀπαλλοτριόω when it never refers to children? I am still struggling to understand your question. I am happy to give a brief overview of the depravity of mankind (Rom 3:10-18, 23, etc). Because that includes children does not make them "vipers in diapers"!! It makes them like all of us, in need of a savior.
    – Dottard
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:06
  • Why blame John Calvin ? The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Psalm 58:3. (As soon as they be born, note. Pre-diaper stage.)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 1, 2020 at 7:51
  • Thank you @Nigelj, I had neglected to cite that verse in my post which was the very verse in question. IE: It seems to suggest that there are evil babies. And I explicitly said that this was a caricature of Calvinism and I didn't know if Calvin would actually agree.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 1, 2020 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


You can not relate the separation ‘described’ through the use of ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι to the Calvinistic understanding of ‘total depravity’. (Do Calvinists use these verses in support?).

The meaning is ‘separated’, or ‘not part of’. Paul is talking to gentiles. In Eph: 2:12 Paul is saying that because they were born ‘outside’ of Israel, they had no access to God, that the only way they could was to become part of Israel, and come under the covenant through circumcision. And in Eph: 4:12 he is saying that unless ‘reborn’, you are separated from God.

Here is the point, you need to take the exact meaning of ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι into interpretation, and that is ‘not part of’, separate, alienated. And not ‘add’ reasoning/meaning.

That is, you are apart, or outside, or separated from God (meaning) .... therefore seeing you are without God, you are evil, “vipers in diapers" (added reasoning).

Babies/everyone are born ‘separated’ from God. NOT babies/everyone are born ‘evil’.

  • Hi Dave and thank you for your response. However, words don't mean; people mean. As I showed in my question, the word is used in the LXX to translate many very different words. So in each of those cases, the word "means" something different.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 2, 2020 at 11:53
  • I cited 3 passages from Paul in my question. In each case the word is translated differently. Are they all translated correctly? Or, as you suggest, should they all be translated as "separated"? And if so, in what sense? Physically? Politically? By ignorance? Religiously?
    – Ruminator
    Aug 2, 2020 at 12:00
  • A clarification I’m not suggesting that ‘separated’ should be considered as ‘the’ word to use. Rather, that this is the result of ‘apallotrioō (ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι). And therefore these verses can not be seen as relevant for supporting any point of Calvinism. As for in which sense are we separated - in Eph:2 it’s physical, (separate nations) in Eph:4 it’s spiritual (separation between God/Our spirit), and in Col:1 is our spirit separated from the flesh.
    – Dave
    Aug 2, 2020 at 18:18
  • Okay, thanks Dave. What about Psalm 58:3, which is ultimately what I'm trying to understand.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 2, 2020 at 18:20
  • 1
    Old Testament man couldn’t have his spirit ‘recreated/reborn’. So this ‘spirit’ was always separated from God, and they could only live in the flesh - and needed to obey the Law’ to live right. It’s not that babies are born ‘evil’, it’s that they’re born separated. The New Testament reveals the Old. Eph:2 ‘explains’ Psalm 58:3
    – Dave
    Aug 2, 2020 at 18:40

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