From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Mon Nov 09 1998 - 02:03:26 EST

Jonathan Robie wrote:
>Can anyone provide evidence that lends credence to the belief that adding
>EK changes the meaning in this phrase? Is there really any significant
>difference between:
>Please justify your answer...

Dear Jonathan,

The adjective NEKROS occurs 128 times in the NT. Of these occurrences, 98
are plural genitives preceded by the preposition EK. The focus of the
phrase EK NEKRON or EK TWN NEKRWN (3 or 4 occurrences) is not dead persons
but rather the person who has been or will be raised up. Thus the phrase is
a technical term for the resurrection, and there is no partitive element in
its normal use. What is pointed out in Colossians 1:18, is that Jesus must
become first in all things, and therefore, some partitive or ablativic
force is evident in the genitive construction in this verse. However,
because EK (Hebrew MIN) was a part of the technical term, it was also used
in this instance. I found Carl' s explanation convincing and agree with his
conclusion that the meaning is that "Jesus is the first of the dead to be
there will be many, many more."

Regarding Revelation 1:5 and the phrase hO PRWTOTOKOS EK TWN NEKRWN, we
must keep in mind:
(a) The grammar of Revelation is different from the other NT books, and
(b) Differences in personal style may give slightly different readings with
the same meaning. Thus there need not be any semantic difference between
the two phrases above.

Regarding Colossians 1:15 and the relationship of Jesus to creation, it
seems to me that theology rather than grammar has been the guiding factor
in several postings. Let me point to two important questions, one
contextual and one grammatical, which should be considered to understand
this verse.

(1) Is Jesus the direct or the intermediate agent of creation? If he is the
direct agent, he is the creator, if he is the intermediate agent, he can be
a part of creation.

 According to Robertson (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 820,
point g) the direct agent is most commonly expressed by the Greek
preposition hUPO, and sometimes by APO and EK. The intermediate agent is
identified by DIA A literal rendering of Matt 1:22 may illustrate the
point: "All this took place because what was spoken (aorist passive
participle) by (hUPO) the Lord through (DIA) the prophet must be fulfilled
(aorist passive subjunctive)." Here "the Lord" is the direct agent and "the
prophet" is the intermediate agent.

A fine study would be to look at all the active and passive verbs in Col
1:12-23 and ask: Who is the direct agent and who is the intermediate agent
in relation to these verbs?

(2) Does PASHS KTISEWS in Col 1:15 have the same reference as TA PANTA in
verses 16 and 20? This is very often presumed, but the intelligent reader
should rather look for arguments. Since Jesus is clearly different and
separated from TA PANTA, he can be no part of creation if this phrase is
synonymous with PASHS KTISEWS. If it cannot be proven that the phrases
have the same reference, the principal argument (the context) against a
partitive understanding of verse 15 vanishes.

To all: Don' t be satisfied just with theology, but do some hard work with
the text!


Rolf Furuli
Lecturer in Semitiv languages
University of Oslo

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