The NIV of Ephesians 1:13 reads:

"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,"

But other translations don't say "you also were included in Christ."

Is the NIV more or less accurate than others? There are soteriological implications given depending on which translation you use, so I'm trying to understand.

Edit: Here is my paraphrase to show the difference I'm "concerned" about.

The NIV seems to say, "You were included in Christ when you believed, and thus received the Holy Spirit."

But the ESV seems to say, "In Him you reveived the Holy Spirit."

The soteriological implications are, the NIV gives a point in time in which someone is counted as "in Christ," whereas the other translations don't give that point in time. So the "In Him" could refer to people who were considered "in Christ" before the foundations of the world. The NIV would refute that, but the ESV would not.

  • It's important to remember that election is according to foreknowledge. From God's perspective 'before the foundation of the world' is true and from our perspective 'when we believe' is true. Oct 11, 2023 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


First, "Christ" is not explicitly mentioned in Ephesians 1:13. However, Christ is mentioned by pronoun.

Ephesians 1:3-13 is a single sentence in Greek and the various pronouns refer to either God or Christ; occasionally the antecedent is tricky to determine. Thus, some translations make this more explicit - all versions break up the big sentence into many smaller sentences in English.

Let me show v. 11-14 in my very literal translation:

11 in Him [Christ, v. 10], in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of the One [God] working all things according to the counsel of His [God's] will 12 for us, the ones having first trusted in Christ, to be to the praise of His [Christ's] glory, 13 in whom [Christ] you also, having heard the word of truth, the gospel your of salvation, in whom [Christ] also having believed you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

This (at times) mind-boggling bewilderment of pronouns in vv. 3-14 is simply made explicit in many modern versions. Thus, the phrase in v. 13 "in whom" is rendered "in Christ" to help clarify the meaning. This is done by the NIV, CEV, etc.

  • Thanks! The specific concern I have is in regards to the soteriological implications given by the NIV vs other translations, such as the ESV. The NIV seems to give a point in time that people are "included into Christ," specifically being "when you heard and believed," but the ESV does not seem to say specifically when someone is "included in Christ" Oct 10, 2023 at 21:50
  • To clarify my understanding by paraphrase, it seems like the NIV is saying "You were included in Christ when you believed and thus received the Holy Spirit," but the ESV is saying "In Him you received the Holy Spirit" Oct 10, 2023 at 21:55
  • @Jesus_is_Lord777 - "included" is not explicit. It is a legitimate interpretation of the Greek "en", most commonly translated "in". Do not forget Gal 3:27-29.
    – Dottard
    Oct 10, 2023 at 22:05
  • Good point! Thank you Oct 10, 2023 at 23:20

"You were included in Christ when you..." is an expansion of the more literal "In him you..." which you will find in other versions. It is a slight paraphrase.

  • Ah okay. So they mean the same thing? Because throughout Ephesians 1, the phrase "in Him" is used to explain blessings received in Christ. But in Ephesians 1:13, the "in Him you" refers to "you were included in Him?" Oct 10, 2023 at 18:03
  • I would take it that way. Oct 10, 2023 at 18:05

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