Nowhere in the bible, that I have noticed, exists the phrase: “From before the creation of the world.” Instead, the Greek text says: “From before the foundation of the world.” So why do I, and other versions, translate this phrase: “From before the creation of the world?” Sometimes the bible can, or should be translated, from logical inference. Word literalism may mislead if only the lexical meaning is followed. Phrases in ancient literature, along with the bible, may have a semantic range which differs from modern ways of communicating.
I used to think that how to find the time specified by the literal rendering: “From before the foundation of the world” was to define the “world” from a lexical meaning and proceed to establish a timeframe. I no longer believe this is the best approach since the bible helps to establish the time to which the text refers. The scriptures were written for ordinary folks. A person doesn’t have to earn a PhD to understand what the bible says. The bible will interpret itself, and, further, God is able to illumine our understanding of what He wrote-Eph. 1.17-19a.
The meaning of our targeted phrase is seen in Heb. 4.3-4: For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” In these verses of Heb. 4 it clearly specifies the timeframe as happening before God “rested” from all His works.