FW: PRWTOTOKOS PASHS KTISEWS [ lexical meaning ]

Lee Attema (lee_attema@msn.com)
Sat, 12 Oct 96 03:22:57 UT

I ask your forgiveness in intruding on the list. I know that the list
concentrates on the aspects of Greek usage and avoids theological debate. I do
have a specific reason for subscribing and forwarding this piece of mail. I am
generally familiar with Greek in the vague sort of way a person who has had
Greek and Intermediate Greek might be after 10 years out of school. I have
gone through Dana and Mantey, Blass Debrunner and looked at Robertson's
Grammar but still find myself unable to evaluate the accuracy of the claims
made below. I see that there is indeed a "partative genitive". It seems to
place the object in a class of objects. However is the usage below the
partative genitive. Or is this a possible understanding with there being
another more valid way to translate this genitive? Below is pertinent text of
Rev. 3:14 which I am trying to sort out. Would someone be kind enough to help
me evaluate the grammatical merit of the discussion. Thanks so much.
Lee Attema

Subject: PRWTOTOKOS PASHS KTISEWS [ lexical meaning ]
This brings me to the subject of the meaning of 'PRWTOTOKOS PASHS KTISEWS' in
Colossians 1:15. It is with scriptures that have the most doctrinal impact
that we must be the most careful. It is just too easy to allow our
bias to influence our understanding.

The difference in meaning here has the impact of dertermining whether or not
the inspired writer was calling Jesus a part of creation or otherwise.

Therefore to find out what it means we MUST look to the scriptures that
God inspired to see how He used this particular phrase in order to determine
it's meaning in Colossians 1:15.

Please not that it is not just the possible range of meanings of 'PRTOTOKOS'
we are searching for here, but where it is used in the same exact way as in
Colossians 1:15. We indeed do find that this word is used in exactly the
same grammatical way many times.

As Wes Williams previous noted :
> The expression "firstborn of <a group>" appears upwards of thirty times in
> Septuagint. IN EACH CASE, the firstborn is PART of the group.
> The firstborn of beast is a beast.
> The firstborn of Pharoah is a member of Pharoah's family.
> The firstborn of Israel is an Israelite.

The following is an analysis of how 'firstborn' fits into this context
in Col 1:15 :

'Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

PRWTOTOKOS (firstborn) is an adjective. As a result is MUST have the
same case, number and gender as the noun which it modifying, when it is
in the attributive position, which it is. It is modifying 'OS' which is
in the nominative,singular,masculine case.

The adjective is part of the partitive genitive clause, all of which
serve to modify the noun together. 'KTISEWS' is a feminine noun which is
in the genitive singular form. 'PASHS' is an adjective modifying 'KTISEWS'
and therefore must follow the rule above and conform to the same case,
number and gender of KTISEWS, and it does.

The whole forms the partitive genitive clause which modifies the relative
pronoun 'OS', and means that 'OS' [who i.e. Jesus] is PART OF the group which
is defined as 'KTISEWS' (Creation). Thats how the partitive genitive works.

Once again, the issue is not *just* the meaning of 'PRWTOTOKOS' but the fact
that this adjective used of Jesus is a 'part of' the group of 'every

If the adjective was different, say for example smartest or tallest it would
not matter, because he would still be part of the group of created beings.

Thats the scriptural usage.

IF anyone has any examples where 'PRWTOTOKOS' of <something> does NOT mean
that the 'PRWTOTOKOS' is not part of the something and that reference is from
a source compatible with God's inspired Word, I would surely like to see it.

Sincerely and Respectfully,