Re: firstborn in Col. 1:15

From: Lee R. Martin (
Date: Tue Oct 15 1996 - 01:17:33 EDT

In Col 1.15 the emphasis is not on pre-existence
> but on superiority or primacy. The hoti clause after prototokos explains
> the meaning: Christ is Mediator and Lord of all creation. Michaelis
> insists that the thought cannot be that the Son is first of the creatures
> because He is creator of all creation 6:878.

Because ALL THINGS (visible and invisible) are created by him, through
and for him, he cannot be a created thing. If Paul's intent was to say
Jesus was the first thing created, he could have used "protoktistos."
the phrase in question is not a partitive but a genitive of relation.
Christ is
the preeminent one in respect to the creation, because he was
instrumental in the
creation. The translation "preeminent" is clearly indicated by the
usage in the
LXX, NT, and Hellenistic parallels.

This passage is somewhat mysterious in several ways. Paul interplaying
the words
that have to do with creation, new creation, heaven, earth, visible,
invisible, etc.
Notice that the passage begins by describing Jesus as the image of the
invisible God,
a contradiction of terms. You cannot make an image of that which is

In light of these word plays, it may be possible to see the "creation"
in different
terms. Paul lists thrones, authorities, etc. as a part of creation.
Thus, if you place one of these categories into paradigmatic
relationship with "creation," it might read
this way as a partitive: "he is the preeminent one among all
authorities," or "he is the preeminent throne among all thrones," etc. I
have never read this view in a commentary, and I am not sure of it
myself, but maybe it is worth considering if you are determined to see
the genitive as partitive.

Lee R. Martin

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:53 EDT