When used in reference to time, the word “before” is definitive. Whatever is “before” is independent of what comes after. Our Sunday morning Bible classes begin “before” our worship service, and we quickly understand that distinction. Biblically speaking, when Jesus said that Peter would deny Him three times “before” the rooster crowed, we understand that Peter’s denial was not only prior to but completely independent of that rooster crowing in the early morning hours (Matthew 26:34).
In Ephesians 1:4, Paul writes that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” God picked us to belong to Him prior to and independent of creation. Before we or this world existed, God chose us. Before man ever sinned, God chose us. Before you and I became aware of right, wrong, or even God Himself, He chose us. God decided that He wanted us to be with Him. Why did He do that?
He didn’t choose us because of our behavior or state of mind – we weren’t here yet – He chose us because of His perfect love. John may not use the word “before,” but he describes it for us perfectly in 1 John 1, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us…He first loved us” (1 John 1:10, 19). Regardless of how we would ultimately respond, God loved us and sent His Son for us. Before we ever were, before we ever obeyed, God loved us.