Re: PRWTOTOKOS (was col 1:15 greek help)

From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 11:56:00 EST

---Jonathan Robie <> wrote:

>There is more than one way out of this seeming dilemma. For one, TA
PANTA can be used in a relative sense. An example of this very usage
is 1 Cor. 15:28: AUTWi TA PANTA. Cf. 1 John 2:27.<

>But whereas 1 Cor 15:28 clearly requires us to see God as an
exception, there is nothing in this passage that tells us to regard
Jesus as an exception. I'm not saying that this interpretation is
impossible, merely
that there is nothing in the passage that really suggests this

Is there anything in the context of Col. 1:20 to suggest that the
phrase "all things" is not used in an absolute sense? Yet, do you
think that Paul is using "all things" in an absolute manner?

>Secondly, if EN can be understood as instrumental in 1:16, then this
could imply that the Father first created the LOGOS; then THROUGH HIM
created TA PANTA. This seems to be the way that the Wisdom writers
understood matters, as did certain Ante-Nicene fathers. <

>I don't want to get into the theology of the Ante-Nicene fathers,
except to say that you can find an amazing variety of views on the
nature of Christ
among them, as your example shows. I do not think that the term
PRWTOTOKOS says either that Jesus is God or that Jesus is part of
creation; in context, it seems to point to the preeminence of Jesus,
which is, after
all, the theme of the entire passage.<

Your summary of PRWTOTOKOS is fair, Jonathan. In some ways, I concede
your point. Paul is stressing the pre-eminence of Jesus over [the
rest] of creation. Where we differ is in the meaning and significance
of the word PRWTOTOKOS. I believe the term connotes ontological
subordination in 1:15 and demonstrates the created nature of Christ
Jesus. At the same time, it shows his dignified position as God's
first and ONLY direct creation.

Edgar Foster

Lenoir-Rhyne College
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