Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Scott Lawson
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Scott Lawson » November 22nd, 2014, 4:51 pm

Thank you Carl! Even with your clarifying comments I'm going to have to do some deep pondering to grasp the significance of Robertson's words.
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Scott Lawson

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 22nd, 2014, 6:49 pm

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
7.17.1 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./quote]

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,
I looked for but could not find πρωτότοκος in reference to "high-born houses" or "prominent families. Spent more time on it than it was worth. I begin to suspect that another πρωτό- word was used rather than πρωτότοκος which is an LXX word.

The context in Colossians one certainly provides adequate constraints on the semantic contribution of πρωτότοκος. The genitive πάσης κτίσεως is similar to κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ in Rev. 3:14 ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ. The πρωτότοκος of Colossians 1:15 and ἡ ἀρχὴ Rev. 3:14 probably have a similar meaning[1].

Col. 1:15 ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως,

Col. 1:18 καὶ αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ τοῦ σώματος τῆς ἐκκλησίας· ὅς ἐστιν ἀρχή, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα γένηται ἐν πᾶσιν αὐτὸς πρωτεύων,

Rev. 3:14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ·

[1] Clinton E. Arnold. The Colossian Syncretism p256,261
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

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

Post by George F Somsel » November 22nd, 2014, 8:01 pm

I found the reference, but it was not πρωτοτόκος but πρωτόγονος which seems to be of similar meaning. See Sophocles, Philoctetes, 180
[180] οὗτος πρωτογόνων ἴσως οἴκων
See Kittel, Theological Wordbook of the New Testament
d. When Ex. 4:22 says: υἱὸς πρωτότοκός μου Ἰσραήλ, and Σιρ. 36:11 also says: Ἰσραὴλ ὃν πρωτογόνῳ (weakly attested vl. πρωτοτόκῳ) ὡμοίωσας, this designation as firstborn, which is almost a title in Ex. 4:22 (it is applied to Ephraim in Ἰερ. 38:9), expresses the particularly close relation in which God stands to Israel. Though something is said about God’s relations to other peoples in, e.g., Dt. 32:8 f. LXX; Am. 9:7; Is. 19:25, this expression does not suggest that other nations or all the other V 6, p 874 nations are also God’s sons, the more so since this idea is not attested at all elsewhere in the OT. The firstborn here is not seen, then, in relation to other brothers but solely as an object of the special love of his father.
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stephen Hughes » November 22nd, 2014, 9:46 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."
Let me answer you less vaguely.

The examples in Smyth area all with the plural and the adjective is in the superlative form. Neither of those things are true in the phrase πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως.

I see how you came to the thinking that it could be applicable - πρωτότοκος is an "adjective", it's true, and with in a certain group of people, there will will only be one unique πρωτότοκος, just as that within any given group there would only be one σωφωτατος. Working etymologically from the sequence πρό, πρότερος, πρῶτος, we could say that πρῶτος is a superlative, but perhaps only historically in the language. Logically speaking if there was an adjective for "earlier" it could be given a superlative form, and then essentially, the earliest born would be the "First born". Well, perhaps in logic that works, but that is an active application of logic to a language, rather than just using honed logical skills to describe a language - there is a differerence between applying a logical way of thinking to a language and observing some finely nuanced things in the language with the aid of logic.

If you start with the idea that the πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως was part of creation, you will get a different outcome from the analysis than if you start from the assumption that the πρωτότοκος was not part of the group πάσης κτίσεως. That was the reason for the obscure comment yesterday.

As a point of trivia, 先生 (xiānshēng) "Mr." in Chinese means "earlier born", i.e. higher in a social hierarchy. Purely honorific, not really talking about birth.
Scott Lawson wrote:Stephen are you indicating that πρωτότοκος is possibly a superlative?
From observing how Modern Greek speakers usev and talk about their language, I would say that despite how they are listed in the (Modern) Greek dictionary, the superlative is a form of an adjective formed (or recalled for use) by a user as they create language in some syntactic patterns, not an extra adjective (fossilised form of the language) - ie not an individual dictionary entry that can be freely interchangeable with other adjectives.
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Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Colossians 1:15 πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 23rd, 2014, 2:02 am

George F Somsel wrote:I found the reference, but it was not πρωτοτόκος but πρωτόγονος which seems to be of similar meaning. See Sophocles, Philoctetes, 180
[180] οὗτος πρωτογόνων ἴσως οἴκων
Alford
The first and simplest meaning is that of priority of birth. But this, if insisted on, in its limited temporal sense, must apply to our Lord’s birth from his human mother, and could have reference only to those brothers and sisters who were born of her afterwards; a reference clearly excluded here. But a secondary and derived meaning of πρωτότοκος, as a designation of dignity and precedence, implied by priority, cannot be denied. Cf. Ps. 88:27, κἀγὼ πρωτότοκον θήσομαι αὐτόν, ὑψηλὸν παρὰ τοῖς βασιλεῦσι τῆς γῆς:—Exodus 4:22, υἱὸς πρωτότοκός μου ἰσραήλ:—Romans 8:29, and Hebrews 12:23, ἐκκλησίᾳ πρωτοτόκων ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς, where see Bleek’s note. Similarly πρωτόγονος is used in Soph. Phil. 180, οὗτος πρωτογόνων ἴσως οἴκων οὐδενὸς ὕστερος. It would be obviously wrong here to limit the sense entirely to this reference, as the very expression below, αὐτὸς ἐστὶν πρὸ πάντων, shews, in which his priority is distinctly predicated. The safe method of interpretation therefore will be, to take into account the two ideas manifestly included in the word, and here distinctly referred to—priority, and dignity, and to regard the technical term πρωτότοκος as used rather with reference to both these, than in strict construction where it stands. “First-born of every creature” will then imply, that Christ was not only first-born of His mother in the world, but first-begotten of His Father, before the worlds,—and that He holds the rank, as compared with every created thing, of first-born in dignity: FOR, &c., Colossians 1:16, where this assertion is justified. Cf. below on Colossians 1:18.
As Alford points out, the context restrains one from going off the deep end here. However, I not totally happy with Alfords treatment. It is pointless and counterproductive to isolate the expression πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως as if all the possible ways of reading this were live options in this hymn. They are not.
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