Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Scott Lawson
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Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Scott Lawson » November 21st, 2014, 9:12 pm

Robertson on page 772 asks: "But what about πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Col. 1:15)? This question is too nuanced for me to understand. What may he be alluding to?



Πᾶς ὁ = ‘all.’ So πᾶσα ἡ πόλις (Mt. 8:34) = ‘all the city’ (die ganze Stadt).4 This is the order and it is very common. Cf. πᾶσαν τήν [Page 772] γὴν (Mt. 27:45), παντὶ τῷ οἴκῳ (Ac. 10:2). Even without the article πᾶς may be ‘all,’ if it is a proper noun, like πᾶσα Ἰεροσόλυμα (Mt. 2:3), πᾶς Ἰσραήλ (Ro. 11:26). In Ac. 2:36, πᾶς οἶκος Ἰσραήλ, there is only one “house of Israel,” so that ‘all’ is the idea. Winer1 says that it is treated as a proper name. Abstract substantives also may be used with or without the article. There is very little difference in idea between πάσῃ γνώσει (1 Cor. 1:5) and πᾶσαν τὴν γνῶσιν (1 Cor. 13:2). With the abstract word “every” and “all” amount practically to the same thing. There is an element of freedom in the matter. So πᾶσαν τὴν πίστιν (1 Cor. 13:2), but πάσῃσοφίᾳ (Ac. 7:22). There may indeed be occasionally the difference between a specific instance like πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν (2 Cor. 1:4) and a general situation like πάσῃ θλίψει (ib.).2 But see πάσῃ ὑπομονῇ (2 Cor. 12:12), πάσῃ ἁγνίᾳ (1 Tim. 5:2), μετὰ παρρησίας πάσης (Ac. 4:29), etc. See also πᾶσα σάρξ = כָּל־בָּשָׂר (Lu. 3:6), usually with οὐ (Mt. 24:22). But note again πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην (Mt. 3:15) and πάσης τῆς προσδοκίας (Ac. 12:11). See πᾶσα ἐξουσία (Mt. 28:18), πάσης πλεονεξίας (Lu. 12:15). Cf. 2 Tim. 1:15. In Ph. 1:3, πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ, the article is pertinent as in πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις (Ro. 8:22). But in Col. 1:15, 23; 1 Pet. 2:13 πᾶσα κτίσις has its true idea of ‘every created thing.’ But what about πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Col. 1:15)? See also Col. 1:9 ff. and πᾶσαν χαράν (Jas. 1:2). Other examples somewhat open to doubt are πᾶσα οἰκοδομή (Eph. 2:21) which is most probably ‘every building’ because of εἰς ναόν. So in Eph. 3:15 πᾶσα πατριά is ‘every family,’ though ‘all the family’ is possible. In 2 Tim. 3:16 πᾶσα γραφή is ‘every Scripture,’ if separate portions are referred to. Cf. Jo. 19:37, ἑτέρα γραφή. Usually in the singular in the N. T. we have ἡ γραφή, but twice γραφή occurs alone as definite without the article, once in 1 Pet. 2:6, ἐν γραφῇ, once in 2 Pet. 1:20, γραφῆς. Twice in the plural (Ro. 1:2; 16:26) the article is absent. In Col. 4:12 ἐν παντὶ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ it is ‘every,’ ‘whatever be the will of God for you’ (Moffatt). In Jas. 1:17, πᾶσα δόσις, we have ‘every,’ as in παντὸς προσώπου (Ac. 17:26).3
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Scott Lawson

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 21st, 2014, 10:06 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:
Robertson? page 772 wrote:the article is pertinent as in πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις (Ro. 8:22). But in Col. 1:15, 23; 1 Pet. 2:13 πᾶσα κτίσις has its true idea of ‘every created thing.’ But what about πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Col. 1:15)?
This question is too nuanced for me to understand. What may he be alluding to?
To help your thinking, ask yourself what type of genitive he might be alluding to? Look at πρῶτος in this verse...
John 1:15 wrote:Ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν· ὅτι πρῶτός μου ἦν.
I think that is called a genitive of comparison perhaps (I know I'm foolish to try to use terms cleverly).

I would expand out the nuance by saying πρωτότοκος taken as the the holder of the position of greatest honour in the family with respect / in comparison to 'every created thing'. The holder of higher esteem than than all created things.

As a doodle... πρωτότοκος παντῶν κτισθέντων would be a partitive genitive, I guess. ἡ προτότοκος κτίσις πασῶν κτισέων would also be too, perhaps.
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Scott Lawson
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Scott Lawson » November 21st, 2014, 10:31 pm

Stephen,

In the discussion I've been involved in I made the following observation:

"As I've looked through Smyth section 1434 stood out to me as possibly applicable to the phrase πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως. It says; "The superlative with the genitive is both partitive and ablatival; the latter, when a thing is compared with many things taken singly. Thus, σωφωτατος ανθρώπων ...means wisest among men (part.) and wiser than any other men. The partitive idea is the stronger." So...if we can make a case for πρωτότοκος as a sort of superlative it could fit in this category."

Stephen are you indicating that πρωτότοκος is possibly a superlative?

Thank you for your quick response and tolerance of my ignorance.

Scotty
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Scott Lawson

George F Somsel
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by George F Somsel » November 22nd, 2014, 2:46 am

Πρωτότοκος does not always and everywhere signify the first-born as regards temporal succession. In the Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians he writes
7.1 Πᾶς γάρ ὃς ἂν μὴ ὁμολογῇ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθέναι ἀντίχριστός ἐστιν
Sometimes it indicates a position of honor (or dishonor as here). I seem to recall a reading in one of the Greeks where houses are spoken of thus (though I can't offhand recall the reference) signifying "high-born houses" or "prominent families."
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 22nd, 2014, 1:44 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:"As I've looked through Smyth section 1434 stood out to me as possibly applicable to the phrase πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως. It says; "The superlative with the genitive is both partitive and ablatival; the latter, when a thing is compared with many things taken singly. Thus, σωφωτατος ανθρώπων ...means wisest among men (part.) and wiser than any other men. The partitive idea is the stronger." So...if we can make a case for πρωτότοκος as a sort of superlative it could fit in this category."
This is one of those places where the Greek is a force-of-argument multiplier rather than a settler, ie that the assumptions that you bring to the text seem more certain after you have read the Greek.
George F Somsel wrote:Πρωτότοκος does not always and everywhere signify the first-born as regards temporal succession. In the Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians he writes

7.1 Πᾶς γάρ ὃς ἂν μὴ ὁμολογῇ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθέναι ἀντίχριστός ἐστιν
Sometimes it indicates a position of honor (or dishonor as here). I seem to recall a reading in one of the Greeks where houses are spoken of thus (though I can't offhand recall the reference) signifying "high-born houses" or "prominent families."
George, that is Ignatius' letter. Where is the πρωτότοκος in that?
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George F Somsel
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by George F Somsel » November 22nd, 2014, 2:15 pm

Stephen, no, it's actually Polycarp. Unfortunately, I was tired when I posted and got a bit careless with the quote. Here is a fuller edition.
7.1 Πᾶς γάρ ὃς ἂν μὴ ὁμολογῇ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν σαρκὶ ἐληλυθέναι ἀντίχριστός ἐστιν· καὶ ὃς ἂν μὴ ὁμολογῇ τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ σταυροῦ ἐκ τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστίν· καὶ ὃς ἂν μεθοδεύῃ τὰ λόγια τοῦ κυρίου πρὸς τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας καὶ λέγῃ μήτε ἀνάστασιν μήτε κρίσιν, οὗτος πρωτότοκός ἐστι τοῦ σατανᾶ.
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 22nd, 2014, 2:18 pm

George F Somsel wrote:Stephen, no, it's actually Polycarp.
You are right. My mistake.
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Scott Lawson
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Scott Lawson » November 22nd, 2014, 3:16 pm

George F Somsel wrote:Πρωτότοκος does not always and everywhere signify the first-born as regards temporal succession.
Thank you George, I can accept that, but can you connect the dots for me as to how that unpacks the nuance of Robertson's question? Or did I get us sidetracked by my question to Stephen as to whether or not he sees πρωτότοκος as a sort of superlative?
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by George F Somsel » November 22nd, 2014, 3:55 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:
can you connect the dots for me as to how that unpacks the nuance of Robertson's question?
Πᾶς ὁ=‘all.’ So πᾶσα ἡ πόλις (Mt. 8:34)=‘all the city’ (die ganze Stadt).…1 Pet. 2:13 πᾶσα κτίσις has its true idea of ‘every created thing.’ But what about πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Col. 1:15)?
I'm not sure that Robertson provides any certain answer here. His comment in the middle of this passage should be considered:
With the abstract word “every” and “all” amount practically to the same thing. There is an element of freedom in the matter.
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by cwconrad » November 22nd, 2014, 4:22 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:
George F Somsel wrote:Πρωτότοκος does not always and everywhere signify the first-born as regards temporal succession.
Thank you George, I can accept that, but can you connect the dots for me as to how that unpacks the nuance of Robertson's question? Or did I get us sidetracked by my question to Stephen as to whether or not he sees πρωτότοκος as a sort of superlative?
I'm jumping in here late, but I've been looking more closely at the ATR comment, the nub of which seems to be this:
ATR wrote:But in Col. 1:15, 23; 1 Pet. 2:13 πᾶσα κτίσις has its true idea of ‘every created thing.’ But what about πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως (Col. 1:15)? See also Col. 1:9 ff. and πᾶσαν χαράν (Jas. 1:2). Other examples somewhat open to doubt are πᾶσα οἰκοδομή (Eph. 2:21) which is most probably ‘every building’ because of εἰς ναόν.
As I read this, he's saying that in this instance perhaps it does not mean "firstborn of all creatures" but "firstborn of all creation" or "firstborn of creation as a whole", which is to say the "prototype" -- the-first created and the archetype of the created world. I think that may be what ATR is driving at here: ordinarily πᾶς/πᾶσα/πᾶν is used predicatively as "each, every" but in this instance it may mean "all, the whole" -- he's calling attention to the ambiguity of the expression.

I should note that I really am not trying to interpret Col 1:15; I'm only trying to interpret what A.T. Robertson means in the paragraph originally cited and questioned by Scott Lawson.
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