PRWTOTOKOS (was col 1:15 greek help)

Date: Sat Nov 07 1998 - 11:55:22 EST

In a message dated 11/6/98 4:26:07 PM Pacific Standard Time,

<< my question is two fold. Is ktisews really a partitive genitive. Is there
 really a scientific way to determine if it is. I suspect not. >>

Dear Tom:

The most natural way to view this is as a partitive genitive, and that is how
it was understood by most if not all of the early Church Fathers, though they
redefined KTISEWS as the "new creation" because of their theological

However, there really is no definitive way to say what kind of genitive this
is, as the answer to that question hinges on the meaning we give to certain
words (like PRWTOTOKOS ["firstborn"--see below] and TA PANTA), how we
understand the context, and, of course, how we view Christ himself.

Since the Bible does not say Christ is eternal, and regularly uses temporal
terms for him (compare, even in this context, apart from "firstborn" [again,
see below] the use of EIKWN in vs. 15 and the significance of EUDOKEW in vs.
19 [compare 2:9]), there is no reason why we could not view this text as
affirming Christ's preeminent position as the "firstborn" of the created
order. It has nothing to do with being "spoon fed" or a priori assumptions, as
one list member unabashedly claimed, but with reading the text apart from
later theological assumptions, distinctions and definitions.

 isn't it true that ESTIN as a copulative verb requires a predicate
 nominative (adjective i.e. firstborn) so that KTISEWS a genitive noun does
 not fit the gramatical demands of the verse. I apologise for the length of
 this post but i would really appreciate any light that can be shed on this
 in Christ
 Tom >>

The predicate nominative is not KTISEWS, but PRWTOTOKOS. PASHS KTISEWS
modifies PRWTOTOKOS, further defining it.

Regarding PRWTOTOKOS, it was said that definitions for it include, "the
standard sense, pertaining to a first-born child; pertaining to existence
prior to
something else, ╬existing first, existing before'; and finally, ╬superior in
status.'" Appeal was made to the lexicon by Louw and Nida in support of these
definitions. However, the lexicon gives no example, other than Col. 1:15, for
its non-temporal definitions! Thus, they beg the question.

Don't let anyone "spoon feed" you definitions that spring from theological
presuppositions. There are some, very few, texts in the OT LXX which use
"firstborn" figuratively, where one is "placed" or "given" the position of
firstborn, thus transferring the status that would normally belong to the one
who is actually the firstborn.

In all other uses of the word it has a temporal sense. The connotations of
superiorty/preeminence spring from the fact that the one called "firstborn" is
temporally distinct from others.

However, if this is the case for Christ, namely, that he is merely given the
position of firstborn, then who is the true firstborn of God? Why is Christ
"given" a position that rightfully belongs to another?

Hope this helps!

Greg Stafford

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