From: Ricardo y Judith Garrett (
Date: Sun Nov 08 1998 - 18:55:21 EST

Thanks to all for the stimulating comments. I have had to rethink the deity
of Christ! (An unacceptable comment, I know, but a worthwhile experience
for me.)

It does seem that the particular expression containing PRWTOTOKOS in
Colossians 1:15 would be best understood as conceiving of Christ as part of
the creation, if it stood alone. Nevertheless, it seems that various
factors in the context indicate that Paul (whether this is name or
pseudonym in 1:1) meant something else. First, if EIKWN meant for Paul what
it means in Hebrews 10:1, then 15a is not saying that Christ is a
reflection of God but rather his very essence. Coming immediately after
this frase, PRWTOTOKOS could emphasize that Christ is God within the
creation, and thus visible (in contrast to TOU QEOU TOU AORATOU). But he is
still divine, EIKWN, in a way no mere creature could be.

It seems justified to take hOTI at the beginning of 1:16 as an explanation
of how Christ is the PRWTOTOKOS. Perhaps Paul was aware that the word is
normally followed by a partitive genitive, and the insistence in 16-17 on
his superiority to TA PANTA is meant as just that evidence needed to
conclude that the genitive in 15 is an exception to this normal use.

It seems to me that PRWTOTOKOS EK NEKRWN in 1:18 is too far from the word
in 1:15 to be a genuine contrast, although it could be more than
coincidence that EK appears only here and not in 15. But is not PAN TO
PLHRWMA in 1:19 the being of God? Is it too far fetched to conclude with A.
T. Robertson that the Colossians were facing an incipient gnosticism? If
so, 1:19 distances Christ from the creation, and comes very close to
identifying him with (as) God.

On the whole, it seems to me rather strange to conclude that Colossians
1:15b conceives of Christ as created, when the entire context (15-19) is
considered. It appears impossible to apply that conception throughout these

Thanks again to all for a gentlemanly, respectful discussion and for
stimulating a new look at an old passage.
Dick Garrett
Mexico City

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